3 Top Western Riding Boot Styles for Rodeo Events Unveiled!

Asking yourself, “What styles of western riding boots are best for rodeo events?” You’re in luck!

As a veteran rodeo professional, I’ve honed my expertise through years of firsthand experience and exhaustive research, making me uniquely equipped to recommend Buckaroo, Cowboy, and Roper boots.

These boots, known for their top-notch safety, flexibility, and real-deal Western style, didn’t just pass some tests.

I’ve researched into solid research, chatted up with big-name rodeo gurus, and even put these boots through their paces in the tough-as-nails rodeo arena – they’ve truly earned their stripes!

I invite you to join me as I reveal all the insider secrets to why these boots are the unparalleled choice for any rodeo event!

FYI, this post contains affiliate links. I may earn a small commission if you purchase.

Key Takeaways

  • Buckaroo, Cowboy, and Roper boots are top picks for rodeo events, offering a mix of protection, flexibility, and Western charm.
  • When selecting boots, prioritize safety, durability, material, cost, and style, and remember to consider the specific events you’ll be participating in.
  • Taking care of your Western boots, including cleaning, conditioning, and proper storage, can significantly extend their lifespan and ensure optimal performance.

Keen to learn more about the best western boots for rodeo events? Keep scrolling…

What Styles of Western Riding Boots Are Best for Rodeo Events?

As a seasoned rodeo rider, I understand the vital role that boots play in ensuring safety, flexibility, and overall performance in the arena.

1. Buckaroo Boots: Ideal for Rough Stock Events

Buckaroo boots are known for their tall shafts measuring around 14 to 16 inches, making them an excellent choice for rough stock events like bull riding or bronc riding.

No products found.

In addition to providing ideal leg protection, these boots feature intricate stitching and decorative cutouts that add a classic Western style to their functional design.

2. Cowboy Boots: Iconic Style with Strategic Design

Cowboy boots, also called Western boots, are iconic in the rodeo world, featuring a tall shaft, an angled heel, and a pointed or rounded toe.

No products found.

The angled heel design is strategic—it prevents the foot from slipping through the stirrup, which is crucial for fast-paced events like barrel racing or pole bending.

3. Roper Boots: Easier Slip-On and Off for Timed Events

Roper boots are a favorite among rodeo competitors participating in timed events like calf roping or team roping.

No products found.

Designed with a shorter shaft and a flat heel, these boots are easier to slip on and off, making quick footwork easier to execute.

Choosing the Perfect Pair for Your Needs

Your choice of boot style will ultimately depend on your preference and the events you participate in.

But my top recommendations are the Ariat Heritage Lacer II Western Cowboy Boot and the Ariat Fatboy.

No products found. No products found.

Both boots are celebrated for their durability, comfort, and classic Western aesthetic.

According to Katherine Blocksorf, an experienced horseback rider, choosing the right boots for horseback riding is crucial for safety and performance [1].

In her words, “Good boots or shoes help protect your feet if they get stepped on and help prevent your foot from sliding through the stirrup should you fall off your horse when riding.”

Indeed, as she highlights the importance of appropriate footwear, it’s equally critical to understand precautions and techniques when falling from a horse to minimize injury.

Check out this video on how to choose an excellent riding boot – for rodeo style and more!

5 Essential Factors to Keep in Mind When Shopping for Western Rodeo Boots

According to New York City-based fashion stylist Seppe Tirabassi, cowboy boots are not only a timeless footwear staple but also an iconic piece of the Americana wardrobe that is made to last a lifetime [2].

And the more beat-up they look, the cooler they are,” he says. “Second-hand boots can command even higher prices since customers are really going after the worn-in appeal,” he tells Men’s Journal.

Rodeo boots aren’t just a statement of style; they’re an indispensable piece of equipment for anyone who’s passionate about this thrilling sport.

Selecting the perfect pair requires careful thought and consideration, taking into account key factors such as safety, durability, material, cost, and, of course, style.

Let’s take a deeper dive into these critical elements.

1. Safety

Safety should never be an afterthought. Your boots should offer adequate protection and comfort.

