Horse Show Boots

Guide to English and Western Styles

Choosing the right pair of horse show boots is actually more important than most may think.

It may be tempting to find a "close enough" color with the thought that no one will notice your feet.

This is actually not the best way to go about shopping for a pair of boots. Below we will be discussing a few differences between both english and western disciplines. We will also be discussing what is acceptable to show in and how to find the right pair of boots for you.

English Boots

English horse show boots tend to be very uniform in appearance and function. At a typical horse show you will likely see exhibitors riding in a taller type of english boot that ends just below the rider's knee.

The purpose of the "tallness" of the boot is to prevent any pinching of the rider's leg from the leathers on the saddle. English horse show boots have a lower heel to prevent the rider's foot from slipping through the stirrup.

English boots traditionally are black in color, though there are nontraditional colors available such as brown. They are also usually made from a smooth leather material such as cow hide.

Leather quality does also vary and may be reflected in the price. A softer quality of leather will likely increase the value of the boot.

There are other types of english horse show boots available. However, the style and type we just reviewed is the most accepted type for showing. If you are showing at a more casual type show, different styles of boots may be more acceptable.

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Western Boots

horse-show-bootsWestern horse show boots vary much more in acceptable styles and colors. Western styles change year after year and trend-setting or variation from the norm may be much more accepted in a western class than in the traditional english class.

Most commonly you see the typical "cowboy" boot used in the show ring. Though this type of boot is very common in the in-hand classes such as halter or showmanship, it is less seen during the riding classes.

Instead they are replaced with a lace-up type of boot. When placed under chaps during western classes, it is more difficult to see the entire boot. For this reason, boots that exhibitor where in a showmanship class may be different than those worn in the western discipline riding classes.

The typical western boot has a height that reaches to the mid-calf. This height prevents uncomfortable rubbing on the calf from the fender of the western saddle.

When showing in a halter or showmanship class you should pay more attention to the boots you wear. You are showing your horse on the ground and DO count as a part of the equation the judges use when scoring.

If you have a showmanship outfit that is a different color than the common black, you should also try to color match the color of your horse show boots to the color of your outfit.

If you have a common color, you may luck out and be able to find something off the shelf. If you had your outfit custom made, you may have to seek the services of someone to help get a matching color through either dying or painting.


When searching for the right boots to show in, keep in mind a few key concepts before dishing out the money.
  • Make sure you find your boots (both english and western) in the correct size to minimize discomfort when showing
  • Try shopping offline before searching online ads. For quality used boots try shopping at a tack sale.
  • If answering a classified ad for boots it may be a good idea to try on a pair of boots at the tack shop to ensure the particular boots online will fit properly
  • You get what you pay for both online and offline. Higher quality boots may cost more up front, but they may last more years than a lower quality boot

The right boots will be a little more difficult to find when searching to compliment a western outfit in comparison to an english outfit. English boots are uniform in style and color than are western horse show boots.

When searching for western boots you want to make sure they are comfortable as you will likely be walking quite a few miles though the course of a horse show in them.

Style can vary among western boots as they tend to be hidden under pants or chaps. Color matching is important, but you can likely wear either traditional "cowboy" boots or a lace up variety of boot.

No matter what type of boots you end up with, just make sure you exercise some common sense when shopping. Hot pink boots won't fly under black chaps even if you like the color combo. Remember you don't want to draw the eye of the judge to one portion of your body when showing. You want them to take in the whole beautiful picture of you and your horse.

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