Choosing paddock boots can seem overwhelming at first glance. Is there really a difference between seemingly identical leather front-zip boots, priced at over $100 apart? We’re here to help you pick the best paddock boots for your money, in all price ranges.
Choosing the Best Paddock Boot for You
One of the key factors in choosing the right pair of paddocks is analyzing their primary use. Are you an instructor or employee spending a great deal of time on your feet? Are you a beginner student looking to purchase an initial pair? Or maybe you’re a seasoned rider looking to upgrade into a multi-purpose and durable paddock. For example, entry-level show riders may be showing in paddock boots and half chaps before investing in tall boots. This will determine the color needed, and a zip-front may work better for a seamless half chap fit.
Lace vs Zip
Most paddock boots currently marketed have a great stretch insert in the ankle for zip-up or slide-on options. However, growing children that have a hard time breaking in boots for riding horses may do better with traditional laces. Adults that have thicker ankles or suffer from leg swelling will also appreciate the flexibility that comes with lace-up boots. Some “jodhpur boots” will be strictly pull-on, typically seen in the saddle seat ring. These will have flex panels around the ankle to assist the rider in dressing and removal but are not good options for wide lower legs.
Leather certainly has advantages over synthetic materials, but synthetics are gaining popularity for those in wet climates or with budget restrictions. In fact, many synthetic paddock boots on the market are indistinguishable from their 100% leather counterparts. One of the advantages of leather products, like tack, is the ability to “revive” it after wear and tear. It also allows some degree of stretch, so break-in periods are generally shorter and more comfortable. Most paddock boots will have some degree of weatherproofing done to the leather, while others have been treated and are completely waterproof.
Heels and Soles
The heel plays a big factor. Ariat, for example, manufactures what looks like a tennis shoe and hiking boot hybrid. Although this “paddock” boot does have a spur rest, many riders will opt for a more prominent heel, especially for safety purposes. However, lower heels might be a good option for riders that are constantly walking on different terrains. Most paddock boots have sturdy rubber soles for extra traction while in the saddle. Slick-bottoms are more likely to be seen in sleek pull-on jodhpur boots, but we’ve seen a shift in the show ring as well. Sole material greatly depends on rider preference, just as western boots are widely available in both leather and rubber soles. Some riders opt for smooth finish soles due to the inevitable manure trapped in rubber designs.
Paddocks range from $30-$180+. Most boots under the $75 point are going to be synthetic or considered an economy style boot. These are great for beginner lesson students that won’t be logging long hours in them, or “weekend warrior” riders. Some equestrians opt to only ride in their paddock boots and change prior to doing any barn chores or leaving the stable. The more you work in them, the higher the quality boot you will need. As mentioned above, high-quality leather can be “revived” with regular care and cleaning. The higher price tag indicates longer wear-time.
Top 9 Picks For The Best Paddock Boots On The Market
Luxury with a reasonable price tag:
Suedwind is known internationally for its quality boots and Ultima RS technology. They are made from premium full-grain leather and have a leather lining. The collection was developed in Germany and includes OrthoLite insoles- these are amazing for riders that are also on their feet as they keep more than 95% of their original thickness. The EVA heel pad offers shock absorption, making these a great choice both in and out of the saddle.
- Extremely durable with quadruple stitched soles
- Machine washable
- Thick comfortable antimicrobial insoles
- Available in half sizes
- Narrower fit than some paddock boots
High quality and cheap riding boots:
These are a consistent top seller, made of full-grain leather, featuring a gel-cushioned footbed. This is a lace-up boot for a customized ankle fit, including a padded topline collar. Unlike many other editions, these have a lovely pebbled finish that riders claim takes minimal-to-no break-in time. This pebbled leather, while extremely soft and supple, is less durable than some other finishes.
- All-day comfort
- Breathable liner
- Moderately priced
- The pebbled leather is thinner and less hardy
- Hard to get a “shined” finish
- Not one of Ariat’s most durable models
The top pick in real leather affordable riding boots:
These are a great economy boot for someone that still wants real leather footwear. These TuffRiders are priced at under $50 and have water resistance features. These can be worn for schooling and even in the show ring. Riders rave about the comfort in and out of the saddle.
- Great stirrup traction
- Insole not made for all-day wear and tear
- Less stitch count than higher-end models
- “Chunkier” on the foot (a heavier model)
Top pick for durable synthetics:
Ovation makes a wide variety of products from extremely economical paddocks, to tall boots with a buttery soft feel. These are our favorite synthetic boots available right now! They feature a steel shank for added support, and the perks of faux leather- extremely durable, easy to care for and clean, and water-resistant. These are also a top pick for trail or obstacle riders that regularly face the water.
- Any manufacturer defects backed by Ovation
- Easy to clean
- Great for wet weather
- Longer than average break-in time
- Insoles will break down quicker than other models
Favorite for fit, quality, and price:
Dublin delivers yet again! This sleek boot may look out of your price range, but it’s moderately priced. Full-grain leather with real leather lining, this boot has an RCS memory foam footbed and molded sides for additional ankle support. The elastic laces give a traditional look while keeping the rear zipper for ease.
- Sleek look
- All-day comfort
- Two-color options
- Minimal adjustment at opening
- Ankles harder to break-in
Top rated in style, performance, and durability:
This paddock boot is sure to fit and feel like a custom boot! This is one of their most durable models, with waterproofed premium full-grain leather and added ankle flexion. These paddock boots are great for all-day use or long rides with temperature management technology, added flex, and hardy outsoles with great traction.
- Comfortable and lightweight
- All leather with a waterproofing
- Less ankle support due to added stretch panels/flexion
Number one pick for a “western” style paddock boot:
Ariat hit a home run with these all-leather lace-up distressed western paddock boots. Many western riders are opting for the comfort, ease, and sleek look of breeches and paddock boots. Ariat created this durable western-look boot just for those riders.
- Inexpensive compared to cowboy boots
- Stylish and comfortable
- Available in two colors
- Irregular sizing complaints
- No zip option
Favorite for youth paddocks:
These have all the standard Dublin features: leather, EVA footbed, rubber outsole with great grip, and quick-lace eyelets. Except these are a fraction of the cost! These are a great intro boot for the price, but also a great option for the experienced youth rider.
- Adjustable ankle support
- Comfortable for kids
- Longer break-in time than some comparable brands
Our favorite for winter paddock boots:
Mountain Horse makes some of the best equestrian footwear available, but nothing is comparable to the Snowy River paddock. The boots feature 200 grams of Thinsulate under a faux fur stylish lining. Aside from the warmth factor, these paddocks have great traction for snowy or icy conditions. They come with a removable ShockX insole and provide comfort for walking or in the saddle.
- High Traction
- Cold-weather wear only
- Bulky in stirrups
If you’re able to narrow down your needs, choosing the best paddock boots won’t be an overwhelming experience. We do recommend trying on your new boots with your regular riding socks! Regardless of the material chosen, all boots will require at least some break-in time. Wearing them around the house is a great way to start the process! What paddock boots are you currently riding in? If you’re in the market for western riding boots, be sure to check out our top picks here.
Do you have friends that ride horses? Be sure to share this article, you may help them find their next pair of boots as well!