My students have been asking some great questions lately about gear. Here is what I like and why.
Boots: The photo above shows a pair of Ariat paddock boots (they are mine and I LOVE these boots!). The three things to consider as you select boots are, heel shape, fit, and tread depth. In the photo, I'm pointing at the front of the heel of the boot. Notice that heel is squared in the front. This is an important safety feature, as it acts as a stop and keeps your foot from sliding through the stirrup. There is no taper on this heel. You can select western, english or a trail type boot, but no matter the style they need to have a squared heel for riding.
Also notice the tread depth on these boots. The tread is smooth, with almost no depth. This is important for safety so your foot doesn't get caught in the stirrup, it also makes adjusting your foot in the stirrup easier. Some trail type boots have quite a bit of tread, similar to a hiking boot. I prefer to stay away from that type of boot for safety.
Finally the boot needs to either fit snug or be so loose that it will slide off easily. In an emergency, if your boot is caught in the stirrup, can you slide out of it?
I prefer to ride in an Ariat zip paddock boot. They are comfortable to wear all day. durable, and reasonably priced. They have a square heel, low tread, and they fit snug. I can use half chaps with them, or not.
Helmets: I tell my students, a helmet needs to fit correctly to work. It also needs to be comfortable, or you won't use it. Personally, I like Troxel helmets because they are comfortable for me. I buy Troxel helmets for my kids as well.
Generally you should replace your helmet after a fall. Please invest in a new helmet. This is not an item to accept hand-downs or buy used.
To fit a helmet properly, you can go to a dealer and they will fit you. Troxel has a PDF on helmet fit which I have used, it's at www.troxelhelmets.com select Proper Fitting. I will attach the PDF to the monthly newsletter for the barn, let me know if you need to be added to the email list.
For other gear suggestions as we head into cooler temperatures.......see the blog post we wrote on My Favorite Winter Things. You can enjoy riding year round with the right gear!