With so many different options on the market it can be hard to decide which horse riding clothes to buy, especially when you’re taking your own safety into consideration. Most importantly, the clothing you choose must also be comfortable and practical, even if it costs a little more. As well as that, competitions throw another element into the mix - you want to look professional, especially for dressage.That’s why we’ve put together a guide on choosing the right clothes, including what each essential item is for and how they should fit.
If you’re looking for the perfect horse riding hat, read our article on choosing the right hat.
Jodhpurs and Breeches
Jodhpurs, as well as looking smart, give you the flexibility you need when you’re riding. These fitted trousers should have good stretch, and if they have knee patches, all the better, as these can provide extra protection when in constant contact with the saddle and flanks of the horse.
Jodhpurs, essential horse-riding clothes, end at the ankles and are a suitable companion to either Jodhpur boots or long riding boots. Jodhpurs are used for everyday hacking, show jumping, cross-country, and dressage. You’ll find them in any place that sells horse-riding equipment, including speciality or online shops to name but a few and remember to take your own waist and inseam measurements with you to ensure you find a good fit.
Breeches are another alternative option with a slightly different fit to Jodhpurs: they finish around the mid-calf to provide more flexibility, but they should only be worn with long boots. Dressage riders often prefer the seat patches on their breeches as they provide added security and leg control.
Chaps are sturdy coverings for your leg, which come in two lengths: half and full length. When you’re looking for either length ensure they aren’t too loose, as if they spin or slip down your leg they could cause an injury. Horse-riding clothes like Chaps can give you more grip in the saddle, as well as keeping your legs dry from the sweat of your horse.
Half Chaps are the more common type of chaps, and are worn with Jodhpur boots. They should cover the leg from the knee to the ankle and will feel safely secure with a strap under the boot. Half Chaps should help protect your lower leg while also preventing your jodhpurs from rising up and as they can be made of various materials, including suede and leather, there’s a wide variety available to choose from.
Full-length Chaps cover the whole leg, almost like a pair of trousers. They’ll help keep you warm and dry while you’re riding, which can be particularly useful during the frosty winter months! If you’re going to spend a lot of time riding in the wet, in mud, or in generally chilly conditions, a pair of full Chaps might be better for you than the half-length option.
A polo shirt is a classic choice when you’re looking for horse-riding clothes. Long-sleeved options mean you can cover up when it’s cold, while vest-types are best for the warmer, summer months.
The main thing to look for when choosing horse-riding tops is breathability and a good fit; for safety reasons there should be no restrictions in terms of movement when riding, so don’t choose anything too tight or without any stretch. Additionally, bright colours are great for visibility - ideal for hacks in poor conditions.
Riding jackets are essential items of clothing that riders will find indispensable. An all-important accompaniment to your horse-riding clothes, they should be cut wide for plenty of freedom of movement. If you ride in the dark, look for one with reflective strips for dusky winter nights.
Pick a jacket made of a lightweight material for the warmer months, and quilted types (made of a breathable fabric) for autumn and winter, when it can be unbearably cold outside. Make sure your jacket doesn’t flap, as this may spook your horse and a shorter coat is best so it doesn’t reach the saddle and impede movement. If you do decide on a longer coat, you should find that it is split up the back to provide warmth to the legs, and as it’s split it means it shouldn’t interfere with the saddle while you ride.
Riders often find gilets useful too, as they keep you warm without restricting your arms and are perfect for riding when the weather is in between seasons.
Riding boots are an essential part of horse-riding clothes as the rider does much of the controlling of the horse with their feet, therefore it’s imperative that the rider must be comfortable and in control. They must be durable and hardwearing, especially as horses hooves are heavy, you want to make sure your feet are as protected as possible in case your horse should step on your feet. Riding boots come in two types: full length and Jodhpur boots which are usually made out of leather or PVC, so regular cleaning is a must. All riding boots must have a heel to stop the foot slipping through the stirrup and we recommend investing in a separate pair of boots for stable management.
Long boots can be restricting and uncomfortable in hot weather but they do offer protection to the rider's legs and ankles. Rubber riding boots are the least expensive option and are popular with pleasure riders, whereas competition riders favor leather-riding boots for their durability.
Jodhpur boots, as the name suggests, should be worn with Jodhpurs and are generally more comfortable to wear but they offer no protection to the rider's legs, and so they are most often worn with half chaps or gaiters that cover the lower leg.
The hands play an important part in riding however many forget that gloves are an important necessity when looking for horse-riding clothes. Regardless of the weather, gloves should always be worn to provide a good gripping surface on the reins and protection for your hands. Not only do they protect your hands from the weather, they also give you more confidence when you’re holding your horse and prevent blisters if they have a tendency to pull from you. We recommend choosing leather riding gloves, as these are hard wearing and warm. They also look professional for competitions but make sure you wear them in otherwise they could be uncomfortable. If you want a cheaper option however, then Lycra or Spandex gloves make a good substitute to leather, and they also give a close, highly flexible fit making them a great alternative.
Elegance is key when taking part in competitions, especially in dressage where you are marked not just on your horse-riding abilities but also your appearance. When it comes to choosing horse-riding clothes for competitions, make sure your apparel not only looks good but keeps you safe in the saddle too.
A safe riding hat and gloves are compulsory, with white or beige being the preferred colour of choice. Black or brown riding boots should be worn, the length of the boot is optional but Jodhpur boots should be worn with gaiters that are identical leather to the boots without decoration. Gaiters are used for competitions and are very similar to chaps in that they can be worn with any pair of riding boots to give the impression of a much longer boot, which can be useful if a rider doesn’t own a set of full length riding boots. Judges can see leg positioning much more clearly when riders wear beige or white breeches or Jodhpurs, which can go a long way in competitions where every mark counts.
Smart, tailored riding jackets are necessary horse-riding clothes, although they differ depending on the competition. For advanced dressage, a black or navy tailcoat and top hat must be worn, whilst novice riders should wear a tweed jacket for competitions. For show jumping, advanced level riders should wear a black, navy or red coat and it is preferred that intermediate riders wear black, navy and tweed coats for events.
Do you have any favourite horse-riding clothes or any recommendations for a favourite brand? Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter.