Equestrian Riding Clothing - How to Choose Boots, Pants and Helmets

When I first started riding alongside my four-year-old daughter, I purchased only the bare minimum in equestrian riding clothing for myself, while my daughter was fully outfitted from head to toe in the best riding gear I could find. Over time she has outgrown these expensive riding clothes, and I have gained a clear perspective of what is necessary or what is not, particularly for a beginning rider. I have also discovered (the hard way) that there are a few things I should have bought for myself long ago to avoid the bruises!

Beginning equestrians are often confused about what equipment and apparel is necessary and which is optional. The basics in equestrian riding clothing can be purchased online or at your local tack shop. Here is an overview of the different items you may come across along with a description of their uses.

If you are a beginner, consider what type of riding you will be doing. Do you simply want to feel comfortable trail riding? Do you hope to jump someday? Would you like to enter the show ring? Your goals may affect what type of equestrian riding clothing and safety gear you need to purchase.

Comfortable riding clothes enhance your riding experience.
Comfortable riding clothes enhance your riding experience.
Safety gear for equestrians.
Safety gear for equestrians.

Essentials in Equestrian Riding Clothing

Riding Helmet or Hat: Investing in a quality riding helmet is a priority for riders of all ages. There is always an element of risk when you are riding and every rider should have a professionally fitted helmet. If your helmet ever suffers an impact of any kind, it is necessary to purchase a new one. There is a tremendous variety of riding helmets to choose from. Ventilated helmets are great for kids. The traditional velvet riding helmets are needed for showing. If you are considering trail riding, there are sturdy leather helmet that will last longer and not get scratched or torn.

Paddock Boots: Paddock Boots are specially designed to prevent your foot from getting caught in the stirrup should you get thrown from your horse. Their shape allows your foot to slide easily from the stirrup. Proper paddock boots are as much a safety necessity as a riding comfort. They will also give your ankles adequate support during training. The classic high leather riding boots can really be reserved for showing.

Protective Riding Vests: Riding vests are designed to protect your vital organs if you fall. They have become mandatory for children at some equestrian centers. Talk with your trainer to determine you or your child needs a protective riding vest.

Riding Breeches: Riding pants, jodhpurs or breeches are not essential for beginning riding, but they will probably make your experience more comfortable. There is a huge variety available online ranging from thin, lightly padded riding tights, to full seat riding breeches. If you bruise easily or feel you need extra padding all around, full seat riding breeches may work well for you. They are also designed to help you "stick" to your horse with ease. You will surely hear the phrase "the riders leg is from the knee down." Riding breeches are designed to protect your lower leg from irritation or bruising due to rubbing against the stirrup straps.

Enjoy The Ride

If you find yourself daydreaming about horses, imagining yourself cantering through a field while you are sitting in a meeting at work, know that you are not alone! That simply means you have caught the "bug" and you will soon be completely horse crazy.

As you spend more and more time in the saddle, you will begin to get a better idea of what you need and want regarding equestrian riding clothing. Equestrian apparel can be stylish and beautiful, but its real job is to keep the rider safe and comfortable, so she can enjoy the ride!

Equestrian Clothing for Winter Riding

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Comments 32 comments

In The Doghouse profile image

In The Doghouse 8 years ago from California

Amy,

When my daughter was young I sent her to horse camp during the summer thinking she would enjoy the experience. It turned out to be just the opposite, she came home with a fear of horses. Perhaps if she was properly dressed, helmet and all, she would have felt saver. Great article on equestrian clothing and the importance of each piece.


jmmoore321 profile image

jmmoore321 8 years ago from Utah

I used to go riding in the mountains with my friend. We wore nothing but a tank top, jeans, and running shoes. Hehe. I'm sure we could have been much better equipped, but we still had a lot fun.


amy jane profile image

amy jane 8 years ago from Connecticut Author

Hi Doghouse! I'm so sorry to hear that your daughter hated it. Fear is a big issue for a lot of people, even experienced riders. They say you have to get used to falling so you can get over your fears and get back in the saddle. They are powerful animals and can certainly be intimidating. I hope someday she'll try again!


amy jane profile image

amy jane 8 years ago from Connecticut Author

Wow Jmmoore! That sounds like so much fun. I know western riders don't usually wear helmets. I love riding in jeans too except that my lower legs get badly bruised. Not even riding boots, huh? Maybe it's just my english training, but I think I would feel too bulky with sneakers!

