Best Boots For Working With Horses: Guide To Making A Smart Buying Decision

When people think of the boots for working with horses, there are two schools of thought. There is the English style riding boot, knee-length, black patent leather and polished to a high shine. These are the boots worn in productions of Black Beauty and today are worn by fox hunters and Olympic equestrians.

On the other hand, is the rugged cowboy boot, mid-calf length, textured sometimes tooled leather and dirt and a few scuffs are worn with pride. Of course, if you are actually working with horses as in mucking stables, filling troughs and currying Dobbin you want something you wouldn’t mind getting a little dirty.

best boots for working with horses

What Type Of Boots Should You Wear?

Are you going to work in the stables, ride or both? That will affect what kind of boots would be best. A two-inch heel will keep you in the stirrup but it’s hard to walk in and if you’re very tall they give you a headache. (You’ll keep banging your head into things.) About an inch to inch and a half should do the job. You’ll be able to walk and ride decently in them.

Hiking boots and snow boots have a thick, heavy tread that makes them good for working in, but not for riding due to their wide and boxy toe. A wide toe box is great for working in, but it doesn’t slide into the stirrup. Stiletto toe boots became popular in the Fifties, but if you wear them, real cowboys are going to laugh at you and call you a dude. And it pinches. Find a toe that gives you a happy medium.

Can You Ride In The Same Boots You Muck Stalls With?

It is not a good idea. It is tempting, as good muck boots tend to be so comfortable and warm. However, they’re far too wide and the sole is too grippy. They don’t allow your ankles to flex well. They can even block off circulation. Besides, do you really think Dobbin would like your cruddy covered feet brushing against his coat? Take the time to change into appropriate shoes.

The Reviews:

There are a lot of fancy boots out there on the market. The ones reviewed here are noted more for the practicality of stable work than anything. However, they are not without a sense of style in some cases.

1. Muck Chore Classic Men’s Rubber Work Boots

Muck Chore Classic Men's Rubber Work Boots

The name should clue you into what these boots are made for. This is a lot of boot for someone who does a lot of work. They will keep the feet dry and comfortable throughout the day.

The Original Muck Boot Company experiments and innovates constantly in order to make boots that will withstand any possible condition. Their standards of comfort and quality have set the bar for other work boots.  There are a number of alternatives on the market if these are too pricey.

Features and Benefits:

The boots are insulated enough to keep feet warm at temperatures as low as sixty-five degrees Fahrenheit. The five-millimeter neoprene is both waterproof and shock-absorbent. It can also retain heat and is flexible enough to adapt to the natural contours of the foot for better support.

The lining keeps feet dry on the interior by wicking away perspiration from the skin. The areas around the Achilles, toe, and heel are reinforced. The lining is comfy and breathable.

A gathered collar keeps mud, water, and all matter of debris at bay. A kick rim enables makes it possible for you to remove it without hands. The blown rubber outsole provides traction that is both slip-resistant and shock absorbing.

What We Like:

  • The boots are very durable.
  • They are easy to clean.
  • The traction is great.
  • The boots are warm and comfortable.
  • They are surprisingly lightweight and breathable.
  • They have a roomy upper and are very stretchy.

What We Don’t:

  • If the inside gets wet, it may take a while to dry.

2. Ariat Men’s Rambler Western Boot

ARIAT Men's Rambler Western Boot Earth Size 11.5 W Us

The three horseshoes that makeup Ariat’s logo aren’t there for luck! Ariat was made to suit the needs of ranchers and rodeo cowboys. (And cowgirls.) Ariat marries down-home country hardiness with big-city technology and ingenuity. Their footwear was meant for performance in the ring and on the farm. These boots were not made for the drugstore cowboy but the real, honest worker.

Features and Benefits:

The moisture-wicking footbed adds to comfort. The footbed is gel-cushioned to absorb shock. The forked shank provides stability. The patented Duratread outsole provides ultimate wear resistance. The toe is squared to offer more room for the toes. the genuine leather protects the foot.

What We Like:

  • The interior is very comfortable.
  • The leather exterior is durable and rugged.
  • There is little to no break-in time.

What We Don’t:

  • The traction is not great.
  • They run large.

3. Justin Original Work Boots Men’s Stampede Boot

Justin Original Work Boots Men's Stampede Work Boot,Waxy Brown/Sawdust,8.5 D US

Justin Boots has been providing cowboys with quality boots since 1879 when H. J. Justin started a boot repair business in Spanish Fort, Texas. Today, they work out of Fort Worth but they still celebrate the spirit of industrious independence with a breath of authenticity.

This Standard of the West not only has a cowboy look but it feels great whether you’re at the bar for some line dancing or actually getting some work done. This particular style comes in a baker’s dozen of color patterns.

Features and Benefits:

The pull-on loops at the top make the boots easier to pull on. The solid leather is protective, flexible and stable. A metallic shank adds to the strength and stability of these boots. The flexible grooves in the front footing and thick outer sole aids in providing slip-resistance on wet or oily surfaces. The J-Flex system offers great stability and comfort.

What We Like:

  • The boots are water-resistant.
  • They are fairly attractive.
  • The boots are very comfortable.
  • The squared toe is roomy.

