What Are Breeches and Their Difference from Jodhpurs?

What are breeches?

You might be asking yourself this question if you’re an inexperienced horse rider and don’t know if you need a pair. 

As you’ll find out, what you’re wearing matters when you’re riding your horse, and we’re here to explain in detail why.

Just keep on reading. 

What Are Breeches? 

an equestrian modeling her full riding gear but what are breeches?

In general, breeches are short trousers or pants, which extend just below the knee or the ankles with Velcro or elastic cuff at the bottom. They’re usually worn with high riding boots. 

Unlike an ordinary pair of jeans, riding pants are specially designed to improve the rider’s comfort and enhance the communication between the rider and the horse.

These short athletic pants are made of a thin fabric for a snug fit around the rider’s tights, legs, and seat. In this way, it’s easy for the horse to feel its rider’s leg movements and respond to them.

Moreover, modern breeches have no inner leg seam to prevent skin chafing. They also incorporate special grip fabric and reinforced knee patches for comfort and stability. 

These specially designed riding pants also give you greater freedom of movement and minimize distractions when you’re in the saddle.

While traditionally worn by men and boys, there are many models available for women and girls nowadays. 

Difference Between Jodhpurs And Breeches

Jodhpurs or jods are another type of riding pants, which you might confuse with breeches. But there are a couple of distinct differences.

an equestrian wearing johdpur

The main jodhpurs vs breeches difference is that jods are full-length pants, ending in a cuff and fit over jodhpur boots, also called paddock boots.

Jodhpurs also have elastic straps that go under the riding boots to keep the pants in place.

The advantage of jodhpurs is that you don’t need tall boots to protect your leg’s skin from rubbing and chaffing against the horse’s flanks.

They’re also great for children learning to ride because it’s easier for the instructor to fix the child’s posture. But it’s a personal preference, so don’t be shy to try a pair of jodhpurs! 

Fabrics Used for Breeches

In the past, cavalry twill was the most common fabric used for producing riding pants. These had a distinctive appearance thanks to their balloon pant legs. 

But nowadays, we’ve got plenty of multi-stretch fabrics that ensure a snug fit and absorb moisture. As such, most breeches are made from lycra, spandex, nylon, and base fabrics. 

However, you can also find a denim version of these riding pants or ones with soft inner padding for extra comfort when riding in cold weather. 

Typical Colors

You can find riding pants in almost any color. However, you’d be surprised to learn that colors matter if you’re going to participate in events, competitions, or formal occasions. 

White or light-colored breeches are preferred for English riding disciplines, such as show jumping and dressage.

You’d best go with beige for hunting events, but light gray, rust, tan, dull yellow, and olive greens are also popular. 

2 Types of Breeches

white breeches and tall boots

We can divide these short riding pants into two main types, based on the type of grip. But why is the grip so important? 

As specialists explain it, grip aims to “improve the adhesiveness to the saddle” and reinforce the material where it tends to wear down quickly. 

#1 Knee Patch Breeches

Knee patch riding pants feature grippy fabric (synthetic or suede leather) inside the knee area to keep your leg still. They’re most popular with people in jumping disciplines and hunt seat riders. 

#2 Full Seat Breeches

This type of riding pants has gripping fabric from the knee up to the inner thighs and buttocks. In this way, they offer a “sticky” seat to improve the rider’s stability when in the saddle. 

Some of the best winter full seat breeches also have extra padding to ensure the rider’s comfort even on the coldest days.

You can expect to see a full-seat breech at dressage, where the extra grip is invaluable when the horse is performing gaits. 

Other Types of Riding Pants 

Besides these two official types, we can divide riding pants based on their rise or waistband.

So, we have riding trousers with a low rise, a mid-rise, or a traditional rise with wide or narrow waistbands. 

Riding Breeches Sizing Guide 

By now, you’re probably wondering, “What size breeches do I wear?” After all, riding breeches sizing is essential for preventing skin friction or constraint and ensuring a comfortable ride.  

So, let’s talk about how to size riding breeches and how to measure for breeches:

  • Get a tape measure and measure your waist at the narrowest point. Write the number down.
  • Do the same for your hips and record the measurements.  
  • Measure the inseam. The easiest way to do that is to take a pair of pants that fits you well and measure the length of one pant leg from the crotch to the bottom. 
  • Once you’ve taken all the measurements, refer to the manufacturer’s page and see which size is appropriate for you. If you’re between two numbers, it might be wise to go bigger. 

Since there’s a wide variety of riding pants, check if the manufacturer has some specific instructions on how to do the measurements. 

FAQs

What Are the Best Riding Breeches?

dirty green colored breeches

The best horse riding breeches are made of soft, stretchy fabric with sufficient grip for jumping and other equine activities. They don’t construct your movements and allow the horse to feel your directions.
To determine the best riding pants for you, consider what you’re going to use them for and look at the customers’ reviews.

Can You Wear Breeches With Paddock Boots?

No, you can’t. Your lower legs won’t be protected against rubbing against the horse’s flanks and riding gear when the horse is running. Instead, you can wear jodhpurs with paddock boots because they are longer and don’t stop near the ankles.

What Are Breeches in Fashion?

In fashion, the breeches refer to “a man’s bifurcated outer garment, covering the lower body from waist to knees.”  

Conclusion

As you see, having a proper pair of riding pants is essential if you’re riding and want to be as comfortable and safe as possible. 

Riding tights are also an excellent alternative to traditional riding pants and are great for pleasure riding. 

What do you think about breeches? Which type is your favorite? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section. 

References

  • Barker, Lauren. 2019. “What’s the Difference between Breeches and Jodhpurs.” R&R Country. Publisher name. January 10, 2019. https://randrcountry.co.uk/blogs/blog/the-difference-between-breeches-and-jodhpurs.
  • “Breeches.” 2013. LoveToKnow. LoveToKnow Corp. 2013. https://fashion-history.lovetoknow.com/clothing-types-styles/breeches.
  • Drum, Michelle. 2019. “What Are Breeches & How to Choose the Right Pair.” Farm House Tack. Farm House Tack. November 19, 2019. https://www.farmhousetack.com/blogs/barn-blog/what-are-breeches-how-to-choose-the-right-pair.
  • “Everything You Need to Know about Breeches.” 2021. EQUUS. 2021. https://www.equus.co.uk/blogs/buying-guides/everything-you-need-to-know-about-breeches.
  • Statelinetack.com. 2017. “Riding Breeches Explained.” Horse Tack, Horse & Equine Supplies. 2017. https://www.statelinetack.com/content/apparel/riding-breeches-explained/.
close-up shot of white breeches

What are breeches? Have you tried using it? Please share your answers with us below!

Grigorina S
Grigorina S

Grigorina grew up surrounded by animals – dogs, cats, cows, goats, sheep, and horses and that has shaped her into what I am today – a crazy cat lady who always has a place for one more cat (or a dog). She has two female cats – Kitty and Roni, and two tomcats – Blacky and Shaggy, but she also feeds her neighbors’ cats when they come for a visit. I just can’t say no to them. Follow her on FACEBOOK AND INSTAGRAM
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