Best Riding Boots Reviewed & Rated for Performance
Finding the right pair of riding boots can make your time in the saddle comfortable and increase your level of protection. There are numerous styles to choose from, the safest and most stylish of which is the Long Boot. These are made in either rubber or leather and both materials have their advantages.
Rubber riding boots can be wiped clean with minimum fuss after a long day out riding, and are also a popular choice for work in the stables. However, by far the more superior and stylish of the two are Long boots made out of leather material.
- Cole Haan Hayes
- Durable leather upper
- Rounded toe
- Lucchese Emma
- Leather lace up
- Comfortable insole
- EquiStar Cadet Flex II
- Rubber build
- Easy off and on
Leather lends itself well to equestrian activity and if well maintained leather riding boots can last for years.
They may take some time to break in and this can be a painful process, although once the leather softens you’ll find the boot has bend and flex in all the right places. This will customize the boot to your particular riding style.
Because leather boots are waterproof and breathable, they can be worn in either summer or winter conditions. If you keep your boots in top condition, they’ll see you through both rain and shine.
Many long boots have the option of a zipper on the back or side of the boot. Whilst all long boots are designed to pull onto the leg, having a zipper may prove an advantage, especially if your hands are numb with cold.
10 Best Riding Boots
1. Cole Haan Hayes
Pulling on and off boots can be a real chore, especially if you’re tired or your hands are numb with cold after a day out riding. These feature a pull loop at the back of the boot, making it just that bit easier to get these beauties on and off.
Fine Leather Material
These boots are made from a soft leather material, which is snug to the fit, but as the boot ages as the leather softens further, it’ll flex and give in all the right places providing you with a customized fit.
Cost and Value
Certainly not the cheapest pair of boots on the list. But with bags of style and an elegance which make these a great investment. Look after them and they’ll take care of you for years to come.
- Functional zipper
- Pull loop
- Lined fabric
- Simple, elegant looks
- Buckle may snag
2. Lucchese Emma
The leather composite lugs on the outsole will provide grip and stability when dealing with the more unpleasant aspects of the horse world – mud, muck and cleaning out those stables and will assure your grip on most other terrains as well. Made for work and for style.
Lucchese boots are renowned for their comfort and these boots are comfortable. They feature breathable leather and suede boot and shaft and cushioned insoles that will stand up and keep you comfortable through a long day on the ranch.
Cost and Value
These boots are near the top of the list pricewise and do represent a significant investment. However, they will be among the finest riding boots you’ve ever owned – equally comfortable in the stables as they are in an urban setting. They will last you a very long time, remain comfortable and stand up to all the work you can give them.
- Leather boot
- Suede upper
- Leather lace ties
- Very comfortable boot
- Outsole lugs
- Suede difficult to clean
3. EquiStar Cadet Flex II
There are elastic panels along the back of the shaft of these boots that will adjust to kids with wider calves, leaving them far more comfortable. Also, the elastic panels make it simple for young people to put on and remove the boot and will accommodate whatever pants your child is wearing.
Easy to clean
Kids have a tendency to get dirty. Add horses to the mix and, well that just spells loads of cleaning. Luckily these boots can be rinsed down easily with a hose, standing up to whatever your kids throw at them.
Cost and Value
These are the least expensive riding boot in our line-up and they are quite a value given how long they will last, the fit designed to be adaptable to your child’s leg and clothing and the ease with which they are cleaned. Your child will appreciate how easy these are as well
- Easy off and on
- Adjustable calf
- Rubber built
- Very durable
- Easy to clean
- Not breathable
4. Dublin River
These boots have an elastic gusset at the inside upper calf area and also feature a drawstring at the top of the boot so you can be sure of an adjustable, snug fit.
The Dublin River boot features a unique Rider Comfort System (RCS) this means that moisture on the foot is controlled through it’s advanced lining technology, with a superior cushioning layer for comfort.
Cost and Value
A fully waterproofed boot, The Dublin River is a choice worth investing in. It’s RCS insole is designed for all-day comfort, meaning riders can be sure of a boot that won't let them down.
- Made from leather
- RCS insole
- Adjustable drawstring
- Different styles choices
- May be too roomy
5. Mountain Horse Sovereign
These long riding boots feature MH Prolaze Stretch-Flex notch that makes for an easier heel down position, which will feel considerably softer.
There is a hidden and hardwearing piece of elastic that runs along the inside of the back of the shaft area and provides a superior customized fit for the rider.
Cost and Value
Packed with features, including a ripple zone in the outsole for more responsive grip, these are a pricy shoe which more then justifies its price tag with great looks, top-notch materials, and technology to give any rider an edge against the competition.
