Last Updated on February 9, 2022
It’s difficult to buy horseback riding essentials for kids, especially knowing they need a quality boot but are likely to outgrow it quickly. Whether your child is riding western or English, we have found the best horseback riding boots for kids, with quality and price in mind.
Footwear is Essential
A proper riding boot is necessary when horseback riding. Not only will proper footwear provide stability, better leg/foot cues, and comfort, but boots are a safety requirement. Even if a child does not yet have riding attire for horseback riding lessons, most instructors will require students to have a heeled boot or shoe of some type. The heel plays an essential role in increasing stability and preventing a rider’s foot from slipping through the stirrup. In the event of an accident, a rider is much more likely to get seriously injured if a foot becomes hung in the stirrup and the rider is drug by the horse. Even a small heel will drastically decrease the odds of a foot traveling too far forward.
Like any other sport or extracurricular, there is proper attire and equipment for horseback riding. Although it might be tempting to save a few bucks by purchasing non-equestrian footwear, it will be worth the investment of real boots in the long run. Paddock “style” boots and economy fashion cowboy boots are not good options for riding or actual barn work. Riding boots are designed to be comfortable while in stirrups, and offer leg protection to prevent excessive friction and rubbing. Heels will also be adequate to prevent slippage, and usually offer footbed flexibility for maximum comfort. Riding boots will also utilize higher quality materials and stitching designed to withstand heavy outdoor use. They will also be easy to clean and featureless “dirt traps” than fashion boots. They will also feature a spur rest, either a piece on a paddock for spurs to sit on or an extended boot heel for the spur.
One of the most important features of children’s riding boots is the level of ease to put on/off. For this reason, we did not include English tall boots. These are typically only necessary for shows or upper level/serious English junior exhibitors. Tall boots are not only difficult to fit, but higher in price and require a great deal of break-in time.
We recommend cowboy boots with wide calf openings and pull tabs. Although leather soles are typically the preference for cowboy boots when riding, kids can benefit from the extra traction of rubber soles. Lower shaft heights will also make getting dressed an easier process, and provide less bulk on the calf when riding.
Paddock boots are available in pull-on styles, laces, and zippers. Pull-ons are great for little ones in and out of shoes without parental assistance. However, laces and zippers are about preference. Most adults and children prefer the ease of zippers. They are also streamlined and easy to use in conjunction with half chaps. However, some parents prefer to put children in lace-up paddocks. They can be tied looser while the boot is being broken in, and help with ankle flexibility (heels down!) while riding. Then parents can snug up the laces at a later time. The laces provide some adjustment in terms of fit.
Boots are normally leather, but equi-leather and other faux-leather options have been dominating the paddock boot market. This is because most of these synthetic materials look and feel like leather- at a fraction of the cost! They are also typically waterproof, easy to clean, and long-lasting. However, unlike leather, any actual staining or damage to the material cannot easily be mended. Leather is forgiving and can be “revived” time and time again. There may only be a slight price difference in quality synthetic paddock boots and more economical leather paddocks. Rubber pull-on paddocks are not ideal for riding. However, these rubber boots are essential for barn chores, horse baths, and work great as a spur-of-the-moment riding boot.
If you already know what discipline your child will be riding, check out our list of the best horseback riding boots for kids below:
List Of The Best Horseback Riding Boots For Kids
Ariat is a trusted brand among all equestrians, in both English and western disciplines. This unisex paddock is a full-grain leather with a moisture-wicking lining. It has an easy front-zip and a Duratread outsole. This paddock boot will work both for schooling or paired with half chaps for a local show!
- Real leather
- Easy zip
- High quality
- Supple leather
- More expensive option for kids
Saxon makes great affordable boots for intro riders. These paddocks are available in both brown and black synthetic leathers and feature a heavy-duty zipper built to last. They have EVA insoles, elastic panels for ankle freedom, and tough soles for maximum wear and grip. This grained PU looks and feels like real leather!
