If you’re a beginner horseback rider, one of the first things you’ll need before you start lessons is a good pair of riding boots. You have several options to choose from depending on your specific needs and whether you’re doing mostly schooling and pleasure riding or competing. Buying your first pair of horseback riding boots is a big decision because you need to find boots that fit you well and are easy to wear while riding. I’ll share 6 of my favorite tried and true riding boots for beginners, explain the different styles of riding, and show you what to look for in a quality boot.
Why should you take my advice? Over my 17 years at The Farm House, I’ve helped fit hundreds of new equestrians with their first pair of riding boots. Whether you’re a parent that’s new to the sport and looking for beginner riding boots for your child, or an adult getting ready for that first lesson, read on. We’ve got you covered.
What types of boots are best for beginner horseback riding?
There are two primary types of riding boots: tall boots and short boots. Short boots are commonly called paddock boots or jodhpur boots and are typically used for casual riding or by children. Paddock boots typically zip up the front but may occasionally zip up the back or side. Paddock boots are easier to fit and care for than tall boots. When riding, they are typically worn with half chaps to prevent blisters. You may also hear the term “barn boots,” which are usually short boots that are used for work in the barn.
Tall boots are the traditional equestrian boots that extend up the leg to just under the knee. Tall boots are generally required during competition but take time for a new rider to adjust to.
Beginner English riders always start off with paddock boots and graduate to tall boots as they progress in skill and desire to compete. Generally, beginner riders are fitted for paddock boots and half chaps because they cost much less than a new pair of tall boots. Riders that don’t plan to compete but are learning with the plan of being a casual rider are often happy sticking with paddock boots. However, at some point in a rider’s life, the choice of paddock boot or tall boot becomes a personal preference.
You might like: 8 Best Paddock Boots
What’s the difference between horse riding boots and normal boots?
Horseback riding boots are made for equestrians who train and compete on a regular basis. They’re designed more for riding than streetwear. Normal boots aren’t designed for stirrups or for competitive horse riding; they’re designed for looking fashionable in your day-to-day activities.
How to choose the right beginner riding boots
Horse riding boots can be a significant investment, so new riders should choose very carefully. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when shopping for your or your child’s first pair of riding boots.
- Start off with paddock boots and half chaps and wait to purchase tall boots until you’re ready to compete.
- Think about how many riding lessons per week you or your child will be taking. If your answer is once, then you could consider getting a fairly inexpensive pair of paddock boots. This way, if your child decides they don’t love riding, or if they outgrow their boots quickly, you’re not out a lot of money.
- On the flip side, if you or your child takes more than one lesson a week, find a high-quality pair of paddock boots. Budget-friendly paddock boots are not made to withstand everyday riding and barn wear. They’ll fall apart quickly with that level of use. Consider investing in something like the Ariat Scout paddock boot, they’re sturdy and meant to hold up to the demands of daily wear, plus, with Ariat “wiggle room”, you’ll an extra size out of the boot.
- Consider the environment you’ll be riding in to determine if you need waterproof, water-resistant, insulated, or breathable boots. Good riding boots should be durable, have the safety features mentioned above, and they should be comfortable and fit you well. And when it comes to tall boots, make sure you select a boot based on your English riding discipline.
Considerations for Buying Horseback Riding Boots
No matter your level of experience, there are five things every rider should consider when selecting a pair of riding boots:
Safety will always be your number one consideration with purchasing any horseback-riding equipment. Make sure the boots you select are specifically designed for horseback riding so they have the necessary safety features, including
- A low heel to prevent the rider’s foot from passing all the way through the stirrup,
- A smooth sole to ensure the rider doesn’t get their foot caught in the stirrup if they fall,
- And sturdy toe box to protect the rider’s foot.
You have many choices in boot materials, including leather, synthetic fabrics, and rubber. Consider the climate where you’ll be riding and choose waterproof, water-resistant, insulated, or breathable boots as necessary.
Cost is a factor in any purchase decision. It’s important to find a pair that will meet your needs within your budget. Fortunately, you’ll find a lot of variety based on materials and features that will allow you to stay within your budget.
How much do horseback riding boots cost?