- Durable zipper
- High Density outsole
- Full grain leather
- ShockX foot bed
- Sizes run wide
6. Ariat Windermere
Ariat has always endeavored to stay one step ahead of the competition with its technology, and this boot is no exception. Its four-layer rebound technology is designed to keep the foot stabilized for comfort that lasts all day.
Full Grain Leather
The Ariat Windermere is fashioned from full grain leather and soft suede upper, which if looked after correctly will last the rider for years to come. Both leather and suede is fully waterproof and durable for all seasons.
Cost and Value
The Ariat Windermere is not the cheapest riding boot, but what you do get is a brand with a leading reputation and quality that is hard to beat. Riders trust Ariat, and the Windermere is a fantastic boot, which is why it has made number one on this list.
- Full grain leather
- Waterproof textile lining
- Dura tread outsole
- Soft suede upper
- May run small
7. Ariat Heritage Roper
No slipping from the stirrups in this boot. It is designed for horseback and more importantly, for working on horseback. The boot is for ranchers and cowboys who spend a lot of time in the saddle and need a reliable, performance riding boot.
The ATS (Advanced Torque Stability) shank in the sole ensures your feet do not over-flex while you are in the saddle. A stable foot means you can focus on your work and not ensuring the placement of your feet.
Cost and Value
These boots are in the lower third of the price range relative to this list. While they still represent an investment, they are an incredible work boot for anyone who works around or on horses. They will last and will keep your foot protected, are easy to clean and reliable. Well worth the price.
- Duratread sole
- Performance riding boot
- Full-grain leather
- ATS shank
- Roper toe
- Sizes run narrow
8. Clarks Maymie Stellar
This boot also comes complete with an inside zipper, so regardless of how cold your hands are after a day of riding, pulling this boot on or off won't be a problem.
For superior comfort, Clarks Maymie Stellar features a midsole that is made from memory foam. This means that your foot is perfectly cushioned and comfortable for all day riding.
This boot has a number of flourishes that will delight its owner, including a trio of antique style studs and fashionable accent wrap around straps across the upper neck of the boot.
Cost and Value
Clarks have excelled themselves in crafting a beautiful riding boot in cognac leather, providing comfort and protection to the rider. If style is your thing, then invest in a pair of Clarks Maymie Stellar riding boots.
- Synthetic sole
- Unique flourishes
- Non marking outsole
- Inside zipper
- Chunky heel
9. Roper Metallic Underlay
The underlay in the boot is very unique, made of a metallic coated leather. The cutouts are well sewn and will be durable. The duressed style of the leather adds to its fashionable elements. This is a very stylish Western riding boot that anyone would be proud to have in their collection.
This is a substantial boot but it is also designed to be lightweight, so it will not fatigue your feet. Whether you’re in the saddle or just hanging out, the light weight of the boot and the breathable leather will keep your feet comfortable.
Cost and Value
This boot is in the lower range of prices and will perform well as a fashion boot. It will also perform in the saddle but due to the underlay and glued on upper, it will neither be easy to clean or durable for stable work. Keep these for time off the ranch.
- 100% leather
- Metallic underlay
- Lightweight construction
- 25” heel
- Synthetic sole
- Fashionable boot
- Upper is glued to sole
10. Dublin Pinnacle
Take care of your business rain or shine, muck or mud, with the confidence that comes with a waterproof leather boot. Comfortable and breathable as well, this boot will perform no matter the conditions.
The insole in the Pinnacle is designed for riders. Whether you’re in the stirrups or out, your feet will remain cool, dry and comfortable.
Cost and Value
These shoes are at the lower end of the price range but are still a bit of an investment. The payback for that investment though is a dry and comfortable boot that will perform for hours in the saddle, in the stables, and on the ranch. Wherever you take your mount, the boot will hold up.
- Breathable lining
- Leather construction
- Waterproof construction
- Breathable membrane
- RCS insole
- Not for high arches
Riding boots can be an expensive investment, which is why it is important to keep them in top condition; look after them and they’ll look after you.
Leather riding boots will need to be cleaned and conditioned using suitable leather products. If you’re using polish for the first time, ensure you test it first on a discreet area on the boot to make sure the color matches.
Synthetic or Rubber riding boots are much easier to maintain and can be cleaned with a cloth and water, or if necessary, a mild detergent.
When your boots are not being worn, ensure you keep them upright with a boot shaper if possible. This is especially important with leather boots, which may lose their shape if neglected. If you’re not using your long boots for an extended period of time, say a season or longer, ensure the boot is thoroughly cleaned, then lay the pair flat inside of a dust bag or similar. Once again the use of a boot shaper will help to keep its shape.
