What are the different types of riding boots?

Riding boots are popular footwear for equestrianism or horse riding. Although they are designed for this purpose, riding boots have evolved and are now also popular as a fashion statement.  

Short Origin

The origin and invention of boots are said to be credited to the Spaniards. In the 1500s, they were technically designed for men who used their horses as a means of transportation. In the 1600s, they become as a complimentary wear for military uniforms. Original riding boots are made of leather, high top that should fit right up into the bend behind the knee. As the boots flex and they will drop 1/2cm to 1cm to protect the leg from rubbing against the saddle while riding. The heels are shaped properly to offer support and be able to fit the stirrup. Trimmed tassels are added for aesthetic purpose.  

Riding boots vs. Regular Boots

brown boots

The function, the height, and the heel design set apart a riding horse from regular boots. Riding boots, as the name suggests, are specifically designed for horseback riding and are even used now for fashion; regular boots, while fashionable, cannot be used for horseback riding. Next, the height of traditional boots is much shorter than riding boots. As mentioned above, riding boots go below the knee or mid-calf, while regular boots can be at ankle height only. Lastly, the design, particularly with the sole, sets apart riding boots from regular boots: riding boots have a textured sole to make them easier to walk in, of not more than 2 or 3 inches, while regular boots can either have a small heel, a large heel, or even a stiletto heel.  

Different types of riding boots

riding boot in the stirrup

Dress Boots

It has long been a dressage or tournament rider’s formal boot. It has been favored as the most popular type of long-riding boot, commonly seen by riders of all disciplines. Dress boots are traditionally black and leather, but rubber and synthetic leather boots are also available if you’re on a tight budget. Most dress boots are cut higher outside the rider’s leg and reach to the outside of the knee.  

Field Boots 

Field boots are long leather boots wherein the front ankle has a lace closure. The lacing increases the flexibility of the rider’s ankle. A further convenience of the lace closure becomes apparent when the rider has to shorten the stirrups to get into the jump position. Field riding boots are preferred by riders competing in showjumping events such as event jumping, show jumping, and even hunting. 

Hunting Boots 

Hunting boots have many similarities to dress boots, but there is one distinct difference. Hunting boots are traditionally made of black leather with tan or brown leather cuffs on the top of the boot and are worn by male hunters. Women’s hunting shoes are a little different because most women wear their boots off-road when they go hunting.

Jodhpur Boots and Gaiters

Short leather boots that extend over the ankle and give the rider support and flexibility are called jodhpurs. They have low heels, pointy toes, and soft soles. With unique cushioning technology built into their soles, some jodhpur boots even compete with high-end running shoes in terms of technology and substance. To prevent rot in rainy weather and damage from the urine sanitation program, the soles of most jodhpur boots are composed of rubber or composite materials, as they are typically worn for everyday purposes. Many cyclists often find that pairing short jodhpur shoes with low-rise or low-rise pants makes them much more versatile and easier to wear, especially if they have problems with the size of long boots. Gaiters can help boost new riders’ confidence because they look more stylish than plain jodhpurs and offer much more comfort, which is essential during long sitting in the saddle.

Long Riding Boots 

Standard competition shoes for adult riders, called ‘tall’ riding boots, are also traditional British riding shoes. The long-riding boots are the leg-to-knee length of the rider and come in three styles, each designed for specific use in British riding. The three styles are field boots, dress boots, and hunting boots. All long-riding boots are similar in length but differ in fit, aesthetics, and usage. The long riding boot has a full zip at the back of the boot. Most riders prefer the zipper version because it’s easier to put on and take off, and the zipper is less noticeable. 

Short Riding Boots

Short-riding boots are a more conventional choice when it comes to riding boots, as they provide support and comfort at a relatively affordable price compared to long leather boots. Some riders need help to stand in their long-riding boots, this is where short ankle boots with a gait or wedge boots are best in this case. Short boots can have many of the same features as long boots. Some have steel toecaps for protection, are waterproof, and have zippers or zips for a better fit. This short boot is designed to withstand many different aspects of riding.

Riding Boots as Fashion Statement

Riding boots have become fashionable footwear paired with jeans, skinny jeans, sweaters, skirts, or dresses. Most riding boots designed for fashion use are different from the typical characteristics of the original riding boots. Most riding boots still use pure leather, but there are now other alternatives, such as vegan leather and vinyl, to offer more comfort. The shape is retained. A few more zips have been added to make them easier to get on and off. Also, most riding boots today offer higher heels than the original ones.   

Final Thoughts

Riding boots may have evolved, and additional functions and purpose for their use have been added. But its original purpose of being used as footwear for riding horses will forever be in style.