Whether you want to ride English or Western, want to explore trails or stand out in the show ring (or both!), here’s a quick guide to get you started.
Equestrian wear, is typically designed for your comfort in the saddle. There’s a reason schooling breeches exist, and most instructors do not recommend riding in sweatpants or shorts. Riding-specific clothing can also help keep you safe, provide protection, and be more effective in helping you ride better!
Boots (build a foundation)
First things first – WEAR SOCKS! Riding without socks can cause blisters, make your feet slippery from sweat (less traction), not to mention invite bacteria to develop (athlete’s foot, anyone?)
Paddock boots, or tall boots (field style) are appropriate.
Half-chaps, are also appropriate with paddock boots if desired. Typically a paddock boot + half chaps will be less cost than a full tall boot. Adding the extra bit up the leg helps keeps the ankle more secure, thus keeping your leg secure (heels down!).
Western boots made specifically for riding are different than a fashion “cowboy” style boot. The toe is square and the heel is low, the sole has a tread to grip those stirrups.
You’ll want to stay away from fashion or style “cowboy boots” where the toe is pointed and the heel (for women) is higher.
In a pinch, rubber boots, muck boots, or wet weather boots can be acceptable. They won’t give your ankle the proper support, and the lack of a heel will make giving cues (eg. kicks) more difficult for you and the horse. However, they are a good starting shoe if you aren’t ready to commit to riding.
What about sneakers? Sneakers and other footwear such as flip-flops or crocs are UNSAFE for riding. Sneakers lack a heel at the back, which is a safety feature to stop your foot from sliding completely through the stirrup and getting stuck. Proper boots also provide protection from a misplaced hoof landing on your toe (ouch!).
Note: If you type “riding boots” into Amazon you will get results that are not actually boots made for horseback riding. They are riding “style” boots, or fashion boots and are not made for the sport.
You don’t have to break the bank! Paddock boots can be found for under $50.