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I Ride Better in Shoes Other Than Actual Riding Boots... Any Similar Experiences and What to Do?

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  • I Ride Better in Shoes Other Than Actual Riding Boots... Any Similar Experiences and What to Do?

    I had a lesson awhile back in which I had a massive brain fart and slipped on my tennis shoes instead of my riding boots, and we just did a low key walk/trot lesson that day. My trainer told me that I needed to work on keeping as solid of a leg in my boots as I do in my tennis shoes. I also remember a time about 13 years ago when I was going through a growth spurt and had to borrow a very old, very worn out pair of cowboy boots to ride in, and my trainer at the time didn't make nearly the amount of comments about my legs and heels (especially with keeping my heels down) as usual, and my mom told me I rode the best I ever had that night in those boots.

    Also, just a disclaimer: I haven't ridden in tennis shoes since that lesson and would never purposefully ride in them or consider riding in them due to the obvious safety issues.

    Now, I have a very old, very worn out pair of Ariat paddock boots, and have also ridden in a different pair of cowboy boots when I dabbled in Western for awhile, but for some reason I just do not ride as well in actual riding boots other than that one pair of cowboy boots from years ago. I also walk with a limp and have a harder time walking and limp worse in my boots than in regular shoes. I don't know if it's because they're heavier or what the issue is. At first I thought the boots just needed to be really, really broken in like those old cowboy boots, but my Ariats are and the problem still exists.

    Has anyone else had this issue, and how did you fix it? I should also add that I am hard to fit for shoes and especially boots, so do you think getting custom boots would help with this (I've never had them)?

    Thank you!

  • #2
    First you need to figure out what the significant difference is.

    Is it the footbed, the sole, or the constraint around your calf? Why do you limp? How do you do in paddock boots? In paddock boots and half chaps? Do boots affect both your legs equalled or only one leg?

    You might consider one of the hybrid walk/ ride shoes like Ariat Terrains.

    But really without knowing any more it is impossible to say. I would suggest finding paddock boots that are comfortable to walk in, then experimenting with *very soft* half chaps.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Scribbler View Post
      First you need to figure out what the significant difference is.

      Is it the footbed, the sole, or the constraint around your calf? Why do you limp? How do you do in paddock boots? In paddock boots and half chaps? Do boots affect both your legs equalled or only one leg?

      You might consider one of the hybrid walk/ ride shoes like Ariat Terrains.

      But really without knowing any more it is impossible to say. I would suggest finding paddock boots that are comfortable to walk in, then experimenting with *very soft* half chaps.
      I currently ride in paddock boots with suede half chaps. I rode in tall boots for years as a kid and teen and had the same issues as well, as well as with the cowboy boots I rode in when I rode Western. I'm having a hard time identifying exactly what it is other than the fact that they're heavier (which I don't think should make a big difference in the saddle). I have issues with both legs, and can't seem to keep them as solid, on the horse, and quiet, and also struggle with keeping my heels down.

      I limp because I have one leg slightly longer than the other and was also born with a hip condition (hip dysplasia) that has long since been resolved, but has left me with a limp I've had since I could walk. I do wear an insert in the boot with the shorter leg, which helps me ride more balanced and centered.

      I will look into those hybrid shoes, thank you!

      Comment


      • #4
        If safety is the only issue. Put the plastic inserts on the stirrups which prevent your foot going through. I ride in shoes every day with them.
        It is better to ride 5 minutes a day than it is to ride 35 minutes on a Sunday.

        Comment


        • #5
          It could be the ankle mobility. The boots automatically put your ankle in a certain position and until you gain the musculature to support that position, you're going to be loose. I have bad ankles from years of figure skating, even had to have surgery on one of them when I was 16, and that ankle is always the first to have problems. Breaking in new tall boots is especially difficult, and because of the stiffness my foot goes completely numb for a few weeks breaking in new Parlanti's.

          TL;DR it could be a joint/physical issue. I'd find a good pair of paddock boots, ones that give your ankle a little bit of room, and go from there OR try an ankle brace in your boots to see if that specific support makes any difference.
          Savannah College of Art and Design Equestrian

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          • #6
            Unless you ride in boots daily, they will feel odd in the saddle no matter what the discipline.
            Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

            Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.

