Let’s Discuss: Footwear

Since the last discussion around socks was way more polarizing (or as polarizing as a discussion around socks could be), I thought it would be interesting to discuss the other essential equipment for our feet- riding boots.

For a long time I schooled in tall boots- specifically a clunky variety of Mountain Horse boots. They were round toed and super comfortable, and inexpensive enough to be replaced every couple years.

From schooling...

From schooling…

And so while they were more than adequate for schooling, in their less than elegant, beat-up condition, they maybe weren’t so attractive for the show ring.

This picture would be much more elegant with better boots

This picture would be much more elegant with better boots

A couple of years ago, when my last pair of round-toed Mountain Horse tall boots expired, I decided to replace them with something a little more appropriate. Still Mountain Horse, but a pair of tall boots specifically used for showing or lessons, and nothing else. Since then I’ve ridden in paddock boots and half chaps to school in.

Schooling in half chaps

Schooling in half chaps

Though those are my preferences, I still see some variety around the barn. Occasionally you’ll see the tried-and-true cowboy boots come into play:

One of the only occasions where I actually rode in cowboy boots

One of the only occasions where I actually rode in cowboy boots

And more often, I see riders choosing to wear Dubarry (or knock-offs like mine, aka Fubarry) boots in the tack.

Dubarry's and Fubarry's at *cough* work. PC: @jprettyman_

Dubarry’s and Fubarry’s at *cough* work. PC: @jprettyman_

Even though they have a heel, these just don’t look super secure to me due to their loose(ish) fit around the leg. But I’ve questioned riders, and they seem to find them comfortable and adequate for schooling in.

What about you guys? What do you like to school in? Is that the same footwear that you wear to compete, or do you segregate your shoes by the purpose? Are there any trends in equestrian footwear that you despise? Adore?


23 thoughts on “Let’s Discuss: Footwear

  1. I school in half chaps and paddock boots and ride in tall boots for lessons and shows. This is mostly because my feet get very muddy and wet at the barn on a daily basis, and paddock boots and chaps are much easier to replace! I can’t spend another $700 to replace my dress boots, so they need to last a LONG. TIME. When I ride western I wear jeans and cowboy boots, and despite avoiding the trend thus far, I am saving up for a pair of Dubarry’s for general barn/life wear. The striped ones aren’t my style, but the Longford boots are calling my name…

  2. I wear paddock boots and half chaps for regular riding and field boots for showing (though I got them for $55 at Dover’s tent sale). I got a pair of Dubarry Clare boots for my birthday and I will ride in them when needed. The Clare’s have a much slimmer calf though and don’t have those laces at the top (which would make me fearful of rising in them) and they have a reinforced leather panel on the inside along the calf specifically for riding.

    • After checking them out, I agree- those do have the silhouette of a more traditional riding boot. Also, what do I have to do to get Dubarry’s for my birthday? 😉

  3. Tall boots, for sure. And I’m picky about the leather and the feel – I don’t like thick or stiff leather. So I have my nice tall boots for showing (Ariat Monacos) and a couple cheap pairs of tall boots for schooling (Mondoni and TuffRider). For general “around the barn” use I have Fubarry’s, so my actual riding boots never get that abused.

    • I like wearing my Fubarry’s around the barn as well. And I love your Mondoni’s after reading your review, but I think I’d want to show in them all the time!

      • They’re definitely not as nice as my Monoco’s for showing. I like a really tall Spanish top (more flattering) and the Mondoni’s are shorter than I prefer. I like the brown though!

  4. I wear tall boots to school and will continue to do so. I think the feel between the paddock/half chap combo and tall boots is very different.

    I have dubarrys and love love love them. But not for riding. I have ridden in them on occasion for a hack or bare back ride but that is the extent.

