Horseback Riding in Shorts? Good or Bad Idea

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Generally, when people go horseback riding, they wear jeans or riding pants. Wearing jeans or riding pants provides the most comfort and protection when riding. However, some people opt to go horseback riding in shorts during the summertime.

Though shorts aren’t the best thing you can wear while horseback riding, they certainly are not the worst. You want to avoid wearing very long and flowy clothes, that may somehow get tangled up in the saddle. You especially want to avoid wearing excessively long and flowy clothes if you are riding western, since it may get caught in the horn.

Wearing Shorts Riding

Though wearing shorts while riding isn’t considered to necessarily be a bad thing, most people don’t do it. Shorts do not provide the same protection and comfort for your legs as riding pants or jeans do. Some riding barns, especially those that host trail rides, don’t allow their riders to wear shorts while riding.

It is always ideal to wear proper riding apparel while horseback riding. However, there are some situations where wearing shorts horseback riding can be fine.

Why to Avoid Wearing Shorts Riding

Wearing shorts while riding in a saddle can cause some serious discomfort. The leather from your saddle can pinch and rub against your bare skin, leading to blisters and sores.

You are more likely to get sores from English saddles than western saddles. Stirrup leathers on English saddles are more likely to pinch your leg and cause sores. Your knees and thighs are the areas most likely to get rubs and blisters from riding in shorts.

Shorts also don’t provide the grip that pants do, so if you are not used to riding, you might find yourself sliding in the saddle due to lack of grip. The shorts may also ride up on your thighs, causing more discomfort.

Why to Avoid Wearing Shorts Riding

If you are wearing shorts outside while riding, you are also prone to getting bug bites on your legs. Your legs may also get scratched up from branches if you are out riding on a trail. If you fall off while wearing shorts you are more likely to get scrapes and cuts than you would with long pants.

If you don’t have riding pants or jeans to wear, you can also wear leggings and yoga pants. These will provide more grip than shorts and help prevent you from getting sores from the saddle. Leggings and yoga pants also provide flexibility and are comfortable to wear, but you may get some sore spots since they can be made from thin materials.

When it is Alright to Wear Shorts Riding

Some people with experience riding prefer to wear shorts while riding in the summertime since they are cooler than jeans and riding pants. If you are comfortable with the way shorts feel while riding then it is alright to ride in them, as long as the place you are riding at allows it.

Some people also like to ride bareback in shorts, though it can be itchy if you are not using a bareback pad. If you are riding in the ocean or in a body of water, wearing shorts can often be a better choice so you don’t have to ride around in wet pants after leaving the water.


If you decide to wear shorts while horseback riding, you still want to make sure to wear riding boots to protect your feet. If you don’t have riding boots, you want to make sure to at least wear closed-toe shoes with a heel.

Advantages of Wearing Long Pants Horseback Riding

Though it can be okay to wear shorts horseback riding, there are several advantages to wearing long pants while riding. Often, you will find you are more comfortable wearing long pants while riding, even if it is warm out.

Riding Pants

Riding pants are designed to provide grip, protection, and comfort while you ride. They are designed to fit snuggly and are often made with stretchy materials, allowing you to move comfortably. Most riding pants are made from cotton or polyester blends.

They are designed with knee patches that are often made from suede to provide additional grip and comfort for your leg while riding. Riding pants may also come in full seat, which means that they have a knee patch that extends up the leg to the seat of the pants, providing the ultimate grip.

Advantages of Wearing Long Pants Horseback Riding

Riding pants also come in different styles such as breeches, Kentucky jodhpurs, and riding tights. They also come in various weights, depending on summer and winter seasons. They are breathable and provide superior comfort while riding.


Jeans are also another popular choice of pants to wear riding, especially amongst western riders. They are easily accessible and versatile, as you can wear them riding or for everyday use.  

Though jeans may not have as much flexibility and breathability as riding pants, many people still love to ride in them. They provide comfort and protection for your legs. Some jeans are even specifically designed for horseback riding.

Riding in What is Suitable for You

Jeans can ride up if you are riding in English saddles, so most people that ride English disciplines wear riding pants instead of jeans. Jeans are a great choice to wear if you are going out trail riding and don’t ride on a regular basis.

Riding in What is Suitable for You

Though wearing long pants are recommended while horseback riding, there is nothing wrong with wearing shorts if you are comfortable with it. Just be sure to check with the place you are riding at if it is okay to wear shorts, though if you have your own horse it is likely to be fine.

If you decide to ride in shorts, you may want to start out with a short ride to see if you get any sores or experience discomfort, before going out for a long ride. Though some people may like riding in shorts, not everyone likes it and many people do prefer long pants.

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