            Comment


            • #7
              This. Better fitting boots often help too but if you don’t ride them every day fir some time, they will never be as comfortable or effective.

              Some lower price range tall boots are cheaper leather that never breaks in properly...even seen pleather. Likewise materials used in the sole never provided the support or stability of better quality materials. I bit the bullet and got customs years ago, cost like heck but my riding improved almost immediately as they broke in and I wore them for 10 years, had zippers and gussets put in and got another 7 years out of them.

              Dont think you need customs these days but you need good quality materials that will help, not hold you back.
              When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

              The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by StormWarriorC View Post
                It could be the ankle mobility. The boots automatically put your ankle in a certain position and until you gain the musculature to support that position, you're going to be loose. I have bad ankles from years of figure skating, even had to have surgery on one of them when I was 16, and that ankle is always the first to have problems. Breaking in new tall boots is especially difficult, and because of the stiffness my foot goes completely numb for a few weeks breaking in new Parlanti's.

                TL;DR it could be a joint/physical issue. I'd find a good pair of paddock boots, ones that give your ankle a little bit of room, and go from there OR try an ankle brace in your boots to see if that specific support makes any difference.
                I'm going to second this. I had a similar experience to the OP - hopped on in shoes a couple times back when I was younger and dumber and my leg was instantly better, because I was able to actually let my weight drop down into my heels. I was trying to counteract years of dance as a younger kid, and between that and starting off my riding career in those godawful black rubber boots with no ankle flexibility, for a long time I couldn't get my heels down the way my instructor wanted. Then I spent a while FORCING them down, which braced my leg in a bad position and made me stiff, but made her happy (switched barns and got better instruction later!).

                Finally, between reading and getting better flatwork/dressage instruction, I figured out that your weight needs to drop down the back of your leg and into your heel softly, and that your personal conformation may mean that your foot is almost level, rather than having that artificially low dropped heel. My heels are lower now due to years of practice and stretching once I figured this out, but having a few little lightbulb moments like riding in shoes gave me the feeling I was looking for and helped me retrain the muscle memory.

                Other than that I don't have a lot of advice, but I do find that my softer well-worn tall boots are easier for me than when I switch to paddocks and half chaps in the winter, just due to the added bulk around my ankle. I get used to it within a ride or two, but I do notice a difference!

                Comment


                • #9
                  What about picking up a pair of ariat terrains and riding without half chaps? You could get webbers, SoJumps, or the Adjusta stirrup sleeves to prevent pinching of the leathers when you ride without half chaps? They look like they would feel the same as tennis shoes
                  www.abacusfurniture.com

                  Bit Chair: https://www.instagram.com/p/BNfIUYig...bacusfurniture

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    When I think about it, I rode both English and Western in shoes when I was a teen. Maybe even those old school blue and white leather Adidas sports shoes.

                    This was before the explosion of running shoes (which I remember), before half chaps, and when tall boots were considered a very expensive item only for serious competitors. I had a nasty pair of rubber tall boots for our playday schooling shows and a pair of cowboy boots that were too "good' for daily barn wear. Oh and no helmet!

                    So we all rode bare back or in saddles in jeans and sneakers (or shorts in summer). I never recall being pinched by leathers or my jeans damaging a saddle. My feet never slid through the stirrups.

                    When I returned to riding I had to relearn many things but I could sit a spook and my leg was relatively steady (given my riding fitness level). My major position error has been chair seat especially in defensive mode (western hangover) but I am not pinching at the knee etc.

                    However I always ride now in helmet, at least paddock boots, almost always with half chaps, and often field boots in drier weather.

                    ​​​​​​But thinking about it little kids traditionally learned to ride in paddock boots no half chaps or tall boots and still show that way in hunters. So maybe there are actually benefits to learning to ride with less on your leg?

                    ​​​​

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Kids ride that way unless the parents are financially able to keep replacing boots as the cherubs grow.
                      Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                      Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.

                      Comment

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