By Jerry Tardif
Some people feel they ride well enough that wearing sneakers or any other kind of enclosed shoe while riding is ok.
They would never likely be caught wearing sandals or flip-flops (though I 've seen that several times, but rarely, fortunately), so they feel they're safe enough.
But it pays to consider the other advantages that footwear specifically designed for riding horses provides.
- First, proper riding footwear will always have an adequate heel to stop your foot from sliding too far into a stirrup.
- Second, such footwear, whether riding boots, paddock boots, or any quality riding shoe, is actually designed to slip out of the stirrups if you should come out of the saddle.
Not being dragged around the ring, down the trail, or over a jump is a very good thing!
- Third, while made to slip out of a stirrup, this footwear is still designed to have maximum traction on the ground for walking or running so we don't slip there.
- Fourth, many riding shoes and boots are also waterproof because the designers know we horse aficionados could inadvertently step into or walk through a puddle of water after a rain storm, or worse, a puddle made by a horse.
So keeping all liquids out of our shoes when around horses is a comforting thought.
- Fifth, some of the better quality riding shoes include a liner designed to wick moisture away from your socks so your feet stay cooler in summer, warmer in winter, and avoid that uncomfortable feeling of soggy socks.
When you take it all together, riding footwear is actually a marvel of today's apparel technologies.
Using it when riding really does beat wearing sneakers or other shoes not specifically designed for riding.
Besides being an avid trail rider, Jerry Tardif is a technology consultant and a horse and nature photographer in SE Connecticut — see his work at: www.jerrytardif.com.
He is also co-founder and President of QueryHorse.
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