Last Updated on January 25, 2022
Marylin Monroe said, “Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world.” While Marylin probably wasn’t talking about western horseback riding boots specifically, the phrase totally applies. If you have ever spent any time in the saddle you know that comfort, protection, and durability are non-negotiable when it comes to footwear in the horse arena. If you are currently in the market for a new pair of western kicks, then this Review Round-Up is for you!
What To Look For When Choosing Western Horseback Riding Boots
When considering buying new boots, you are going to want to pay attention to 3 very important factors: support, durability, and comfort. When choosing shoes for ourselves, much like our horses, we are going to want good support and many times, for the same reasons we want good support for our four-legged friend’s hooves.
Chances are you are going to be doing some hoofing-it yourself, whether it be around the barn or out to fetch your noble steed from the pasture, so you will want to make sure you break these babies in. Any rubbing can result in sore feet or open wounds-just like your horse.
You will want to look for a boot that offers good ankle support, keeping your joints properly protected will ensure that you are not sore later and will also help protect your ankle should you encounter any uneven terrain. Support will also be important during mounting and dismounting, just in case you misstep or slip.
More Riding Boot Tips
Support and comfort go hand in hand here. It is important that your boots are comfortable, do not rub, are not too tight and you will also want to be mindful of the socks you are planning to wear with your boots because the thickness of the socks can have an impact on the fit of the boot.
Durability is another important factor to take into consideration when picking out your new boots. You are going to spend a lot of time in these things, and a quality investment now can mean you will be wearing these things for years. Since horseback riding isn’t a light and airy sport, you are going to put some hard miles on these babies so it’s important that they are up to the task.
Occasionally, they may not just have to withstand your abuse, but your horse’s as well. I have been stepped on more times than I care to admit, one in particular where I was really lucky my foot wasn’t broken, all thanks to my boot.
Best Boots For Western Horseback Riding
Now that we know what we are looking for, let’s see what’s out there.
From the Manufacturer
Hardworking lacer with some pretty details. ATS technology provides support and balance, and the durable Pro Crepe® outsoles comfortably cushion. A kiltie adds forefoot protection and traditional flair. The upper is touched up with a three-row stitch pattern and embroidered star.
- Comfort – The Probaby Lacer Boot is my favorite pair of boots for riding. They come with all the comfort technology the Ariat line offers plus the added comfort of extra stitching around the top of the boot.
- No-fuss break-in – Reviewers note that these boots are easy to break-ins, which means you won’t need to wear them for a long time before taking them out on a ride.
- Great for those with foot problems – A number of reviews from riders who experience foot problems or have recently had surgery that seem to really enjoy the comfort and extra support these boots offer. I can personally vouch for this as someone with plantar fasciitis. My feet ache in every shoe I own after 10-15 minutes of walking, except for these boots.
- Not waterproof – These boots are not waterproof, but can easily be waterproof and do not seem to have any trouble with water as long as it stays below the lace line.
- Inconsistent quality – Quality control for some reviewers seemed to be the most common problem, with the soles wearing off the shoe after a year or so of use.
While these boots offer great comfort and support, they are not as durable as many would like. Quality control seems to be an ongoing problem in some cases. Despite these downfalls, this boot seems to be a solid choice for occasional riding and groundwork but long term-you may need to find a different boot if you are hard on your boots. You can read more reviews here.
From the Manufacturer
Look lovely on the ranch or simply roaming the big city when you’re wearing the SV7211 boot from Justin™! Pull-on design with dual pull tabs. Rugged tan buffalo leather upper. Features beautiful contrast trim at collar and stitching on shaft. Single-stitched welt. J125 – wide square toe. J-Flex Flexible Comfort System® makes these the most comfortable boots around.
The triple-density insole board creates unbelievable energy return for long-lasting comfort. Removable open-cell PU orthotic insert for all-day supportive comfort. M heel is nailed on for long-lasting durability. Durable rubber outsole offers excellent traction on many surface types. Imported. Measurements: Heel Height: 1 1⁄2 in Weight: 1 lb 14 oz Circumference: 14 in Shaft: 12 in Platform Height: 1⁄4 in Product measurements were taken using size 8.5, width B – Medium. Please note that measurements may vary by size.
- These boots are BEAU-ti-FUL – They are stylish and unlike our prior review, are slip-on, so you won’t spend a ton of time tying and untying them.
