Do you know everything there is to know about horse riding footwear? This article is packed with information to get you educated so that you can ride in style.
Horse riding is a sport exemplary of a specific kind of skill and discipline that takes years to master.
If you are an aspiring newbie to the equestrian club then rest assured that you are in good company. Everyone involved is incredibly dedicated to the craft and adore their horses, knowing that the special bond between them and the mammal is virtually unbreakable.
If you’re looking to take up horse riding, you’re probably wondering what kind of equipment you need to invest in. Perhaps the most important accouterments required in order to be able to embark upon your adventure is the footwear.
Now, there is quite a bit of discussion about the best kind of shoes required for horse riding – beyond those enviable Ralph Lauren riding boots that were all the rage in the 1990s. While there isn’t a consensus on the absolute best kind of footwear out there, there are a few types of shoes you should be on the lookout for.
The following will help shed some light on the best way to approach your next shopping expedition.
Styles to Avoid
Given the lack of firm consensus on the absolute best footgear for horse riding, let’s start with the kind of thing you need to avoid. Any boot made especially for riding can come in a multitude of styles, so there will always be a lot for you to choose from.
Regardless of the aesthetics of the shoe you end up going with, be forewarned that any riding boot should have a small tread and heel that is about an inch to one and a half inch high. This detail is important because it will prevent your boot from slipping through the stirrup.
Refrain from buying a boot with heavy or very thick treads since these would pose quite the headache for you. These function more as hiking boots or snow boots, and are not suitable for riding at all. Although, they may be helpful working in the stable – but what are the chances of you getting your hands dirty there as a newbie?
In any case, these boots tend to be wide and come with a wide, boxy toe, meaning that they will get caught on the sides of the stirrup. They can also have a lot of grip, which is great in most outdoorsy situations such as hiking and wading through muddy trails, but they won’t work when riding. They have a bad tendency to get caught on the sides of the stirrup, so you will take much longer to mount and dismount, or to just have the required flexibility needed to move around or make sudden motions while riding.
Some newbies prefer the comfort of running shoes, but these are not always recommended. They could be very easy for you to ride in, but they do not offer protection. Also, while they slide in and out of stirrups with relative ease, you may find them less comfortable when you’re off the saddle, trying to walk around the barn.
So, now that we got out of the way the sort of thing you absolutely need to avoid, let’s get into the nitty gritty of different styles.
The first and one of the most popular styles of horse riding footwear is the western style riding boot.
Western boots typically have heels with a bit of height in them, and most will have crepe soles so be on the lookout for that since they do not slide out of the stirrups as easily as you would like. If you prefer ankle height boots as opposed to riding in half chaps, then this is the style to go for.
You can read more about the particulars, but in general, western style boots are for those who need less fuss and muss in their day. They are renowned for their comfort and being able to provide lots of protection and stability when horse riding.
These styles are also good for newbies who are budget conscious: after all, you may not want to spend a ton of money right out the gate, when you’re still learning what you can about the sport.
The more inexpensive models are made mostly of vinyl in the uppers and lowers….the only drawback being that they are not that comfortable. So your feet may take longer to break them in, and they will also not last you very long. Most signs of wear can be repaired, but this is still something to consider before purchasing.
If, however, you are determined to buy a pair of boots that can breathe and are easier to clean, then consider investing in a pair made of leather.
English Boot Styles
English boot styles are the most traditional style of horse riding footwear to go for. So if you’re keen on the look of old school English equestrian style, then invest in a pair of these dressy boots.
They tend to be tall boots, which many riders appreciate for their comfort and the added protection offered by them. However, they are also completely impractical if you’re riding in hot weather, or if you simply do not have the patience to put on something so cumbersome.
These days, you’re more likely to find a version with zippers, or you can lace them up the old fashioned way if you prefer. Most likely, the zipper and laces need to be replaced every so often, so be on the lookout for the toll horse riding will take on them.
With these shoes especially, be careful about the fit and make sure that they are perfect and comfortable. You want them to help you on the horse, but also remain sturdy enough for walking around the barn or stall without tripping you up.
Also, regarding the zipper versus the lace up options: if your feet have high arches, then avoid zippers at all costs, since they can cause cramps and be incredibly painful. Depending on the shape of your feet, you may need to purchase lace ups instead.
Horse riding footwear can look incredibly chic, and it’s true: equestrian gear can be both functional and lovely.
However, since this is another complicated sport with a great deal of nuance, the gear needs to accommodate the athleticism involved. Be mindful of the kind of shoes you’re wearing, and you’re bound to enjoy riding in no time.
Looking for more? Find out How to Choose the Best Horseback Riding Shoes.