Time with a horse is always fun, regardless of what you are wearing!


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 8 years ago from The Ozarks

Amy Jane, very informative hub! My daughter began her riding lessons this summer, and is still continuing on the weekends, even though school has started. They let her use their helmet, but we have yet to find the right kind of boots.

Can you recommend a source of paddock boots that can be ordered online? We live way out in the country, and I can rarely get away to the city for any shopping. (We make it to the mall once a year at best. This year, we had to skip even that one time.)


amy jane profile image

amy jane 8 years ago from Connecticut Author

Hi Aya, so glad to hear your daughter is enjoying riding and wants to continue! I have bought from a few different online equestrian clothing stores. I like State Line Tack(.com) because they are known for having a wide range of products at various price levels. You could also check Amazon, but I think their selection is slightly limited. For a young rider, you definitely don't need to get the most expensive paddock boot produced! She will outgrow them quickly. Best of luck and let me know if you find a great deal on riding boots! :)


christinekv profile image

christinekv 8 years ago from Washington

Hi Amy Jane! Nice hub you've put together here. I don't wear all the things I should like a helmet....guess I don't feel as free with it on although I do have one for when I show. I certainly would not discourage anyone from using one but for me, the most important item of riding apparel is paddock boots. I always wear boots and usually jeans since I also save my breeches for showing. What I'd love to have that I don't yet (getting a little personal here) is a great bra designed for equestrians!


BeatsMe profile image

BeatsMe 8 years ago

Hmmm. Reminds me of superman. Although his sport isn't really equestrian. He did fall from a horse.

Ooops. Didn't mean to scare you. Have fun riding horses. :)


christinekv profile image

christinekv 8 years ago from Washington

If I was into the eventing/hunter jumping discipline, I most definitely would wear a helmet!


amy jane profile image

amy jane 8 years ago from Connecticut Author

Hi Christine! I think I am so paranoid about falling - or one of my kids falling that I always insist on helmets! I'm sure it is not always necessary. :) I bet there is a perfectly designed equestrian bra out there - maybe I will take a look around and see what I can find....

Hi Beats Me, yes, Christopher Reeve's accident was a fall from a horse at an extremely high jump - far higher than the average or even many advanced riders ever attempt. Still there is always a risk when riding such a powerful animal, which is why saftey gear is important! Thanks for reading.


christinekv profile image

christinekv 8 years ago from Washington

Hi AmyJane!

Yeah, one of the ways in which I am a hypocrit is when kids get on my gelding, I insist THEY wear a helmet! I know there is always a risk with horses, just like anything else in life (example, walking down the sidewalk and having a driver run you down because they are drunk or not paying attention!). I guess what it comes down to is growing up with horses and having experience for the better part of 34 years, and not having the discipline of implementing helmet use as part of a routine from childhood, (makes it a little more challenging to take it up). Plus, not that I feel invincible, just I am confident in and comfortable with the horses I have. I'm not like I used to be, thinking I could ride anything and everything...when I was a teen and in my early twenties,nothing was too great of a challenge. That's the reason I fractured my L4 vertebrae when I was 21 years old.


amy jane profile image

amy jane 8 years ago from Connecticut Author

Hi Christine - I think that's the difference in "lifetime" riders - they know what to expect from their horses! I only started riding 5 years ago and I haven't even fallen yet. :) My trainers are always quick to jump on a misbehaving horse without a helmet and get them under control...I wonder if I'll ever have that kind of confidence! I'm enjoying the ride anyway. Maybe my daughters will have that kind of expertise and comfort level with horses. I hope so!


christinekv profile image

christinekv 8 years ago from Washington

HI Amy Jane -

Glad you haven't fallen yet (Praise The Lord!). When (if) you do however (and I hope at best, it won't be more than a bruise!) you'll rejoice, knowing you are a complete horsewoman - LOL!

For me when it comes to riding a horse that is not my own, it's a matter of discerning whether or not the horse can be trusted, or do I have to take more time in forming a connection to reassure the horse. This was my mistake when I broke my lower back. I'd only had that mare 3 weeks, she'd never been ridden and I hadn't gained her trust. She didn't even buck me off...I bailed. I ended up behind the saddle, sitting on her rump and she was at a dead run. Some say I'm a walking miracle although I do need a chiropractic adjustment from time to time.

