Picking the best Equestrian Riding Boots
Whoever loves riding knows that equipment improves the experience and makes a difference when it really counts. In this regard, one of the most important items that stand between you and your horse are a pair of equestrian riding boots, and the last thing you want to do is pick the wrong boots. It would be a mistake to undermine their importance in rider safety and comfort. A pair of good quality boots will decrease the risk of getting your foot caught in the stirrup while riding, and save you from very unpleasant accidents if you happen to fall off. If extra protection is needed, there are boots being made with a steel shank that ensures extra rigidity, stability and support, while a steel toe-cap is always useful for keeping toes intact. Choosing the best boots for horseback riding is not an easy thing, but luckily we’re here to help with a few bits of information that could help in making the proper acquisition.
Short history of equestrian riding boots
People have been riding horses for thousands of years and, in its early days, the boot was only worn by nobles and kings because shoemaking was an art kept secret and passed down from father to son. The seventeenth century had seen the emergence of the first military uniforms, and the boot had played an essential role in this standardization. The high-legged cavalier boot of the previous century was transformed by a highly polished and rigid leg-the prototypical military jackboot. The high top and rigid finish was supremely practical and successful at protecting legs while on horseback. Equestrian equipment naturally evolved and became more complex and geared to certain tasks with the 19th century technological revolution including new ways to process leather, like chromium tanning. Traditional methods included alum and tannin extracted from tree bark, but chromium salts sped up the process from months to just days. These advances made leather footwear accessible to everyone. The tools a traditional shoe maker uses these days remarkably remain mostly the same, even if for mass production the process has been almost completely mechanized.
Leather and style in the saddle
Renowned types of leather worked their way into riding boots over time, allowing riders to experience Morocco or Cordovan leather in an activity not very often compared to fashion shows. Cordovan leather is very resilient and more difficult to process, which produces excellent boots but at a higher price. Gilding and embossing became a standard, especially on cowboy boots, a must for western horseback riding enthusiasts, while English boots maintained their clear lines. Field boots reach just below the knee and are used for horse shows, which places them in a higher price range. Paddock Boots came into existence as short and just above the ankle, intended for schooling but also sometimes used for barn chores. Jodhpurs are another type of short-cut boots, better suited for half chaps, having a rounded toe and a low heel. Some Jodhpur boots have an elastic side to make it easier to pull on, in which case they are called Chelsea boots. For endurance needs, some boots became even lighter and shorter, getting close to resemble normal shoes. On short boots, some people prefer to use leather chinks or chaps for extra protection, or for better grip if we’re talking about rough out chaps. Smooth leather is stylish but a roughout offers better stability in the saddle.
Rider comfort has been a priority since the very first horses were tamed, and today we couldn’t imagine everyday riding without a saddle or stirrups. Nowadays we don’t use horses for long distance travels, but trail riding is still practiced as a recreational activity in America on many ranches and national parks, equestrian tours representing a nice way to commune with nature and socialize with other horse lovers. Trail riding boots thus have an important role and need to be sturdy and durable while still being flexible. Thigh high boots are also an option for extra protection, and luckily the offer is not scarce in this area, lace up models being more fashionable, but with zipper winning ground on practicality. Lace ups are sometimes disputed as proper riding boots, but some prefer them and it’s recommended to first try and see how they fare for your needs.
Waterproof riding boots
In very humid weather it could become necessary to exchange leather on something completely waterproof. Hunter makes some excellent Wellington equestrian boots that are guaranteed to keep your feet dry, warm and safe, while still looking good on horseback. Wellies (short for Wellington) have their name from the 1st Duke of Wellington, but in the 19th century they began by being made of leather originally. Only after Charles Goodyear invented the vulcanisation process for natural rubber in the nineteenth-century, did Aigle take form, another renowned footwear and textile company. Aigle are now on three continents and produce over 10,000 pairs of shoes annually. Take a look at our Hunter vs Aigle vs Le Chameau Riding Wellies comprehensive comparison. Ariat entered the market in 1992 and they’ve been reshaping the riding boot ever since, introducing athletic shoe technologies into traditional equestrian footwear. They quickly became a name in the industry and rose to official equestrian footwear and apparel suppliers for FEI (Federation Equestrian International) and USEF (United States Equestrian Federation), frequently sponsoring and promoting equestrian related events.
Fashion and equestrian sports
Humans first started wearing boots out of necessity, and just like with any other piece of clothing, boots also received a secondary use, as a fashion item. The fashionistas should have a choice also, and they can definitely turn to Jimmy Choo, Christian Louboutin, or even Steve Madden equestrian designed boots. This addition to the riding boot already wide range is in no way bad, as having more choice can never be so. Great functionality does not need to lack great form.
Tradition and handmade boots with passion
However, even the vast range of equestrian modern footwear did not manage to smother traditional handmade leather riding boots, which are still being made by a few select companies all around the world. These are truly in a class of their own, unique boots made with passion out of the best materials. Shoemaking remains an art, and wearing a handmade pair of riding boots is a unique feeling. It’s not only about quality, but also about perfect fit and individualism. Handmade boots are nowadays not limited to just leather. Riders are starting to like the waterproofing only a Wellington boot can provide. Aigle are a large producer of riding wellies, but if we’re talking about handmade rubber footwear, Hunter and Le Chameau take the lead. It’s arguable if the best shoemakers are in England or in America, both countries having many things to offer. And for more exotic boots one can always visit the history filled city of Fez, Morocco, because Morocco leather is much more than a brand. Fez has been producing leather since the 8th century, and some of the oldest leather tanneries are still in use. Browse our website for more help in picking the right riding boots.