Got Pony?

March 07, 2018

The National Stock Show dominates January’s news in Denver, Colorado every year as it has since the first gathering of rugged cattlemen in 1899. By 1906, the ranchers organized formally and this year marks the 112th Stock Show. It continues to be the most important agricultural event stateside, attracting ranchers and farmers from around the world, who display their stock and learn about advances in livestock management techniques.


All kinds of saddles come out for the event: dressage saddles, jumping saddles and trail saddles. Riders participating in this year’s National Western Stock Show Youth Equestrian Showcase (Y.E.S.) compete for scholarship money.


Unlike bronco busters, Dressage riders wear helmets and classic English riding boots. Breaking in new English Riding Boots can be as tough as breaking a bronco, some riders claim.


The classic English boot has a sturdy toe (to prevent being crushed by the horse’s hoof) and low heel (less than 1 inch) to prevent the foot from sliding through the stirrup. Historically a higher heel was common. The sole is textured slightly to prevent catching on the stirrup (a fall hazard). The classic boot is high enough on the leg to prevent the leathers of the saddle from pinching the rider’s legs. It’s essential to fit boots precisely for both safety and a competitive edge.


If your feet aren’t happy you won’t be able to fully concentrate on your horse, is a saying Dover Saddlery is fond of invoking.


Fitting a dress boot is a science that is complicated by the height of the boot. The newer Spanish top boots are 1.5” higher on the outside of the knee than classic dress boots. And a dress boot is supposed to fit tightly around the calf. When measuring for the right boot fit, sit with your bare feet flat on the floor and measure from the floor to the crease inside the knee to assess the height of your proper fitting boot. Measure your calf width at the widest part.


Plan on the fit being tight (and stiff) when you first try on new boots. A little heel slip is recommended. Before orthotics, seasoned riders were known to insert a heel wedge in each boot to avoid blisters.


Now with orthotics by FootDoctor Orthotics, riders can achieve comfort in new and well-broken in boots. The orthotic insert can be changed out as the boot leather softens with wear. Using FootDoctors Orthotics’ system, a fresh mold can be taken at pivotal points as the boots are broken in. There are no limits to the number of times orthotics can be replaced to achieve an even more finite degree of support and resulting comfort.


While dress boots are standard show apparel required for horse competitions, riders wear other type boots for the sport. Field boots lace up which allows more give and thus more comfort. Some field boot styles zip up and they have an extra layer of leather on the toe (toe cap).


Children wear paddock boots (also known as Jodhpur boots) for saddle seat riding and even hunt seat disciplines because they are significantly less expensive than tall dress boots. Paddock boots are short to just above the ankle. For competitions, there’s always the option of adding gaiters over the boots (called half chaps) giving the impression of tall boots.

  • provides these tips to achieving the best fit possible in a riding boot:
  • Never buy a pair of boots first thing in the morning. Feet expand over the day and the boots that fit in the AM will be too tight later in the day.
  • Likewise, never buy boots at night, after a long day on your feet. They’ll be sloppy big when you put them on in the morning.
  • The best time of day to buy boots is midday or mid-afternoon…the mid-way point of your feet in the day.
  • When trying on boots, opt for the next size up vs. smaller if the boot is too tight.
  • Wear the right socks when trying on boots. As well, wear the breeches you’ll wear while riding.
  • Walk the boots before you buy. Bend your knees and crouch into the right position to assess the ankle fit.
  • Riding boots must be comfortable while walking on the ground or when in the saddle.

To ensure your comfort when breaking in new riding boots, get proactive and get orthotics by FootDoctors Orthotics.