What Pants To Wear Horseback Riding? Top Attire Revealed!

Last Updated on January 22, 2023

If you are new to horse riding, wearing the right clothing is essential for your own comfort, and knowing what pants to wear in horseback riding will make all the difference!

Are you planning on horseback riding for the first time? Do you love horses but have little experience riding them? Then this article is for you, as today we are going to tell you what pants to wear in horseback riding, as well as loads of other great tips about the best horse riding attire!

Your first experience in the saddle should be hugely enjoyable, but wearing the wrong clothing can turn your first time on a horse into an uncomfortable and unpleasant experience. Knowing what to wear horseback riding for the first time and what to wear when horseback trail riding is part of the key to your comfort, helping you to focus on enjoying the feeling of seeing the world from the back of a horse.

Horses are amazing animals, and everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy riding them at least once.  If you’re going riding on vacation, there’s a good chance you’ll be riding on the trails, and it will be important to wear the right clothes to have an enjoyable experience!

What Clothing Do Horseback Riders Wear?

It is no secret that horse riding is an expensive hobby, and a trail ride on vacation can cost quite a lot of money! If you’re trying horseback riding for the first time, you won’t want to go out and buy all the kit until you are sure that you are going to stick at it.

Luckily, most people have some clothing in their wardrobes that can be suitable for a first-time horse rider. Yes, you might not look as smart or professional as people who have been riding for many years, but the important thing to start with is comfort and safety.

And when you’re sure that this is a hobby for you, you can start to go out and buy everything that regular horse riders wear!

What To Wear Horseback Riding

There are some key rules to follow when selecting the right clothes for horseback riding. Even if you don’t own purpose-made horse riding gear, you may be able to adapt the clothing in your wardrobe as long as you follow these rules.

All clothing worn for horseback riding should be snugly fitting, without any loose or flapping parts which can get tangled up or startle the horse. Horses don’t seem to mind bright colors, but they are easily startled by an unzipped coat blowing around in the wind!

For your own comfort, it is a good idea to ensure that you can move easily in the clothing you choose. For example, elasticated leggings are normally more comfortable than rigid, inflexible jeans.

One of the key parts of your body to protect is your bottom – sitting in the saddle for long periods can soon result in soreness! Pockets and buttons on the seat of your pants will make this even worse, so they should be avoided.

Let’s take a look at each item of clothing worn for horseback riding, to help you choose the most suitable wardrobe options for your first horseback riding adventure!

What Shoes To Wear For Horseback Riding

The correct footwear is one of the most important pieces of your riding attire, and you will find that most riding centers have strict rules about the type of footwear that should be worn.

There are many different types of custom-made riding boots, ranging from a comfortable pair of cowboy boots to a classy pair of custom-fit tall boots.  However, these are not necessary for your first time riding, though may be considered if you decide to ride more regularly.

But, for your first horseback ride, there are just a few characteristics your shoes or boots should have. Let’s take a look at the features that your shoes must have for you to be safe and comfortable on your first ride.

What to Wear Horseback Riding for your First-Time Ride

One of the key features is that your shoes must be closed-toed.  This means that your toes are not exposed in any way – absolutely no flip-flops, sandals, etc.  Horses are large animals with large and heavy feet, and getting stepped on by a horse can be painful, even with closed-toed shoes. Open-toed shoes allow the possibility of bare toes getting stepped on, which could break both bones and skin – this would ruin your riding experience!  

Other characteristics to consider are the heels and laces of your shoes. Most riding centers stipulate that you should wear shoes that have a small heel – this helps to keep the stirrup from sliding too far back on your foot. If you are going to wear a shoe with laces, make sure the laces can be tucked in to prevent them from getting tangled up on the saddle or stirrups.

The width of the shoe or boot is also important – wide, chunky soles can get stuck in the stirrups, which can be very dangerous if you fall off the horse. It is always preferable to wear boots with some form of ankle support, and long boots will prevent chafing from the stirrup leathers on the inside of your leg.

What Pants To Wear Horseback Riding

Many first-time riders get very confused about what pants to wear on horseback riding! And if you look at different riders around the world, you will see why this issue can be so contentious.

