I disagree, lbs not miles. Boots aren't a relic from the past with no actual use for today- they are designed specifically for not just riding, but being around horses in general.
Once a pair of boots are broken in, they're perfectly comfortable for running around in. Trust me, I know, lol. They may not be as comfortable as shoes meant for walking, and you may not be able to go on a day-long hike, but you're not going to be doing too much walking if you're taking a horse lesson or riding a horse at all, really.
Riding boots also have a steel plate for your toes, which is important. I've had enough large horses stomp on my feet to know how important it is- I have a permanent dent in one pair of boots that would have been a broken toe or two if I hadn't had it.
Also, I think you're thinking of tall boots- the ones that go to the knee. Paddock boots only go to the ankle. They're reasonably priced, and, if you get a good brand, will last a long time with minimal to no care. One pair of Ariats has lasted for almost ten years and went through three people, with no care at all. The shoe laces were replaced frequently, and they don't look pretty, but they're perfectly functional and are still our spare pair.
Another thing is that most places I know of will not let you ride without proper boots. It's a safety thing, as they're designed specifically to be in a stirrup and have steel toes. I know many, many places that won't even let you around a horse without proper boots.
Honestly, if you're going to shell out the money, you may as well get boots meant for horses and riding. Maybe not right away, but you will have to eventually. The most important thing right now is to ask your instructor what they want you to have on, though, OP. Like I said, there are places that will let you ride in what you have for the first few lessons, and there are places that won't let you near the horses without proper footwear.
You are free to disagree
, but if you're going to disagree you really shouldn't make my point for me.
A. "They may not be as comfortable as shoes meant for walking" You can add walking boots to that and I think I said the same thing already.
B. "you're not going to be doing too much walking if you're taking a horse lesson..." I think I said something along the same lines "If you're going to always do arena riding and never ride out very far so that walking very far would never be a possibility then boots might work ok"
However, if you do any serous riding that involves traveling a lot of miles you'll probably want to spend some time giving your horse a break by dismounting, loosening the cinch and walking them on a lead for a few miles during the day (or maybe not, depending on how hard you want to work your horse). If you do you'll be much happier with the comfortable walking foot gear that works equally well for riding vs riding boots.
I've had my feet stepped on plenty too (anyone who works with horses long enough can say that) and since most riding boots do not have steel toes they wouldn't have helped.
Ankle paddock boots are not "riding" boots anymore than my combat boots were (although my combat boots made excellent boots for riding), but plenty of ankle boots have steel toes. Unless you're saying that a boot you ride in is a "riding" boot, but that would have made my combat boots "riding" boots.
I've have well broken in riding boots (they look nice even if I don't ride with them), but after 10 years and being well broken in they're not as comfortable a pair of combat boots after 3 months of breaking in. Riding boots are never perfectly comfortable for running around it (unless you're not really "running" around and not doing very much). Trust me I know
, that's why I followed the lead of other horsemen who knew before me and didn't wear "riding" boots.
My walking boots fit in the stirrup just as nicely as the riding boots so I don't see where there's any benefit to a riding boot (having a heel is not something unique to riding boots). Certainly not for safety or comfort (that just leaves "looks" and "tradition")
To date I've never had a problem riding anywhere with my foot gear and I doubt seriously if I ever would, since I usually were what was good enough for mounted troops 100 years ago. Although I have been places where my leggings got a lot of interest, but always of a positive nature. No one has ever questioned the boots I wear even though they aren't "riding" boots.
Most riding boots do not reach the knee. Somewhere around 14" if I remember correctly and that's well short of the knee (16" is still short of the knee). Although they do make them higher (usually for higher price) and they also make some closer to 12" (like most cowboy boots). But yes, those make up the bulk of the riding boots. Look at the foot gear on the competitors in most of the show, eventing, etc... circuits. High boots.
Nothing wrong with it. It's the traditional look/style and it works for what they are doing. If they stepped into the world of my riding for a few months they'd be wearing something different before very long
, but many would switch back for their other riding.