    Interesting topic 🙂

  5. i prefer schooling in tall boots, after riding exclusively in paddock boots and half chaps pretty much thru college. tho i’ll also ride in my fubarrys with some frequency. they aren’t my favorite for riding – but for opposite reasons than yours. i feel a little *too* secure in them – my leg really just sticks on haha

  6. I schooled in half-chaps and paddock boots growing up, but these days pretty much only ride in tall boots. I haven’t shown in going on (sob) six years at this point, nor do I have the budget for it, so I figure it doesn’t matter if my boots are getting worn just schooling.

    Western, I ride in cowboy boots though, for obvious reasons. My Logan boots are essentially indestructible (elephant lasts forever) so I don’t worry about schooling in the same boots I’d show in.

    I have a ratty pair of old tennis shoes I throw on for around the barn though.

  7. I can’t afford a separate pair of boots to show in (and honestly, I hate changing ANYTHING when it comes to showing), and I ABHOR half chaps. So I wear Mountain horse Victoria’s. The front zip is awesome, and seems less likely to break than a back zip. They clean up nice enough for shows and clinics. They’re sturdy enough to get through my days at the barn (though, I don’t wear them to walk long distances or through mud… that’s what boots are for.). They are also the only pair of off-the-rack boots that would fit my wider calves without doing too bad of a job not gaping below the knee. Win. Win.

  8. I show in one pair of field boot (La Mundial) and school in another (Ariat) after seeing that paddock and chap combos can cost the same or more than a second pair of tall boots I figure I might as well spend it on schooling tall boots and have a back up to the show ones.

  9. Half chaps and paddock boots are my preferred for all riding. I only put the dreaded dress boots on for shows. I have done a bit of tack walking and trail riding in the fubarrys, but they pinch my leg if I try to trot, post, two-point or really do anything more than putz around.

  10. Fun topic! I only ride in Tall boots and do have a pair set aside for showing (which is a good thing because I abuse my schooling boots). I do have a pair of Fuberry boots- they come out for around the barn stuff but I haven’t ridden in them. A small plug- I pretty much only school in Ariat Volants- they’re super comfy like wearing a sneaker.

  11. I have the same pair of tall boots I show and school in. My current pair has been surprisingly sturdy, but I am looking to get a nicer pair of show boots. This started when tall boots were much stiffer and felt so different from half chaps, that I felt like I was doing myself a disservice by riding all the time in half chaps and paddock boots, which were super flexible, and then showing in tall boots that I wasn’t used to. Now I choose to continue the habit because my tall boots basically fit like boots and chaps, and since a nice pair of half chaps and paddock boots runs the same as many tall boots, I just use my tall boots for everything.

  12. I have no idea how people ride in the Dubarrys/Fubarrys. I have a Fubarry pair and while they are comfortable to walk around in, I don’t think they’d give me the same feel as tall boots–way too bulky and loose-fitting in the calf. I stick with tall boots for riding. I used to ride in half chaps but they don’t quite feel as secure to me as the tall boots do.

  13. I school in half chaps and paddock boots and I show in tall boots. I like the idea of schooling in tall boots that I can also show in so I don’t have that awkward 5 minutes in warm up at shows trying to get used to my tall boots again, but my half chaps last forever so I find that it’s cheaper to school in half chaps/paddock boots.

  14. I’m a big fan of boots and half chaps for all riding except showing. My tall boots will rub the snot out of me if I do any sort of walking for longer distances so I only use them for shows and have my tennis shoes on hand to immediately change into upon return to the trailer/stall. Sadly my calf is to wide to buy normal off the shelf boots so I’m stuck with what I’ve got for now. Plus I really love my half chaps and will be super depressed the day they die bc the company doesn’t exist anymore 😦

  15. Paddock boots and half chaps were always my go-to for schooling/lessons. Though at the last Equestrian Exchange, I picked up a pair of barely used Ariat Volant’s. OMG. I love these things. Since if I ever show, I show hunters, these puppies are used for schooling. Love them to death.

    Around the barn, I use good ol’ rubber boots. Especially since where I previously boarded, sometimes you’d sink as far as your ankle in mud… they were a necessity. At home, with more dry conditions, I’ll just slip some Mudruckers.

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