Whether you’re a new rider or the parent of a new rider, you’ve no doubt already discovered one of the most enduring truths about riding horses: horse riding clothing is expensive. And confusing. There’s so much of it, in so many different styles, for so many different types of riding, it’s hard to know what to buy. And once you finally do pick out a few items, the prices are so shockingly huge you begin to think it might be better to forget about the ponies altogether and get into scrapbooking instead.
But don’t give up yet! By avoiding the most common mistakes that beginners make, you can save yourself lots of time, money, and frustration.
Horse Riding Clothing Mistake #1: Buying Everything
When first starting out, many new riders think they need to own every piece of horse riding gear under the sun. They load down their shopping carts and wipe out their budgets only to eventually discover they didn’t need half of it, or they bought the wrong kind. Or, worse yet, their interest in riding was only a phase and all that expensive equipment is now sitting on a shelf collecting dust.
To make sure you avoid this mistake, just keep in mind one simple phrase: You don’t need all that stuff. All you really need when starting out are three simple things:
a horse riding helmet
a comfortable pair of pants
some horse riding boots.
And that’s it. With just those three items, you can take your first riding lessons, learn the basics, and figure out whether or not riding horses is something you really want to do before you throw piles of money at it. This, of course, brings us to…
Horse Riding Clothing Mistake #2: Buying the Wrong Helmet
There are many different kinds of horse riding helmets, all designed for very specific disciplines or skill levels. Unfortunately, many of them look the same and it would be very easy for a beginner to spend way too much money on the wrong one. To avoid this common mistake, all you really need to know about are two different types: show helmets and schooling helmets.
Show helmets are exactly what they sound like: helmets you wear to a show. They’re very formal and very expensive, often reaching several hundred dollars apiece. Now here’s the good news: Until you reach a level where you’re ready to compete in front of judges, you don’t need a show helmet.
Schooling helmets are also exactly what they sound like: helmets you wear while schooling, or lesson riding. Schooling helmets are way less formal and way less expensive; a decent one can be gotten for around $ 30-$ 40. They’re also much more durable and easier to clean, meaning the wear-and-tear of weekly lessons won’t be such a strain on your time or pocketbook.
Horse Riding Clothing Mistake #3: Buying the Wrong Breeches
Breeches are those stretchy pants you see professional equestrians wear. They’re made of a special material that allows for freedom of movement and wicks moisture (aka sweat) away from the skin. They also have very soft seams specially stitched to keep from chafing the rider’s legs at the points where they make contact with the sides of the horse’s body. These are all good things.
When you shop for breeches, you’ll find many different kinds with many different names: knee patch breeches, full-seat breeches, low-rise breeches, etc. The kind you ultimately need will depend on which style of riding you get into, but, in the beginning, you can easily get away with a nice, cheap pair of schooling tights.
Note: Some people will tell you that you can just wear a tight pair of jeans, but that really isn’t a very good idea. First of all, most trainers will only let you get away with that for a couple of lessons (until you decide if you want to keep riding or not), and, secondly, the seams on a pair of jeans will quickly begin to chafe — and eventually scar — your legs. Do yourself a favor, and find a nice pair of riding tights.
Horse Riding Clothing Mistake #4: Buying the Wrong Boots
As with all the other pieces of horse riding clothing, there are many different kinds of boots, all made for specific types of riding. Many beginners immediately go for the tall, glossy boots that they see so many other riders wearing, but this is a huge mistake. Not only are those tall boots extremely expensive, they’re also very tough to break in. If your new rider is still growing, by the time the boots are fully broken in, they will likely have outgrown them; meaning all that money you just spent has gone straight down the drain. And finally, as with show helmets, the wear-and-tear of lesson riding will quickly cause the value of your investment to dwindle.
When starting out, the only horse riding boots a beginner needs are paddock boots. Paddock boots are short, ankle-length boots that look a bit like “granny boots.” They have the same safety features as tall boots, but are far less expensive, far less difficult and time-consuming to break in, and not so heartbreaking to get dirty. Also, for kids under 12, paddock boots are perfectly fine to wear for shows, meaning you can definitely get your money’s worth from them for quite some time.
And That’s It!
Sure, it’s easy to spend a lot of money on horse riding clothing. And it’s really easy to buy the wrong kind. But by avoiding these common mistakes that beginning riders make, you can minimize your cost and maximize your time enjoying the reason you got into riding in the first place: spending time with the horse!
Now, if you’re ready to learn a little more about horse riding clothing and equipment — such as what kinds of horse riding helmets are out there or where to find all the cutest schooling shirts — make sure to check out the Horse Riding Clothing blog, where we love to talk about anything and everything to do with riding, riding clothes, and the joys of barn life!