The very special working relationship between horse and human goes back millennia, so it's not surprising that specialized clothing and footwear and has been developed over time to keep the rider comfortable during many hours in the saddle.
The availability of modern fabrics and materials means that the process has sped up and the good news is that horse riding has never been more comfortable than it is today!
Although comfort is always king in any sporting activity, there's no doubt that horse riding involves an element of risk, so protective clothing and footwear is essential.
Safety and protection from injury are both important factors to add into the mix when selecting the best riding boots. The key feature of any horse riding boots is the small heel which prevents the foot slipping through the stirrup.
Whether you choose long (dress or field) boots or ankle-length jodhpur (or paddock) boots will depend largely on the type of riding you're doing but also to some degree on personal taste.
If you're planning on riding competitively, for example, you'll need to follow the dress code for your particular discipline. If, on the other hand, you're just hacking in the countryside for pleasure, you may find that jodhpur boots paired with calf-length chaps (gaiters) are the most practical option. The old adage ‘horses for courses’ comes to mind.
Price Guide & Amazon Rating
Dublin Ladies River Boots
Tuffrider Men’s Baroque Dress Boots
Mountain Horse Sovereign Field Boot
Ariat Windermere Women’s Waterproof Riding Boot
Ariat Women’s Extreme Tall H20 Insulated Winter Riding Boots
Tuffrider Ladies Starter Front Zip Paddock Boots
Shires Men’s Rubber Long Riding Boots
Equistar Child’s All-weather Zip Paddock Boots
Why is the right footwear so important for riding?
Well, you wouldn't dream of going climbing in a pair of flip-flops, would you? Obviously, you wouldn't have the protection from the elements and from injury that you need and the task would be impossible.
Horse riding is an exhilarating and highly enjoyable pastime but you do need the right basic kit to make sure you stay comfortable and stay safe in the saddle. Your footwear doesn't need to be expensive but it does need to be specifically designed to ensure that your foot stays in the right position in the stirrup.
If, for example, you ride in shoes or boots with no proper heel, like trainers, for example, there's the possibility that your foot will slip through the stirrup with catastrophic consequences that don't really even bear thinking about.
We'll draw a veil over that, then, and re-focus on the all the fun that can be had in the saddle, provided that you have the right equipment. Read on to find our top picks of the best horse riding boots for all disciplines.
Types of Riding Boot
Long boots (dress vs. field)
Once you start looking, you’ll be amazed at the range of options available when it comes to long boots: from versatile field boots for all types of riding; dress boots for disciplines like dressage and show jumping; hunt or ‘top’ boots which are similar to dress boots but with an added cuff at the top, often in a contrasting color.
As with anything, the more the choice, the more confusing it is to select the right style for your own needs. We’ve tried to narrow things down for you by rating and reviewing a few tried and tested styles of the best long horse riding boots.
If you’re planning on riding competitively, then your choice of boot will be governed by the dress code for your chosen discipline. Dressage riders, for example, can wear any color boots as long as they’re black!
Field boots are more versatile than dress boots and they’re often easier to break in as they’re usually made from softer more pliable leather. The other added benefit of field boots over dress boots is the front lacing which gives better flexibility and movement at the ankle.
When it comes to multi-purpose long boots that will take you from barn to saddle and maybe even to the shopping mall (if you keep them clean enough!), there’s a whole lot of choice of color, shape, weight and style.
If you’re looking for boots that are easy to slip on and off and will be just as useful for walking your dog or popping to the shopping mall as for horse riding, then the versatility of classic, ankle-length, jodhpur boots may make them the right choice for you.
They’re sometimes also known as paddock boots.
Many people aren’t so keen on the look of jodhpurs paired with jodhpur boots. This attitude isn’t just about style.
It’s also about practicality and safety as the lower leg is more exposed to potential injury than with long boots.
This is where calf-length chaps (also known as gaiters) come in, which can be either leather or synthetic.
They are snugly fitted to the calf and fastened with a full-length zip.
Not only do they offer more protection to the lower limbs, but they also help to prevent chaffing and pinching from the stirrups which can be a problem with jodhpur boots.
Features to Look for in the Best Riding Boots
If ever there were a topic to divide a room in the world of equestrianism, this might be it! There will always be purists who insist on the superior appearance, performance, durability and comfort of leather boots. In the past, they may well have been justified in their opinion.
Realistically, though, things have moved on with the development of lightweight, breathable, waterproof synthetic materials which may often out-perform leather, especially in terms of practicality and often economy too.
