Style Guides

How to Choose the Right Riding Boots (+ 8 of our favorites)

How to Choose the Right Riding Boots (+ 8 of our favorites)

With show season just around the corner, it’s time to start looking at your riding apparel. Breeches? Check! Show shirt? Check! Show coat? Check! Riding boots? Yikes. If your riding boots are looking a little worse for wear this show season, don’t stress. We’ve compiled a guide to help you find the perfect pair of boots that’ll take you through this upcoming season and beyond.

In this guide, we’ll take a look at the benefits a good pair of riding boots can bring, as well as the different types equestrians can wear. We’ll also walk you through finding the right pair for your needs and help jumpstart your search by featuring eight of our favorite riding boots.

What are Riding Boots?

Equestrian riding boots are designed specifically for horseback riding. These boots serve several purposes, providing comfort, protection, and support for riders while they are mounted on a horse. Riding boots are commonly made from leather for durability and flexibility. Many equestrian boots feature a specific closure system, such as zippers, laces, or a combination of both, to ensure a secure fit while riding. One of the key features of riding boots is a distinct heel with defined tread that helps prevent rider’s feet from slipping through the stirrups.

Why Choosing the Right Type of Riding Boot is So Important

A high-quality pair of riding boots plays a crucial role in ensuring the comfort and safety of equestrians while also providing improved control in the saddle. The wrong riding boots can cause major discomfort and fatigue, which is why buying the right riding boots is so important.

Primarily, riding boots offer a level of safety that is indispensable in horseback riding. At face value, riding boots protect your feet and lower legs from accidental kicks, rubs against the horse, and getting caught in the stirrups. Beyond safety, riding boots provide essential support and stability, contributing to a secure position in the saddle and decreased fatigue while riding. The soles of riding boots are designed to provide a good grip on the stirrups, helping riders maintain control of their feet in the stirrups or on slick, uneven ground in the arena or at the barn.

Riding boots should also increase your comfort. High-quality riding boots are crafted with features like cushioning, arch support, and breathable materials, making them comfortable for extended periods of riding. Riding boots also shield your feet and legs from the elements, especially when made from durable and weather-resistant materials.

Discipline-specific features further highlight the importance of investing in the right pair of riding boots. Different equestrian disciplines may have unique requirements, and riding boots are often tailored to meet these specific needs. Whether it’s the polished and professional appearance of tall boots demanded in competitions or the discipline-specific functionalities required for optimal performance, riding boots play a pivotal role in enhancing the overall riding experience.

Types of Riding Boots

There are several types of riding boots designed for different equestrian disciplines, preferences, and occasions. These are the most common types of riding boots worn in English riding disciplines.

Paddock Boots

Also known as jodhpur boots, paddock boots are ankle-length boots often worn for everyday riding, training, and stable work. Paddock boots are suitable for riders who prefer a shorter boot, though they are largely worn by younger riders along with a pair of jodhpurs. Paddock boots can also be paired with half chaps to give the appearance of a tall boot.

Learn more: How to Buy Jodhpurs: Size, Fit, and Styles Guide

Barn Boots

Though similar in style to paddock boots, barn boots are more casual and rustic in design. Barn boots typically have thick tread and are waterproof, allowing equestrians to safely muck around the barn and paddocks while staying stable and dry. Since barn boots are casual riding footwear, they often come in a variety of colors and styles.

Field Boots

Field boots are tall boots that reach just below the knee and are typically used in English riding disciplines like show jumping and eventing. These boots traditionally feature laces on half or the entire length of the boot. Field boots are usually required for competitions as they offer a more polished, traditional appearance.

Dress Boots

Dress boots are similar to field boots but are made of smoother leather. These boots are primarily worn in dressage competitions and feature a stiff shaft to provide a clean and elegant look. Dress boots do not typically feature laces and commonly come in black or brown to adhere to dress code standards.

Learn more: Dressage Show Attire, Dress Code, and Style Tips for Riders

How Should Riding Boots Fit?

Properly fitting riding boots are essential for comfort, safety, and effective communication between horse and rider. Always try on riding boots before buying them, if possible. Remember to try boots on later in the day, after any normal swelling of your feet and ankle has occurred, and wear a pair of breeches to simulate your complete riding attire.

Here are some guidelines on how the right riding boot should fit.


The boot should be long enough to cover your ankle and provide adequate support. For tall boots, they should reach just below your knee without impeding your movement.


The boot should have a snug but not overly tight fit around your foot and ankle. There should be enough room to wiggle your toes, but not so much that your foot slides around inside the boot.


Your heel should sit firmly against the back of the boot. There should be minimal movement of the heel up and down while walking or riding, otherwise, you’ll experience painful blisters.

Calf Fit (for tall boots)

The calf of the boot should fit snugly but not be overly tight. There should be enough room to insert a finger between your calf and the boot for a proper fit.

Ankle Fit

Your ankle should have support without excessive pressure. Wrinkles or folds around the ankle usually indicate that the boot is too loose. Additionally, the boot should flex at the ankle where your natural ankle joint moves. Ensure that the flex point aligns with your ankle for ease of movement in the saddle and walking.

Toe Room

There should be enough room in the toe box to prevent pinching or discomfort. Ensure that your toes are not jammed against the front of the boot.

