Selecting The Best Equestrian Footwear
Riders should never wear a shoe without a definite heel keeping the foot from slipping through the stirrup. They could become tangled in a fall and dragged by their horse. With open-toed shoes, injury will result if the horse steps on the rider’s foot. The rider may have to walk and bare toes will be scratched by weeds and dirt will get inside the shoes. Equestrian footwear is designed to be safe, and footwear designed for everyday use should be comfortable. In addition to a protective toe and heel, riding boots have smooth soles allowing easy positioning and re-positioning in the stirrups.
Long boots include field, dress, and hunt boots. They’re worn for shows in the English dressage, and hunter/jumper disciplines, and are standard show apparel. Long boots are made of leather or rubber. They protect legs and feet from falls but are stiff and hot and hard to get on and off, so they’re usually only worn for shows. They fit up to the knee or slightly below and hug the leg. They may be pull-on or have a back zipper.
Field boots lace at the ankle making them more flexible for fox hunters and jumping competitors. Police often wear these boots when on horseback or motorcycle patrols. For more formal dressage and show, dress boots are rigid, cut higher on the outside, and without laces. A dress boot with a cuff at the top is a hunting boot, and it’s used for hunting.
Jodhpur boots, also called paddock boots, are shorter, just above the ankle. They’re softer and fasten with zips, laces, or straps and buckles. They’re popular for children, and traditional show attire in Australia and the UK. In the US they’re used for Saddle seat showing. Paddock boots with elastic sides are known as Chelsea boots. They’re uniform attire in pony club riding and Australian stock horse competitions.
Western boots are used for shows like barrel racing and other western type events. Tradition is an engraved leather boot in more than one color, fitting mid-calf and roomier than English style boots. They’re also used for pleasure riding although they may not be the most comfortable choice for daily wear.
Paddock boots are a popular choice for everyday wear. Other favorites among those who regularly work around the barn are the multipurpose barn, chore, or muck boots. Similar to hiking boots but narrower so they fit in the stirrups, they can be safe and comfortable to wear. These boots are too short to prevent chafing from the stirrup straps. Riders will need to wear half chaps.
For long distance trail riding, boots should be waterproof, insulated, comfortable, flexible, and durable. They should be snug enough and high enough to keep out snow. Wearing extra socks under everyday boots just makes the boots uncomfortably tight.
For a show outfit, wear your apparel while trying on equestrian footwear so you can find the best finished look for your outfit. Several measurements are needed to properly fit English boots, foot size and width, circumference of the calves at their widest point, length from foot to back of knee. Once broken in, long boots will be 3/4 to 1 1/2 inches shorter than when first purchased, so they should be a little too long when new.