So you’ve finally decided to embark on your equestrian journey but you’re not quite sure what to wear horseback riding?
While mounting your first horse or learning how to Roman ride requires the utmost patience, bravery, and skill, thankfully finding the appropriate outfit to ride in is not that difficult.
Whether you’re new to horseback riding or have been at it for years, knowing you have the needed riding ensemble is sure to boost your confidence on the back of that horse.
Follow this guide to get a sense of what you should be riding in and what you should avoid wearing when you ride. After you’ve read through this article you’ll have a better understanding of:
- What a horseback riding outfit looks like
- How to choose the best horse riding outfits
- What to wear horseback riding in the summer
- How to style your riding ensemble
- Where to buy horseback riding apparel
What Is Horseback Riding?
To fully understand what to wear horseback riding, we must first understand equestrianism.
Horseback riding is a global practice that takes place in countries all over the world, from the UK to Italy and the United States. While it has a few different names—‘equestrianism’ in Latin countries, ‘horseback riding’ in the USA, and ‘horse riding’ in the UK—the sport remains the same.
Horseback riding is a broad term that encompasses the practice of driving, riding, and vaulting your horse. Though there are a number of equestrians throughout the world, the use of their horses can differ.
While some ride horses as means for practical work, others utilize their horse-riding skills for art, competitive sport, cultural exercises, and recreational activities.
Horse riding for practical work includes police work, controlling animals on a ranch, or even controlling a mass population of people, while competitive riders compete with their horses using a variety of set skills.
Even though riders may wear the same safety equipment, their overall outfits will be different.
What to Wear Horseback Riding
The first thing to know when figuring out what to wear horseback riding is that there are safety pieces you cannot ride without unless you are a longtime professional.
The most important safety pieces you need for horseback riding are the following:
When it comes to safety gear, knowing what to wear horseback riding is pretty straightforward. Whether this is your first ride or your hundredth, a helmet is a must-have for any rider.
While you may fantasize about hitting the dusty trails in your favorite cowboy hat, it’s better to ride with a helmet approved by the ASTEM/SEI.
If you’re considering substituting your riding helmet for a bike helmet, proceed with caution since this type of helmet does not protect the back of the head or the forehead.
When horseback riding you should wear headgear that protects the entire head since all parts of the head will be vulnerable in the event you fall off a horse.
While there is no official riding boot style for horseback riding, the general rule of thumb is to select a pair of boots that cover your ankles with a 1-1 ½ inch heel and low thread.
Your boots should also avoid waffle thread. These few regulations protect your feet from any accidents involving your horse accidentally stepping on you while also giving you the needed support to keep your feet from slipping out of the stirrups.
Of course, a good pair of gloves will keep your hands warm during the colder months but when riding, gloves serve another useful purpose.
Regardless of the weather, a rider should keep a good pair of riding gloves in their wardrobe since they protect their hands and help increase the grip they have upon the reins.
Although it’s fun, useful, and enjoyed all over the world, horseback riding is a high-risk activity even for the most skilled equestrians. So when considering what to wear horseback riding, know that the safety equipment is the one part of your look that should never be compromised.
10 Outfit Ideas for Horseback Riding
Saddle up in style when you add a little plaid to an otherwise simple look. Black skinny jeans make the perfect bottoms for riding since they keep any mess subtly unseen while the fit of the leg fits perfectly into your tall boots.
A fitted tee is an excellent choice for a top and the printed belt adds a little fun to an otherwise simple ensemble.
Horseback riding is far from boring so your style doesn’t have to be either. Infuse some fun prints into your horseback riding wardrobe for a more fashion-forward approach to the globally known sport.
Denim on denim is a Western rider’s classic. A denim jacket over a button-down shirt paired with jeans in the same wash is not only a trendy look but also a durable one that’ll keep your skin safe in the event of any falls.
Do it like a real cowboy by topping it off with a sturdy wool cowboy hat, but do proceed with caution if you aren’t a professional Western rider.
When the weather gets gloomy, ride in a close-fitting windbreaker or riding jacket. Go for one in your favorite color so you can keep the cold and rain off but keep the style on.
Don’t think too much when considering what to wear horseback riding on the beach. A casual ride seaside (with a professional in tow) calls for a riding look that’s a lot less restrictive.