Most riders wear long pants – English riders wear tight-fitting breeches or jodhpurs, and western riders wear jeans. So, what pants should you choose for your first time riding a horse?

For your first horse-riding adventure, you can get away with pretty much any type of long pants! Make sure that they are snug fitting and comfortable, and that you can move and flex your legs easily in them. If you decide to take up riding more regularly, then you can get more specialized pants, depending on what discipline you decide to take up.

What to Wear Horseback Riding: Long Pants

The most important characteristic of the pants you choose to ride in is that they end at or below your ankles.  There are a few reasons for this, the most important of which is your saddle. English or western, your saddle is going to be made of leather. The friction that will be created between the leather and your skin, especially if you start sweating, can cause leather rubs, similar to rope burns or carpet burns, on your legs.  These can be extremely painful, but long pants will protect your legs from these painful rubs.

Long pants will also protect your legs from bugs, sunburns, and trees or bushes.  If you’re going trail riding, you’ll likely be riding close to trees, branches, bushes, or anything that could potentially come into contact with your skin.  It’s also likely that you’ll be exposed to the sun for long periods, and that there will be bugs attracted to the sweaty horses. Long pants can protect you from all three of these dangers.  It may seem tempting to wear shorts in the heat of summer, but remember, long pants are worth the heat while riding! The thicker your pants, the less likely you are to experience any of these inconveniences. 

Can You Wear Sweatpants for Horseback Riding?

When considering what pants to wear for horseback riding, sweatpants can be a good choice for someone new to this sport. They are soft, comfortable, and easy to move around in, and should protect your legs from chafing and sore spots.

There are some downsides to wearing sweatpants for horseback riding which makes them unsuitable if you are considering taking up horse riding as a full-time hobby. Loose sweatpants can twist around on the legs and ride up, causing them to bunch and chafe. In the short term, a good solution can be to tuck the bottoms of your sweatpants into your socks – not the most stylish solution, but definitely more comfortable!

Do You Need A Helmet For Horseback Riding?

The most important part of your riding attire is a helmet.  Never, ever ride a horse without a helmet – especially if you are completely new to horse riding!

It is highly likely that you will have seen or will see people riding in cowboy hats or baseball caps, but, for your safety, don’t follow these examples.  Helmets have saved riders’ lives on many occasions, and the risk is too high to skip this vital piece of safety equipment. If you fall from your horse, not only could you hit your head on the ground, but your horse could accidentally kick you as well.

What to Wear Horseback Riding: Helmet

The problem is that riding helmets can be very expensive, varying in cost from $50-$500 or more. Luckily, if you are going for a riding lesson or are trail riding at a tourist location, helmets will most likely be provided for you. Companies that provide horse riding services will need to make sure that all riders wear a helmet to cover their liability insurance requirements. It is always worthwhile asking in advance if helmets are provided, just in case you need to bring one of your own.  

When choosing a riding helmet, they must meet the safety standards for this piece of equipment. Not every helmet is suitable for riding safely, and some older helmets will no longer be fit for purpose.

Depending on the country in which you are riding, there are national safety requirements that helmets must meet. In the US, these are ASTM-SEI requirements.  So long as the helmets meet these requirements, they are safe to use while riding. When wearing a riding helmet, it is vital to ensure that it is correctly fitted to your head. The helmet should fit snugly and be secured with a chin strap to prevent it from moving.

Helmets may not seem glamorous or photo-friendly, but they will protect your head and your life while you’re enjoying your ride.  Serious head injuries can occur from horseback riding, and it’s best to always be prepared for the unexpected.

What Shirt To Wear For Horse Riding

You don’t need a specialist shirt for horse riding – any comfortable top will fulfill this purpose. Some establishments insist that long-sleeved shirts are worn, to protect the arms if you happen to fall off. Whatever type of shirt you choose, make sure it is snug fitting and will not flap around when you are riding. It is a good idea to tuck it into your pants to keep them secure.

For a longer trail ride, we’d suggest wearing two or three layered tops which fit comfortably over each other. This means you can easily adjust your clothing if you get too hot or cold. Don’t forget to pack a lightweight waterproof top in case of sudden showers!

