Like any other sport or activity, horseback riding utilizes specialty apparel. If you are on a budget, it is easy to make your current wardrobe work if you are not competing. Tack store owners will agree they are consistently asked if you can wear leggings for horseback riding. You can wear anything you want- but can you wear leggings for horseback riding? we don’t recommend wearing leggings and here’s why:
Traditional Horseback Riding Attire
It’s a tradition for a reason! Competition-regulated apparel aside, riding apparel is built for time spent in the saddle. Sun shirts and button-ups offer lightweight sun protection, many with cooling or extra-ventilated fabrics. Riding pants offer a degree on stability in the saddle due to their materials. They are also more durable than our day-to-day clothing to withstand constant contact on leather. However, the clothing greatly varies between western and English disciplines.
Western riders typically ride in heavier denim, although some opt for lightweight boot cut breeches for comfort. Jeans are the go-to, and sometimes worn with chaps or chinks. “Working” brands and styles such as Wrangler, Cruel Girl, or Cinch are better options for the saddle in comparison to “fashion” jeans. Riders will put a great deal of wear on the crotch areas and inseams of jeans. Riding jeans are typically longer than regular inseams so the denim can be “stacked” over the boot. This prevents jeans from riding up.
Find The Best Western Horseback Riding Boots
English riding apparel is a little more specialized than visiting a farm and ranch or western store. Despite all the variations, English riders typically ride in breeches. Breeches are form-fitting, frequently manufactured with elastic ankles. They feature a full-seat or knee-patch design, meaning they have grips on the full rear of the pant or inside of the knees for traction. Materials greatly differ, from traditional deerskin, Ultrasuede, or even silicone gel patterns. Although bootcut breeches are not intended to be worn with tall boots, they too can be made with full-seat or knee-patch designs.
Riding apparel has changed a great deal in the last decade. Heavy-duty fabric breeches are not ideal for schooling during the hot summer months. As a result, riding “tights” are on the rise. These are typically lightweight and breathable athletic fabrics, but they feature the same reinforcements for strength as riding breeches. Due to the stretchy and light nature of the material, many wonder if more economical leggings can take their place.
Read more about The Best English and Western Saddle Brands
Will Horse Riding Leggings Work?
Of course, you can ride in leggings, so long as you are not in competition. However, there are multiple downsides when comparing to actual riding tights.
- Grip: Riding tights feature knee patches or full seat designs. The materials used have a bit more traction to help avoid “over-mounting”, aka sliding right over the saddle! If things get frisky, knee patches for a little “stick” can go a long way.
- Durability: Bottom line, leggings are made for casual wear. The stitching and material will wear quicker than pants made for heavy use and constant friction against the saddle. This can result in tearing, holes, or wearing incredibly thin (see-through).
- Coverage: Tights and breeches are designed to be worn with standard fitting tops, or tucked in sun shirts and polos. This provides more coverage in the groin area. Leggings will not appear quite as modest as riding pants, and underwear lines will be highly visible.
- Decreased Protection: Leggings may result in chafing and snags due to the materials used.
If you love the look, simplicity, and feel of leggings, check out some of these top-rated riding tights. They will offer the same and look and feel, with the needed features to endure saddle time.
Recommended Horseback Riding Tights
These are our top pick in summer riding tights! Available in a wide variety of colors including awesome vibrant seasonal releases, these offer sun protection, a cooling material, and a full seat grippy design. The inside is so plush, they feel like your favorite pair of pajamas! A must-have for summer riding. If you still want a polished breech-like look, Kerrits tights feature belt loops to fit standard belts, including the popular equestrian C4 belts.
Looking for a great summer tight, but wanting a price closer to leggings? This is our favorite economy schooling tight. They feature cooling mesh side panels, have ultra-stretch, and an eco-suede knee patch. These are sure to be a favorite for spring and summer riding. The best part? They are really cheap!!
Dublin’s performance tight has a sleek and modern look- the silicone full print seat will keep you locked in place, but is also appreciated by avid gym-goers. It features a flattering 4-way stretch material, several color options with seasonal releases, and is a great option for all seasons.
Irideon brings another home-run to the table with their Issential tight. Available several colors, we love their fit options- ranging from an XS to a 3X! They feature soft knee patches, elastic ankles to comfortable fit under half chaps or tall boots, and no-chafe seams. These are perfect year-round and will last season after season.
These tights are great cold-season riding tights- all the benefits and stretch of riding tights, with an added layer of lush Velvetex for warmth. Without bulky/loud/rough feeling winter breech material, these soft tights use WindShield breeze-resistant fabric and offer sun protection of UPF 30. Finally, an affordable winter tight made for total comfort! We especially love these for layering under heavy winter work coveralls.
Kerrits makes the list again! The Microcord tight features an ultra-stretchy ribbed material suitable for year-round riding. This riding tight is figure-flattering and brings out your best features. This is a great option for someone that wants the freedom and mobility of a tight or legging but opts for a little more coverage.
Although there is nothing wrong with wearing leggings, there are certainly better options for avid riders. The growing popularity of riding tights and available features make tight shopping a breeze. Visit some of the recommended tights above, and experience the comfort and longevity riding-specific attire provides. Do you have a favorite riding tight that you’ve tried?
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