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13 Best Horse Riding Boots: English and Western

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Horse riding boots are an essential piece of equipment for horseback riders, protecting their legs from chafing, providing stability in the stirrups, and helping you feel connected to your horse. Horse riding boots come in various styles, from traditional English boots to Western cowboy boots.

I began my research on riding boots by talking to friends and family members about their favorite riding footwear. I heard riders exult the virtues of their boots and began to recognize that personal bias influences their choices. For example, some riders continue a family tradition of wearing only one style or brand of riding boots.

So, to come up with my list of best horse riding boots, I decided to start from scratch and make a critical evaluation of them. In addition, I go through the essential features of all good riding boots and provide information to help you find your perfect pair.

Picture of polo player wearing English style riding boots,

Choosing the best horse riding boots.

Wearing the proper riding boots can improve your riding by helping to keep your heels down, stabilizing your legs, and maintaining a good connection with your horse.

Style is a personal thing, especially footwear. But when it comes to choosing horse riding boots, they must include some essential features: designed for riding, comfortable, high-quality material, and can meet the demands of your riding discipline.

Picture of person horseback riding wearing western-style riding boots,

What is the difference between riding boots and regular boots?

Riding boots are designed specifically to fit the saddle stirrup for enhanced safety and control when sitting astride a horse. Designer and standard walking boots focus is comfort and fashion. So how do these design objects differ in the construction of the boot?

The heel of riding boots is taller than a regular boot to fit a stirrup and stop your foot from sliding through. Riding boots also have a slick sole and a sturdy toe.

In contrast, regular boots have heels of all shapes. Ones designed for comfort typically have wide low heels that provide good stability. Fashion boots, on the other hand, may have tall narrow heels.

Regular walking boots’ soles are typically broad and provide traction, which is excellent for walking around but difficult to get in and out of a stirrup. The slick sole of a riding boot slips out of a stirrup easily and prevents it from getting stuck.

I rode a friend’s horse recently. He had a new horse and asked me to try it out, the ride was unplanned, and I had my work boots on but decided to take the horse for a spin anyway.

When I dismounted, my boot got hung up in the stirrup; I had one foot on the ground and the other in the air. The sole was too wide and thick, and my foot got hung up. Luckily the horse was calm and didn’t run off because I was stuck and would’ve been severely injured.

Even though I didn’t get hurt, the experience scared me enough never to ride a horse without the correct footwear again. Also, most riding boots, Western and English, have high shafts to protect your lower legs.

Are short or long riding boots better?

I prefer to ride in ropers with a short shaft, even though long boots protect your legs better when riding. The reason I wear ropers is that I live in hot south Louisiana, and ropers are cooler.

Long English riding boots provide ideal leg protection from chafing and pinching from the saddle leathers, and they also encourage better leg position when riding.

The downside to long English riding boots is that most aren’t comfortable walking footwear and are hot. Short paddock boots are a great alternative, and you can ride them with half chaps when necessary to add protection for your legs.

In the winter, long boots provide better warmth than short boots. As you can readily see, each has advantages and disadvantages, so neither is better than the other; they are different.

What are the most comfortable riding boots?

A good riding boot is designed with the equestrian in mind, but it must also be comfortable. A comfortable boot fits your foot, has a soft footbed, and is made of high-quality and pliable material.

People from all walks of life wear riding boots, even those who never intend to ride a horse. Tall riding boots are fashionable, but I’m including only suitable riding boots suitable in this review.

Most comfortable English boots

The most comfortable equestrian riding boot is the Mountain Horse field boots. Mountain Horse makes high-quality boots and only use the best material.

Note: Proper fit is essential for comfort. Long English riding boots should not be too tight around your calf. Two fingers should fit snugly between the top of the boot shaft and your leg; if three fits, the boots are too loose, and if you can get only one in, they’re too tight.

Ariats’ Heritage Field riding boots are also comfortable and are made with a zipper and their patented 4LR foot-bed system that provides superior comfort.

Hunt boots are also comfortable because they are designed with soft leather at the top that is pliable and less likely to pinch you, as some tall stiff leather boots will.

Most comfortable western horse riding boots.

The most comfortable western ropers for riding are Justin Ropers; they have a short heel, but it’s still significant enough to prevent your foot from slipping through and are surprisingly comfortable walking footwear.

Ropers are a style of riding boots designed with a short shaft and heel. The heel is still significant enough to keep your foot from sliding through a stirrup and comfortable walking.

I like short-shaft boots because they’re cooler and easy to move around than boots with high shafts. I find the trade-off of losing protection for comfort worth it, and these are typically the boots I wear when riding.

My choice for the most comfortable riding boots with traditional shafts is the Ariat Heritage round-toe Western boots. They have everything you need in a good pair of riding boots and are comfortable too.

Ariat Heritage boots are built with ATS technology that gives you excellent stability, arch support, and comfort. I have a couple of pairs of Ariats with the same design and love the feel of them.

When you choose a pair of riding boots, take your time and select a pair of good-quality, comfortable boots. I’m a believer in getting value for my dollar, but there are better places to cut corners than your riding boots. If you ride consistently and buy the right boots, it’s worth the investment of your time and money.

