In the equestrian world, we know that the horse tends to come first. They eat before we do, get tucked into bed before we do, and often even wear nicer clothes than we do. When it comes to equipment, it’s important not to neglect the human half of the partnership, though. Your equine partner might need really nice horse boots for travelling and competition, but so do you!
A good pair of riding boots is about more than looks. They’re about safety, form, function, comfort and good looks. You might decide to buy a pair of boots simply because of their appeal, but there are important factors you need to consider when shopping for riding boots. And so, we have put together a list of things to consider.
Things to Consider When Buying Riding Boots
Safety is a priority when it comes to horse riding, which is why the heel is just as important as any other horse riding equipment. One of the most dangerous scenarios for a horse rider is getting their foot stuck in the stirrup. Your horse might not stop galloping because you’ve fallen off and are stuck. This means you could get dragged until your horse stops or is stopped.
The heel of your boot must be thick enough not to slide through the stirrup, meaning a 1- to 2-inch heel is recommended. Anything higher than 2 inches can tamper with the normal sitting position on your horse, making the ride uncomfortable. If you’re competing, a compromised riding position can hinder your performance.
Bottom Sole Tread
If horse riding boots have treads that are too thick, your foot will be too snug in the stirrup, meaning you might get stuck. You want to find heels that have a rubber sole with light traction. You also have to make sure that the rubber sole doesn’t go beyond the foot as this could also result in you getting stuck and possibly dragged if you fall off your horse.
Horse riding boots are made from different types of material that range from leather to rubber to advanced synthetics. You might want to consider the material that best suits the weather conditions that you’re riding in. If you’re riding in extremely high temperatures, you might continuously sweat in rubber boots, making the ride uncomfortable. Leather material might be more suitable for hot weather conditions.
You can’t afford to buy the wrong size of horse riding boots, as this will be a major drawback during your riding lessons or training sessions. Boots that are bigger or smaller than you need them to be will be uncomfortable and prevent you from keeping a correct position.
Boots that are too small can hurt your feet and cause swelling. Too-large boots mean you’ll have a hard time finding the right spot on the stirrup. Don’t be tempted to compromise on fit, even if the boots you’re looking at are only half a size off but deeply discounted.
Many disciplines have specific boots that riders typically wear. Whether you’re partaking in dressage, cow work, trail riding, pleasure riding or endurance, to name a few, you have to find the pair of boots that will allow you to perform well in that discipline.
If you’re riding in a specific discipline, looking at what others are wearing will give you a good idea of the kind of boots that are generally worn. If you’re switching disciplines and want to look the part, ask someone in that discipline, or do some research online.
Having considered the safety features of boots, you can then look into the kind of style you prefer. You’re not likely to find a wide array of style options in something like a paddock boot, but there are enough subtle differences to keep it interesting. You can complement your horse riding attire with a pair of boots for a signature riding style.
Where To Purchase
You also have to carefully consider where you’re buying your boots from. You don’t want to run the risk of compromising safety features and product quality by purchasing from stores that don’t have a traceable record of high-quality sales. You can find this information by asking the people you ride with. You can also read online reviews on store websites and independent online reviews. Make sure to use your discretion when analyzing online reviews as not all are authentic.
Boots make up only a part of the essential items that you need to purchase for horse riding. You can always find boots, even if you’re working with a small budget. Remember, though, that a cheaper pair of boots that falls apart in a year isn’t as good a value as a well-made pair of boots that lasts 10 years. Make sure that you consider the long-term replacement costs when you make your choice.
The kind of boots you purchase determines the level of safety when riding your horse, as well as your comfort level and performance. Before you purchase riding boots, you must consider various factors such as the heel, sole, material, size, horse riding discipline, place of purchase and cost. Make sure to purchase your boots from reputable and recommended vendors to avoid poor quality and safety-compromised boots.
Feature image: Melanie Mauer; Image 1: Markus Spiske