Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Choosing Riding Apparel

Choosing Riding Apparel

What you will need to get you started; a riding helmet, boots, riding breeches, and gloves.


Riding is a great sport, but there is inherent risk involved. Whether you are a beginner or advanced rider, eventually everyone will have a mishap. Obviously, this is not a cheerful thought, but a true statement nevertheless.

A riding helmet is the single most important item you will purchase and wear. All of us who ride or work with horses needs to invest in an ASTM/SEI Certified helmet. The American Medical Equestrian Institute says “Head injuries account for approximately 60 % of deaths resulting from equestrian accidents. Properly fitted ASTM/SEI certified helmets can prevent death and reduce the severity of head injuries sustained while riding, possibly by 70 to 80%.” The United States Equestrian Association and the USA Equestrian also require it. The United States Pony Clubs' Safety Committee recommends that helmets be worn whenever working around horses, as well as when riding or driving a horse; grooming, leading, longeing, bandaging, loading, etc.

Keep in mind, any helmet, which has been in a hard fall, should be returned to the manufacturer or be destroyed and replaced. There may be cracks to the shell or other unseen damage that would make the helmet unsafe for further wear.

Certified helmets are available in many different styles. It is important to buy a new helmet, never take chances with protection for your head. Visit a full service tack shop, which stocks more than one manufacturer's products. Have the store personnel help you choose and fit a helmet properly. When a helmet fits correctly, it sits about an inch above the eyebrows, level on the head. The harness must fasten securely and have contact with the jaw or chin and should be snug and comfortable. To check actual fit, place one hand on top of the helmet and rock it backward and forward, and side to side. The scalp should move with the helmet.

To wear your helmet correctly, do not just slap it on your head and go. Take the time to put your hunt cap on properly. Pull your hair back and pin it up so it all fits under your helmet, the hair on either side of your face should come to about middle ear, also a hair net is used to keep stray hairs from escaping. If you are unsure how this will look, ask the tack shop personnel to show you. Nothing looks worse than a rider does with untamed hair shooting out in all directions from under her hunt cap. Your goal is to look neat and professional.


Riding breeches are a matter of personal preference. Depending on the season, purchase lightweight tropical or fleece lined breeches. Riding jeans are also and option, personally I don’t care for them. The few pairs I have owned look and feel nice enough, it just seems they are always too long, so if you are not tall you will have to roll them under or hem them. Plus size breeches can be found in catalogs and online, your tack shop can help you with this as well. Some online catalogs might give you a better selection of breeches than are available at the tack shops, which are usually inadequate in their range of sizes and styles because of limited space. Personally, the two catalogs I find useful are www.doversaddlery.com and www.statelinetack.com .

The recent trend lately has been in low rise or hip-hugger type breeches. I do not know about you but the last time I wore hip-huggers was in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s. My personal rule of thumb: if you wore it in your teens, you most likely should not wear it now. The same goes for the short midriff baring tops worn with these breeches. This look is less than professional.

Many European countries still require their instructors to wear, boots, breeches and helmets to give a lesson. This instills a degree of class and professionalism to the riding facility and sets the tone for instructors as role models for their students. Therefore, even though this is not the norm in America, trainers should also take note on the example they set for their students.


Tall riding boots are not necessary at this stage of the game, unless you absolutely must have them. If money is not an issue get custom boots from Dehner or Vogel made for you. Some uncomfortable times to break them in will be in your future.

The boot I would recommend for beginners is a paddock boot. These come in so many styles you would have to decide what you like best for looks and comfort. I prefer the www.Blundstone.com paddock boots; they feel great and look great during and after riding. The other boot company I like is www.ariat.com, they are also comfortable and come with a matching half-chap system, and so worn together the look is similar to a tall boot. Check out these sites or find them in the catalogs.

If you decide to go with paddock boots, you will need half chaps sometimes called gaiters to go along with them. Styles and types include; leather and suede, back or side zippers, elastic gussets etc., once you decide which is best for you, there should be no problem finding them. I’ve found the Ariat half chaps are one of the few made in a larger calf size.

Of course, you could go with full chaps; they always look nice if they are custom made. Off the rack chaps clearly do not fit as well as the custom ones, although you may want to look into this option and have them altered to fit.

One last word on boots, I do not recommend purchasing the rubber boots. They are uncomfortable to say the least, when you sink into your heels; they seem to cut a painful crease right across your ankle. In addition, they appear to conduct the cold. Rubber boots are the least expensive, however avoid this type of boot if possible.


You should not need a show jacket yet. When you do, the color, style, fit, the season and the comfort will be your choice to make. For your lessons depending on the time of year, you can wear any shirt that is not too big or too long. A billowy pirate type sleeve and down to the knees length is absolutely out of the question. Your clothing should not be too big or too small. A polo shirt always looks neat, a turtleneck and sweater or sweatshirt, etc. A winter riding jacket or coat can be purchased from any of the catalogs. In the winter months, I prefer to wear a turtleneck with a warm sweater, and a vest. This gives me freedom of movement of my arms. Always dress in layers, start out with what you need to keep warm, and as your lesson progresses if you get too warm you can start de-layering.


Gloves are a necessity. You will eventually own show gloves, for right now, they are not important. Depending on the season and the style of glove you prefer, there are many styles to choose from, they need not be expensive just serviceable and comfortable. Keep in mind you will eventually have many unmatched pairs; they just seem to disappear, like the socks in your dryer, so get the inexpensive ones to start. Use them all the time to protect your hands when grooming, lungeing, and riding. Again, personal preference is the key to selecting your riding gloves.


Okay this is for the ladies only. Purchase a good supportive bra. A sports bra is one option; these can be found in the above catalogs. I have never liked the sport bra; I find them uncomfortable, and just do not like the flattened pancake look. The reason we all need good support should be apparent. Nothing looks as dreadful as a Bouncing Betty doing a sitting trot on an energetic horse. In addition, it could be quite dangerous at this stage of the game; given the right circumstances, you could literally put an eye out.

As for your underwear, well I do like to be helpful when I can, but you are on your own with this. I am not getting involved with your under wear. Sorry.

Until next time.

Quote for Today

"A pair of boots and chaps do not make you a rider"


No comments:

Post a Comment

It's so nice of you to take the time to visit. I appreciate your stopping by and commenting on what I've written. Even though I sometimes don't have the time to reply to each comment, I do enjoy reading them.