Guide to buying riding boots

By Nicola Jane Swinney on |


Guide to buying riding boots

As every rider knows, riding boots are a simple means of transferring horse muck to your car and your sitting room. But jokes apart, choosing the right boots for your needs is important. Whether you plan to have separate boots for competing, or want an all-purpose product both to wear around the yard and for riding, there are several factors that will influence your buying decisions, including, of course, your budget.

You do need a proper pair of boots for riding — ordinary flat boots or (horror!) plimsolls will not give you enough control nor protection. Dedicated boots will also give you support and safety, because they have a low heel that can slot into the stirrup and hold your foot in place, preventing it from slipping all the way through. Some come with toe-caps, too — how many riders have had broken toes because their horse has stood on them?

Different types of riding boots

Broadly, there are three types of boots available: jodhpur, paddock and knee-length boots. Jodhpur boots are, as the name suggests, typically worn with jods rather than breeches, often with half-chaps over the top. They are easily put on and pulled off and very comfortable because they are supple and flexible. The half-chaps protect both your leg and your jodhpurs.

Paddock boots are suitable for both riding and ground training. They usually have a rubber sole for grip on rough terrain and sturdy leather uppers but, as with jodhpur boots, you would need a half-chap for riding.

Knee-length options are either field boots or dress boots. Both kinds look good and protect your leg. Field boots have lacing at the ankle for comfort and fit, which makes them more flexible and therefore suitable for all kinds of riding and jumping.

Dress boots are, as suggested, most commonly worn for competing or hunting. They are stylish and comfortable, but can be expensive. You can buy synthetic versions, which are cheaper and a lot easier to keep clean, but they are not suitable for competition. Some are pull-on style, while others have concealed zips for ease. Don’t worry if you have broader calves than some — there are options available.

Once you have decided which sort of riding boots best suit your needs, you can start shopping around for the right deals. It may be that you opt to buy two pairs; perhaps a jodhpur boot for the yard and tall boots for competition or hunting. If you can find both pairs from the same retailer, you may be able to negotiate a discount. If you don’t ask, you don’t get!

Checking your riding boots’ fit

Most importantly, you must find the right fit for you. If the boots are not comfortable, that rather defeats the object, as you don’t want any rubbing or chafing to spoil your riding enjoyment. So be prepared to try on lots of different styles and makes. Fit is so important that it’s best to try the boots on, at least initially.

Specialist equestrian retailers are a good place to start; first because they will stock a wide range of makes, and secondly because expert staff will be able to guide you — within your needs and within your budget.

If you are buying long boots, make sure you are wearing suitable clothing when you go to try them on, preferably riding breeches and appropriate socks. While standard shoe sizes apply, you will need to get a calf measurement for width and height. The former is taken at the widest part of your lower leg while you are standing. For boot height, the rider’s leg is measured from the heel to the back of the knee. You should be standing up, with your knee slightly bent, to get an accurate measure.

Whatever style that you are going to try on, it is best to wear the clothing you will have on when you are wearing the boots — within reason and probably after a clean!

Browse Derby House’s well-stocked collection of riding boots for your perfect style.


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