Come summertime, or on vacation, don’t be afraid to mount your horsey in an itsy bitsy teeny weeny bikini or a sundress. Keep in mind that outfits like these are best worn only when there is a professional rider with you or if you are a professional yourself.
A hunting jacket in a rich jewel tone is sure to have you looking chic while you compete. The exquisite tailoring of any hunting jacket is eye-catching enough but when outfitted in a deep full-bodied hue, you’re a winner even if you don’t place first.
Layering a fitted knit over your turtleneck or thermal isn’t just an age-old style trend that can elevate your look. When riding, this fashion choice also keeps you warm, making this styling choice both fashionable and beneficial to your riding experience.
Don’t camouflage your sense of style when riding. Finding riding pieces in your favorite prints makes the ride all the more fun.
Are you still wondering what to wear horseback riding? You can double up on prints like military camo.
If you’re reading this guide and wondering what to wear horseback riding in the winter, never fear, the answer’s here. Keep the overall look fitted to the body like the other looks we’ve discussed have been.
Plus, keep your body warmed up with a riding coat and cozy winter hat.
For the full-time fashionista/part-time rider, look to the bohemian babes for style inspo. A lace sheath dress with a knit cardigan and Western belt is a look that’ll make even a horse’s head turn.
What Type of Horseback Riding Outfit Can You Get?
The type of horseback riding outfits on the market depends on the type of riding you’re doing. While safety equipment is recommended for even the most experienced rider, the overall look varies between disciplines.
Even though competitive riders perform in front of a select group of judges and a variety of spectators, the competitive riding outfit does not skimp on safety.
The common outfit of a competitive rider includes an ASTEM/SEI-approved helmet, a hunting coat, dressing gloves, breeches, tall boots, riding spurs, and a dressage whip.
A mountie is a law officer that rides on a horse. You’re most likely to see them during a parade or special event in your hometown or when they’re defusing a riot.
In normal circumstances, a mountie will be seen wearing an ATEM/SEI approved helmet with breeches, mounted boots, and the rest of their usual police uniform.
In the event of a riot, a mountie will be seen wearing riot gear. It’s also common to see mounties in some kind of reflective gear for late-night patrolling.
Western riders are equestrians who specialize in the traditional riding style of the American cowboy. This type of riding was brought to the USA many years ago by the Spanish Conquistadors and has since developed into a riding style enjoyed across the Americas.
It’s rare that you’ll see a Western rider in an ASTEM/SEI-approved helmet, or any helmet at all. These equestrians would rather wear cowboy hats in place of protective headgear.
The rest of the Western rider look consists of denim, casual shirts, and cowboy boots. In some cases, Western riders may also wear chaps.
Competitive Race Riding
The Kentucky Derby is where you’ll find the boldest style choices. While spectators usually arrive in big hats or brightly colored fascinators, horse jockeys have an eccentric look all of their own.
The attire for a competitive horse racer includes what equestrians know as silks. Silks are the jockey uniform and are often brightly colored and patterned so spectators can tell the racers apart.
These colors and patterns are typically chosen by the owner of the horse the jockey is riding. In addition to silks, horse jockeys also wear the usual safety equipment any competitive rider would wear: helmet, gloves, breeches, and riding boots.
Not everyone who rides a horse does it for sport, their profession, or ranching. Some ride for leisure which, of course, requires a different ensemble. When you’re riding for fun, the same safety rules apply and should be utilized.
Riders taking their trusty steed for a stroll should still wear an approved helmet alongside tall boots with a 1-1 ½ heel height and low thread.
Leisure riders tend to skip on the gloves since they aren’t being mobile to the point where gloves would make a major difference, but wearing them isn’t a horrible idea either.
When dressing the upper body, stick to comfortable clothing that doesn’t restrict your movement. Plus, try to stay away from jeans or jean shorts if you’re not used to riding regularly.
How to Choose the Best Horseback Riding Outfit
Whether you’re riding for fun or otherwise, the most important things to look out for when thinking about what to wear horseback riding are safety and comfortability.
Below, we’ll list the items you aren’t going to want to compromise on or find substitutes for.
How to Choose a Helmet
A riding helmet is one of the most important pieces a rider will wear. Since horseback riding is a high-risk activity, the durability of your helmet should not be compromised. Most riders wear helmets approved by a standard safety organization like the SEI or BSI.
In terms of cost, helmets like these can range from as low as $100 and climb as high as $700+. With such a wide price range, you’ll surely find a helmet within your budget.