What We Don’t:

  • They run a bit big.
  • The water resistance doesn’t work above the ankle.

4. Muck Arctic Adventure Tall Rubber Women’s Winter Boots

Muck Arctic Adventure Tall Rubber Women's Winter Boots, 8 M US, Black/Black

We haven’t forgotten the ladies. Like we stated above at the men’s model review, the Original Muck Boot Company also provides decent models for women who want durable footwear to withstand their tough work conditions whether in farms, stables or other workplaces that involve mud and wet conditions and demand proper waterproofing.

Features and Benefits:

It’s a 16-inch height boot that is tall enough to protect a good portion of your leg. It offers 5 mm neoprene that will provide you with comfort and flexibility along with excellent waterproofing, shock absorption, and heat retention. Also, it protects against blisters so it will keep your feet safe and sound.

The Fleece lining offers enhanced comfort due to its softness and is durable enough to withstand long wear. In addition, it provides exceptional warmth in freezing weather; comfort rated from -20 °F to 50 °F (-30 °C to 10 °C).

It features lightweight midsole for extra cushioning, support and impact resistance all day long along with lightweight outsole that provides traction on slick surfaces and self-cleans to prevent tracking dirt inside.

What We Like:

  • Easy to put on and pull off.
  • Easy to clean.
  • Excellent waterproofing.
  • Comfortable and good cushioned.

What We Don’t:

  • They might not be suitable for warm conditions.

5. Ariat Women’s Unbridled Roper Western Cowboy Boot

Ariat Women's Unbridled Roper Western Cowboy Boot, Distressed Brown, 8.5 M US

Normally, we try not to repeat brand names in our top five lists. For one, we want to give you, the reader, a diverse variety to choose from. For another, we don’t want to look like we’re shilling for just one brand. But the fact of the matter is Ariat just plain makes a very good boot! Many cowboy boots are just designed for style.

While Ariat does take looks into consideration their foremost concern is to make boots practical for actual work. Ariat makes boots for women because to quote Annie Oakley “Gender is a construct! Bang Bang!” (OK, maybe she didn’t really say that.)

Features and Benefits:

The patented Duratread sole offers good traction and is made of flexible rubber. The full-grain leather foot and upper offer both protection and durability. The unique Advanced Torque Stability technology along with the composite forked shank makes the boot stable.

The pull tabs make them easier to put on. The sensible one and a half-inch heel is good for walking in. The rounded toe is roomy but better looking than the square toe. a moisture-wicking footbed provides cool comfort.

What We Like:

  • They break in quickly.
  • They are very comfortable.
  • The boots are lightweight.
  • The fit is true to size.

What We Don’t:

  • They are not waterproof.
  • Take note, Ariat: Not all girls like pink.

Does It Have To Be Boots?

Please, do not wear open-toed shoes around horses! Even if you don’t manage to step on a steaming horse apple, Dobbin never took dance lessons. He might accidentally step on your foot. Don’t be mad at him. His eyes were meant to scan the horizon, not look at the ground. Shod or not, this could be as much as half a ton of horseflesh, a whole ton if Dobbin is a draft breed.

Boots not only protect your foot but they have the traction you are going to need when walking in areas that have uneven terrain that may vary in texture from sandy to muddy with possibly damp grass or hay laying around. Horse riding boots are great for the outdoors being waterproof and insulated so you can work in all kinds of weather. They are often made of leather for further durability.

Wearing any shoes other than boots, even closed toed ones, is akin to riding in a car without a seatbelt. If nothing goes wrong, you’ll probably be fine. Is your horse named Murphy, by any chance? Feet in shoes that are flat or low heeled can slip right through the stirrups.

This can lead to trouble if the rider becomes unhorsed. It doesn’t matter if it’s your wedding and you thought to pose for the photos on a white stallion would be romantic or if you thought Dobbin would like a nice walk on the beach. Always wear boots when riding a horse. A helmet is always a good idea too.

East is East and West is West

One big difference between English and Western-style boots is Western boots have a slightly taller heel. This along with a crepe sole helps the foot to stay in the stirrup. English boots are easier to get into than they look due to a hidden zipper in the back. English boots are close-fitting to be worn with jodhpurs.

Pants and boots need to be snug fitting in dressage as the rider has to be able to make movements so subtle only the horse notices them and responds as trained. Western boots are often worn with the great American clothing staple known as blue jeans.

The cowboy boot as we know it came into being in 1865 when former Civil War soldiers decided to try their hand at ranching and cattle driving. It turned out cavalry boots just weren’t good for riding through bramble and splashing through creeks. They were modified to be more practical for the roving cowboy.


You should always wear boots when working with horses. Good traction is always important. If you plan on riding the horse, you will want a slightly thin sole so you can get a feel of the stirrup. The leather should be insulated and waterproof. Even if you are out on a dry day, Dobbin’s trough needs to be filled with at least five but as much as ten gallons of water every day.

No one ever said horses had dainty table manners. Or much in the way of potty training for that matter. These are large, heavy animals that even the gentlest might accidentally step on your foot. Steel toe isn’t quite necessary, but a good thick leather is. Look for something that will suit your needs best.


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