The best English horse riding boots

English riding boots are categorized as long or short riding boots. And within long-riding boots, there are three primary styles, dress boots, field boots, and hunt boots.

Best English field boots

Field boots are easy to recognize; they have long shafts with laces. The laces allow more flexibility to the rider’s foot and are more comfortable than dress boots.

They are popular boots for jumping and lower levels of dressage. Field boots are not worn in higher competition levels of dressage.

Ariat Heritage field boots come in men’s and women’s styles and are my pick for best field boots. I chose these boots because they are durable, comfortable, and attractive. There is a good selection of field boots; Mountain Horse and Dublin are fine bootmakers and offer excellent field boots.

Best English dress boots

Dress boots are used in dressage and don’t have laces which gives them an elegant, clean appearance. And unlike field boots which are roomy and flexible at the ankle, dress boots don’t allow your foot to bend easily. They are the stiffest of all the long English boots.

The best English dress boots TuffRider Men’s Baroque Dress Boots. I mentioned that dress boots are stiff; well, these boots are the exception. They are made from high-quality leather that doesn’t pinch you and is surprisingly flexible. The zipper makes it easy to get them on and off.

For the price, you won’t find a better pair of dress boots.

Best paddock boots for riding

Paddock boots or short riding boots come up to your ankle and typically have a zipper. They are the most comfortable of the English riding boots and are relatively inexpensive.

They are also versatile and comfortable enough to wear while walking and working at the barn. A quality pair of paddock boots are durable and last a long time.

You can get the same functionality as tall boots by combining paddock boots with half chaps. Riders so often pair them with jodhpur pants that some refer to paddock boots as jodhpur boots.

The best paddock boots for riding are the TuffRider zip paddock boots, and they are available in men’s, women’s, and children’s styles. These paddock boots are built to last and are comfortable enough to wear all day long.

The TuffRider line of paddock boots has an excellent heel height and sufficient sole grip, which combine to work well with any English-style stirrup.

If you don’t like zipper paddock boots, Ariat offers a durable pair of paddock boots with laces. Customers rave about their quality and comfort. I suggest checking out these customer reviews to see what people who’ve used them have to say.

The best Western horse riding boots

Western boots come in various styles, primarily ropers and traditional western cowboy boots. Ropers are western boots with shafts of about 10 inches and one-inch heels, whereas traditional cowboy boots have shafts that are 12 inches or more and heels of two-inch.

Best traditional western horse riding boots.

Ariat Heritage Round Toe Western Boots are my choice for the best traditional western-style riding boots. They’re made of full-grain leather and have excellent foot support. They fit stirrup nicely and have a substantial 1.5-inch heel to keep your foot in place.

The shaft rises 12.75, which is high enough to provide the protection you need but not so high to be uncomfortable for walking. And although I prefer a slick leather sole when I ride, the synthetic sole on these boots works well for riding and walking.

Best roper boots for horse riding

Ropers were initially marketed to rodeo competitors, specifically calf ropers. Calf roping is a timed event. Participants rope a calf, dismount their horse, and sprint to tie a calves’ legs as quickly as possible.

Calf ropers gain an advantage by wearing roper boots with their short shaft and heels because they provide excellent mobility. Roper boots quickly gained popularity outside of rodeo participants because of their good looks and comfortable design.

Picture of a training jockey working a horse wearing roper style cowboy boots.

Most of the people that I know who ride horses a lot all wear ropers. Recently, I asked a training jockey what brand he wears most often, and he told me it doesn’t matter because they all wear out eventually.

However, I think Justin makes the best ropers. They are made from comfortable leather and fit like a glove. Their smooth leather soles allow you to easily slide your foot in and out of stirrups.

Below is a YouTube video that explains the different types of horse-riding boots.

FAQ

Are wellies OK for horse riding?

No, “wellies” have thick rubber soles that can get stuck in a stirrup. Some countries use the term “wellies” to describe any boot made for wearing in mud or during wet weather. However, because “wellies” is slang, some may be suitable for riding; just check the heel and sole before riding in a pair.

Can I ride in paddock boots?

Equestrians ride in paddock boots and often prefer to wear them over traditional riding boots. For those not familiar with paddock boots, they are short boots that come just above the ankle.
They offer some advantages over tall boots; they’re easy to get on and off, comfortable, simple to care for, and less expensive than traditional riding boots.

What should I wear to my first horse riding lesson?

You should wear a good pair of riding boots, an approved riding helmet, long pants, and a snug-fitting shirt to your first horse riding lesson. You want to avoid wearing loose-fitting clothing or any jewelry that could get tangled in the horse’s equipment.

Can you horse ride in tennis shoes?

No, you shouldn’t ride horses wearing tennis shoes because they lack a heel, and your foot can easily slip through the stirrup. If you’re looking for multipurpose footwear for horseback riding, you may find this article helpful: Hiking and Horseback Riding: The Best Multi-Purpose Boots.

Can I wear western boots for English riding?

You can wear western boots when riding in an English style, but it’s not advisable. The shaft height of most western-style cowboy boots falls in the wrong place to protect your legs and is cumbersome and awkward when sitting in an English saddle.