- Easy to clean
- Two-color options
- Sturdy zipper for kids
- Synthetic material cannot be revived
The Dublin Elevation is a top-selling paddock boot, and now available in youth sizes. This front zip boot features elastic side panels and a long pull tab for little fingers. It has a grippy rubber sole, full-grain leather upper, and YKK zipper. Quality meets performance at a modest price point!
- Easy for small hands to put on
- Quality materials
- Real leather
- Narrower ankle opening
This is our number one pick for economy synthetic paddocks. Equistar delivers quality products, and each pair comes with an extra set of laces. These offer a degree of flexibility due to the lace-up style, and the practicality/ease of synthetic materials. The new EquiStar sole system is lightweight with improved flexibility. Your little one will love these!
- Easy to clean
- Fit adjustment due to laces
- Look synthetic
- Backed by ERS product quality guarantee
Although unconventional for riding due to the weight, we wanted to include these Horze safety work paddocks! It’s awesome Horze designed these for kids. They feature a slip-on pull-tab and stretch ankle panels. They are actual leather and have CE and EIN ISO 20345 certifications/standards. Have some peace of mind knowing your child is round heavy horses with extra toe/foot protection!
- Heels for riding
- Safer for groundwork
- Meets safety standards
- Pricier than a standard paddock due to protective features
Although not an actual riding paddock, this has been a popular choice for parents due to the ability to be worn in the saddle and for mucking stalls. These are waterproof, easily cleaned/rinsed, and easy to slip on for kids. There is an adequate heel to make them riding safe, but only for schooling as they are rubber.
- Great for riding or stable work
- Easy slip-on
- Schooling purposes only
- Not for long/serious riding
How adorable are these? Finally, an economical country boot for kids! These Tuff Rider Lexington boots feature a drawstring closure and rubber outsole, with memory foam insoles. They are waterproofed leather, making these a great winter or wet-spring boot. They can be worn in and out of the saddle, and they’re great for wet pastures!
- Great for stable or saddle
- Moderate price point
- High fashion equestrian apparel
- Practical boots
- It may be difficult for kids to put on
- May inhibit leg contact in the saddle
Smoky Mountain Boot Store has some awesome economical starter boots for kids. These are both synthetic and leather and feature the popular square toe and traditional western heel on a rubber sole. The cushioning allows for comfortable wear both in and out of the saddle, especially with the modest-length shaft height on both color options!
- Fashionably distressed look
- Pull tabs and shorter shaft height
- Parents may not like rubber soles
Now the kids can match the popular crosscut cowboy boots adults are wearing! Roper hit a home run with this very affordable and quality boot by using synthetic materials with the look and feel of real leather. A 4″ shaft makes it easy to put on, with a spacious 6.5″ boot opening. The flexible rubber bottom offers traction and comfort in stirrups.
- Affordable and quality
- Flexible soles
- Study grip
- High fashion
- 4” shaft height
- All synthetic
Roper made the list again with this synthetic boot for your little cowgirl-in-the-making. It has a slightly higher shaft, but still features a 1″ heel with a spur stop/rest. It has a traditional scalloped topline and decorative stitching. This will look good in and out of the saddle!
- Affordable synthetic
- Wide opening
- Toddler/little kid sizing
- A taller shaft might be hard for little ones
Fatbaby boots are a great option for kids that struggle getting other boots, or for kids that may need more leg contact in the saddle. The ultra-short Ariats feature rubber sols and a suede upper. The best part? They use the exclusive Ariat “Booster Bed” for growing room, saving parents money!
- Moderately priced
- Ariat fan-favorite
- Short and easy to put on
- Approved for riding
- Adjustment for growing room
- Rubber heel is chunky
- It may feel bulky on kids
Do you have friends with kids that ride horses? Be sure to share this article, you may help them find their next pair of boots as well!
Equestrian, Marine Corps vet, and Morgan horse enthusiast.