by Olivia Kile August 26, 2019 4 min read
The Who, What, “Wear” and When of the Most Popular Riding Pants
Jodhpurs and Breeches
The equestrian community is close-knit but also very divided between disciplines. The different disciplines have separate goals and ideals, each requiring specialized equipment, including apparel. The equestrian wardrobe acts as a set of tools, not just for fashion and showing off. These differences go deeper than just English and western. Breeches and Jodhpurs are the most popular riding pants in the English world, followed closely by riding tights.
Why can’t English riders just wear jeans with long chaps like the western riders? Well, it all reflects back to tradition and the nature of English riding. Riders of English disciplines such as the hunters, jumpers, fox hunters, dressage and especially equitation, must be able to showcase their position in the saddle.
Compact outfits that fit close to the body are ideal for showing a clean and tidy appearance. Baggy pants and shirts can easily conceal the low profile English saddle or get caught on tree branches for fox hunting or other obstacles such as in the jumper, hunter or equitation ring.
Breeches and Jodhpurs feature a grippy knee patch or full seat pattern for the rider to have more grip on the saddle. The grip material must create enough friction on soft saddle leather for the rider to enhance correct contact and seat position in the saddle.
The original design of Jodhpurs was developed in India for polo players and eventually spread to the western world. They permeated into the everyday fashion world in the early 20th century and now will forever have a place in the equestrian world thanks to those that appreciate a very traditional and simple riding attire.
Jodhpurs also called “jods”, are very similar to breeches in that they have a grippy knee patch for stability in the saddle and are used for English disciplines. Similar to breeches, there are a few distinct differences and different appropriate times to wear jods.
Jodhpurs generally have an elastic strap at the bottom of both ankles that acts as an anchor, so the fabric does not ride up the leg and cause discomfort for the rider. These elastic pieces are worn outside of the boot and can be found sewn in or removable with a small button on the inside of the fabric.
Jodhpurs are usually worn at informal events or just for schooling purposes for adults. They are not worn with tall boots as they would not fit comfortably inside the boot. Along with a folded bottom, jodhpurs are always fitted all the way to the bottom of the ankle bone for full concealment because they are worn on the outside of paddock boots.
Jodhpurs are seen as a more old school option and usually made of cotton or a cotton blend. You won’t see many of the technical fabric options for jodhpurs as you often see boasted on almost all breeches, but we will get to that in just a second!
Worn with paddock boots, these are a suitable option for children in the short stirrup classes with gaiter straps or adults in the schooling ring that do not want to wear tall boots all of the time.
Breeches are another type of riding pant that has evolved into a technical garment that is very popular with all English disciplines. Breeches are made to be worn underneath tall boots; because of this, breeches are the most popular and appropriate choice for showing as well as schooling and clinics!
Breeches have a similar fit to jodhpurs. They are cut to be flattering to the body and feature outside seams for comfort in the saddle. Breeches can be found in knee patch style, full seat or euro seat styles.
Breeches are considered more formal than jodhpurs, so if you are an adult or long stirrup child, you should be wearing breeches every time in the show ring. Breeches are also more suitable for formal clinics in respect to the clinician with a belt and collared shirt.
Well, it depends…
Knee patch style breeches are popular in the hunter, jumper and equitation rings. This is because these three disciplines require the rider to have a light seat on the flat as well as over fences.
Knee patch breeches allow the rider to have moderate grip, but not too much as to allow the rider to leave the confines of a shallow-moderately seat close contact saddle.
Dressage is the most popular for the full seat breech style. This discipline requires a full contact and deep seat that enables the rider to feel all movements of the horse’s back. White-colored breeches are always the safest bet in the dressage ring, especially at the upper levels.
Euro seat breeches feature a seam that is cut around the area of contact on the seat. This is to ensure the rider is not bothered by sitting on top of a seam in the saddle. This style is found on full seat breeches and can also be found on the knee patch style.
Technical fabrics are often found in breeches to enhance stretchiness, breathability and moisture control. When trying breeches on, take into consideration the numbered size as well as the stretch grade.
Discussing the types of shows and their rating with your trainer will determine the type of riding pant you should wear. Trying on breeches or jodhpurs on before purchasing is highly recommended to find your perfect fit that flatters you and a piece of fabric you find comfortable.
Your local tack shop workers should be able to assist you and be able to help you achieve the perfect riding outfit for showing or leisure within your budget!
Olivia has a passion for all things equestrian and equine health and still enjoys riding. Olivia earned a bachelor's degree in Equine Science from Delaware Valley University and currently works as a sales and marketing assistant at Breeches.com
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