It’s important to note that the best helmet, no matter the price, is a professionally approved one.
How to Choose Riding Boots
Riding boots are the next most important piece for any rider. You’ll want to pick a sturdy closed-toe pair designed with ankle support.
While there are riding boots on the market specifically designed for horseback riding, those who ride for fun can get away with wearing their most durable pair of tall boots so long as the heel height isn’t below 1” or above 1 ½”.
Because riding boots do not acquire a certain professional approval, this broadens the horizons when it comes to finding your boots. So you’ll have plenty of options to choose from, but riding boots typically range from $50-$300+.
When it comes to riding apparel, comfort is key. It’s best to wear form-fitting clothing that doesn’t restrict your movement. Plus, you wouldn’t normally accessorize your horseback-riding look so skip the chunky jewelry and whimsical scarves.
Aim to keep the look casual, simple, and comfortable. For instance, wear a long-sleeve tee and bootcut jeans or a T-shirt and bike shorts for the summer months.
Notably, some people like riding in jeans since it unleashes their inner cowboy and provides some skin protection in case of a fall.
How to Style Horseback Riding Outfits
Although horseback riding calls for a shortlist of special equipment and restrictions on the types of clothing you can wear, you can still have some fun with your horseback riding style.
Searching for ‘what to wear horseback riding’ on the internet may pull up a plethora of uniforms that professional riders wear but, with leisure riding, you can wear more interesting horseback riding looks.
For example, consider wearing a helmet with fun colors or bold prints. Or you can wear tall boots with fringe or a studded trim.
When it comes to apparel, style your look as comfortably and casually as you can. In fact, you can step outside of the box and wear something other than the usual riding attire.
Your favorite T-shirt and straight jeans can be seen as chic in the street and also on a horse.
Fashion Tips to Avoid With Horseback Riding Outfits
Now that you have a better idea of what to wear horseback riding, let’s get into what not to wear when horseback riding. Whether you’re a professional or mounting a horse for the first time, these fashion tips to avoid will improve your riding experience.
Avoid Baggy Clothes
Nothing is scarier than falling off a horse except maybe getting caught on the way down, tangled in the saddle and then dragged by the speeding horse (yikes!).
So, to avoid any further danger, keep your clothes form-fitting so they aren’t caught in the event you fall.
Horseback riding can be a fun summer activity but even when mister golden sun rolls around, you should only ride in closed-toe shoes.
Sneakers or Running Shoes
We all have a pair of sneakers we pull out for just about everything. They’re comfy and go with all our favorite outfits but a riding outfit has no place for sneakers.
Due to the accidents associated with horseback riding, shoes that protect and support your ankles are of major importance.
How to Take Care of Your Horseback Riding Outfit
When you aren’t riding, your helmet should be stored in a cool, dry area unless it’s stored in a helmet bag.
To clean your helmet you will need specialized helmet cleaning products which you will spray on your helmet and rub away with a damp cloth before spraying the inside with helmet deodorizer and letting it air dry.
No matter how big or small the impact, if your helmet ever undergoes any kind of hit it should be replaced. The impact causes the microbubbles of polystyrene within the helmet to burst and these microbubbles are what protect the head the most in the event of an accident.
In addition to this, you should also replace your riding helmet every five years.
How to Take Care of Your Riding Boots
Boots are made for walking and some for riding too but if you don’t take proper care of your boots they won’t last very long. So, after every ride, clean off any dirt with a damp cloth.
Also, use cleaning products specifically designed for boot cleaning on days you want to do a thorough clean.
To ensure your boots always hold the best shape, use boot trees or stuff them with socks when you aren’t wearing them. This will keep your boots standing tall without creases even when they aren’t on your feet.
Best Places to Buy Horseback Riding Outfits
The best places to shop for horseback riding outfits are typically stores that specialize in equestrian equipment. Whether you’re new to the sport or a veteran, consider checking out this list of retailers the next time you’re shopping for your riding outfit:
So there you have it, what to wear horseback riding is comfortable and safe attire. Although there is a lot of risk associated with this activity, it’s still an enjoyable sport you can take part in year-round.
And while the dangers of the sport may discourage you from styling your outfit the way you might normally, it’s an activity where you can still look good despite the fact you aren’t dressed to your usual nines.
So, suit up and saddle up once you find the appropriate outfit so you can ride in both comfort and style.
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