Correct footwear is vital for riding safely, with traditional riding boots or jodhpur boots being the best choice.
Some riding schools will lend appropriate footwear for lessons, meaning you may not have to buy new gear if you are just starting out. When you are ready to take the leap and buy your own, you will find a range of boots to suit all tastes and budgets in most tack shops.
Boots should preferably have a smooth, through sole and a small heel. This means there should be no break in the sole from heel to toe, so there is nothing to catch on the stirrup – otherwise, the rider could be dragged along in the event of a fall because the foot cannot come free. Wellies are unsuitable for this reason. Trainers are also unsafe because they do not have the small heel needed to help prevent the foot sliding through the stirrup.
When repairing boots, you will need to ask the cobbler to provide you with a through sole.
There is a current trend towards riding in 'yard' boots. Care needs to be taken when wearing this type of footwear, as they may have a heavy tread that can become caught on the stirrup, which means the foot could become wedged or stuck in the stirrup – a serious implication if you are unseated.
Always check that the pattern of the tread is offset, so the tread never goes all the way across the sole as this may lead to the stirrup becoming jammed. Also, remember that the stirrup needs to fit the size of the boot you're using - you may need a larger stirrup for this type of footwear.
Correct footwear is mandatory for all BHS exams and the BHS Ride Safe Award. Trainers and instructors will be able to advise candidates whether their individual footwear is acceptable or not.
For more information, contact the BHS Safety team on 02476 840516 or firstname.lastname@example.org.