We’ve recently discussed horse safety, first aid, horse trailer and travel tips and even equine hoof boots, but what about rider comfort? Now that winter’s setting in, we’re seeing the first snow flurries and freezing temps; it’s time to talk about keeping comfortable while we ride.
While there are a few quality choices for footwear that does the job while we tend to barn chores (Muck Boots’ Chore and Artic boots are great, as are the ever-popular Bogs) finding a stirrup-friendly boot that’s warm, weatherproof and safe can be a bit more challenging.
If you ride with an extra wide stirrup, take the band off your peacock stirrups (a simple trick that trainer Meisja Turner Wagner and friends employed even as kids) or wear a boot that’s big enough that your foot will easily slide out if your boot does get trapped in the stirrup, you should be relatively safe.
For slimmer, sleeker designs that provide the wearer with more of a traditional feel in the irons (while still fending off frostbite), we came up with a list of cozy options;
Ariat’s Terrain H2O. Available in lace up or zip styles, this little paddock boot is adept at riding, hiking and any barn-related task. As comfy as your favorite sneakers, the H2O has a light and supportive footbed and comfortable non-restrictive uppers crafted of soft, waterproof leather to keep out cold and moisture. If snow is ankle deep or higher, simply add a pair of half chaps or gaiters. The price of the H2O is roughly $120 at most locations.
Mountain Horse has created multiple options. From their fashion-forward Stella (a tall boot with quilted uppers and toasty faux fur lining) to an assortment of no-nonsense insulated tall zip or paddock boots (choose lace ups or zip paddocks), Sweden’s popular Mountain Horse footwear is sure to offer a design that will appeal to your personal sense of style and meet your riding needs. Fans of this brand (our region has many!) tout the stirrup-friendly dimensions and ease of use. Made with equestrians in mind, their boots keep feet warm without compromising feel. Prices range from $120 – $200 depending on the model and retailer.
Bogs now makes a leather rain boot that has a functional form, looks great, and is less likely to get stuck in a stirrup than some of the thicker (yet oh so cozy) versions of the original Bog design. Priced under $200 on Amazon.com.
The Ovation Blizzard riding boot is ultra-affordable with a host of comfort-enhancing features. The quilted 600 denier upper is made with water-repellent polyester canvas. Lined with a layer of soft fleece, the boot’s lower foot is constructed of waterproof rubber. The non-skid sole helps keep you safe on the ground and comfortable in the saddle. Light reflectors on the straps aid visibility on dreary winter days as well as in the dark and an aluminum foil heat shield insole helps retain warmth, too. You may find these on sale or clearance for under $60!
For those who prefer more of a western boot, Justin’s George Strait 3.1 waterproof boots are excellent. The sole is thick enough to give you some protection from frozen ground. Uppers are decently waterproof for the first year (you can retreat the leather when the waterproofing wears off) and the round toe and ample foot let air circulate. Size up and add thick wool socks for even more warmth and comfort. Price ranges from $136 – $150.
Dubarrys are of course a traditional option for cold, damp weather. The thinner leather footbed is nice for temperatures ranging from 35 – 55 degrees and the felt-lined shafts keep legs from getting too chilly. Below freezing, a wool sock can help retain heat. If you feel the waterproofing start to fade, you can always re-treat the leather to keep moisture out. When cleaned and treated regularly, these classic boots look and feel good for years to come. Available in low and high versions, expect to make an investment of approximately $400 or more for these lovely Irish imports.
SmartPak’s own Solstice boot features a thick sole, rounded toe, ample footbed and soft suede shaft. The snuggly fur lining helps trap heat and keep you warm. Water resistant, these boots will get damp when wet. Spraying with leather-friendly water proofing can help make them more weather resistant. They look nice and feel great in the cold, dry weather!
We have a host of great options; take a look at popular riding resources (Dover Saddlery or SmartPak) or visit Salt Lake retailers (Horse Crazy in Draper, AA Callister’s on Redwood Road or The American Cowboy in Bountiful) to get geared up for your winter rides. Don’t let a little snow and colder weather keep you out of the saddle! Step into comfort with a pair of cozy riding boots.