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Are Chelsea Boots Good To Wear Horse Riding?

Last updated: June 17, 2023

By: Miles HenryFact Checked

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Chelsea boots are a classic go-to for anyone looking to add some fashion and comfort, but they also have features equestrians need when riding. So after wondering whether I could wear them while horseback riding one day-I decided to go ahead and give it a try.

Chelsea boots can be worn for horse riding as they meet the requirements for a riding boot. They were first developed in the Victoria era when vulcanized rubber was invented. They have elastic side panels and a tab at the back of the boot, allowing your foot to slip easily into the boots.

Riding boots come in different forms and shapes, but when looking for a riding boot, you must consider safety before style. Riding boots are made with riding in mind, with the right heel and good sole to give you grip and proper support for your ankle. So what makes a good riding boot? Read on for the scope of riding boots.

Picture of a pair of chelsea boots that would be suitable for horse riding.

What are Chelsea boots?

Chelsea boots are a type of ankle-high boot that has an elastic side panel. They were originally popularized in the Victorian era, and they have continued to be a fashion staple in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Chelsea boots are typically made of leather or suede and can be worn with casual and formal attire. One of the most distinctive features of Chelsea boots is their slim silhouette, which makes them an excellent choice for those who want to create a streamlined look.

Chelsea boots are also known for their comfortable fit, and they can be easily slipped on and off thanks to their elastic side panels. Whether you’re looking for a stylish boot to wear to work or a comfortable pair of shoes to slip on for a night out, Chelsea boots are a great option.

Can I Use Chelsea Boots For Horse Riding?

Although these boots were initially designed as fashionable shoes for men and women to use for walking back in the Victorian times, they have developed into riding boots that many riders wear today.

The elasticated stitched side panels make them much easy to slip on and off, with a suitable heel that prevents the foot from slipping through the stirrup. Depending on the manufacturer and its intended purpose, the sole should have a good tread that provides grip while in the stirrup.

While Chelsea boots are stylish and comfortable for everyday wear, most aren’t recommended for horse riding. They lack important safety features found in horse riding boots, such as a sufficient heel to prevent your foot from slipping through the stirrup and a high shaft for leg protection. For riding, it’s best to use purpose-made equestrian boots.

Here are a few of my favorites that you can wear riding horses:

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Thursday Chelsea Boots

There’s something about a pair of Chelsea Thursday boots that just exudes effortless style. Whether you’re running errands around town or casual horseback riding, these boots are the perfect accessory.

The beautiful leather is soft and supple yet tough enough to withstand the elements. They have enough heel ledge to fit a stirrup and are easy to get on and off. In addition, they’re also available in a versatile range of colors, so you can find the perfect match for your personal style.

Best of all, the elegant design makes them perfect for both casual and formal occasions. If you’re looking for a boot that you can dress up or down, Chelsea Thursday is the way to go.

Verdict: Thursday Chelsea Boots are well-regarded for their style and quality, but they’re not specifically designed for horse riding. They lack the specialized features that riding boots typically have. For horse riding, it’s best to invest in boots designed for that specific purpose.

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Blundstone BL062

When I first spotted the boots online, I knew I had to have them. They were perfect for what I was looking for – a wider toe box that would be comfortable for riding. And the leather looked like it would last a long time.

After I got them was a bit worried because the ankles were a bit stiff. But I decided to go ahead and wear them for a few days. After a short break in period, the boots became more comfortable. And now, after having them for over a month, they’re my go-to boots.

However, while Blundstone’s BL062 boots are comfortable and durable, they’re not designed specifically for horse riding. They lack features that purpose-made riding boots have, such as a defined heel to prevent the foot from sliding through the stirrup. For regular or serious riding, it’s recommended to use boots specifically designed for equestrian activities.

Check out my article on comfortable cowboy boots if you’re looking for something more traditional.

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Ariat Midtown Rambler Boot

Ariat Midtown Rambler Boots are designed more for casual wear and comfort, not specifically for horse riding. While they’re made by a trusted equestrian brand and may work for light riding, they lack some safety and performance features that specialized horse riding boots provide. For regular riding, I recommend investing in purpose-built riding boots.

However, I was so impressed that I decided to order a second pair specifically for casual riding and barn work. However, for competitive riding and training, it’s important to ensure you have specially designed boots.

What Boots Should I Wear For Horseback Riding?

The boots you choose to wear for horse riding depend on you, what level of riding you do, what discipline your ride in, and what is comfortable for you. Children riders must compete in short jodhpur boots, so it makes sense that they practice in short jodhpur boots to train their legs.

Below is a helpful YouTube video that describes the perfect riding boots.

However, adults can choose what is most comfortable for them. Most riders will opt for a long boot or short Jodhpur boot with a half chap or gaiter to prevent chaffing and pinching from the stirrup leathers.

So long as the boot has at least an inch heel with a suitable rubberized sole that fits correctly into the stirrup and provides you with some ankle support, then you can have your pick of long or short riding boots.

Is It Better To Ride In Long Or Short Boots?

