How to choose riding boots

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Riding boots protect your feet, ankles and legs when you ride.

Riding boots protect your feet, ankles and legs when you ride. They can help prevent injuries, abrasions, bruises and punctures. Riding boots provide support to the ankle and leg which prevents foot fatigue while riding. Because they are a part of an equestrian’s riding attire, they also serve as an accessory that complements the rider’s outfit or looks good on its own as well!

There are different kinds of riding boots for different kinds of equestrian activities:

When you go out to buy riding boots, it can be overwhelming to see all the different kinds of riding boots. There are so many options and styles! It’s important to know what kind of riding you will be doing when choosing which pair of boots is right for you.

Riding boots are made for specific equestrian activities. English riders wear a heavier boot with a higher heel than western riders because they need extra support while they’re jumping or doing dressage on their horses. In general, most English riders prefer dressage-style boots that have a slightly elevated heel and come up over the ankle bone (called “ankle-high” or “full-ankle”). However, some may choose hunt or polo boots instead because those styles allow them more freedom of movement and flexibility when jogging around on their horse’s back during competition (i.e., in the show ring).

Types of Riding Boots

There are 3 main types of riding boots:

  • Dressage Boots
  • Hunting Boots
  • Polo Boots

Dressage Boots

If you are looking to invest in a pair of dressage boots, there are several things you should know.

  • Dressage boots usually have a higher heel than field boots. That’s because they are designed to provide the support needed for lateral work and balance aids during competitions.
  • Dressage boots tend to be black in color so that judges will be able to easily see them during competitions. However, some brands offer colored options if you prefer something other than black.
  • Most dressage boots are suitable for all three phases of competition: walk-trot-canter (WTC), show jumping (SJ), and dressage (DR). It is important that your boot has enough grip on the sole so that you don’t lose your footing when performing these movements at high speeds or over uneven terrain!

Hunting Boots

Hunting boots are made of leather and are high-cut. They are designed for jumping and fox hunting, which require more agility than other types of riding. The boots are lighter than field boots because they’re not meant to be worn all day on the trail or in deep mud or snow. You’ll find them available in a variety of colors as well!

These boots have a shaft that is higher than dressage boots, so if you’re going to be doing any kind of jumping, it might be best to try on several pairs before buying yours!

Polo Boots

Polo boots are tall boots that are usually made of leather. They can be knee-high or just below the knee, depending on your preference. Polo boots are typically black in color and have a smooth exterior to avoid fatigue when riding.

Polo boots also have a rounded toe and they’re made of a lightweight material to help you avoid fatigue while riding.

Western Riding Boots

Western boots are designed for western riding. They are made of a soft leather, usually cowhide and have a high heel to prevent the foot from sliding through the stirrup. Western boots are usually made with a rounded toe, high heel and no lacing.

Things to Consider When Buying Riding Boots

When buying riding boots, there are several things you should consider.

  • The material of the boots: Leather is the most common material used in making riding boots. However, synthetic materials like nylon and vinyl have become popular as well. They’re cheaper and more durable than leather, but they don’t offer the same flexibility or comfort as real leather.
  • The height of your boot shafts: In general, field boots have lower shafts than dress boots do because field riders need to be able to walk through mud without getting their feet dirty or having their pant legs drag along the ground (which can be uncomfortable for both horse and rider).


There are a few different materials that are used to make a boot. Leather is the most popular and most expensive, but it’s also the most breathable, comfortable and durable material that you can buy. Synthetic materials such as man-made leather and vinyl can be waterproof which makes them easier for riding in wet conditions, however they aren’t as breathable as real leather boots making them less comfortable on hot days.

Height of the boot shaft

For riders who prefer traditional dress boots, the shaft height is usually around 6” or 7”. This height is also ideal for taller ladies and those with long legs. Taller shafts help a rider feel secure in the saddle because their leg position is more upright when mounted on their horse.

It’s important to note that these longer shafts may be too tall for some people, especially if they’re used to wearing heeled shoes or boots all day long. When someone has a lot of experience riding, they can probably get away with wearing slightly higher than normal footwear; however, beginners should consider getting something shorter so they don’t feel too insecure while learning how to ride properly.

Styling – dress boots, field boots or paddock boots?

Before you buy a pair of boots, it’s important to consider what kind of riding you will be doing. Will they mostly be used for going to the barn? Or do you plan on using them for jumping? If this is the case, then dress boots might not be ideal. They’re designed for comfort and stability in the saddle rather than durability or protection from the ground (as are field boots).

Will these boots mainly be used for competition? Then paddock boots might be a better choice as they have more support than other types of riding boot but also provide less protection against hitting something hard on the ground if your horse suddenly stops short.

Straight or Spanish cut?

There are two main types of riding boot styles: the straight cut and the Spanish cut. The Spanish cut has a higher heel and a lower shaft, which can be more comfortable for the horse because it allows for more movement in the hindquarters. This is often used for dressage and other show competitions.

However, if you’re looking for something that will withstand everyday riding and also work well with jumping or hunting, then straight-cut boots may be better suited to your needs.

Rear zipper vs. front lacing?

Zippers are easier to get on and off, but they can come undone more easily. Zippers can also break more often than laces—and if that happens, you’re going to have a hard time riding in your boots.

Laces are more secure because you can cinch them tight for a good fit and then tie them together at the top of your ankle. They’re also easier to replace if something goes wrong with them (like when I got my boot stuck in my stirrup). And since lace-up boots can be adjusted by adding or removing laces from their eyelets, you’ll never need just one size; it’s always possible to make adjustments based on how much weight fluctuates over time!

Leather vs. synthetic?

You’ve decided to buy a pair of riding boots and now you’re faced with another decision: leather or synthetic?

Here we’ll talk about the benefits and drawbacks of each material, as well as some more styles that are out there.

  • Leather is durable. It has a longer life than synthetic materials, which can make it cost-effective in the long run. Leather also provides more support for your feet and ankles, so if you have weak ankles or tend to sprain them easily, this may be an important factor for you when choosing your boot style.
  • Synthetic materials are lightweight and easy to clean compared to leather boots (which should be cleaned by hand only), making them a good choice if you plan on doing lots of walking around at shows or events on foot during competitions or clinics. They’re also more affordable than most leather boots available on the market today.* Finally – although both materials have their benefits – I personally find that synthetics provide more comfort than their counterparts because they don’t tend to have as much padding inside them (especially around where your toes will rest). If this sounds like something that would suit your needs better than traditional lace-up riding boots then definitely give them a try!

Your feet will thank you for buying a great pair of riding boots with them in mind.

If you buy a pair of boots that are too tight, your feet will be in pain from the beginning. You may even develop blisters that can keep you from riding for days. And if your boots are too loose and slide around on your feet, well…you’ll get blisters as well!

It’s important to know how your feet fit into shoes before buying them so that you won’t have any issues with discomfort (or worse!).

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