Of course, in the show ring traditional leather riding boots are always going to be preferable. If your days are spent not only riding horses but working in the yard or the barn and in all weathers, then the most practical option could be synthetic.
Once you’ve really got the bug, though, you may well find yourself investing in synthetic boots for everyday use and a pair of smart leather dress boots for competing.
Pull-on vs Zipped
If you’ve ever experienced the kind of comedic hopping ‘dance’ which often plays out as you struggle to haul long boots over sweaty or swollen feet, then you’ll know that zipped boots are a cinch by comparison.
That doesn’t apply to short boots, though. The good old faithful jodhpur boot, for example, is designed with elasticized sides and also pull loops at the front and back to slip on within minimum difficulty and often with a front zip, too.
Many of you riders out there will be familiar with what we call popsicle feet syndrome!
If you’re in search of the best winter riding boots and you want to be sure never to suffer from this agonizing condition ever again, make sure you look for boots with thermal or neoprene lining which will keep your toes toasty warm in the barn, in the field or in the saddle.
Being around horses, whether for pleasure or professionally, means you’re going to be out in all weathers which – unless you live in the desert! - means you’ll frequently find yourself paddling around in surface water.
Suffering with wet feet, which rapidly become very cold feet in winter temperatures, really isn’t something you want to consider.
Waterproof boots, therefore, are not a luxury, they’re pretty much a necessity when it comes to choosing multi-purpose boots which will take you from barn to saddle.
OK, so the often unspoken truth about feet is that they sweat. They actually sweat a lot! Horse riding and all the work around the barn is very physical. You’ll pretty soon work up a sweat and that inevitably means squelchy feet!
Apart from being uncomfortable, feet which are wet are likely to develop blisters and other unpleasant and uncomfortable conditions like athlete’s foot. And don’t even get us started on the odor…!
So, our advice is to take advantage of the developments there have been in the materials used in the design of footwear and choose riding boots with breathable linings.
Steel toe caps
Although far from being essential, you may like to consider investing in riding boots with steel toe caps. Horses have an infuriating tendency not to respect the vulnerability of delicate human toes. So, selecting boots with built-in protection for your precious and irreplaceable digits is definitely worth considering.
The down side, of course, will be the added weight of the steel toe cap which could be a disadvantage if you have to walk any distance. In the end, this will come down to personal choice and personal circumstances.
8 Best Riding Boots Reviewed
1. Dublin Ladies River Boots
Ever since Dublin boots hit the market some years ago now they’ve been top of the pops as multi-purpose boots which are just as suitable for riding, for going into town or wading around in wet and mucky yard.
They really can do it all. Available in two colors (black and two-tone brown), they’re cute looking as well as being super-practical.
They’re not the cheapest boots out there but the leather uppers make them pretty durable. In reality, it’s their enduring popularity that’s probably the highest recommendation for these boots – that many people just can’t be wrong!
You’ll find they’re comfortable for riding and will help keep your foot in the optimal position in the stirrup; they’re also waterproof and warm in winter, with an outsole which will give you good traction in slippery conditions.
If you just want to invest in one pair of boots, then these could be the ones you’ve been looking for. Be prepared to take time to break these boots in, especially pulling them on and off but this becomes easier with time.
Will These Shoes Fit Me?
2. Tuffrider Men’s Baroque Dress Boots
These stylish men’s dress boots with Spanish cut top-line are made of premium soft leather which makes them elegant as well as comfortable. The softness of the leather means that they don’t take long to break in and the cushioned insoles give a snug and comfortable feel. The glued-on rubber soles are sturdy and fit well in the stirrup.
They’re easy to pull on as they have a full-length zipper at the back and the zip closure means that they fit the calf snugly, enhancing the stylish look. No hopping around on one foot while you try and pull on these boots - you just unzip and slip your foot straight in.
As with all leather horse riding boots, you’ll need to care for them to keep them in good shape but, if you do, they should serve you for a long time.
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3. Mountain Horse Sovereign Field Boot
There are few, if any, more stylish, traditional and timeless field boots than these from Mountain Horse. Apart from being very attractive, they’re also very practical in that they’re specifically designed to encourage a comfortable heels-down position.
They’re available in brown and black and have the typical front lacing of field boots that make them more flexible and closer-fitting than dress boots.
If you like the Spanish cut top-line, then you’ll really love the styling of the Mountain Horse Sovereign, which is enhanced by the metal logo badge. The zipper at the back is full length, strong and durable, so you’ll get the snuggest possible fit to your calf.
You’ll also find that the hidden hardwearing elastic strip running along the inside of the back of the shaft area and also the cushioned foot bed will increase comfort and give a superior customized fit.