- No-slip – They have a rubber sole which adds “the right amount” of traction and some water resistance. The manufacturer’s claim that these boots offer long-lasting comfort is congruent with online reviewers who rave about the comfort of these boots.
- Loose fit – If the tightness of a lacer isn’t for you, then these boots are right up your alley because they offer a lot more “freedom” then they average lacer.
- Durable – They also have strong durability ratings as reviewers report they are getting 5-6 years of heavy use out of these babies.
- Break-in woes – While these boots are reportedly very comfortable, they do require breaking in according to online reviewers.
- Sizing troubles – The boots themselves seem to run big and the calf portion of the boot tends to run small. Many reviewers stated that they were able to stretch the calf portion to fit them correctly without damaging the boot.
With style, comfort and durability the Justin Boots Stampede collection is hard to beat. The J-Flex Comfort System really does deliver superior comfort and foot support. However, ankle support is lacking here and you may have to stretch the calf portion of the boot to fit. All in all, this seems like an all-around great boot for barn work, riding and possibly even a night on the town! You can read more about these boots here.
From the Manufacturer
The Ariat Heritage Lacer II Boots deliver undeniable proof of Ariat’s commitment to providing the highest quality products for equestrian enthusiasts worldwide. As a part of the Ariat Women’s Performance Boot Collection, these boots set the standard for professional women’s riding and work boots.
Premium full-grain leather construction with a traditional full-lace design makes the “Heritage Lacer” a favorite among riders of all disciplines. Functional details such as the removable double kiltie offer added protection as well as a classic touch to this durable, yet stylish all around Western boot!
- Durable Full – Grain Leather Construction
- Moisture – Wicking, Breathable Lining
- Heavy – Duty Stitching and Laces
- Exclusive Ariat Scroll Hardware
- Removable Double Kiltie
- ATS™ Stabilizing Support Footbed Technology
- Non-Marking Duratread™ Rubber Outsole
- Built to last – I have not seen one review stating that these boots are of poor quality. In fact, even the bad reviews mentioned that the quality of the boots was outstanding.
- Durable – Reviewers also really love the durability-most reporting that these boots have lasted them between 2-6 years depending on how heavily the boots are used.
- Style – One reviewer stated she would even consider wearing them with a skirt!
- They have a removable kiltie (the fringe thing on the toe) for those of us who don’t need all the extra frills.
- Science-backed comfort – Their ATS Stabilizing Support Footbed Technology seems like a big plus as it provides additional shock absorption to keep your joints happy whether your doing groundwork or into/out of the saddle.
- Inconsistent sizing – Sizing seems to be a big issue for the Ariat Heritage II boot. Many reviewers had a difficult time finding the correct size online stating that boots tend to run narrow.
- Not waterproof – They are also not waterproof so if you are going to be riding or working in wet, muddy terrain, these boots are probably not for you.
- Comfort may take time – These boots do not have any cushion on the upper part of the boot, which in my experience can sometimes rub if worn inside of your pant leg.
These boots have longevity, durability and are fashionable which make them a great boot. They are “lacers” which is horse-speak for they have hooks that you loop the shoestring around that goes up your leg. This adds support to your ankle joint and is preferred by many riders. However, they are not waterproof which would be something to take into consideration if you are mucking out stalls, working on wet ground or possibly taking your horse for a dip in the water. They also seem to have some issues with sizing, so it may be best if you are considering a pair of Ariats that you try them on in-store. They also do not have a steel toe, which this reviewer thinks is very important. All in all, if you are looking for a show boot I think these would be a great option. You can read more about these boots here.
Western Horseback Riding Boots come in many different shapes and sizes. The amount of support you need and where you need that support vary from rider to rider. Regardless of personal preference, all riders need supportive, durable and comfortable boots to avoid foot problems and protect their feet from damage. It is also important that riders choose a boot for horseback riding, as not all boots are made the same. A boot that is too large may become hung up in a stirrup and in the event of an emergency or a fall improper footwear could be very very dangerous.
Western Horseback Riding Boots Buyer’s Guide Takeaways
- Look for support, durability, and comfort when choosing footwear for horseback riding.
- Be sure to wear the appropriate socks when trying on boots because they may affect the fit of the boot.