A pair of women’s paddock boots will usually cost between $100–$300 dollars, and kid’s paddock boots usually fall between $50–$100. Tall boots are an investment, so you may want to wait to purchase your first pair after you’re sure you’re a committed equestrian. Tall boots generally cost between $300–$1,500 depending on the quality of the leather and the performance features.
Like with many pieces of horse-riding equipment, your riding shoes should match the kind of riding you will do. There are some variations in boots due to the demands of each discipline.
Of course you want to look good in the riding boots that you select. Though this shouldn’t be your top priority when making your choice, we’d be remiss to not include design as a factor.
How to measure your feet for horseback riding boots
Measuring feet for short boots is easy. Simply take the size of your casual shoes as a starting point, then go from there to find the boots that fit you the best. When you’re ready to shop for your first pair of tall boots, you’ll need two additional measurements.
- First, measure your calf in a seated position with your leg bent and your breeches and socks on. Take a soft tape and measure the widest part of your calf. It might be helpful to ask someone for assistance.
- Then, measure from your heel to the bend in the back of your knee. You’ll need your usual shoe size plus these two measurements to determine your tall boot size.
6 Best Horse Riding Boots for Beginners
When you’re starting out riding, short boots offer the best value, with all the important features at a more affordable cost. Here are some top picks to get you started.
1. Ariat Women’s Devon Nitro Paddock Boot ($239.95)
These boots are a hit with people who are on their feet much of the day, as they are extremely comfortable and have a super-soft padded collar. They’re made of premium full-grain leather with a waterproof finish. These performance boots incorporate the latest technology for maximum shock absorption, flexibility, stability, and comfort. They are available in black or waxed chocolate.
These boots are also available in men’s sizes.
You might like: 6 Best Ariat Paddock Boots
2. Tredstep Donatello Front Zip Paddock Boots($139.95)
These boots are an incredible value for their price. Not only is the leather quality amazing, but they are as comfortable as they are supportive. The boots include a revolutionary cushioned rubber sole with a CoolMax-lined cushioned footbed, ensuring advanced stirrup grip with ankle flexibility while reducing foot fatigue. They are available in black or brown.
They are also available in a front lace paddock boot.
3. Ariat Women’s Ascent Paddock Boot ($169.95)
If you’re looking for paddock boots that can be used for riding and are sturdy enough to hold up to working in a barn, then Ariat has you covered! These boots are the perfect cross of riding and barn boots, and we know you’ll love their practical double-duty capability. They’re stylishly made with flexible, lightweight construction and shock-absorbing cushions for safety, stability, style, and comfort. They are available in black.
The Ariat Ascent Paddock boots are also available in men’s sizes.
Best Riding Boots for Kids
4. Ariat Kid’s Scout Zip Paddock Boot ($89.95)
We love these classic and stylish kids’ boots made of full-grain leather. They’re thoughtfully constructed with a moisture-wicking lining and Duratread outsoles that will hold up for years to come. The boots have a zipper close, making them easy to put on and take off for kids of any age. They are available in black.
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TuffRider offers another great option for children’s boots. We love that these are water-resistant and easy to clean and that they’ll hold up for the barn or for shows. These stylish synthetic leather boots have a punched toe cap for a classic show ring look, great for all English riding disciplines at a super affordable price. They are available in black and mocha.
Best Beginner Tall Boot
6. Ariat Kids Heritage Contour Field Boosts ($279.95)
Women’s: Ariat Heritage Contour Field Boots ($359.95)
If you’re starting to train for your first competition and ready to advance from a short boot to a tall boot, we’d recommend the Ariat Heritage Contour Field Boot for women and kids. These boots are high-quality at a modest price point and are incredibly popular among riders at all experience levels.
Start off on the right foot
When you’re starting out riding horses, finding a comfortable and durable horseback riding boot is essential. But you don’t have to break the bank on your very first pair. Use this guide to decide on a great pair of paddock boots and get riding! You can always grab a pair of half chaps for the feel of tall boots until you’re ready to make that purchase. And once you’re ready for your first tall boots, use our reviews of 12 of the Best Riding Boots to help you find the right pair.
At The Farm House, we’ve helped outfit riders with the best riding boots at all levels for competitions. If you have any questions on what you need for your discipline or in regards to sizing, give us a call at 864-457-3557, we’d love to help.