A good pair of boots are so important whatever stage of riding you are at, not only do they look good, they will help you ride safely and comfortably.
What type of riding boots should you buy?
There are two types of boot to choose from, the traditional long boot and the short jodhpur boot. Both should have a smooth, through sole (the sole of the boot should be one piece, with no breaks, that goes the whole length of the boot from toe to heel), and a small heel. This is so that nothing can catch on the stirrup, otherwise if you fall off you could be dragged along if your foot cannot come free. For this reason wellies, with their ridged sole are not suitable, nor are trainers, as without a small heel the foot can slip right through the stirrup. It has to be said, it REALLY hurts if a horse stands on your foot and you only have a soft shoe on. You also must be wary of yard boots, whilst comfortable, hardwearing and warm to muck out in they often have a heavy tread making them unsuitable to ride in.
When starting out, many riding schools will have a selection of boots for you to borrow. If your riding school is BHS (British Horse Society) Approved they should not allow clients to ride in wellies.
So, which boot is best for you?
Long boots are the more traditional option and are standard competition wear. They are made of either leather or the cheaper rubber. Most riders prefer to buy ones with a zip as the pull on variety are often quite difficult to get off. Boots should fit snuggly and shouldn’t be too tall, they should not rub on the back of your knee when you move your lower leg. Many people find long boots more comfortable as they protect the lower leg from rubbing or getting nipped by the stirrup leather. They are also good protection if you get kicked in the leg.
Jodhpur boots come in many different styles and colours which either pull on, zip or lace up. They are usually worn with half chaps to avoid rubbing on the inside of the calf. New riders can find long boots quite restrictive while trying to learn how to use their legs effectively, jodhpur boots allow more flexibility of the ankle which makes using the leg aids easier.
Make sure your riding boots are comfortable
Whichever boots you go for make sure they are comfortable, don’t just walk around the shop, sit and squat down to make sure that when you are on the horse they are going to help rather than hinder. One last thing to remember is that the stirrup needs to fit the size of your boot so if you have one of the chunkier styles of boot you may need a bigger stirrup iron – when the ball of your foot is on the stirrup iron there should be ½ inch gap either side.