Did you know that some of the biggest equestrian events in the world are held right here in the United States?
Once a major form of transportation, horseback riding is now used exclusively for leisure and athletic competitions in many parts of the world. It’s a great way to learn a new skill, make new friends, and build exercise into your daily routine.
If you’re a beginner, you may be thinking, “I don’t know what to wear for horseback riding!” and you’ve never been taught about riding, it can be intimidating to figure out what horseback riding gear you need for comfort and safety.
This sounds like you, don’t worry. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about finding the proper horseback riding gear and equestrian clothing for your next ride.
While you may think that sneakers or tennis shoes would be the obvious choice for this kind of physical activity, think again. When your feet are in the stirrups, shoes without heels allow your foot to slide around in the stirrup. Your feet could even get caught in the stirrups if you’re not careful!
No matter what kind of riding you’re doing, heeled boots are a must. Look for a tall boot with a half-inch to one-inch heel. This height of heel is still practical for walking on the grass and on uneven ground. It’s also just enough height to keep your feet from sliding through the front of your stirrups and getting caught.
The style of boot you choose will depend on the kind of riding you’re doing. For casual riding, any kind of heeled boot is fine. The standard for English riding is a Chelsea boot or riding boot. The standard for Western riding is Western or cowboy boots.
No matter what you do, never wear open-toed shoes while riding.
The pants you choose will also depend on the kind of riding you’re doing. The horseback riding fashion requirements for a casual ride with friends are very different than those for formal shows and competitions. However, there are a few common elements to keep in mind.
Pretty much any kind of long pants can be worn for casual riding. Leggings, jeans, and slacks can all be great options for a short backyard ride with friends. As long as you’re comfortable, any kind of pants will do!
While you can wear shorts if you want, it’s not recommended. Shorts run the risk of chafing your skin at the bottom edge of the shorts or pulling uncomfortably. Not to mention, the leather of the saddle will get warm in the sun and may cause additional discomfort during your ride.
If you’ll be riding frequently, consider investing in riding pants, riding breeches, or riding tights. These garments are sewn specifically for horseback riding and have fewer seams than regular pants at the points in the leg where chafing and saddle sores are most likely to occur.
The biggest risk for chafing occurs in areas where clothing rubs against your skin, so your choice of undergarments can really make or break your riding experience.
Moisture-wicking socks will keep your feet from getting sweaty and your heels from chafing inside your boots. Wear underwear that is comfortable and, if possible, doesn’t have any seams.
If you’re planning on any fast riding, a supportive bra is a must. Your back will thank you later!
Just like with pants, the standard protocol for the kind of shirt to wear depends on the kind of riding you’re doing. For casual riding, a shirt and sweatshirt or jacket should be just fine. Competitive riding will likely have specific instructions for you on what kind of shirt to wear.
In either case, avoid loose shirts and opt for clothing that is fitted to your body. It doesn’t have to be tight, but you don’t want loose clothing, strings, bows, or tassels to get tangled in the reins, saddle, or anything else.
If you’ll be riding in the sun for extended periods of time, take sun protection into account when planning your wardrobe. A lightweight shirt with long sleeves will keep you from getting burned without having to roast alive while riding.
For winter rides, wear a vest or a jacket over a long-sleeve shirt to keep your torso warm and protected from the weather. Consider wearing layers so that you can take some of the layers off if your body gets too warm partway through the ride.
In addition to your clothes, invest in the proper protective equipment for safe riding.
If you remember nothing else from this section, always remember to wear a helmet when riding. If you’re riding without a helmet and you fall or get thrown from the horse, a head injury can cause trauma, paralysis, or even death.
When riding at a ranch or taking lessons, they should have helmets available for you to use. If not, you can also find inexpensive riding helmets online. Feel free to wear a hat under your helmet in the winter months.
Additionally, wear gloves whenever you can. They’ll keep you from developing blisters from holding the reins, and they’ll also keep your hands from getting cuts and scrapes when you’re trail riding.
Speaking of trail riding, bring bug spray, sunscreen, and a first aid kit with you for any horseback riding on wooded, secluded, or uneven trails.
Use These Tips to Decide What to Wear for Horseback Riding
Now you know everything you need to choose the proper horseback riding clothes and horseback riding shoes. Follow the tips listed above, and you’ll never have to wonder what to wear for horseback riding ever again!
Looking for more ways to get satisfy your adventure itch in the coming months? Check out the articles in the Travel section of our site to choose your next vacation destination!