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Top Most Frequently Asked Questions about Equestrian Boots and Apparel

Updated on July 11, 2011

Do you have a question about riding gear and apparel? Different styles of riding demand different riding equipment, and wearing the wrong apparel labels one as a novice. So before you arrive at a formal riding gathering wearing traditional fox hunting boots, take a look at the following questions and answers about equestrian equipment.

Question: What’s the difference betweenequestrian riding bootsdesigned for hunting and boots designed for casual riding?

Answer: Hunting boots were traditionally used for fox hunting in by English riders, although pheasant and duck hunters often use similar boots. The traditional English hunting boot always has a cuff at the top, although many hunting boots today have lost the cuff. Usually, hunting boots are black. Sometimes traditional hunting boots have a cuff in a contrasting color, such as brown. Often, riders wear either dress boots or traditional field boots when they are hunting, rather than selecting new boots to be used exclusively for hunting.

Question: When is a horseback rider required to wear a Hunt coat, and what material is traditional for a hunt coat?

Answer: Professional jumpers/hunters need a hunt coat when they are performing. Traditionally, hunt coats are made of 100 percent wool. In the summertime, riders may wear blends of other fabrics to stay cooler in certain climates.

Question: What kind of sock material is best to wear for when you are horseback riding?

Answer: Most equestrian riding socks are made of cotton, polyester, nylon, or spandex. Most equestrian trouser riding socks are made of a combination of these materials. The spandex is an important part of the sock because it keeps the sock elastic, and makes it less likely for the sock to sag down after prolonged riding. Cotton is comfortable, but it can allow too much moisture to stay on the surface of the foot and lead to blisters and other foot problems. Riding socks made of 100 percent cotton are very comfortable but they are generally not advised, since they do not wick away moisture sufficiently and they often sag after you’ve been wearing them a while. CoolMax is a very effective type of fabric often used on sport socks. CoolMax is a patented blend of fabric materials designed to be easy to care for and keep moisture away from the skin.

Question: What kind of equestrian riding boots should be worn when you are schooling?

Answer: It’s important to remember that you shouldn’t wear show boots when you are schooling (that is, either training as a new rider or training a horse). They might look fancy, but it is bad form to start out in show boots. In general, you should wear either paddock boots or casual tall riding boots. Paddock boots (also known as Jodhpur boots) are short boots that usually end about an inch or two above the ankle. Because paddocks are less expensive than tall riding boots, paddock boots are often used by beginning riders (including children) who aren’t certain how much they want to invest in the sport, or who may quickly outgrow full length equestrian riding boots. You can wear chaps or half chaps to protect the lower part of your legs from getting pinched by the buckles and straps of the horse’s saddle.

Question: Are cowboy boots still used in horseback riding today?

Answer: Yes, cowboy boots are almost exclusively used in western riding, with either the traditionally high cowboy heel or a lower riding heel (sometimes called a roper heel). For riders unaccustomed to wearing high heeled boots when riding, the high heel of a traditional cowboy boot can be awkward. Cowboy boots are used in western riding styles, but not in traditional English riding.

Question: What kind of equestrian riding boots are to be work when you’re going trail riding?

Answer: If you are trail riding, you will be most comfortable wearing a casual, short, sneaker-style paddock boot. When selecting paddock boots for trail riding, look for boots that have more internal cushioning, more like a tennis shoes, and will be comfortable for both walking and riding. You can also wear tall riding boots that aren’t show boots.

Question: What kind of horseback riding jodhpur styles are best for everyday, schooling use?

Answer: Schooling riders frequently use cotton blend, twill jodhpurs for both show ring and for everyday training. Machine washable and comfortable in most weather conditions, cotton jodhpurs are designed in casual and professional styles. Jodhpurs are also worn by experienced riders when they’re trail riding, as well as being worn in the show ring for saddle seat riding.

Question: Why is my instructor insisting on me wearing field boots even though I have a very fine pair of dress boots?

Answer: If you will be jumping at all, you will really appreciate the added flexibility that a field boot gives you. When jumping a horse, your stirrups are shorter so you have to flex your foot more when it’s in the saddle. This gets uncomfortable after a while if you’re wearing dress boots or hunting boots, which don’t have laces along the top of the foot like a field boot will have. A field boot’s lacing gives you some flexibility that is required both for optimal comfort and for optimal riding stance.

Question: What’s the purpose of wearing half chaps over my short paddock boots? Is it just for show, so I look like I’m wearing tall riding boots?

Answer: There is a reason most equestrian riding boots are tall, and a tradition that has lasted this long (and in different continents) isn’t likely to be just about appearances. Taller boots protect your calves from the straps and buckles that attach the horse’s saddle on. If you wear shorter paddock boots (as many people do when they’re schooling), then wearing half chaps will protect your legs from chafing or getting cuts from these straps and buckles. By wearing half chaps over your paddock boots, you will have a more comfortable ride. Half chaps go up just as high as a riding boot goes, just below the knee. You can get half chaps in traditional black or brown leather, made to match and blend in with your short equestrian riding boots. You can also buy fabric half chaps, which are elasticized chaps with contoured elastic fit that are sometimes better at staying in place even in rough trail riding conditions.

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