Secure Closure (for boots with closures)

Zippers, laces, or other closure mechanisms should allow for a secure fit without creating pressure points. Check that closures are properly fastened to prevent slippage.

How to Wear Riding Boots With Breeches

When wearing riding boots with breeches, it’s important to start by choosing a great pair of riding breeches. Remember to consider the specific dress code requirements for your riding discipline or event. In general, a great pair of breeches will have a flexible, athletic fit that is snug but not restrictive. Most modern breeches also feature a tapered leg with mesh panels on the lower leg for breathability and comfort while wearing tall boots.

Make sure to fit your tall boots over your breeches to create a neat and polished appearance. Smooth out any wrinkles to ensure a streamlined fit around the calf, maintaining a clean look inside the boots. If your boots feel too tight around your ankle or calf with your breeches on, you may need to size up.

If your riding boots have zippers or closures, make sure they are securely fastened, providing both a polished appearance and a secure fit. For paddock boots, which are shorter, ensure that any closure mechanisms like laces or zippers are properly secured. Double-check the overall fit of the riding boots, with the heel snug against the back of the boot and the calf fitting comfortably.

8 Pairs of Riding Boots We Love

Looking for some great riding boot recommendations? Your search is over! Here are some of our favorite riding boots for a wide variety of occasions and disciplines.

1. Parlanti Denver Classic Dress Boots

If you really want to step up your dressage look, these premium dressage boots are just the trick. The main body of the boot is crafted from supple Italian leather, providing sturdy yet flexible support that moves with you as you ride thanks to elastic side panels. Due to careful craftsmanship and high-quality leather, the Palanti Denver Classic Dress Boots are designed to age like fine wine, becoming your go-to boot for shows and competitions.

2. Ego7 Taurus Paddock Boots

These sleek paddock boots from Ego7 pack a mighty punch. Made with full-grain premium leather, the stitching follows the natural silhouette of your foot to create a slim, sleek look in the saddle. Cushioning around the ankle and supportive elastic band make these boots highly comfortable, providing relief on long schooling days. We also like the sturdy rubber sole that provides superior contact with the irons and quick release in case of a fall.

3. Fabbri Pro Boots

These handmade Italian boots are the pinnacle of equestrian luxury. The full-grain leather feels like butter in your hands but has supreme durability that’s unrivaled in the equestrian world. The careful stitching and attention to detail mark the Fabbri Pro Boots as the work of dedication and master craftsmanship, qualities which can significantly elevate your show look and give you a boost of confidence in the saddle. These boots are made ready-to-wear, available in three different styles: Dress, Derby and Dressage, or semi-custom, also available in the French style.

4. Heritage Contour II Field Zip Tall Riding Boot

Ariat knocks it out of the park again with an incredible pair of field riding boots. These boots offer lightweight support and stability, ensuring that every ride is met with optimal comfort and control. The full-length elasticized panel on the lateral side, combined with an elastic gusset on the inside knee, provides flexibility and a contoured fit. For practicality and ease, these boots feature a full-length back zipper with a keeper, allowing for swift and secure closure. Paired with elasticized laces, these boots fit like a glove right out of the box. The high Spanish cut topline not only adds a touch of elegance but also enhances the overall aesthetic.

5. Heritage IV Zip Waterproof Paddock Boot

Tackle schooling in style with the Heritage IV Zip Waterproof Paddock Boot. These boots are perfect for all seasons and feature a durable full-grain leather upper to keep your feet warm and dry. They feature a built-in heel cushion for maximum comfort and stability in the saddle. The sleek, classic silhouette of these paddock boots can bring together any equestrian look, whether you’re training for the afternoon or participating in a schooling show.

6. Women’s Highlander Tall Winter Riding Boot

Winter doesn’t slow down the most dedicated of equestrians. Stay warm, dry, and comfortable with the help of the Tall Winter Riding Boot from Ovation. These durable boots are designed to take you from the ground to the saddle with maximum stability and minimal fatigue. With a faux fur lining and rubber sole, your feet will stay dry and cozy in even the harshest of winter weather.

7. Women’s Moorland II Tall Riding Boot

This gorgeous boot from Ovation is a powerhouse for any equestrian wardrobe. With a full-grain oiled leather upper, these boots are rustic and stunning in black or brown. The elastic gusset around the calf helps provide a secure, superior fit, and the grippy outsole keeps you stable on the ground and in the saddle. The plaid lining helps keep you cozy and provides extra security for your breeches. We recommend ordering a size up for the most optimal fit.

8. Der Dau Dress Boots Collection

Family-owned and operated for over fifty years, Der Dau is a luxury riding boot company based in New York. Each pair of boots is handmade in the United States with careful attention to detail and a dedication to quality. Der Dau boots are made to order and feature eye-catching accessories like alligator skin trim to give you an extra dose of personality to your show wardrobe.

These Boots Were Made For Riding

Riding boots represent the practical side of the equestrian wardrobe, ensuring your safety and comfort as well as complimenting your style. But don’t forget the rest of your riding attire! Whether you need training shirts, show shirts, breeches, or show coats, R.J. Classics has it all. No matter your discipline or experience level, we’ve got high-quality equestrian apparel for you.

Shop the R.J. Classics collection today →


You might also like:

← Older Post Newer Post →