The riding boots featured on this list are all of quality craftsmanship, carefully selected for their comfort, style and protection. Ariat tops the list, not least because their boots boost cutting-edge technology, support and comfort. For this reason, their brand has won trust across the world and is our choice for the best riding shoe available on the market.
Criteria Used to Evaluate the Best Riding Boots
There are a number of things one must consider when it comes to choosing a good pair of horse riding boots.
A good boot must be sturdy with a small heel. This will help to protect your feet if they get stepped on. It should also prevent your foot from slipping through the stirrup should you be unfortunate enough to fall off your horse.
This is why sandals, canvas sneakers and flip-flops have no place in Equestrian activities, the protection they provide for your feet is simply inadequate.
You’ll have to be eagle-eyed too, as some high street brands will market high heeled boots as riding boots, so check the size of the heel and if you suspect it is too big, leave them on the shelf.
There are different varieties of horse riding boots available, which style you choose depends on the discipline you would like to compete in. It’s therefore well worth researching the dressage required for each discipline before you compete.
The two main types of riding boots are the full length and ankle boots, which are also known as jodhpur boots.
Long (or field) Riding boots
There are two traditional types of Long boots, these are Dress boots and Field boots.
- Dress boots are generally worn in horse shows, show jumping and formal fox hunting. They are an elegant plain boot without lacing at the ankle and are generally stiffer. They are traditionally black in color, and a recent fashion trend is for dress boots to sit higher on the outside of the knee.
- Field boots feature lacing at the front which aids in flexibility and movement. This means that the rider is more comfortable and able to bend at the ankle. Because of this, field boots are worn in all types of riding.
The majority of Field boots are black, however brown is acceptable.
You may also find Hunt boots or Top boots in the Long Boot section, these are like dress boots with the addition of a cuff at the top.
Long (or Jodhpur) Riding boots
The other popular type of riding boots is the short paddock or Jodhpur boots.
These allow closer contact between the riders legs and the side of the horse. Some riders prefer the long boot for the added protection on the leg as riders may experience chaffing whilst wearing Jodhpurs. One way around this is for riders to wear gaiters, which also give the appearance of long boots.
These type of boots offer to protect your legs and ankles, which you may find useful if you fall off your horse! The lower leg protection also prevents irritation as the riders can rub up against the horse’s saddle.
Some Long riding boots come with a steel toe cap for added protection. Whilst this would keep your toes safe from an unplanned stomp from a horses hoof, they can add considerable extra weight to the boot. Long boots can be made from a variety of materials. The two most popular are leather and rubber.
Both leather and rubber Long riding boots can be pulled over the leg and onto the foot. Some also have a zip to make this process easier, which can be really useful if you’ve been riding outside all day and your hands are numb from cold.
Leather has always been seen as the most prestigious material for a riding boot. It is also sturdy, hardwearing and waterproof; all the qualities required for outdoor riding. Leather will become supple over time, providing the right amount of give in areas that require added flexibility in accordance with your riding style.
It may take some time to break in your leather boots, be cautious of the tips you may read online of how to speed up this process. One such tip was to wear them in the bath and then after until dry. Personally, I’d rather not wear an expensive pair of boots in the bath to test this theory, and I wouldn’t recommend you try either. Not least because my dear wife might think I’ve lost the plot, and secondly I might not be allowed back in the house with damp smelling feet.
You might, therefore, have to put up with the rub until the leather eases up and softens. If the blisters get too severe, try applying plasters on the affected areas. You may experience a lot of pain in the process of breaking your boots in, but in the long run, it’ll be worth the agony when you have a fully customized pair of long riding boots.
Cleaning Leather Boots
Caring for your leather riding boots will prolong their life and keep your boots looking good.
There are four steps in this process – clean, condition, polish, weatherproof.
- Clean with a small shoe brush that won’t scratch the leather, if you need to remove mud then plain old water works well and won’t damage your boot. Once the boot is dry shine with a cotton cloth.
- Condition the boot to soften the leather, it’ll also moisturize the boot and stop the leather from drying out and cracking. A sponge is best for this process, rubbing small amounts into the leather until the whole boot is covered. Leather can only absorb so much, so after a few minutes wipe away any excess conditioner.
- Polish the boot with a soft cloth, allowing it to dry. Once done, buff with another cloth or brush until you see a shine in the leather. If it is a new boot, apply the polish in a small, inconspicuous area and make sure that the color matches the boot. Some polishes contain toxic chemicals so ensure you’re in a well-ventilated area, wearing gloves.
