How do I find the right long riding boot?

Rider on horse with leather riding boots

Taking the right measurements when buying long riding boots

You already know what requirements your riding boot should fulfil and have a rough idea of which model is suitable for you? Then the next step is to take your measurements to find the right riding boot for you.

The following measurements are crucial when buying riding boots:
  • Shoe size
  • Calf width
  • Calf height
Measure Riding Boots Purchase

How is it measured?

  • Calf circumference

The calf circumference is measured at the widest part of the calf. The circumference increases towards the evening in particular. It is therefore better to add 0.5 cm to compensate for differences due to the time of day.

  • Calf height

The measurement for calf height is taken for riding boots on the inside of the leg from the ground to the back of the knee or to the middle of the kneecap.

Almost every riding boot has an individual measurement chart. Please compare your measurements with the values in the respective size chart. The size that comes closest to your measurements should be the correct one. If your measurements differ minimally, you should tend towards the next size up. Most leather riding boots have an elastic insert that allows the individual contour of the calf to be reproduced.

Tips for the correct fit of long riding boots

7 helpful tips for trying on long riding boots

#1 When trying on riding boots, it is best to wear breeches and riding socks so that you can immediately assess how much room is needed in the shaft.

#2 The ideal time to buy riding boots is late afternoon or evening, as the legs will be a little swollen then. Please note that in summer the legs generally store a little more water due to the temperatures, so a riding boot bought in winter could be too tight in summer.

#3 When trying on riding boots, you should generally feel comfortable wearing them; significant pressure or chafing points cannot be compensated for even after the break-in period. It should be noted that leather riding boots only develop their full wearing comfort after the break-in phase.

#4 The riding boot should sit comfortably on the foot and close to the calf, but without pinching.

#5 Make sure that you can still put a flat hand into the shaft at the side.

#6 Try the riding boot in different positions – standing, sitting, walking, and also while siting on the horse..

#7 Leather riding boots will settle by 0.5 to 1 cm after the break-in period, this should definitely be taken into account when buying. It is best to try on the boots with a heel wedge in order to assess whether the shaft height is still suitable for you after the breaking-in period.

Breaking in long riding boots 

Woman puts on her riding boots

Many riders have experienced painful break-in periods with pressure points, blisters and sores. Whereas in the past it was thought that this was the normal course of events when breaking in a new riding boot, nowadays it is more advisable to make sure that the fit is as comfortable as possible right from the time of purchase.

Breaking in new riding boots can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks, depending on how soft the leather is from the start.

Our professional tips for a comfortable break-in of riding boots

  • Insert heel wedge: Leather riding boots settle by 0.5 to 1 cm depending on the nature of the material, so it is usually the back of the knee that is affected during the break-in period. Insert a heel wedge for the first time to prevent cutting into the back of the knee.

  • Do not run too much: This may sound suspicious at first, but when breaking in riding boots, it is actually more advisable to sit with the boots on a lot, ride and actually walk only a few steps. On the one hand, this avoids blisters on the feet and, on the other hand, ensures that the boots are stressed in the areas that are actually relevant for riding.
  • Adjust stirrup length: When you sit on the horse for the first time with your new boots, try to ride with slightly longer stirrups so that the riding boots do not pinch the back of the knee.
  • Grease regularly: Grease the boots regularly while they are being broken in. The grease makes the leather supple and speeds up the process.
  • No household tips: Various household tips circulate on the internet on how to get leather supple, e.g. by soaking it in water or rubbing alcohol or even by working it with a hammer. Tips of this kind can permanently damage the material or leave unsightly stains that can no longer be removed.
  • Leather stretchers: There are special sprays that can help stretch the leather. Simply spray on inside and outside and leave the boot in for a while. With particularly stubborn leather, however, the application sometimes has to be repeated several times. If this does not help, you can also take the boots to a shoemaker who will then professionally stretch the riding boots.

The alternative to long riding boots: half chaps and gaiters

Not every rider wants to invest in long riding boots or change their footwear altogether after every ride. A good alternative to long leather riding boots are half chaps or gaiters. Some riders prefer more flexibility around the ankle. Since half chaps and gaiters are not firmly attached to the boot, the foot can swing more freely in the stirrup. The non-slip material used for half chaps and gaiters nevertheless allows a good hold on the saddle.

Another advantage over many long riding boots is that half chaps and gaiters do not need to be broken in. For those who do not want to change their boots before or after riding, half chaps and gaiters are a good choice. These can be put on and taken off quickly, whereas long riding boots are only suitable for riding, but not for everyday stable use. Half chaps and gaiters are worn over jodhpur boots, breeches and riding socks. During the fitting, ensure that you wear your full riding clothes, just as you would when taking measurements for long riding boots.

Half chaps are particularly suitable for children and novice riders who are either growing out of their shoe sizes quickly or are not yet sure whether they will pursue riding in the long term. Half chaps are therefore also a cheaper alternative to long riding boots.

What is the difference between gaiters and half chaps?

Half chaps and gaiters are very similar in their design, but differ in crucial points.


Gaiters come very close to the look of long leather riding boots. They are usually made of stronger genuine leather, which gives them a sturdy shape. Jodhpur boots with gaiters of the same color and leather are also allowed for competing at dressage. Just like long riding boots, gaiters have their zip at the back of the calf.

Half chaps can be made of different materials such as synthetic leather or chloroprene rubber. The zip is located on the outside of the leg. Elastic inserts along the zip make them comfortable to wear.

Since half chaps are usually made of a softer material than gaiters, they can lose their shape more easily. Therefore, when trying on and buying your half chaps, make sure they fit correctly. This means they should neither be too short and tight nor too long and wide.

Half chaps

The calf must not be compressed, the fastening must not catch on the saddle flap and there must be no creases that rub uncomfortably. Your half chaps fit correctly when the top of the half chaps ends two fingers below the back of the knee. The same applies to gaiters. As with long riding boots, the important measurements are the calf circumference and the calf height.