“Ouch! That’s Going to Leave a Mark!” – Proper Footwear Around Horses

If you’ve owned a horse for long enough, it’s safe to assume that you’ve had your foot stepped on once or twice…or more. It’s also probably safe to assume that you’ve seen other horse owners and riders out at the barn who have left their boots at home, and cringed at the thought of a horse coming down on their feet.

Anything can happen when dealing with horses, and we have to make sure that we practice safety at all times.

Paddock boot zipper Ariat

We are Responsible for Our Own Feet

When talking with others about safety and horses, I explain that we are responsible for our feet. A horse’s eyes are set on his head to scan the horizon, not see the ground beneath his feet, and while he will not purposely seek out your foot to stomp, it’s not his fault if you get in his way. Everyone is going to be stepped on at least once in their “horse life”, and when that time comes, it’s best to be protected.

You Will Get Stepped On

Not that long ago, I was hand walking my horse over a familiar path, when in an instant, she realized that something had changed. She stopped with feet splayed and then spun away, snorting and tense. I ended up at the end of the lead rope, and, unfortunately, my foot was in her path when she spooked. Yes, I got stepped on – just for a second – and boy did it smart.

I cringe when I see photos of people wearing improper footwear around horses; a quick Internet search will give you a mother-load of examples. Recently, I saw a photo of a young girl curled up next to a horse, which was lying down. It was a sweet picture, but the girl was wearing flip-flops. Flip-flop clad feet have no place around horses! In another photo, a woman wearing a beautiful dress and sandals was standing next to a horse; it was obviously a photo shoot, but that’s not an excuse. And, finally, I’m sure we’ve all seen a certain commercial with a certain beautiful girl and her white horse on the beach…and she’s barefoot! We see these things all the time, and while in most cases the people come away unscathed, it only takes one accident to do real harm.

You might be thinking, it’s Summer and the living is easy, and flip-flops, sandals and bare feet are as easy as it gets, but it won’t be so easy when you’re stuck in bed or walking on crutches because you made a poor decision. Losing a toe, dealing with a broken foot or, worse, having the entire top of your foot flayed open is the quickest way to turn the “Endless Summer” into the “endless nightmare”. If you have a strong stomach, and want an example of just what can happen to an unprotected foot, click this link.

Bruised foot

Wear Protective Boots

I can’t tell you how glad I was that I was wearing protective boots when my sweet and typically predictable 20 year old mare decided that the scenery change was a “horse eating monster”. The bruise on the top of my foot is evidence that even tough leather can’t completely shield me from harm. So, do yourself a favor and invest in a sturdy pair of riding boots, and then make sure to put them on every time that you head to the barn!


Cover image by Sarah Williams Photo Impressions
For more boot options check out Riding Warehouse  


Just so you know, clicking the above links takes you to the product on the Riding Warehouse site. This makes shopping easy and convenient for you. We do get a little kick-back from items purchased, giving us resources to bring you more stories, but your price stays the same. It’s a win-win! Also for local riders you can order items online and request pick-up – during checkout – at the Riding Warehouse store. Happy Trails!

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Former Pony Clubber, Eventer and Dressage rider who balanced training and showing with getting a college degree (from Cal Poly SLO), becoming a wife and raising a family.

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