When it comes to safety around horses one of the most important aspects is protecting your feet. Proper footwear in the barn comes second only to wearing a helmet. In this article we’ll talk about the many ways in which the proper footwear can prevent injury during your riding lesson and while working around horses in the barn. And, since wearing boots for horseback riding is so crucial, my recommendations for good quality boots are included!
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Why Boots Are Required For Riding Horses?
A sturdy boot with a heel is typically required in any barn for riding horses. A heel of 1 to 2 inches will prevent your foot from sliding through the stirrup while riding. This way, if you were to take a fall, your foot would be less likely to get caught in the stirrup leaving you to get dragged along by the horse.
Secondly, a proper boot will give you support and stability while in the saddle helping you learn to ride more easily. Learning to keep your feet and legs in the correct position while riding is very difficult in sneakers or other shoes. Even for an experienced rider, having in appropriate footwear makes riding uncomfortable and a challenge.
If you are just starting out or interested in horseback riding, here are some tips on what to expect at your first lesson including what appropriate attire includes.
Why You Need Boots To Work Around Horses
It’s important to remember when working around horses that often times they weigh in at one thousand pounds or more. Even a small pony can weigh several hundred pounds. In addition to their size, horses cannot see their hooves. That said, in order to protect your feet it is crucial that you wear the appropriate footwear. In the event that you happen to get stepped on the proper footwear will help prevent you from sustaining a severe injury.
Of course, the best way to stay safe and avoid an injury when you’re working around horses is to follow basic safety rules. Keep your feet to the side of the horse at all times and move around the horse slowly and with plenty of warning.
No matter how careful you are, an accident in the barn is inevitable and thus, the correct type of boots is required. Typically boots that are meant for farm work and riding are made of a thick leather that will hold up and is not easily punctured offering your feet better protection.
Do I Need Actual Riding Boots?
No, you don’t need to invest lots of money in horseback riding boots as a beginner equestrian. What you do need is a pair of boots that is sturdy and comfortable and has a heel. You should not wear fashion boots that have a heel higher than is required for safety. Work boots or hiking boots may be appropriate as long they are narrow enough for your foot to fit into the stirrup with ease.
Can I Wear Rain Boots For Horseback Riding?
Rain boots may be appropriate for working in the barn if you plan to muck stalls or help with farm chores. However, for riding, rain boots are not a great choice. Rain boots tend to have a loose fit and are not very sturdy and often times the heel is not an appropriate size for horseback riding.
Can I Ride In Sneakers?
If you are concerned about comfort there are many options for appropriate footwear. Sneakers are not a safe choice for riding or working around horses for several reasons. First, sneakers will easily slide through the stirrup of the saddle since they do not have a heel. Second, sneakers are a low profile shoe that does not provide any support for your ankle and foot to help you maintain a proper position. And third, sneakers are made of a soft material that will not protect you from injury if you get stepped on.
Personally, I have been injured twice while wearing sneakers in the barn. On one occasion I was around twelve years old and after spending the day at a horse show with the barn gang, we returned to the farm. I was hot and tired and chose to wear sneakers while unloading equipment before heading home. I took our horse Image out for a walk in my sneakers and he stepped on my toe.
It was an accident and he didn’t do it on purpose, but it still happened.
In an effort to remove his foot from mine, Image slid his hoof over my foot to move it which did severe damage to my big toe, of which I will spare you the gory details. What I can tell you is, it hurt! I’ve been stepped on by accident many times over the years without getting more than a little bruise. But, this time was different. I didn’t have my boots on and I should have. Not only did it hurt like crazy, my foot took weeks to heal and I wasn’t able to ride for a while.
Can I Wear Sandals To Ride When It’s Hot Out?
Also, a big giant NO! In fact, at our barn, sandals are not allowed at all. Even parents and spectators are not allowed to wear sandals in the barn. Wearing sandals around horses and leaving your feet exposed is one of the most dangerous things you can do in the barn. It’s just a bad idea.
Even if you are in the barn and not working around horses there are many hazards. Things like equipment, tools, heavy doors could cause an injury. Sandals have no place in the barn, period.
What Type Of Riding Boots Should I Buy?
There are several types of riding and farm boots on the market. The most important thing to keep in mind when choosing boots is comfort. You’ll also need to consider what discipline you plan to ride and the amount of time you spend in the barn. If you attend a weekly riding lesson and don’t plan to spend any additional time in the barn, an inexpensive yet good quality pair of boots will suffice.
Depending on how involved you become with horses, you will need a pair of boots for barn work and a separate pair for riding. The reason for having two different pairs is, wearing your riding boots to do other farm chores like mucking stalls, grooming or bathing horses may be uncomfortable. Plus if you invest your money in a good quality pair of riding boots, you will want to keep them in good condition for as long as possible. That means not wearing your expensive boots in the mud and muck.
Types Of Riding Boots
When it comes to riding disciplines there are different types of boots available. If you plan to ride western you will want to find a pair of western riding boots. Alternatively, you can also wear paddock boots. Paddock boots are a versatile, low pair of zip up or lace up riding boots that are great for kids and beginners. They can be used for riding both English and Western. Long riding boots are also available for English disciplines and come in a couple of varieties. Typically dressage riders wear dress boots while hunter and jumper riders wear field boots.
What Do Riding Boots Cost?
Horseback riding boots range in price depending on the type of boot and quality. For a decent pair of starter boots you will likely need to spend between $50 and $150 for adult sizes and $30 to $75 for children’s sizes. Riding boots can also cost several hundred dollars for high quality boots or even thousands for custom made boots.
Here are some affordable but good quality riding boots I recommend for beginner equestrians.
Children’s Western Boots:
Shyanne Girl’s Black Western Boots – Narrow Square Toe: My daughter owns and loves these boots!
Roper Kids Unisex Cole Square Toe Boot: We have owned several pairs of Roper children’s boots in multiple colors and they have been comfortable, affordable and held up after a lot of use.
Children’s English Boots:
TuffRider Children’s Starter Lite Front Zip Boots: As a toddler my daughter rode in several pairs of these boots, they are a great beginner boot for an affordable price.
Riding Sport By Dover Saddlery Kids’ Provenance Zip Paddock Boots: This is the pair of boots my daughter currently rides in. We have found they are a little bit more sturdy than the TuffRider boots. Although they are slightly more expensive these boots are still budget friendly.
Women’s Western Boots:
I’ve owned several pairs of Ariat and Justin boots over the last few years and loved them, linked below:
I plan to try out a pair of Macie Bean boots when I’m ready to buy my next pair.
Women’s English Boots:
I currently own these field boots and paddock boots from Ariat but they can be a bit pricey. I’ve owned both for several years and they have held up quite well. If you plan to stick with riding they may be worth the investment for you.
Ariat Heritage Contour II Field Boot & Ariat Heritage IV Zip Paddock Boots:
Here are a couple of good quality and more affordable alternatives.
Ovation Flex Sport Ladies Field Boot & Ovation Sport Rider II Paddock Boots
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