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Good riding starts with good boots. The best ones will support and protect your feet, fit like a glove, last a lifetime and allow you to send clear signals to your horse. But the choice of boots on the market is mindboggling and it can be confusing to understand which type is best for you. Derby House knows this because many riders come to the online retailer for advice about choosing their footwear. To help you out, here’s a quick guide to what you should expect from different types of boots.

Riding boots
Proper riding boots are an essential piece of a rider’s wardrobe. Made from durable leather or a synthetic material, they protect the rider’s leg from chafing against the side of the horse and being pinched from the stirrup leather while also sheltering it from fences, trees and bushes.Derby-Riding-Boots-1Designed to maximise safety and support, riding boots are made with a strong but flexible leather to maintain a constant contact between horse and rider, and with a small heel to prevent the rider’s foot from slipping through the stirrup. A smooth sole ensures the foot does not catch on the base of the stirrup.

Riding boots usually come in three different styles: jodhpur, paddock and knee-length (or long) boots. Both jodhpur and paddock boots extend to just above the ankle and are often worn with half chaps or gaiters on top to protect your leg. Both generally feature elastic stretches on each side of the ankle area to make it easier to slip on and off, although some also come with a zip or laces. They are generally cheaper than knee-length boots. Derby-Riding-BootsKnee-length versions can come as field boots (with lacing at the ankle) or dress boots (the type generally used for competing). They can be made of leather or synthetic material. Synthetic riding boot are more affordable and low maintenance — you can simply wipe them clean with a damp cloth, making them an excellent choice for people who are learning to ride (they are not suitable for competing). Leather riding boots soften and mould to the riders foot and leg to help maintain a correct riding position, but they do require more maintenance to prevent the leather cracking and drying. Derby-Knee-Length-BootsWhichever type you choose, fit is the key consideration when looking at buying riding boots — you want to avoid boots that chafe and rub your feet. Experiment with different models to find out what suits you best and remember that some brands offer different calf and height options to give you a more custom fit. However, be aware that once you start to wear your long boot they do tend to crease round the ankle which makes them shorter in height.

Country Boots
Country boots are perfect for visiting shows, taking walks or enjoying the countryside. They are available in a variety of styles and are designed to fit men, women and young adults. Some country boots offer different width calf fittings to cater for all shapes and sizes — this is common for the pull on style. Other brands have laces, zips and Velcro to provide you with a close fit. Derby-Country-BootsThanks to technological advancements, many country boots are fully waterproof and breathable to keep your feet warm and dry in every weather condition, and some feature cushioning and gel foam for added comfort.

However, it’s important to note that most country boots are not suitable for riding: they are quite wide across the sole and both their design and materials are not conceived for the saddle. Some brands do offer a country boot that can double up for riding, though, so it’s worth checking at the time of purchase.

Yard Boot
Mucking out is part and parcel of owning a horse and requires specialist footwear. Many people find their riding boots cannot cope with horse urine or the bacteria in dung and decaying straw. Neither riding nor country boots necessarily have the density and type of rubber needed to protect against muck. Those boots you were annoyed with because the sole split, were they sold as “yard” or “stable” boots? If not, then that may be why the sole failed to perform. Yard boots, by contrast, are designed to withstand the yard environment, which makes them more durable — plus they may offer better protection to your feet, as many have toe caps or other useful features. Invest in a pair of yard boots and you’ll be able to keep your riding and country boots looking, feeling and performing at their best.Derby-Yard-BootsShop now and save 25% with Derby House’s black Friday weekend deals – ends Monday!