When you go out riding, you need to make sure that you always-always-always wear riding gear, and this gear is certified and approved for use in horse riding. The danger of falling off or being kicked by a horse is all too real, and you need to do everything in your power to protect against it. A typical riding ensemble with protective gear includes, at minimum:
- A specialized helmet for horse riding
- A protective body vest
- Riding boots
- Riding breeches
- Riding gloves
Let’s take a closer look at these essential pieces of equestrian equipment, why each of these are so important and how they can help you ride safely with ease and comfort.
- Certified Helmet
That said, not any old protective garments will do. You wouldn’t wear a football helmet while stepping up to the plate in a baseball game, and you shouldn’t wear a non-equestrian helmet while riding a horse. Wearing a helmet designed for skiing or skateboarding, for example, will not provide you with the necessary protection for safe horse riding. These helmets are not molded to the right shape or made with the proper materials for protecting your head in the event of a fall or other incident while riding.
That is why you should look for helmets that are ASTM-SEI approved.
- Riding Breeches
You don’t want the inside of your legs to chafe or otherwise become irritated while riding. At the same time, if protective pants are too thick and don’t breathe well, they may leave your legs a sweaty mess, which can cause severe discomfort and eczema.
Some things to keep in mind when looking for riding breeches include:
- Fabric Type: Riding breeches need to be durable enough to not wear thin while riding, while still being breathable enough to be comfortable. Most riding breeches are made of cotton or cotton blends. That said, microfibers are increasingly popular because they are better able to absorb moisture and are less liable to stain. These microfiber breeches feature similar wicking to cycling jerseys, featuring special breathable fabrics that wick away moisture, thereby keeping your body dry and warm.
- Warm Lining: If you ride in a cool environment, you’ll need to make sure your legs stay warm. Breeches that have corduroy, denim, or soft fleece linings can help keep your arms snug and warm during long winter rides.
- Fit: Breeches should fit snugly without wrinkles while still remaining comfortable. Different brands size their breeches differently, and there are further differences in how men and women’s breeches are sized, so do research and make sure you’re picking the right fit for you.
- Type: Some of the most popular types of breeches include full seat, knee patch, and equiline ash knee patch breeches.
- Color and Style: Pageantry plays a huge role in equestrianism and dressage, and your own riding dress plays a big part in that. Colors for riding breeches tend to stick to more conservative whites, beiges, browns, and blacks for competitions, though there are a rainbow of recreational color options available.
- Body Vest
You never want to fall off your horse, but in the event you do, it is of the utmost importance that your torso be as well-protected as possible. A fall from a horse can lead to broken bones and ribs or serious organ damage. That said, protective gear cannot be so strict and confining as to make it impossible to move while riding.
- Riding Boots
If there is one pair of horse riding gear that is truly iconic, it’s riding boots. Throughout the centuries they have been seen as incredibly fashionable, boasting a rare blend of elegance and protection.
Just as horses need horse boots to protect their hooves and legs, so too do you need riding boots to protect your legs and feet while riding.
Riding boots are important for several reasons, not the least of which being that they help you stay in place while riding. The toe of these riding boots is shaped to fit within a stirrup perfectly, helping them stay in place and thus helping you keep your balance.
Riding boots are also quite durable. Horse riding is an intense activity, and one which places a surprising amount of force and friction on your boots. The bottom side of your boots are constantly rubbing up against the stirrups, which can wear out the underside of regular shoes or boots quickly.
In addition, your legs are often pressed against your horse’s body while riding. Without proper protection, this can start to irritate the inside of your legs. By contrast, the best riding boots are thick enough to protect against this irritation.
Finally, there’s the fact that riding boots offer a blend of thickness, breathability, and comfort. If you ride in cool, wet environments, you need footwear that is well-insulated and can keep your feet from freezing or becoming soaked with rain, mud, and moisture. If you ride in hot terrain, you need boots that are breathable and won’t leave your feet a foul sweaty mess.
Whether you choose leather, faux-leather, or rubber riding boots, remember that they must be regularly polished and cleaned. Muddy riding boots can start to smell, degrade in appearance, and allow moisture to seep in.
- Riding Gloves
Last, but not least, riding gloves are an essential piece of equestrian equipment, helping you maintain your grip while riding. What’s more, proper riding gloves can also help ensure your hands do not blister while holding on tight to the reins or bridle.
Some important qualities to consider when looking for horse riding gloves include:
- A fit that is snug, yet still comfortable
- Elastic wrists can be helpful for ensuring that your gloves fit properly
- Soft cloth lining paired with leather or synthetic materials for a superior grip
- Insulation to keep your hands warm and dry in cool and wet conditions
Each of these pieces of equestrian equipment are essential for allowing you to ride with the protection, style, comfort, and confidence you deserve.