There is kind of an art to falling, as ridiculous as that sounds. It's about balance and if you know your off and not going to regain, might as well let gravity have the victory, keeping in mind "roll away from the horse,"...usually results in me landing on my side anyway.


amy jane profile image

amy jane 7 years ago from Connecticut Author

Hi Christine, It sure sounds like you are lucky to be walking after a fall like that! I still get really nervous riding a horse that I don't know and trust. I've already watched my daughter fall - and get back on without a bruise - I know my time will come! I think I'm pretty lucky to have a trainer who talks me through things well when the horses get a little frisky. :) I'm going to remember...roll away from the horse!


christinekv profile image

christinekv 7 years ago from Washington

Hi AmyJane -

That story is the same one I referenced earlier (the L4 fracture). I was young and felt invincible.

It does indeed sound like you have a good trainer... I know you know horses sense when we get nervous and they feed off of that. The more steady we are, the more they will be too. My trainer friend calls it, "getting their brain back." Remind me again, what type of horses are you and your daughter riding? I'm glad to know she "bounces back" into the saddle :)


amy jane profile image

amy jane 7 years ago from Connecticut Author

Hi Christine,

I never feel invincible on a horse! I wish I did, even for a few minutes! I feel like I am so lucky to have found the trainer I'm working with now! I've had quite a few over the past 5 years. I'm riding a thoroughbred who was rescued, I'm not sure what the situation was for him. He is just a little jittery sometimes, but really wonderful. He loves speed and it has taken me a long time to get in sync with him. My daughter is riding a former race horse (another rescue) and he is as close to perfect as I have come across! He's very gentle and trustworthy. We have had some bad experiences with school horses...as I'm sure every rider does when they start out.


christinekv profile image

christinekv 7 years ago from Washington

HI AmyJane -

I've only had experience with one ex TB race horse and he was a sweet, gentle guy which for being as young as he was, a little surprising.  He sure was tall - about 17H if I remember correctly!  A horse I could have benefited from having a mounting block for sure! I know not all TB's get super tall but the majority of them are up there!  I like my smaller, closer to the ground, easy keepin (require less feed =  less $!) Arabians (they are 15H) but I'm certainly not an Arab snob and love them ALL, heart/attitude, manners, disposition, brain and personality determining how much I endear them! My baby is 3 1/2 today and he's only 14 hands...1/2 POA and I suspect the other half is Morgan. He still has a little time to grow but don't expect he'll get much taller, maybe a couple inches at the most but time will tell! 

That's really cool you guys are involved with people who do rescues...I think a lot of TB's in the racing world end up being put down and not appreciated for anything more than their ability to run fast with hopes of winning races and making $ for their owners.  They start them so young, they are prone to injury which depending on the nature, doesn't always render them un-rideable but usually ends up in them being regarded as worthless.  

There are a couple women here who are doing rescues of Premarin babies from the east coast...may be Eastern Canada.  They are beautiful and are a mix of Nokota (a breed I was unfamiliar with - guess they were the horse of some Native American Indian tribe) Belgian, QH crosses.  They attempt to get them adopted out. I haven't had any communication with them for a few months...wonder how they are doing as feed prices have gone up 30% in the last year, mostly as a result of fuel/energy prices having gone up.  Many are attempting to place horses for free or let them go really cheap compared to a couple years ago. 

 


amy jane profile image

amy jane 7 years ago from Connecticut Author

Hi Chrisitne! I love Arabians! There is an Arabian Farm about five miles from me that does an open house every year. We always go to admire their beautiful horses. :) The price tags are another story! Someday...someday. In the north east it is very expensive to stable a horse and Arabians (so they tell me) need the best in accomodations through the cold winters. "Skippy" the TB I ride is 17 hands and perfect for me because I'm tall. I've ridden only one arabian and she was delightful, but I did look a little silly! I've heard woderful things about Morgans...you do kow how blessed you are, right?

We also visit a rescue farm that has several premarin mares that they are working with and hoping to be able to adopt out in the future. That is such a sad situation. The mares are discarded after giving birth because their urine is no longer useful. Colts are not needed either...unfortunately there aren't enough rescue agencies to handle them all.