The only negative we can find with these boots is the price tag, which is definitely high end, but we think that the many design features justify the expense. Our advice would be to pay close attention to the manufacturer’s care instructions. If you do that, you’ll extend the life of the boots and make them worth every cent.
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4. Ariat Windermere Women’s Waterproof Riding Boot
Without question, Ariat sell some of the best horse riding boots on the market and have justly gained the trust of equestrians worldwide.
The versatility and style of these particular leather boots make them a winner for everyday riding and working around the barn yet they won’t look out of place if you go into town to run errands.
Not only that, they’ll be just as comfortable summer or winter as they’re breathable and waterproof. The Duratread rubber outsole is lightweight, durable and stirrup-friendly. The specially designed four-layer insole will keep your feet comfortable during those long hours in the saddle and working around the barn.
As with any leather boots, you need to take good care of them and follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. They’re at the more expensive end of the scale for riding boots but, if you look after them, they’ll be around a lot longer than cheaper alternatives.
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5. Ariat Women’s Extreme Tall H20 Insulated Winter Riding Boots
If you’re looking for the best possible performance from winter horse riding boots, then we suggest you check out these from Ariat. They’re comfortable for riding, working and walking and, no matter how chilly it gets, you’re unlikely to suffer from the dreaded ‘popsicle-toe syndrome’!
The waterproof full-grain leather and suede/neoprene shaft combines with a waterproof membrane construction and also Thinsulate material to banish the cold and damp. At the same time, the breathable lining prevents feet from overheating.
The full-length back zipper makes the boots easy to slip on and off. The addition of reflective piping increases your visibility and therefore safety in dark winter conditions.
Ariat have also included an adjustable cord at the top line to keep rain and snow out of your boots. The Duratread rubber outsole is lightweight but also gives superior traction in slippery conditions.
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6. Tuffrider Ladies Starter Front Zip Paddock Boots
These smart and practical synthetic leather-look paddock boots from Tuffrider are top sellers for good reason. They’re affordable, durable and suitable for all day, every day use – not only around the barn and in the saddle but for casual wear too.
The elastic side gussets means a snug fit around your ankles but the front zip means that they’re really easy to slip on and off (much easier than the traditional pull loops for slip-on jodhpur boots).
The synthetic leather is easy to keep clean and smart – just a quick wipe with a damp cloth will bring back their shine. You can choose from Mocha or Black.
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7. Shires Men’s Rubber Long Riding Boots
If you’re new to horse riding, then the chances are you won’t want to be splashing too much cash at this point. That said, you also need to make sure that you will be comfortable and safe when you’re riding and investing in a pair of riding boots is essential.
These boots from Shires won’t break the bank and they could be just what you’re looking for as a newbie to the sport.
The smooth and shiny leather-look rubber uppers are smart and easy to keep clean. The lining is padded and soft to the touch.
All in all, these boots could be the best riding boots for beginners at the same time as being the best inexpensive riding boots out there in the marketplace in our opinion.
Will These Shoes Fit Me?
8. Equistar Child’s All-weather Zip Paddock Boots
When kids are starting out with riding, you never know if it’s going to be their thing or if they’re going to decide they want to learn to play the sax instead. With that fact in mind, you don’t want to be spending a fortune on kit that they don’t really use and ends up being donated.
These kids’ horse riding boots from Equistar are great all-rounders which give all-weather comfort for riding or working in the barn. The zip front and the pull loop at the back means they’re easy to get on and off.
Equistar have a patented ‘Sole System’ which is long-lasting and designed to be lightweight, to provide comfort and improved flexibility.
These boots are synthetic but look and feel like leather, so they’re smart and easy to care for – just a wipe with a damp cloth and you’re done.
Will These Shoes Fit Me?
Caring for Your Riding Boots
Synthetic or the very popular rubber riding boots are easy to care for as they can be wiped clean at the end of a long day in the saddle and at the yard.
If you’ve invested in leather boots, you’ll have to work a bit harder to keep them in good shape as the leather will perish and lose its shine and flexibility over time.
You should always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for caring for your riding boots to maximize their longevity and make sure you get the best value out of your purchase.
Other Important Equipment for Horse Riding
You know the jokey saying: ‘If you want to get ahead, get a hat.’? Well, that’s certainly true of horse riding! Our advice is not to even think about getting on a horse unless you have the best possible quality protection for your head.
Just think about our old nursery rhyme pal, Humpty Dumpty. It didn’t end well for him and it could be the same for you.