- Ensure that your boots are well broken in and fit properly before going on a long ride, future you will thank present you later.
What are horse riding boots called?
Boot work for horseback riding is called by a few different names depending on if the boot is being worn by an English or Western rider.
English riders will have the option of riding in tall boots or short boots. Tall English boots that are all leather are called Dress boots. These are formal boots worn by dressage and equitation riders and very popular to wear during competition. Hunt boots/ and or Top boots are very similar to Dress boots but they have a cuff at the top. This style of boot is traditionally worn by male riders during fox hunts.
Feild boots look similar to the dress boots but they have lacing over the vamp ( front of the ankle. This gives the rider more flexibility at the ankle, especially for those riding with a shorter stirrup length. Field boots are preferred by English riders that jump, fox hunt or compete in eventing. English riders also have the option of wearing a shorter boot that sits just above the ankle. These boots are called Paddock boots or Jodphur boots. These boots are commonly worn by children, pleasure riders, and for daily riding. Riders will often wear half chaps with paddock boots to protect the leg and it also gives the visual impression of a tall English boot. A paddock boot that is made of patent leather, known as a Chelsea boot is worn by Saddle Seat riders during competition.
Western or Cowboy boots are worn by western riders. Western boots will come in a pull/slip-on or lace-up. The boot heels also come in different heights ranging from 1inch – 2.5 inches and are referred to as a roper hill, walking heel, and riding heel depending on the height. Soles of the western boot will come in leather, rubber, or a crepe sole. The sole and heel length are all designed for specific disciplines. If you are a new rider a roper boot is a great choice or anything with a crepe sole. Pull/slip-on boots are safer than lace-up, as they will pull off if the foot happens to slip through the stirrup during a fall.
Are short or long/tall riding boots better?
Short and long/tall riding boots will mean one thing to an English rider and another to a Western rider. For English riders, tall boots are ideal to keep the rider’s calf protected. It is very common for the stirrup leathers on the English saddle to pinch the rider’s calf causing pain and bruising. If tall boos are not an option find a nice pair of half chaps for protection. Western boots do have a bit of range when it comes to boot height. This is all base on preference and functionality more than protection.
The leather fenders on a western saddle don’t pinch the rider’s calf. But if you get a boot that is not tall enough there is a good chance that you will become bothered with the top of the boot getting stuck under the saddles fender. You want to make sure that when you’re heel is down the top of the boot is above the bottom of the saddle fender. But if you are a pleasure rider and are not planning to compete you can choose any style of boot that you choose as long as it is safe for horseback riding.
Can you wear trainers for horse riding?
Although there is a heel that will keep your foot from slipping through the stirrup when riding trainers are not a safe option for foot ware when it comes to appropriate shoes for horseback riding. Many hiking style boots or cross-training “trainers” have a waffle tread or something similar that is thick and heavy. Shoes with this style of tread get stuck easily in the stirrup if the rider was to fall.
Are riding boots good for walking?
Some riding boots are great for walking while others are not. If you are looking for a boot that can be used for walking and riding get a boot with a walking heel. The walking heel is about one inch tall and is ore in line with the natural sole of the boot.
The cowboy/riding heel is about two inches tall and has a higher arch in the sole of the boot and does not have the extra padding that boots with a walking heel have. So if you need a boot that can be used for both riding and walking they are out there you just have to be mindful of the heel and boot style when you are deciding which boot is best for you.
What is the difference between riding boots and regular boots?
The main difference between a riding boot and regular boots is the heel height. Riding boots have a heel that is about 2 inches high and is slanted at about 90 degrees upright front the ground with a 60 – 70 degree inclined angle above the ground and has an underslung and tapered shape.
Now regular boots are made to be more versatile. The boot heel is only 1 inch high and flat and wide and is the same width as the soles of the feet. Regular riding boots also are made with more padding in the sole to give comfort in and out of the saddle and the boot sole is made to stand heavier use, more than just riding.
Michael Dehaan is a passionate horse owner, horse rider, and lover of all things equine. He has been around horses since he was a child, and has grown to become an expert in the field. He has owned and ridden a variety of horses of different breeds, and has trained many to compete in shows and competitions. He is an experienced horseman, having worked with and competed many horses, including his own. He is an active member of the equestrian community, participating in events and teaching riding lessons.