How to choose the right riding boots

Boots made for your equestrian lifestyle

Good riding boots are essential for every rider. The riding boots you choose should be purposeful, safe, sturdy, and a good fit. Something stylish doesn’t hurt either!

Luckily, there are many options to meet these criteria. Your perfect boot is out there – you just need to know what to look for to meet your needs.



Despite their importance, your decision of which boots to purchase doesn’t have to be that difficult if you follow these guidelines.


What will I be using these boots for?

Besides fit, this is probably the most important consideration. Once you know what you’ll primarily be using your boots for, you can pick the type of boot to match your objective!

  • Western Riding

  • English Riding

  • Fashion



Western riders wear cowboy boots that come available in a variety of styles.



  • High – "Cowboy" or "riding" heel

  • Intermediate – "Walking" heel

  • Low – "Roper" style heel similar to English boots



  • Round – typically for show ring

  • Square – more of a "casual" look



  • Tall – These have a top that reaches nearly to the knee and are typically extensively decorated. They are seldom seen outside of fashion venues and not typically used for riding.

  • Mid-calf – The most classic length and most popular choice for riding, these keep the fenders of a Western saddle from chafing the rider’s ankle and calf.

  • Roper – These stop just a bit above the ankle, about an inch or so higher than the English paddock boot. While a viable option for riding, these don’t offer the same calf protection as do mid-calf styles.


Western riding boots are traditionally made of smooth cowhide, however, suede or roughout look are also popular options. More expensive designs may include uppers made of leather obtained from alligator, ostrich, and snakeskin. Western riders wear their jeans over the boot tops.

When determining which western riding boots are right for you, consider whether you need the boots for casual riding, for the show ring, or are simply looking for a fashion piece. Riders should look at mid-calf style options. More specifically, show riders should consider square toe and higher heel options. Those seeking fashion pieces may want to look at tall options.


Western boot brands we love:

  • Ariat

  • Justin

  • Justin Workboots

  • Durango

  • Twisted X


The Wire Horse pick: Durango Men's Mustang Gator Embossed Square Toe Western Boot



There are a number of styles of riding boots that fall into the category of English riding. These are intended for different styles of riding, from horse shows to pleasure riding.

  • Paddock boots

  • Tall Boots


Paddock Boots

Paddock boots, or “Jodhpur boots,” are short boots that extend to your ankle and come available in a lace up or zip up version. Paddock boots, while not recommended for shows, are great for taking lessons, pleasure riding, and wearing around the barn. Paddock boots are required for Saddle seat style riding.

These are often combined with half chaps for added protection or to give the visual impression of a tall boot.

Jodhpur’s are a popular choice for kids that are learning to ride because they are less costly for rapidly growing children than are tall boots.


The Wire Horse pick: Ariat Women’s IV Paddock Boot Lace Up Black

The Wire Horse pick for juniors: Equistar Children’s All Weather Synthetic Paddock Boot


Tall Boots

Tall boots are essential for English style riding events and shows. These come up to just below the bend of the knee. Compared to paddock boots, most people find that tall boots are more comfortable for riding, as they fully protect the English saddle from chafing the rider’s ankle and calf.


Styles of tall boots include:

  • Dress

  • Field

  • Hunt


Dress boots: These are generally stiffer and do not have lacing at the ankle. They are typically worn by dressage riders and show jumpers, with the rider’s pant legs tucked into the boot. 

Field boots: Field boots have laces on the top of the boot and are often more flexible than dress boots, making them more comfortable for jumping and riding with shorter stirrups. Field boots are excellent for jumping, equitation, and event show rings.

Long, glossy black leather boots are also a traditional choice for intermediates and seniors.


The Wire Horse pick: Ariat Womens Heritage Contour English Field Boots Black

The Wire Horse pick for intermediates/seniors: Ovation Ladies Flex Sport English Field Boot


Hunt boots: Hunt Boots very similar to Dress boots, except they have a cuff at the top. They are stylish and durable and ideal for dressage riders.

English riding boots are traditionally made of smooth leather, typically cowhide, but occasionally pigskin. Synthetic leather, vinyl, and other materials are becoming more common options.


Equestrian enthusiasts have been wearing riding boots for years. Fashionistas eventually caught on. For the purpose of fashion, riding boots come in numerous styles, cuts, and colors, so you’re bound to find something that fits your style and personality!


For show

For show boots, women and girls must match their boots to their chaps. For the show category of showmanship, the outfit must match. This is very important. Make sure you check out show rules before you buy or call us to ask questions and we can point you to the proper boots.


For fun

Distressed fringe and booth shaft designs are popular for women right now.

Men are opting not for bright colors or fancy designs, but for more subdued designs. There is an exception, however: American Flag boots.

For work boots, men are going with steel toed boots, as well as boots with composite toe.


Pull on or zip up?

Tall boots with a zipper in the back are becoming widespread. A zipper is often more convenient than conventional pull-on boots. Zip-up boots are, however, usually slightly more expensive.


Select a suitable shape

Work boots typically have round toes. Pointy toes, however, are more fashion-forward. The current show ring trend is square toe.



Ultimately, while you want to look great, comfort is the most important consideration, even when purchasing riding boots for fashion purposes. Some boots come in wider widths and vary from style to style. Pick what fits! Find that perfect combination of style and fit and you’ll be most happy with your choice of riding boots.


The Wire Horse pick: Ariat Women's Heritage Contour II Field English Boot




Ariat has introduced a great boot called Terrains. These are a boot/shoe combo that you can use for day to day work and jump on your horse to ride. They are, however, not recommended for showing.


The Wire Horse pick for women:

The Wire Horse pick for men: Ariat Men's Terrain H2O Waterproof Boot – Copper


For all of your equestrian footwear needs, visit our shop for expert advice and friendly service, or conveniently shop online. Happy riding!

  • Aug 05, 2020
  • Category: News
  • Comments: 0
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