Make sure any riding hat or helmet that you use meets the current safety standards; these are increasing all the time, so any older-style helmet is unlikely to give you the impact protection you really need. Don’t ever cut corners on vital protection for your head.
Large numbers of riders these days wouldn’t even consider getting on a horse without wearing a body protector. Many people think that they’re for back protection in the event of a fall.
That may be a significant benefit but their real purpose is actually to protect vital organs, especially from impact against fences while jumping. Indeed, in some equestrian disciplines it’s now mandatory to wear a body protector.
Contrary to these safety conscious riders, there are probably a larger proportion of riders who wear no such protection, except when obliged to during competitions.
As with anything, it comes down to personal preference and circumstances and attitude to risk. We’d advise you to think carefully about the inevitable dangers involved in horse riding and make your own decision.
There are times of year in colder climates when it would be impossible to ride without gloves. However, riding gloves aren’t only for warmth and protection from the elements, they also give additional grip on the reins which can be helpful, especially when your mount is forward-going.
Added to which, should the worst happen and you and your mount part company, then gloves will help to protect your hands from injury.
Gloves also form an important part of the smart turnout needed for competitive riding. For pleasure riding it’s a matter of personal choice but you may well find that you’re more comfortable wearing them than not.
These days, snug-fitting, super-stretchy jodhpurs come in a rainbow spectrum, ranging from the traditional cream through pinks, blues and purples to black.
Personal taste will have quite a lot of influence on your choice but, since messing about with horses tends to be a pretty mucky business, most riders opt for darker shades for everyday wear and save the cream ones for competitions.
Breeches, which come down to just below the knee, are favored by some as alternative to full-length jodhpurs but must, of course, be paired with long or dress boots.
Chaps (or gaiters)
If you prefer not to ride in long boots, which some people find a bit restrictive and over-warm for comfort, especially in summer, then half chaps and short jodhpur boots can combine practicality with smartness.
Chaps also give protection to the lower leg and will help to prevent any chaffing and pinching by the stirrup leathers.
Another thing to consider, if style is important to you, is that jodhpur boots twinned with jodhpurs is a look more associated with ‘pony club’ and you may feel that those years are (some way) behind you.
So, there are plenty of dedicated riding socks out there on the market and, if that’s what you want to spend your money on, then go ahead.
If, on the other hand, you’re just looking for functionality, to cope with current weather conditions, then all that’s necessary is to find snugly-fitting socks which will either keep your feet cool or toasty warm according to the season.
Just be sure that the boots you select are roomy enough to allow you to wear thicker socks during the colder months.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I use my riding boots for mucking out and general horse care?
There are some great boots on the market these days which bridge the gap between a dedicated riding boot and a boot which will also perform well in the yard or the barn or even the shopping mall.
Clearly, if you’ve spent a whole heap of cash on a beautiful pair of leather riding boots, though, you’re not going to want to risk damaging them by wading about in muck.
If that’s the case, you’ll also need to buy a pair of boots which are rough and tough enough to cope with the demands of the hours of hard labor (albeit a labor of love!) in the stables.
Can I ride in walking boots or trainers?
For English-style riding, the short answer is NO! Never! Walking boots will have treads which are too thick for you to feel the stirrup, the instep is like to be too high to fit in the stirrup and may also be too wide. Some trainers may present the same problems.
Added to which, both types of footwear have no structured heel and this is an absolutely vital component of boots designed for horse riding.
How long can I expect a pair of riding boots to last?
This all depends, of course, on how often you ride and how much use the boots get when you’re away from the barn, so it’s impossible to give a timeframe.
As with all things, quality products usually prove to be more durable than cheaper alternatives, so if you’re a keen rider our advice would be to buy the best riding boots you can afford at the outset.
How long will it take to break in my riding boots?
Leather and synthetic boots will respond differently, as will different types of boots.
On the whole, long boots – and especially those made of leather – may take a little longer to break in but their superior durability means that once you’re over the hump of the breaking in period they’re likely to serve you well for a long time.
It’s often said that there’s nothing so good for the inside of a man/woman as the outside of a horse. If you’re even reading this article, then we can safely say that you’re in agreement with this sentiment!
The joy we feel when we ride, no matter how intense it is, pretty quickly evaporates if our equipment lets us down. Cold and discomfort inevitably equals crankiness!
In our experience, one of the key bits of kit which can cause that rapid cross over from joy to misery is ill-fitting or poorly-designed footwear which just isn’t up to the job. Do yourself a favor, then, and check out our selection of the best riding boots.
Make the right choice and the misery of cold, damp, cramped feet will be a thing of the past and you’ll be riding out into the sunset with a smile on your face.