I thought you might be interested in a post I wrote about the treatment of the American mustang at: http://www.peachygreen.com/wildlife/wild-horses


christinekv profile image

christinekv 7 years ago from Washington

HI Amy - How tall are you?  I'm almost 5'7 (w/long legs) and I'm sure some think I'd be better suited on a taller horse. My Arabs are 15H and my gelding is on the smaller side (he has a real high wither - if not for that, he'd probably be 14.2!). AT times I refer to him as my "dressage pony."  I guess I'm not at all self conscious about proportions (although I'd never allow anyone over 250lbs to get on them!).

Yes we are indeed blessed although we make some significant sacrafices. My husband has a steady income which I'm thankful for and you know I'm in RE and it's not been a great year for that...we have a beautiful piece of property but by no means is our fencing, barn etc "state of the art" more funcitonal than anything and we do live in a smaller, older, in need of some serious updating - rambler.  These days with so much uncertainty, I'm just thankful we have a roof over our heads!

You read my hub on premarin right?  I'll have to go back and check but I seem to recall your having left me a comment.

Nice piece on the mustangs...there are lots of feral horses in Australia too from what I understand which are slaughtered and sold for meat to Japan and Europe.  As sad as I think it is, if people are unable, or even those who are willing yet don't learn how to care for horses in need, what is the solution?  Regarding your piece, I think we should continue to make land available to horses so they can remain wild and free (not only do I see them as symbolic of our national heritage where freedom is concerned, but also they represent what it is to be a spirited creature).  The cattle ranchers can share.  I'm not sure it's fair to indicate Bush is to blame for this though as it seems like it tries to trickle that direction.  I'd think he having a Texas ranch and being a horse owner himself would have an appreciation for the wild horse as well.    


amy jane profile image

amy jane 7 years ago from Connecticut Author

Hi Christine,

I'm around 5'9...I actually don't mind a smaller horse, but I think that I look a little silly. :) It seems like most horse owners I know make a great deal of sacrifices for their horses. I can understand why - there are so many possible expenses.

Thanks for reading mypost about the mustangs. I personally don't think that Bush is responsible for the situation. I can't really imagine that he would approve of the way it is being handled. He certainly has more pressing issues to deal with. I think that the BLM has serious problems with corruption. I hope that the wild horses will just be treated fairly and humanely.


elitesystem profile image

elitesystem 7 years ago from VA, USA

wo ! you are certainly tall :) ! i really miss horse riding! i still remember the last time i was in the farm!


amy jane profile image

amy jane 7 years ago from Connecticut Author

Hi Elitesystem! I miss riding too right now - I can't stand riding in the cold of winter. It will be time for me to get back to it soon. You should get back to riding yourself!


vertical jump training 7 years ago

Hi, very nice i have learned many tips from this page grea nice job.That is a fabulous idea.fantastic hub full of information, well done!


ridemyhorse profile image

ridemyhorse 7 years ago from Newcastle

Hey Amy; Great hub. I think getting the right riding clothing is vital and this article is a great guide to it :-)


amy jane profile image

amy jane 7 years ago from Connecticut Author

Thank you both - I agree that the right equestrian clothing is important to your comfort and performance when riding. I've learned that the hard way by not having the right clothes when starting out. Now I know better! :)


Anne Coyle profile image

Anne Coyle 7 years ago from Bronxville, NY

What a great representation of the "essentials" in equestrian riding apparel! It is important for a rider to feel comfortable in the ring, and well-fitting equestrian clothes can really make all the difference. Additionally, I think it is important to purchase reputable brands such as Tuffrider and Equine Couture to ensure the best fit.


amy jane profile image

amy jane 7 years ago from Connecticut Author

Thanks Anne! I agree that purchasing reputable brands is this best way to go. Equestrian clothing can take a beating and the better the quality, the longer it will last.


VJC 6 years ago

This is very interesting and informative hub. Necessary for starters! Nice job.


horse riding clothing 6 years ago

hi.

this is a truly helpful guide. i'm a beginner and knowing all of these information would make me more confident for my next ride. Cheers!


Jump Manual 5 years ago

I am newbie and this blog really help me . I got many tips of riding from here.

Thanks buddy ...


jump program 5 years ago

Nice clothing. I wish I can wear that also. Makes me feel like cool.


jakefranco profile image

jakefranco 4 years ago

do you know any reputable sites that ship internationally?

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