Clothing is a matter of safety, not only aesthetics when riding a horse. Being aware of the dangers your clothing can present when you are on horseback is important so that you can decide on proper equestrian clothing. The right clothes will help you avoid problems that the wrong ones can cause, and are an essential ingredient to being a conscientious rider.
In general, long pants are required to ride. Some people will ride in shorts, but it is both a bad idea and uncomfortable. It’s nearly impossible to ride in a skirt unless you plan to take up side-saddle. Long pants protect you from rubbing on or sticking to the saddle, and they can also protect your skin in the event of a fall.
Breeches & Jodpurs
One of the most common pieces of clothing to see on riders are a pair of jeans. The reason for this is that jeans are sturdy, long-lasting, high enough to protect your skin, and take a long time to wear out. In short, they are nearly perfect horseback riding clothes. Just be sure that they are tight enough, so they won’t fall off you, and short enough that they won’t get caught between the saddle and horse, or stuck under your feet in the stirrups.
Specially made riding leggings are called jodhpurs and breeches, and are the appropriate show wear for English riders. But they are also common on people riding for pleasure because they are very comfortable. Jodhpurs are made of an elastic material protected at the inner knees by patches of a stronger material and fit tightly because the material stretches. Their main disadvantages are that they wear out much faster than jeans, and because they are not as tough, also lack some of their protective abilities.
A pair of boots is a riding must. Your boots must be robust enough to provide protection for your feet and must have a heel. The purpose of the heel is to prevent your foot from accidentally slipping all the way through a stirrup and trapping you. The type of boot isn’t very important as long as it fulfills these requirements.
Some people insist on long sleeves, but most riders sometimes wear t-shirts or tank tops. Long sleeves do have the advantage of offering your skin some protection should you fall, though. Upper-body wear, just like the rest of your equestrian clothing, should fit closely enough that it won’t billow out and scare horses, or get in your way.
Horse riding helmets are required by the stable you ride at, though some do not insist if you are over 18. Wearing a helmet is a good idea because flying off a horse creates enough momentum to do some severe damage to your skull if you aren’t wearing one. No one plans to go flying, but sometimes things happen, and it’s best to be prepared.
Most people start riding without them, but if you continue on with it, you may want a pair of gloves. Reins are made of tough leather, and it can be hard on the skin of your hands after a bit. In general, when choosing equestrian clothing, ensure that it provides some protection against falls and fits closely enough that it won’t scare a horse or get caught in something.