Horseback riding is a thrilling sport experience. You can participate in equestrian sports as a hobby or competitively.
Like any sport that can go wrong, wearing the right equipment can minimize your pain and save your life. Horses are big, powerful animals. The fun and excitement of the ride can quickly turn into injury and defeat.
When equestrian accidents happen — and they do — what type of boot you have can make all the difference in your recovery.
Investing in well-crafted, durable, reliable equestrian boots is as important as anything you do to prepare for your ride.
Why You Need the Proper Equestrian Boots
Equestrian boots are designed for the task at hand.
There are particular shoes for basketball players that protect their ankles. Skateboarders look for a certain type of sole that promotes control and stability. Equestrian enthusiasts are also looking for specialized footwear that aids them in times of crises, controlling the animal and performing competitive tasks.
Equestrian Boots Have a Smooth Bottom.
There is a good reason for the smooth bottom of riding boots. The smooth bottom ensures that your foot doesn’t get trapped in the stirrup during a fall or if the horse throws you. Your foot will easily slide out of the stirrup because of the smooth sole.
Another function of the smooth bottom is so that the animal does not drag you if you are thrown, and the creature gets spooked. Being dragged by a horse is very dangerous and more likely if you are wearing running shoes or other inappropriate footwear.
Although you can expect a well-trained horse will stop when you fall, they can get freaked-out and run very fast and very far with you attached.
The Short Heel Is Essential
If you wear spurs, the short heel of a cowboy boot is designed to accommodate the spur strap. Additionally, if you wear half-chaps with paddock boots, the short heel holds the strap in place.
The Boot Structure Is a Matter of Damage Control
Adult horses weigh between 800 and 1,200 pounds. If you spend a significant amount of time around horses, eventually your foot will get stepped on. Let me assure you, it hurts.
The proper boot is the difference between a few uncharacteristically descriptive swear words followed by a pronounced limp, and a trip to the minor emergency clinic and a foot cast.
The structure of the cowboy boot will protect your feet from being crushed, especially your toes.
If you are unfortunately wearing a sneaker or sandals when stepped on by a 1000-pound steed, you will suffer a tremendous amount of pain and costly damage.
For anyone who lives in Texas or the other Southwestern States where rodeos are frequently attended, you have witnessed the gruesomeness of a rider breaking his foot, ankle or leg below the knee.
You never forget the sound of the break and the sight of the anguish on the rider’s face.
An equestrian boot holds the leg and ankle in place as well as protects the break until medical attention is available. When this happens — and it does — the boot immediately acts like a splint. A well-made riding boot makes all the difference to the extent of the injury and a rider’s ability to recover fully.
Invest in Leather
I cannot stress enough how important leather is to the performance of the boot.
Although the majority of equestrian boots are made from leather, it is too easy for beginners to be attracted to the affordability of riding boots made from cheaper materials like rubber or simulated leather products.
Leather is a durable, strong, reliable material that will last forever with proper care. Genuine, high-quality leather wears better with age.
A leather boot is quite literally a second skin that protects you from the knee down to your toes. Cheaper materials will not perform as well if you experience a misplaced hoof while attending the animal in a stall.
Faux leather will not hold up under the duress of a fall and break.
Leather is such an essential component to safety, that most competitive riding events, such as dressage, show jumping, cutting and barrel racing require riding boots made from suitable materials such as leather.
For these reasons, we strenuously encourage you not to be tempted by the savings and invest in a leather boot.
6 Types of Equestrian Boots: Form and Functionality
Anyone who is getting into equestrian activities might be surprised at how many different boot styles and applications are available on the market.
Before making any investment in equestrian footwear, it is essential to have a basic understanding of the many boot designs and how they apply to various equestrian activities.
English Field Boots
Field boots are an English style of horseback riding boot that comes all the way up to the knee. You have seen these before in movies and television shows that take place in bygone eras, but they are still very common today with English horse riders.
A distinguishing characteristic of this type of boot is that they lace at the ankle. This adds flexibility at the ankle and comfort when jumping.
Mounted police commonly use this style of equestrian boot.
Equestrian Dress Boots
Unlike English field boots, these tall boots do not lace up. They are sturdier and less flexible than their English counterpart. It isn’t uncommon for them to have a zipper to help the rider pull them on easily.
Dress Boots are very stylish. Mainly, dress boots are a part of a dress uniform used in a public event or show.
Black is the most common color, but anything goes when they are a part of a performance.
Hunt Riding Boots (aka Top Boots)
Just as the name gives away, Hunt Boots are used for hunting. They are very similar to the tall dress boot and are usually black in color.
They may have a stylish cuff constructed into the top of the boot.
Jodhpur Boots (aka Chelsea Boots)
The Paddock is yet another type of boot with a short ankle. Often, they are worn by children when learning to ride. Although they do not offer the same protection as other boots styles, they are trendy among casual riders.
They are the required style of riding boot for saddle-seat style horseback riding.
The Classic Western Style
This is the type of boot that you are most likely to recall when considering horseback riding. You might know them as “Cowboy Boots."
They are very different from the English style of boot because their number one function is protection. They protect against hoofs, falls, twists, sprains, and snakebites.
You won’t find zippers or laces on a Cowboy Boot.
This Western-style Boot is designed to accommodate spurs and chaps.
How We Choose our Ratings
Every brand of riding boot we have highlighted in this article are the best of the best. These brands design and manufacture (many by hand) riding boots of the highest quality.
5-Star Equestrian Boot Brands You Need to Consider
Everything I have discussed regarding performance, design, safety, and reliability has influenced the brands highlighted in this article. These are all excellent brands that produce the best products for the sport.
It is up to you to know what the correct style and design for your equation activities is.
When it comes to names synonymous with finely made equestrian boots, Ariat is at the top of the list. Ariat is one of the most well-known and respected brands of boot makers worldwide.
Ariat products are comfortable, durable and of the highest quality. Although Ariat might be most notable for their line of stylish women’s boots, their men's equestrian boots are just as admirable and well-crafted.
Ariat is known for producing durable, quality products, and their men’s and women’s boots are designed to keep the rider comfortable during long days of horseback riding.
Technology and innovation play a significant part in their design and manufacturing. Ariat understands that equestrian riders are athletes who put their bodies to the test with each ride.
You can find every style of riding boot at Ariat.
There is no doubt that Noble Outfitters is quickly becoming one of the top makers of footwear for equestrian activities.
Although they do not make riding boots, I have included them for their line of field boots which are very useful to have around the barn and stable. Their products are weatherproof which is very handy for dealing with mud and snow.
Additionally, Noble Outfitters has a superior line of animal care products any horse owner should consider.
They use the phrase “Your Horse. Your Style. Your Life.” in their marketing, and it says a lot about their mission to be a resource for all things horse related.
The DeNiro Boot Company
When you demand master craftsmanship and rigorous quality control by skilled professionals, you need to look no further than the DeNiro Boot Company.
Since 1981, De Niro Boot Company has been making stand-out, top-of-the-line boots in as many styles and for as many utilities you can want or need.
When experienced equestrian riders think of the De Niro Boot Company, they think of attention to detail, the finest materials, and unmatched style. This is an innovative company, and so they have been able to keep up with the trends and expectations of the equestrian lifestyle.
Once you put on a pair pos DeNiro bots, you will no longer wonder why this is an industry leader.
All the DeNiro Boots are handcrafted in their factory in Lecce, Italy.
Tecova Cowboy Boots
At Tecova Fine Bootmakers, they love making high quality, very affordable cowboy boots for cowboys and cowgirls. Their mission is to deliver a masterful, handmade product that doesn’t require a customer to hand over $$ to $$$ per pair of boots.
Tecova boots are handcrafted. It takes over 200 steps to make a pair of Tecova boots. They admit it is a time-consuming process to make western boots according to the classic techniques, but the time and effort are evident in each handmade pair of Tecova boot.
The workmanship is classic, and so are the designs. Tecova boots will last you a lifetime.
The Parlanti brand is most recognized in the show ring. They offer standard or custom-made equestrian boots for the experienced rider.
Parlanti International designs and produces the finest in Italian equestrian riding wear.
Their illustrious reputation is recognized over the world because their products are worn by athletes and fashionistas alike.
They have been called “The Best Riding Boot in the World” by Gucci’s Creative Director.
Many brands may attempt to copy Parlanti, but none can come close to their exquisite design and craftsmanship.
Buyer’s Guide in Choosing the Right Equestrian Boots
What type or style of riding boot you need depends greatly on what style of riding interests you. Use our examples as a guide for your search.
Remember to look for a riding boot that is made of tough materials. Do not get tempted into saving a few bucks by accepting a boot constructed from cheap components
Ride with Confidence
I hope that highlighting these fine brands has impressed upon you the importance of owning the right boot for your style of horseback riding.
Also, I hope that you understand the importance of investing in a quality product that protects and performs well.