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How To Choose Horseback Riding Boots


shutterstock_203413810Functionality, support and style are the three reigning traits of horseback riding boots. Whether you prefer the tall, elegant look of black field boots, or the casual comfort of a good fitting paddock boot, all equestrian boots should fit snugly and provide foot and ankle protection. Before you can begin to think about style choices or adding customized barn colors to your boot of choice, first determine: When are you going to use or wear your new boots?


Step 1: Determine when you are going to use and wear your boots.
Horseback riding boots come in several different styles; however, all boots should have a small tread and a heel that is approximately one inch in height. These two attributes will help to prevent your boot from slipping through the stirrup. In addition, the boots shouldn’t be too wide or feature a large boxy toe, which would cause them to become caught on the sides of the stirrup.

Before selecting a boot, determine its use; keeping in mind that boots can be used for multiple purposes, including:

  • Protective boots for wearing around the barn and completing chores.
  • Show boots for eventing, dressage, show jumping, hunter/jumpers or equitation.
  • Schooling boots for at-home riding.


Step 2: Choosing the correct style.
Once you have determined function, you will be able to choose the appropriate style. From casual barn boots to tall dress boots, the style choices are practically limitless:

  • English boots — English boots are available in numerous styles. However, the two main types are paddock boots and tall boots. The former is typically used as a schooling boot and not suited for the show ring, unless it is being worn by a small child in the pony divisions. Tall boots are formal show attire and are available in two different styles, field or dressage.
  • Paddock boots — Paddock boots are short English riding boots that only cover the foot and ankle. They tend to be worn at home or by children in the pony divisions. Adults often use paddock boots for the comfort and support they provide. These boots can easily be worn riding a horse, mucking a stall or setting jumps in the arena. They can be worn with chaps or half-chaps for added comfort and protection.
  • Field boots — Field boots are designed for hunter, equitation, jumping or eventing show rings, and they fit snugly from your foot to the bottom of your knee. Field boots are typically made from a supple leather that will mold itself to your leg for a snug, supportive and stylish fit. Selecting a correctly fitted field boot will depend on your body type, as well as the brand. Some brands are known for their wide-fitting boots, while others are known for creating a customized tall boot. Additional style features include: zippers, spur rests, type of leather and minimal leather designs.
  • Dress boots — Dress boots are typically worn in the dressage show ring, but they can also be seen in the show jumping and eventing disciplines. Traditional dressage boots are made from a stiffer leather and are not designed to drop or soften as much as field boots. With this in mind, a dressage boot can help a rider achieve an elegant look in the saddle.


Step 3: Striking a balance between support, style and functionality.
While many of us like to be fashionable, a balance must be struck between comfort, style and functionality. For example, if you are planning on wearing your boots from dawn until dusk, then tight-fitting tall boots might not be the ideal choice. However, if you need durable boots worn inside and out of the show ring, then a pair of field boots outshines the comfort-focused paddock boot. In conclusion, choosing the correct pair of horseback riding boots will depend on your comfort, style preferences and the boot’s support and functionality. With the latter characteristics in mind, you will soon find yourself wearing the ideal pair of riding boots that are perfectly suited to your equine needs.


Author Bio:    Ashly Snell works in the digital marketing department for Dover Saddlery. Even though they are known for their riding boots, equestrian gear, high-quality tack and other supplies on their website and catalog, they also have a chain of Dover Saddlery Retail Stores.


  1. I really liked and wanted to compliment your article on paddock boots vs tall, and which to use. I am new at this and had to go through a few websites to finally find an article that explains it in layman’s terms.

    I have the tall, black boots and I LOVE them (Ariat) but thought they seemed a little over-kill for schooling especially for a beginner, plus are hotter than a lower boot. It’s in the mid 80’s-high 90’s and sometimes 100’s here in Reno June through September!


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