Opt for boots with a distinct heel and closed toes to keep your feet secure and prevent them from getting stuck in the stirrups.

On that note, heavy-duty work boots or steel-toed boots might seem sturdy, but they could be potentially hazardous when riding.

2. Durability

Durability is non-negotiable. The ruggedness of rodeo events necessitates a boot that can withstand the trials of both riding and the daily grind of barn or ranch chores.

Choose a pair that promises longevity – because a good boot, like a trusty steed, should stand the test of time.

3. Material

Full-grain leather is the gold standard when it comes to boot material. Not only does it offer an unbeatable blend of fashion and function, but it can also adapt to various conditions.

Depending on your environment, you might want to consider waterproof, extra-breathable, or insulated boots.

4. Cost

Quality often comes at a price.

While opting for cheaper alternatives is tempting, remember that a good pair of riding boots is an investment.

Instead of frequent replacements, invest in a quality pair that will last longer and deliver superior performance.

5. Style

In the rodeo world, style indeed matters. While Western riders typically lean towards subtler designs, your boots should reflect your personality.

Whether you’re a rodeo rider, a barrel racer, or part of a drill team, let your boots echo your unique flair.

The type of rodeo event you’re participating in could also influence your boot selection.

“There are many different kinds of boots and each type does a specific job, protecting different parts of your horse’s leg and hoof. Leg gear comes in a variety of colors and patterns, but don’t be distracted by the visual appearance; the goal is to provide the proper protection and support for your equine athlete,’ explains equine researcher Katie Ockert from Michigan State University Extension [5].

This illustrates how each discipline might warrant specific boot features, further emphasizing the importance of personalizing your choice.

5 Tips for Extending the Life of Your Western Boots

Western boots are an investment, and proper care can extend their lifespan.

As a seasoned rodeo rider, I know firsthand how crucial it is to take care of your boots to maintain their performance and keep you safe. Here are some tips I’ve learned over the years:

cowboy boots

Tip #1: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions

Different materials require different care, so reading and following the manufacturer’s instructions is important.

However, keep in mind that rodeo conditions can take a toll on your boots so additional care may be necessary.

Tip #2: Clean and condition your boots regularly

Knowing how to clean horse riding boots is vital for their longevity. Leather boots should be maintained every 3 to 6 months, or even more often depending on use and wear.

Regular western riding boot maintenance can ward off unexpected damage during a rodeo.

Tip #3: Check for damage and condition as needed

Inspect your boots for damage on a monthly basis and condition them as needed. This proactive approach can save you from unexpected boot troubles during a rodeo.

Tip #4: Store your boots properly

Proper storage is key to keeping your boots in top condition. Store them in a dry, cool place when not in use to prevent warping or mold, and mildew growth.

Beyond daily care, knowing how to pack cowboy boots in a suitcase correctly for travel can also help maintain their shape and condition.

Tip #5: Learn From The Experts

In addition to these tips, some of the best rodeo riders in the business offer their own advice:

Dirt and dust without proper care can be a boot’s worst enemy. Routinely cleaning and conditioning will prevent the dirt and dust from cutting away and drying out the microscopic fibers that make your cowboy boots strong and durable,” advises the Allens Boots team [4].

But, as with any protective gear, it’s important to ensure a proper fit.

As the FEI advises,

When choosing boots or wraps for your horse, getting the proper fit is key. Something that’s too tight has a real chance of damaging your horse’s soft tissues, and something that’s too loose can quickly become a hazard if it slips or moves around. [5]”

Remember, taking care of your Western boots can make all the difference in the rodeo arena. Every second counts, and you don’t want your boots letting you down.

Choosing Between English and Western Riding Styles

When it comes to horse riding, the choice between Western and English styles is more than a matter of preference.

It’s a decision that can affect your comfort, safety, and performance in the saddle.

English Riding Styles: Short or Long Boots?

As a seasoned rodeo rider who has tested numerous boots over the years, I can tell you that the right boot choice is key to your success in the arena.

Now, if you’ve chosen to ride English, you might be wondering whether short or long boots are the way to go.

