If putting your foot in the stirrup feels equal parts exciting and nerve wracking, that’s a good indicator that your gear matters more than ever.
Over the years, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen rookies swing into the saddle in sneakers. National parks, beach vacations, backyard get togethers, it happens everywhere. Luckily for you, there are TONS of options when it comes to horseback riding boots. You can find a pair that not only “does the job” but also looks great and lasts for years.
Merrell Captiva Buckle-Down Waterproof Boot
For the past five years, I’ve ridden in my beloved Espresso Merrell Captivas for every single western ride. (I also ride english, so you’ll see my favorite english boot next. I bought these boots on a whim my first trip to Montana, and I’ve been obsessed with them ever since.
- They tick all the boxes for safety, durability, and style (e.g. heel, closed-toed, waterproof synthetic, classic riding design).
- They’re SO comfortable. I’ve ridden in these 2-4 times a week for years, and the cushy sole (or exterior) has never showed even a hint of wear/tear.
- The instep zipper makes getting them on/off really easy.
- They look super cute with jeans tucked inside or out. (I ride with skinny jeans inside.)
- Comes in black, espresso (my fav), and burgundy.
- While I love the buckle style, you end up with a second strap under it if you wear spurs. (But my spurs work fine with these.)
- The 12” shaft is a bit shorter than typical cowboy boots but taller than paddock-style boots, so they may come to an odd spot on tall-legged riders.
- If you have larger calves, you may find the top of these boots too snug.
Ariat Heritage Contour II Field English Boot
These are my favorite English boots, and I’ve worn them for every single dressage and jumping ride for 3+ years. The Ariat Heritage Contour II Field Boot is the most comfortable dress boot I’ve owned in 20 years, and it’s reminded me why Ariat is a go-to boot brand for riders.
- Ariat is arguably the leader in equestrian dress boots, so the quality and style will have you looking like a pro.
- They have a really solid heel, nice spur stop on the back, and they’re easy to break in.
- The full back zip is a MUST for dress boots, and it’s held up well.
- Premium full-grain leather upper and full leather lining lasts forever (with proper care).
- Gusseting on the inside knee increase comfort in the saddle and out.
- I have these in a “short” and they fit me perfectly (I’m 5’6 and 120#). So if you’re remotely on the shorter side, the regular shaft may be too tall.
- These are the field boot style with laces, so if that’s not your personal style you may prefer dress boots sans laces.
- If you like riding in jeans, pick another boot. These are designed to fit snuggly over breeches, and jeans will be too bulky.
- These are an investment cost-wise. But the craftsmanship will last for years and be easy to resell if you ever change your mind.
Don’t worry Western riders, you can wear short boots too. The Roper Crossrider Western Boot is a great option for beginners taking lessons, riding on vacation, or helping around the ranch.
- Roper is a well respected brand in western wear, so quality and craftsmanship is high.
- These have a really classic western design and look great solo or with half chaps.
- Forged steel shank adds support and stability.
- Perfect safety heel for riding and lots of traction on the sole.
- The sole is pretty thick, which it’s my personal style.
- They’re not waterproof, so you may want to spray with a waterproofer for everyday use.
- They run on the large side and don’t have much arch support.
These are our three best horse riding boots.