Riding boots are the quintessence of equestrian dress. While they are known and admired for their distinctive looks, equestrian boots serve several practical purposes when riding horses.
First, the high leather shaft protects the lower leg from rubbing against the saddle and becoming irritated or getting pinched.
Second, the heel forms a “hook” to keep the foot in the correct position on the stirrup without slipping through the opening.
Third, the boot features a somewhat tapered, reinforced toe to slide effortlessly into the stirrup and protect the wearer’s foot.
Lastly, the sole is smooth so that the foot will easily slide out of the stirrup during a throw or fall; this prevents injuries to the legs, ankles, and feet.
Newer horse enthusiasts may not realize how many different types of riding boots there are, or that certain types are considered “appropriate” and “inappropriate” depending on the style of riding. Riders who show horses are more familiar with dress code requirements but will still benefit from detailed information on boots.
This guide outlines the different types of riding boots available and gives specific shopping tips so that any buyer can make a more informed purchase.
How to Buy Riding Boots
The most critical part of buying riding boots is getting the right fit. Discomfort will make it difficult to move properly and work smoothly with the horse. Not all footwear is cut the same, so even though you may usually wear one size, not all riding boots in that size are going to fit perfectly. Be sure to try several pairs of boots on in order to get the best fit. As with any footwear, the boots should be inspected all around to check construction and seaming and to look for any damage or irregularities. Riding boots need to be durable.
Make sure the heel isn’t too high or chunky. That will help them last through lots of seasons & styles.
An almond or more pointed toe is better than a completely round toe as these shapes will help elongate your leg. But don’t go too pointy! That’s a different kind of boot altogether.
They should hit you just above the widest part of your calf or 2-4 inches below your knee. If they are too short they can make you look stumpy.
Real leather or faux leather is your choice depending on your feelings, but I will say that real leather ones will last for years and years and can be repaired and polished whereas faux leather will fall apart eventually and cannot be polished or repaired as easily. Also, I have found it difficult to buy faux leather brown riding boots that don’t look cheap. But, if that’s not your priority then that’s okay, too.
Measure your calves! And note the shaft circumference on the boots. You don’t want them too tight or they’ll be uncomfortable and you’ll never be able to tuck pants into them. Note: the calf circumference noted on most online shoe stores is measured from a size 7 or 8. The larger the shoe size typically the larger the calf width as well. If you’re right on the edge of the stated calf circumference but your shoe size is larger than the one listed as the standard then I would suggest going ahead and ordering them. Zappos has free return shipping so it’s easy to send back anything that doesn’t work.
I personally prefer to avoid anything that has a strap at the ankle as I think these can make you look sawed off at the ankles. Some people don’t minds this, though. Try on a pair that have an ankle strap and see how you feel when you look in the mirror.
The fewer the embellishments the classier the boots look. Simpler boots also tend to outlast trends.
Brown boots or black boots? Personally, I wear my brown riding boots WAY more often than I wear my black riding boots. If you’re okay with mixing brown and black you can always pair your brown boots with black pants. But, really, it just comes down to personal preference. Sometimes it’s easier to make black riding boots look classier for the office and brown more casual, but you can make outfits with either.
Let’s be honest about price. Nice riding boots that last will not be cheap. $100 seems to be the lowest price you can expect to pay for a new pair unless you find a great deal in the clearance section at DSW or have some killer coupons. Both of my pairs cost me just under $100 and both are from DSW. Leather riding boot can cost upwards of $700 to $1000 or more. I certainly don’t think you have to spend that much, though! $100 to $150 should get you a great pair that will last you season after season.
Finally, think about your lifestyle and where you plan to wear them. Are you mostly casual? Then you might be able to spring for a pair with more flair. Do you get tired of your clothes and shoes and want to replace them every season? Then why not get something trendy. But if you want to wear them to a more business casual office then you’ll probably have to stick with a more traditional pair.
Looking for riding boots to sexy up your looks? We have collected a list of riding boots from Amazon to help you easily find the perfect pair. Also, don’t miss our tips on how to choose a perfect pair below.