Breeches and Jodphurs Buyer's Guide

The Ultimate Guide to Breeches and Jodphurs

By Anne Gage of Confident Horsemanship

Wearing the right horse riding clothing keeps you safe and helps you feel comfortable while performing at your best. Riding breeches, jodhpurs or riding tights are an essential part of equestrian clothing.

Whether you are just learning to ride, participating in pony club events or will be competing at horse shows, the wide variety of styles, brands and price points available in riding breeches, jodhpurs and riding tights means there is something for everyone and every budget. But, having all that variety can also be confusing when you are new to horse riding.

Do You Need Riding Breeches, Jodhpurs or Riding Tights?

What equestrian attire do you need when you are just beginning riding lessons or going to your first horse show?

Whether you are riding for pleasure or competition, good quality, well fitting riding breeches, jodhpurs or riding tights are essential for your safety and comfort. Their body hugging design, gusseted crotch and lack of bulky inside leg seams all prevent distracting and uncomfortable rubs and chafing. Special features like knee patches help prevent chaffing and preserve the lifetime of the product. They are designed to fit correctly with either short or tall riding boots and different materials will help minimise movement in the saddle.

The fabrics used in riding breeches, jodhpurs and riding tights are most often mixed with stretchy materials such as lycra or spandex giving you plenty of freedom of movement. So, you can ride comfortably without being distracted or irritated by pinching, chafing and sliding in the saddle.

Jodhpurs

Jodhpurs are designed for younger children as well as the adult casual rider. The legs go to the ankle, ending in a small cuff that fits over the top of a short riding boot. An elastic strap Jodhpur clips that goes under the boot prevents them from riding up.

For children, jodphur clips add the finishing touch to their riding attire.

For adults, wearing half chaps or gaiters protect your leg from pinching from the stirrup leather and also adds polish to your appearance. Gaiters can also be an excellent solution for those struggling to find off the peg tall boots wanting to achieve the tall boot look in the rings. 

Jodhpurs are available in low-rise, regular waist, pull-on, or zip front styles. Pull-on jodhpurs have an elastic waistband without belt loops. This style is an economical option for the casual or beginner rider.

Front zip jodhpurs give a more classic look, and are recommended for the child who will be competing in horse shows. As this style comes with belt loops, wearing a simple black or brown belt gives you a more elegantly tailored look.

Breeches

Riding breeches are worn by older children and adults. The leg ends at the bottom of the calf with either close contact stretch cuffs meaning they fit all shaped calfs. They are designed to be worn comfortably with tall riding boots. 

There are many different colours to choose from, giving you choice to style your outfit...Darker colours are more forgiving around the yard etc...White off white and beige are used for competing.

Full seat breeches are favoured by dressage riders as well as eventers. As the name implies, the seat on these breeches is covered with leather or silicone which continues down the inner thigh and ends below the knee. This full seat creates friction against the saddle. So, full seat breeches are ideal for riders who want to ensure they “stick” to their saddle and have a more secure seat. Full seat breeches give you a professional and stylish look. They can be worn for everyday schooling and up to the highest levels of competition.

Knee patch breeches are the traditional and all purpose style of equestrian clothing. Unlike full seat breeches, the seat of these breeches is plain fabric. They have a suede look or fabric patch extending just above and below the knee. The extra grip from the knee patch gives a more secure position and prevents holes from being worn through the breeches at the knees.

Riding Tights

Riding Tights are becoming an increasingly popular for every day riding. They are an alternative to traditional riding jodhpurs. Their assortment of fun colours and patterns let you show your personality and stand out from the crowd. With the same snug fit as riding breeches, they also fit comfortably into tall riding boots. But, because they have rubber or silicone on the seat and down the inner legs that provide grip on the saddle, they can also be worn with short boots with or without half chaps or gaiters. Because riding tights have a similar look and fit to your favourite pair of leggings, they bridge the gap between equestrian wear and casual wear. You can go straight from the stables to the shops.

Which Riding Breeches, Jodhpurs Or Riding Tights Are Best For You?

How often will you be riding? The wear and tear on breeches or jodhpurs for someone who rides several times a week is much greater than for someone who takes a lesson once a week. The more often you ride, the better quality and more durable your breeches need to be. Buying the best quality you can afford is more cost effective in the long run because your breeches will look better and last longer.

If you are riding in a once a week lesson, consider buying economy range riding tights, jodhpurs or pull on breeches with fabric, silicone or faux leather features. You can choose from a wide array of colours. Many riders like to coordinate their riding attire with their horse’s saddle pads (matchy matchy).

