If you’re new to the equestrian world, sitting atop a thousand-pound animal with a mind of its own offers enough challenges without worrying about your aching feet, the possibility of your shoes getting stuck in the stirrups, and just looking like a total rookie.
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 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.
Ariat Heritage Breeze Lace Paddock Boot
The Ariat Heritage Breeze Lace Paddock Boot is basically the short boot equivalent of the previous Heritage Contour. Paddock boots are a great beginner choice because they’re usually less expensive than dress boots and easier to wear out and about before/after your ride.
- They have a great heel for safety and an easy pull strap at the back.
- The laces makes getting this boot on/off a breeze.
- They have a washable extra soft full grain leather upper!
- Classic equestrian styling looks great solo or with half chaps. (More on those later.)
- Leather upper and rubber sole is built to last.
- Ankle flexion notches increase flexibility in the saddle (and keep your ankle bones from getting rubbed raw).
- The soles are a bit on the thin side, so you may want to add a cushion insert.
- They aren’t waterproof (but choose these if that’s important to you).
- Spur rests keep your spurs in place on the back heel.
These are the best horse riding boots for beginners.