If you’re in the market for a new pair of riding boots, investing in the right ones for your needs and taking good care of them will mean they’ll last for years.
Here, we give you advice on what you look for before you buy.
Finding a good quality and well-fitting pair of long riding boots will make your time in the saddle safe and comfortable.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a regular competitor or enjoy hacking out on a daily basis, it’s worth doing a bit of research before you buy.
First of all you need to decide what style of boots you would like. There are two styles - field boots or dress boots.
Field boots are a relative newcomer to the world of riding boots, they're a popular choice with many riders. They feature lacing at the ankle for comfort and fit, making them more flexible and suitable for all kinds of riding and jumping.
Also, because they're usually made from a soft leather they take less breaking in.
Dressage boots (or dress) are a more traditional looking boot. This style of boot is often made from stiffer leather that takes a little more breaking in and they're not so flexible around your ankles.
This style of boot is popular with dressage and showing riders.
Zip up or pull on?
Once you've decided on the style of boot you'd like, you're next decision is whether you'd like your boots to be be pull on, or with a zip.
Opting for a pair with a zip is a popular choice as it makes it much easier for you to put the boots on and take them off.
You'll find some have a zip down the back of the boot, some will be down the front and others are positioned on the side of the boot. Which you go for is a personal choice and it's worth trying a few different boots on to find which ones suit you the best.
Fit is key
Most importantly, your boots must fit well, there’s nothing worse than wearing boots that rub and spoil your time in the saddle.
Most manufacturers produce a number of off the peg sizes to accommodate different calf widths and leg lengths. Alternatively, you can go down the made to measure route.
As well as your foot size, you’ll also need to take two measurements. These two measurements will determine what size boots will fit the best.
Take both when you’re sitting down with your leg bent and your foot on the floor:
- Your calf at the widest point
- The length of your lower leg from the back of your knee to the floor.
Armed with these measurements and the style of boots you'd like, you're now ready to hit the shops.
When you're trying on new boots wear breeches and socks to give you a realistic idea of how the boots fit.
Also, make sure you try both boots on as we rarely have equal sized feet and calves. Bear in mind that with a little wear most boots will drop slightly, so make sure you don’t choose boots that are two short.
Breaking your boots in
Once you’ve bought your new boots, now comes the slightly uncomfortable bit. Breaking your boots in can be a pain—literally. It’s the backs of your knees and ankles that will be susceptible to rubbing and blisters until the leather softens, drops and shapes to your legs.
Some boots, usually field boots, are made from a softer leather compared to dress boots can drop between one to two inches. Dressage boots are typically made from stiffer leather and will drop very little.
Wear your boots around the house for short periods of time. Walking up and down the stairs works well, or stand on the edge of a step and flex your ankles up and down. Some suggest applying leather conditioner to the ankle area of the boots inside and out (as long as the lining is leather), will help soften the leather a little.
Once your boots have started to crease around your ankles, they should be comfortable to ride in too.
Take care for your boots
Ok, so you're now the proud owner of a great looking pair of boots, you've gone through the breaking-in process and your boots are super comfy.
To make sure they last for years a little bit of TLC will be needed. Follow our three steps to keep your boots in tip-top condition;
- After each use remove any dirt and grease using a damp sponge; wait until the leather dries naturally (never put damp boots next to a radiator - this will make the leather too dry and eventually it’ll crack).
- Polish your riding boots regularly with normal shoe polish and keep the leather nourished using a good leather conditioner.
- To help your boots keep their shape use boot trees and store them away in a boot bag to keep them clean and dry when you’re not using them.