If you will be spending several hours a week in the saddle, look for a mid-range or premium style. They are more durable and hold their shape better than less expensive choices.

What type of riding will you be doing? For casual and everyday riding such as lessons, schooling, and hacking, any type of riding attire is acceptable as long as it fits correctly. Choose the fit, style and features that make you feel the most comfortable. Whether your style is elegant, casual or rugged, you have lots of choices in colours, fabrics and features. Whether you prefer plain, traditional, modern, even some bling, you can find breeches, jodhpurs or riding tights that suit your style perfectly.

Pony clubs, horse shows and some riding schools will have rules for riding attire. So be sure to check with the organization before purchasing your riding clothing.

Specific disciplines (e.g. dressage, eventing, hunting, or jumping), have a preferred style of riding attire. At the beginner level in any discipline, knee patch breeches are acceptable. As you achieve higher levels or become a competitive rider, the type, style and colour of riding attire becomes more specialized. Check with your riding instructor, the British Horse Society or your riding club for their rules regarding acceptable riding attire.

What is your body shape? No matter what your size or body shape, there are riding breeches, jodhpurs and riding tights that will give you a flattering fit.

One consideration is which ‘rise’ suits you best.  is determined by the length of your torso. The rise is the length between the waist band and the middle of the crotch. Breeches and jodhpurs come in low, traditional and high rise styles. Getting the right rise for you is important because it affects the look, fit and comfort.

Low-rise breeches work best for riders who are small or have a short rise. You may like wearing your low rise jeans when you are out in town. But, remember that when riding, you want breeches to stay put (and keep your back side covered), whether you’re schooling, hacking or competing.

Traditional waist breeches are the classic look. The waist band sits right in the middle of your torso. So, this style works well if you are evenly proportioned.

If you have short legs and a longer torso, then high rise breeches will give you the appearance of having longer legs.

What is your budget? With a wide range of styles, makes and prices, there are breeches, jodhpurs and riding tights to fit every budget.

If you or your child are just starting into riding then pull on jodhpurs or riding tights are a good option. (e.g. Caldene SS18 TEX Leisure Riding Tights Veleso)

How To Correctly Measure Yourself For Riding Breeches, Jodhpurs or Riding Tights

You will look and ride better if you are wearing correctly sized riding breeches, jodhpurs or riding tights. Whilst they should hug your body, a fit that is too snug will prevent you from moving comfortably. You need a streamlined, active fit that is both flattering and super comfortable. If you take part in horse shows, your riding clothing needs to fit perfectly so it is not distracting for the judges.

Follow these steps to find the correct size for you:

  1. Decide which style of breeches, jodhpurs or riding tights you want e.g. low-rise, traditional or high-rise.
  2. Measure the narrowest point of your waist for traditional or high rise styles or around your hips for low-rise.
  3. Measure your inside leg from top to bottom of ankle. Riding breeches, jodhpurs and riding tights are available in short, regular and long leg lengths. Breeches should end just below your calf. Jodhpurs and riding tights end at the ankle.

Use the tables below as a sizing guide:

Women's Sizes

UK Dress Sizes Waist UK (inch) Waist Metric (cm)
6 24 61
8 26 66
10 28 71
12 30 76
14 32 81
16 34 85
Inside Leg UK (inch) EU (cm)
Short 27.5 69
Regular 28 71
Long 30 76
Extra Long 33 84

How To Care For Your Riding Breeches, Jodhpurs and Riding Tights

You have made the investment into a good pair of riding breeches, jodhpurs or riding tights. To make them last as long as possible, you want to take good care of them. For specific information, follow the manufacturers recommendations on the label inside your riding clothes.

  • To prevent colours from fading, turn your clothing inside out before washing.
  • Machine or hand wash in cold water with a mild washing detergent.
  • To protect leather features (e.g. knee patches or full seats), use a detergent specifically designed for the care of soft leather (e.g. Leather Therapy).
  • Leather should not be dry cleaned.
  • To prevent the dye in leather from running (and colouring fabric), add 1 teaspoon of white vinegar to the wash cycle the first time you wash them. This step helps to set the dye in the leather.
  • Hang your clothing to air dry, but do not expose them to full sunlight or direct heat.
  • Do not tumble dry or iron.
  • If leather hardens, use a leather conditioner designed for washable leather to soften it.

Still Not Sure? Just Ask – We’re Here To Help 

If you require any more help on choosing the right equestrian attire for your needs, one of our expertly trained members of staff will be more than happy to assist. For online enquiries, please contact our customer service team on 01702 597833

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