Choosing between riding with long or short boots is a rider preference. If you are just riding for pleasure, then wearing what is most comfortable for you is important. However, long boots will eventually become necessary if competing and progressing up the levels.

Here are some pros and cons comparisons between long and short boots that can help you pick which type of boots are best for you.

Long Boots

Adults often wear long boots in competitions, giving the rider a traditional and elegant leg.


  • They provide an elegant and traditional look.
  • Long boots protect the calf from pinching and chafing from the stirrup leathers.
  • Riders will benefit from a more stable lower leg and better leg positioning.
  • It keeps your legs drier and warmer during winter.
  • Long boots offer some protection to the lower leg against kicks or falls.
  • If you choose synthetic over leather, the boots are waterproof and have less maintenance.


  • Long boots are more expensive.
  • They take much longer to break in.
  • At first, because they have to be fitted longer than your leg, they are much less comfortable pinching and chafing you behind the knee. You need to allow time for them to break in and drop to the correct length.
  • If you don’t have zips, pull-on long boots can be challenging to put on and even harder to pull off once your leg is hot a sweaty.
  • They require more maintenance by using boot trees to keep the boots straighter for longer and prevent the ankle from collapsing.
  • They need to fit more than just your foot; the size of the calf and height also need to be fitted, making it harder to find the perfect boot.
  • Sometimes custom-made long boots need to be made, making them more expensive.
  • If the height of the boot is not long enough, it can catch the bottom of the saddle flap interfering with your riding.
  • They offer limited movement and flexibility when using them in the yard.
  • Better suited for riding than groundwork or mucking out.
  • If you use synthetic boots, they can be extremely hot in summer.
Picture of a horse rider wearing long riding boots.
Long boots

Short Boots

Short boots are a much more versatile option. They can be paired with half chaps or gaiters if needed. Short boots are also much more common with children riders.


  • It’s easy to slip on and off.
  • Short boots can be used for more than one purpose: for riding, mucking stables, and groundwork.
  • Short boots are not as hot in summer and help keep your lower leg cool.
  • You have the versatility of adding gaiters and half chaps.
  • Riding in short jodhpur boots allows closer contact with the horse for learners and beginners to enable them to develop a better lower leg feel.
  • They are cheaper than long boots.
  •  It’s easier to find a pair that fits you than long boots.


  • It doesn’t provide the same elegance as long boots.
  • It offers the calf no protection against chafing and pinching from the stirrup leathers.
  • Offers no protection to the lower leg in case of a fall or kick
  • Short boots are not acceptable in certain disciplines and levels of competition.
  • It doesn’t keep your legs warm and dry during winter.

What Shoes Should You Not Wear Horseback Riding?

Some shoes are just a NO-NO when it comes to riding. Offering little to no protection or support while riding, these shoes should never be used when riding.


Even though they may have a rubber tread, riding in sandals is a definite NO. They offer little protection to the foot, with no support to the ankle, and very likely have no heel to prevent your foot from slipping through the stirrup.

Even when working around horses in the barn. Though it may be tempting to wear airy light sandals in summer, even if you are not riding, a misstep and that great big hoof coming down on your unsuspecting toes may just remind you why it’s essential to wear boots around horses at any time.

Sneakers Or Trainers

Although these are closed shoes, they lack a heel, one of the requirements for horse riding boots. Again, these shoes offer no ankle support and are more dangerous to the rider than anything else.

Horses are unpredictable no matter how well you know them; anything can spook a horse and send them running for the hills. You put yourself in more danger than you think without the proper footwear.

Trail Boots Or Winter Boots

Just because the boot supports the ankle does not mean it’s appropriate footwear for horse riding. The tread on trial and winter boots is too heavy and thick to be appropriate for horse riding. In case of a fall, the heavy tread may cause your foot to get stuck in the stirrup, causing you to be dragged along.

Picture of a horse rider wearing older riding boots.

How Long Should Horse Riding Boots Last?

How long a horse riding boot lasts depends on what you use it for, how many times you wear it, and how you clean, care for, and maintain your boots.

Decent quality short leather boots should last about two to three years if these are the boots you use daily and it is used for riding, groundwork, or mucking stables.

How you take care of your leather boots will also determine if the boots will last longer or not. Therefore, allowing them to dry out properly and using the correct cream to nourish the leather is vital. That said, I have a pair of Ariat Jodhpur boots that have lasted close to eight years.

On the other hand, long boots will probably last you much longer, if not decades, if properly looked after. Furthermore, long boots are not generally used for everyday stable work and are kept mainly for riding or competitions, so it’s an investment that lasts.

From my experience, my long boots have lasted me twelve years and still going strong, even though I use them in practice sometimes. So, proper care and maintenance of your leather boots will ensure that they last you at least enough time to break them in and enjoy them before having to do it all over again.


Chelsea boots are short boots used as riding boots and fashion boots. Using the correct footwear when riding is vital for the rider’s safety. So, picking between long or short riding boots comes down to your preference just as long as they conform to the requirements of a horse riding boot.


Miles Henry