The answer primarily hinges on your competitive aspirations.

If you aim to participate in English riding events (Rodeo or not), then scrutinize the dress code of your chosen event. In most cases, tall boots are a requirement.

Nevertheless, younger riders or those at lower levels of competition might have some leeway here.

I recall my early days in riding, where I committed to tall boots from the outset, knowing my competitive future.

Yet, my rigid ankles became challenging, leading me to adopt short boots with half chaps for training sessions. I reserved my tall dress boots solely for competitions.

If you’re fortunate to have more flexible ankles, you might manage with a single pair of tall boots for a significant period.

Remember, choosing between short and long English boots isn’t solely about the competition rules or safety considerations.

Besides, you should also weigh in your budget, the boot’s material, and the style that resonates with your personality.

Neither long nor short boots hold a universal advantage over the other.

Each has its merits and drawbacks, and your choice should align with your personal requirements and preferences.

Now that we’ve cleared that let’s delve into the specific types of riding boots you might encounter.


#1. What are the best styles of Western riding boots for rodeo events?

Cowboy Boots

The best styles are Buckaroo, Cowboy, and Roper boots. Each of them offers a unique mix of safety, flexibility, and Western charm suitable for various rodeo events.

#2. How often should I clean and condition my boots?

You should clean and condition your leather boots every 3 to 6 months, or more often, depending on use and wear. Regular maintenance can prevent unexpected damage during a rodeo.

#3. What factors should I consider when selecting rodeo boots?

Safety, durability, material, cost, and style are crucial factors to consider. Also, the specific rodeo events you participate in can influence your boot selection.

#4. Are all leather boots suitable for rodeo events?

different styles of cowboy boots

Not all leather boots are suitable. The best boots for rodeo events should have a distinct heel and closed toes for safety and be made of high-quality, durable materials like full-grain leather.


So, What styles of western riding boots are best for rodeo events? Here’s the wrap up:

Choosing the perfect Western riding boots for rodeo events is a highly personal experience that requires careful consideration of your unique needs and preferences.

Your boots can significantly impact your rodeo performance, so take the time to find the perfect pair.

Your boots can make or break your rodeo performance. Take the time to find the perfect pair, and you’ll reap the benefits,” advises Karen White, a champion barrel racer.

In conclusion, the right pair of boots can significantly elevate your rodeo experience, providing comfort and safety and a touch of Western charm to your overall ensemble.

man in a rodeo competition


1. https://www.facebook.com/thespruceofficial. Choosing Riding Boots: What to Wear, and What to Avoid [Internet]. The Spruce Pets. 2019 [cited 2019 Aug 12]. Available from: https://www.thesprucepets.com/choosing-boots-for-horseback-riding-1885875

2. Jebara P. The Cowboy Boots Guide: 16 Pairs to Add Some Twang to Your Wardrobe [Internet]. 2022. Available from: https://www.mensjournal.com/style/cowboy-boots

3. How To Care For Leather Cowboy Boots [Internet]. Allens Boots. [cited 2023 May 10]. Available from: https://www.allensboots.com/pages/how-to-care-for-leather-cowboy-boots

4. Leg Protection For Your Horse [Internet]. FEI.org. 2022. Available from: https://www.fei.org/stories/lifestyle/teach-me/leg-protection-your-horse-ultimate-guide

5. Ockert K. Barrel Racing 101: Selecting the proper equipment [Internet]. MSU Extension. 2014. Available from: https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/barrel_racing_101_selecting_the_proper_equipment

Siun L
Siun L

Siun is an all-around animal lover, with a passion for horses. She grew up in the United States, competing in the hunters, equitation, and jumpers. Now living in Ireland, she competes with her own showjumping horses. She is experienced in the care and training of horses, as well as teaching riding lessons. She loves to combine her love for horses with her work. When not working, Siun will be found at the stables, rain or shine.
Find her on FACEBOOK
Read her latest ARTICLES.
Learn more about HER

Leave a Comment


Want The Best Care For Your Horse? Subscribe to our EXPERT RIDER Tips