- Weatherproofing your boot will prolong its life, protecting against the elements such as rain and snow. There are many different types of weatherproofing products and it’s important to research whats out there because some products may affect the boots appearance. If this is important to you, use a spray as it will provide an invisible barrier between your boot and the elements. Rubber riding boots are generally considered an inexpensive alternative to leather boots.
However, wearing rubber can come with its advantages. During bad weather, you may not want to damage your prized leather boots, so Rubber styles are perfect for these occasions. If they get muddy they can be easily be wiped clean, and provide excellent protection against all of the elements. They’re also great to wear when cleaning the stables. Many riders will make a quick change to rubber boots to avoid damaging their more expensive leather boot.
If you’re just getting into horse riding and equestrian sports, then rubber riding boots might be your best option. They share many of the same qualities as leather riding boots, but without the huge price tag. It will give you something to look toward if you decide that equestrian activity is for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is the best horse riding boots brand?
A: A good pair of riders boots are an essential part of any equestrian’s inventory.
There are a number of very fine brands on the market, most of which are covered on the top ten listed above.
Ariat is probably the most known and respected brand. Their boots are designed to keep the rider comfortable and protected during long days on horseback.
There are also some unexpected choices available too, such as Clarks Maymie Stellar riding boot. Clark brings their experience of crafting excellent shoes and have a made boot which sit’s amongst some of the best riding boots to have emerged in recent years.
Q: What are the best winter riding boots?
A: A good pair of riding boots will keep your feet and legs warm, have excellent waterproofing, and be safe whilst in the saddle. There are many different types of insulation, from modern linings such as neoprene and Thermolite to traditional types of insulation such as wool and cotton. It’s really down to you as the rider to decide which is the most comfortable. All long riding boots can be pulled off the foot, but if you think you’ll be riding on particularly cold days when choosing a winter riding boot which has a zip running down the side could be useful, especially if your hands are numb with cold. Choosing the best pair of winter riding boots really is down to preference, but I would recommend you look at Ariat’s Bromont Pro H2O for an excellent boot, from a brand you can rely on.
Q: What are the best horse riding boots for trail riding?
A: A good trail boot is designed to keep you comfortable for hours in the saddle. They are also a great choice of footwear for when you’re in the barn mucking out and carrying out other chores. They’re rugged, and much shorter than traditional long boots, offering feet and ankle protection only. Although trail boots aren’t reviewed in this article, it’s a popular question to ask, and therefore I will do my best to answer!
There are certain things you should look for when selecting a trail boot. Pay attention to the manufacturer’s information on the outsole. You’ll need rubber which is highly resistant to manure and acidic waste. The Ariat Terrain leather boot has a rubber outsole which lasts up to four times longer than traditional outsoles and so comes highly recommended.
Q: What are the best cowboy boots for horseback riding?
A: There are some standard features to look out for when selecting a great cowboy boot. Make sure that the boot has a pointed toe. This isn’t a fashion thing, it’s so that a riders foot can easily slide into a stirrup. In order for the foot to sit securely in the stirrup, cowboy boots generally have a higher heel, designed so that a riders foot doesn’t slip through the stirrup on long rides. Cowboy boots will also have a tall shaft, this will keep feet and legs protected from thorns, prickly bushes, and barbwire.
The vast majority of cowboy boots are made from leather, this is in order to keep feet protected when they bump against the stirrups, and prevent legs from irritation as they rub against the stirrup straps.
In case you were wondering what the straps were at the top of the boot, these help to pull the boot on the foot more easily, but they are also designed to be loose enough that if a rider falls from his horse with his foot still in the stirrup, the boot will slide off the foot easily.
There are a number of brands which sell great cowboy and cowgirl boots. Have a look at Ariat Legend or Heritage range to start.
Q: What are the most popular riding boots?
A: There are a number of brands claiming to be the most popular and to be fair to their claim, most of these brands do make riding boots which have excellent features. It would, therefore, be down to personal preference as to which pair of boots are best for you and your riding style.
If you are looking for a good place to start, check out the range by Ariat. They are hard to beat because of the superior technology and performance that come with every pair.
Q: What are the most comfortable tall riding boots?
A: If you’re purchasing a new pair of long riding boots, don’t be put off if you find them really uncomfortable at first. This is normal, and they will need to be broken in. Expect to get rubs and blisters around the back of your knees and ankles! But fear not. Over time your boots will start to soften and loosen, in all the places where there is pressure. Because of this, you will eventually experience a customized fit, with flex and give in all the right places.
You’ll go through this process with all of your leather tall boots and it can be a pain (literally) but stick with it, and it’ll pay off in due course.