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Horse Riding Clothes

Updated on August 28, 2009

Western Tack

The outfit of a working cowboy usually consists of a broad-brimmed hat to protect him from the sun, a neckerchief that can be pulled up over his nose to keep out the dust, a comfortable, loose-fitting shirt, close-fitting cotton pants of denim or khaki, and high-heeled, soft leather boots that come up to about the middle of the calf. He may also wear open-seated leather trousers, called chaps, over his Levi's, and in cold weather he may wear a mackinaw or leather jacket. The cowboy digs the high heels of his boots into the earth when roping a steer from the ground.

Photo by Annelou van Griensven
Photo by Annelou van Griensven

English Tack

Basically, an outfit consists of breeches or jodhpurs, a jacket, footwear, and a hat that may protect the rider in case of accident. The exact color, cut, and material of these clothes depends on the type of riding. For hunting and showing in hunter classes the attire is formal and traditional. For less formal riding the coat may be of tweed (in which case it is called a hacking jacket) or of a light, summer-weight material. With this the rider may wear jodhpurs with ankle-height jodhpur boots. For informal trail riding, riders wear either breeches and high boots that come to just below the knee or jodhpurs with low boots or oxfords. A man's shirt and tie or an open-neck sport shirt, any type of loose-fitting jacket, and some sort of hat that will not blow off complete the costume. Even a soft felt hat gives some protection should there be an accident, but a hard hat with a reinforced crown is better.

Riding coats are specially cut. They have long skirts lined at the back with rubber and either a center vent at the back or two vents. This allows the skirts to lie forward over the rider's thighs and keep him warm. The coat is nipped in at the waist and cut low enough in front so that the edge of the flannel vest may be seen.

Riding breeches are fastened below the knee and do not extend the full length of the calf. Jodhpurs extend down the leg and are held in place by an elastic strap that goes under the instep. Both jodhpurs and breeches fit snugly at the knee to prevent them from rubbing against the skin when the rider posts. Above the knee, both flare out to give freedom of action in mounting. Both are also heavily reinforced with leather or self material on the insides of the knees and thighs. If Levi's, jeans, or slacks are worn, the rider should wear heavy long underwear to keep his knees and calves from being rubbed raw.

Gloves should be worn in cold weather. Most riders prefer unlined doeskin or cowhide. Lined gloves are too bulky. String gloves for wet weather are essential.

Sturdy oxfords with low heels may be worn with jodhpurs. Under no circumstances should the rider wear sneakers, loafers, or other loose-fitting, flexible, or heelless footgear. With shoes of this type the rider's foot may by mistake slide so far forward through the stirrups that the tread is under his instep. If he is thrown at this time, he runs the risk of catching a toe in the upper part of the stirrup iron. If the horse bolts or kicks, the rider may be very seriously injured.

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    • Michael Shane profile image

      Michael Shane 7 years ago from Gadsden, Alabama

      Great hub!

    • Anne Coyle profile image

      Anne Coyle 8 years ago from Bronxville, NY

      Great info - thanks! For English riding, I have found it is also important to stick to well-known equestrian apparel brands like The Tailored Sportsman and Equine Couture to guarantee the best quality and fit.

    • thelesleyshow profile image

      TheLesleyShow 8 years ago from US

      I never realized there was a difference in the styles of clothing worn? Very interesting. Thanks for sharing.