Tips on How to Dress Appropriately and Safely for Horse Riding

Thinking about what to wear before you work with or ride a horse is important. Wearing the proper clothing is not only for comfort, it’s also for your safety. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on your outfit. There are tons of appropriate piece of garment that you can find at a more pocket-friendly price.

Below are some of the things that you need to know about proper equestrian attire.

Headgear

There are a lot of headgears available in the market that you can choose from. When choosing a headgear, the most important thing that you need to consider is safety instead of fashion. Approved headgears provide the most protection for your head while the non-approved headgears only serve as apparel items.

Do’s

  • Wear properly fitted equestrian helmets and ASTM/SEI certified when riding and working around horses.

Don’ts

  • Baseball hats
  • Cowboy hats
  • Top hats
  • Derbies
  • Bicycle helmets
  • Hunt caps

Wearing approved helmets have been proven to be effective in preventing injuries and reducing the severity of head injuries. You may need to spend around $30-$300 in a good helmet, but this amount is relatively small compared to the permanence and potential cost of head injury.

Shirts

You really don’t have to buy new clothes that you can use for horse riding. Chances are, you can find something in your closet like a sweatshirt or T-shirt that is appropriate.  Make sure that the shirt has a perfect fit. Wearing loose or clothes that are too large may get caught in a tree branch or a piece of equipment. But if you are going to a horse show, then it’s a different story probably.

If you are going on a trail, wear clothing of bright colors so that you are more visible. Vests are also a staple for many riders, especially when the weather is cooler. Vests give you the needed warmth and they don’t restrict your arms and shoulders.

If you’re in an area with frigid temperatures, there are winter coats specifically designed for horse riding that you can choose from. These coats have more room through the shoulders and have gussets so they spread over the saddle rather than tucking under your seat. You can even get fancy and choose the ones that have attractive patches and reflective tape for greater visibility out on trail.

Pants

An inexpensive pair of two-way stretch tights maybe the smartest and most comfortable choice for everyday riding. You can buy your riding tights with seat patches and leather knee. These tights are made of a more durable fabric and provide a bit more grip than tights not designed for horseback riding. For colder weather, you can wear winter riding pants made of fleece material to give you an extra layer of warmth.

You may notice that a lot of riders wear sweat pants or jeans. Whilst these clothing are okay, you would want to avoid pants that wrinkle, twist or bunch along the inside of your legs and especially knees. Just like with shirts, your pants should be of perfect fit. Wearing pants that are too loose or too large can catch on something which can lead to an injury to yourself or your horse.

Leather riding chaps give some riders the extra grip and wind breaking ability during winter season. You can wear half chaps that cover from knee to foot if you want grip and protection for your lower leg. Chaps or half chaps may not prevent major injuries but they can protect your legs from scratches and scrapes when trail riding and from being chaffed against the saddle.  You would appreciate the extra layer of protection leather or synthetic chaps provide when you are riding with badly rubbed calves, especially after your horse starts sweating.

Gloves

Gloves don’t just give your hands the protection they need; they also give you a bit extra grip and strength. Gloves are particularly useful when your horse pulls. Going out without your gloves on could give your hands horse blisters when you pull while riding out on a trail. You can use any reasonably fitted pair of gloves as long as they can hold the reins comfortably. Leather-palmed crochet-backed gloves are perfect for summer while lined leather gloves are ideal for winter.

Footwear

Next to the helmet, footwear is probably the next most important type of attire for you and your horse’s safety.

There may not be an official standards or testing for horse riding boots, but you would want to get a pair with about a 1 to 1 ½ inch heel and low tread. The heel will protect your foot from slipping through the stirrup when riding.

Winter and hiking boots are not ideal for horse riding as their tread is too heavy and could jam in the stirrup in case of a fall. Gym shoes are not appropriate for horse riding either. You would also want to stay away from any boots with waffle tread. Sandals and flip-flops are also a big no-no, whether you’re working with or riding a horse. These footwear don’t give your feet any protection at all.

For riding purposes, your boots should be supportive of your ankles, just like an ice skater. Look for a pair that covers your ankles. You really don’t have to purchase a “riding boots”; your boots just need to have the heel, sole and tread appropriate for horse riding. There are two purposes that a pair of boots serves.  A riding boot with a small heel provides some protection if your toes get trampled and help prevent your foot from slipping through the stirrup. Tall boots also give your legs protection from chaffing while you ride and from getting scraped by scrub and branches as you trail ride.

There are many kinds of boots that you can choose from so choose whatever is affordable, comfortable and suitable for your type of riding. A good pair of boots starts at about $100.

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