What To Wear For A Horseback Trail Ride

There is no better feeling than heading out for a long trail ride on horseback! This is a commonplace vacation activity for many people, and if you only ride horses on an occasional basis you might not have all of the necessary clothing.

So, what should you wear if you’re heading out for a trail ride? The key is to make sure you are comfortable and safe – this is not a fashion parade, so option for functional rather than stylish!

The riding center should provide a helmet, but it is a good idea to check with them first. If not, you will need to buy or borrow one ahead of your ride.

On your top half, wear layers that are appropriate for the anticipated weather conditions. A vest top and long-sleeved shirt are usually sufficient, and you should take a lightweight waterproof coat that folds small enough to fit into a saddle bag.

When choosing what pants to wear in horseback riding for a trail ride, bear in mind that you will be sitting in the saddle for many hours. This can be an uncomfortable experience for even the hardiest rider, let alone someone who only rides a few times a year on vacation! Choose soft, comfortable, snug-fitting pants that will protect your legs and seat from chafing.

And finally, footwear! The best option is a pair of ankle boots with a small heel – or even cowboy boots if you have them. The ideal pair of boots will keep your feet safe and secure in the stirrups, provide ankle support, and protect your toes if your horse accidentally stands on your foot.


So, as we have learned, choosing the right clothing is vital to ensure that you are safe and comfortable when riding a horse for the first time. The ideal footwear for horse riding is a pair of pull-on boots with a small heel and ankle support. When deciding what pants to wear for horseback riding, choose a pair that are snugly fitting, comfortable, flexible, and free from dangling or flapping parts. One essential piece of equipment for horseback riding is an approved helmet, but these are normally provided by reputable horse-riding establishments.

We would love to hear your thoughts on what pants to wear for horseback riding and other essential horseback riding attire! Do you prefer to wear sweatpants or jeans for horseback riding? Or perhaps you’ve got some questions about what to wear for a long trail ride? Leave a comment below and we will get back to you!


What should a beginner horse rider wear?

The most important things to consider if you are a beginner rider are safety and comfort. Wear closed-toe shoes or boots with a low heel, an approved safety helmet, and comfortable clothing that does not restrict your movements. For a beginner rider, a pair of jeans, a comfy t-shirt or shirt, and a jacket for cold weather will do to start with.
Once you decide that riding is going to be a regular hobby, you can select your own purpose-made horse riding gear based on your own personal preferences. There are many other items of equestrian clothing that are very useful for specific purposes such as warmth, water resistance, and insect protection. 

Can I wear leggings horseback riding?

Leggins are a popular choice for horseback riding as they are very comfortable and easy to move in, despite being tight-fitting. Leggings are most commonly they are made from nylon or Lycra material which is flexible, doesn't restrict your movements and adapts well to your body shape. A good pair of leggings can also help to prevent chafing as long as the material is thick enough.

Do you have to wear pants horseback riding?

It is not essential to wear pants for horseback riding, but switching to shorts is not always a comfortable option! It is not uncommon for people to get saddle sores on their legs due to the friction between their skin and the saddle. This is especially true if they are wearing shorts, which don't provide any padding or support to the area. You can easily avoid this problem by wearing long pants while horseback riding.

Can you wear wellies horse riding?

Wellies, or Wellington boots, can be worn by beginner riders but they are no always a good choice. These waterproof rubber boots are great for protecting your feet from getting wet and dirty, but they are not very suitable for horseback riding.
The reason for this is that wellies have wide, chunky soles, meaning that they can cause the foot to become stuck in the stirrup. Another problem is that they are not always snugly fitting around the calves, and they can catch on the skirt of the saddle.

What is the dress code for horse riding?

The dress code for horse riding varies depending on where you go and what type of horse riding you are doing. For example, derby hats, hunting hats or equestrian helmets are commonly worn for various different equestrian pursuits. Some top-level riders in sports such as dressage must wear a top hat that is matching their coat.
For casual horse riding, there is no dress code. You should wear well-fitting, comfortable clothing that does not have any flapping parts that could startle the horse.