What to Wear for Horseback Riding: Expert Tips & Insights

Are you unsure about what to wear for horseback riding? Then hold your horses!

As an experienced horse owner and rider, I’ve learned that your attire is more than just a fashion statement – it offers maximum safety, comfort, and exquisite functionality during your ride!

This guide offers insights into equestrian attire types, the significance of safety gear, tips for picking fashionable yet functional clothing for diverse weather, and more.

So, let’s embark on this journey through the essentials and get the ultimate gear for your riding journey!

Key Takeaways

  • The critical role of safety-approved riding attire in preventing injuries and ensuring rider comfort.
  • Selecting suitable clothing according to the type of riding, weather conditions, and specific riding disciplines is important.
  • The availability of a wide range of horseback riding gear and how to choose based on personal preference, safety requirements, and affordability.

Ready yet? Sure you are! Find out exactly what to wear in the next section…

What to Wear for Horseback Riding: The Basics

So, you’re eager to know what to wear but unsure where to start. Without further ado, here are the 17 must-know tips from the experts!)…

1. Safety First: Helmets and Protective Gear

lady wearing a horse riding a helmet touching her horse

I cannot stress enough the importance of wearing an approved safety standard helmet when riding a horse,” writes equestrian expert Anette Wilson,

Helmets are a crucial piece of protective gear that can significantly reduce the risk of head injuries in case of a fall or accident. [1]”

A well-fitting helmet is necessary to protect your head from potential falls or impacts.

Consider investing in additional protective gear, such as body protectors, for enhanced safety while planning your ride.

Storytime: I remember my first fall like it was yesterday. The sun was shining. The birds were singing. But I forgot to prepare, and Murphy’s law almost got me…

Luckily, I was wearing a helmet, which saved me from an early embarrassment and – on top of everything – a serious head injury.

Lesson learned: Safety gear is a non-negotiable component of horseback riding – Don’t be me!

2. Comfort is Key: Riding Pants or Breeches

Choose comfortable riding pants or breeches that allow freedom of movement without chafing or bunching.

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

Opt for breathable, moisture-wicking fabrics to keep you dry and comfortable during long rides.

3. Support and Grip: Riding Boots

Proper footwear is crucial for your safety and comfort.

Aztec Diamond Equestrian suggests comfortable footwear with a small heel to prevent the foot from slipping through the stirrup [2].


A good pair of riding boots is essential for proper foot support and grip in the stirrups.

Look for boots with sturdy heels, non-slip soles, and adequate ankle support.

4. Keep a Firm Hold: Riding Gloves

Riding gloves protect your hands from blisters and provide extra grip on the reins.

Choose gloves made from breathable, flexible materials for maximum comfort and functionality.

5. Layer Up: Clothing for Various Weather Conditions

Be prepared for any weather by dressing in layers.

Start with moisture-wicking base layers, add insulating layers for warmth, and finish with a waterproof, windproof outer layer for protection from the elements.

6. Don’t Forget the Accessories

A study by C Hessler and colleagues from the Neurosurgery, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, highlighted the importance of preventive measures in riding sports, like body protectors [3].

Although using torso protectors may not conclusively prevent torso injuries, wearing a safety vest can add another layer of protection, bringing us to the next point.

To enhance your riding experience, you can invest in some functional accessories – riding crops, riding socks, belts – plus this will hold your pants securely in place!

With this in mind, I always keep a spare belt in my riding bag – you never know when you’ll need it!

Now that you’re getting a little sleepy – or just the visual type – launch into this video featuring some amazing tips…

Finding the Right Fit: Tips for Choosing Your Riding Attire

7. Know Your Riding Style

Different equestrian disciplines require specific attire.

Knowing this, familiarize yourself with the dress code for your preferred riding style, whether English or Western, to ensure you’re dressed appropriately.

8. Prioritize Function Over Fashion

While choosing the most stylish riding outfit is tempting, focus on functionality and comfort first.

girl riding a quiet horse

As Aztec Diamond Equestrian suggests,

“You should wear comfortable tops and leg-covering bottoms, preferably not loose or flapping.

The pants you wear should be thick enough to avoid chafing from the stirrup leathers on the side of the saddle​” [1].

Your attire should allow for ease of movement and provide the necessary protection while on horseback.

Avoid wearing dresses, skirts, shorts, flip-flops, sandals, high heels, and loose-fitting clothes or ties that can get caught in the gear.

It’s also recommended to wear a supportive sports bra for comfort [1].

9. Shop Around for the Best Deals

Quality riding gear can be pricey, so don’t be afraid to shop around for the best deals.

As a start, check out sales, online retailers, and second-hand stores for affordable options…

For example, I once found a beautiful pair of riding boots at a second-hand shop for a fraction of their original price!

10. Seek Expert Advice

Chat with experienced riders or instructors for personalized advice on what to wear for horseback riding.

When I started my adventure as a horseback rider, I compiled premium tips from experienced riders.

Gloves may be helpful, especially in colder months.

They help grip the reins and prevent rubs on your fingers.

A riding hat or helmet is essential for safety, and your riding school should provide and fit you with a correctly fitting helmet.

Regarding clothing deodorizers, there is a product called “Reviver” which is referred to as a deodorant for clothes.

Professional show jumper Hannah Selleck endorses this product and uses it to keep her clothes “smelling fresh after leaving the barn” [5].

Thrilled to fast forward? Check out this nifty little comparison table for all the main points…

HelmetChoose a well-fitting helmet with proper safety certification, ensuring adequate protection and comfort.
Riding Pants or BreechesOpt for breathable, moisture-wicking fabrics with some stretch for added comfort and freedom of movement.
Riding BootsLook for boots with a sturdy heel, non-slip sole, and adequate ankle support to provide proper foot support and grip in the stirrups.
Riding GlovesSelect gloves made from breathable, flexible materials with a snug fit to protect your hands and improve grip on the reins.
Base LayersChoose moisture-wicking base layers to keep you dry and comfortable, regardless of the weather conditions.
Insulating LayersFor colder weather, add insulating layers to provide warmth without sacrificing mobility.
Outer LayersUse waterproof, windproof outer layers to protect yourself from the elements during your ride.
AccessoriesConsider a riding crop, riding socks, and a belt to hold your pants securely in place for added functionality.
Weather-specific AttireCheck the weather forecast before your ride and dress accordingly, using layers to adapt to changing conditions.
Safety GearInvest in additional protective gear, such as a body protector, especially if you’re a beginner or engaging in high-risk activities.

Caring for Your Riding Gear

11. Keep it Clean

Regularly clean and maintain your riding gear to prolong its lifespan.

I suggest you follow the manufacturer’s instructions for washing and caring for your clothing and equipment.

Here’s what professional dressage rider Anna Buffini says about the magic of keeping it clean: 

Taking good care of your riding gear not only helps it last longer, but it also ensures it performs at its best” [4].

I agree; discovering the impact of proper cleaning was astounding and it combined my passion for horses with a simple yet timeless skill – I’ve never stopped since.

12. Inspect for Wear and Tear

Regularly inspect your gear for signs of wear and tear, and replace items as necessary.

Look out for damaged or worn-out gear, which can compromise your safety and comfort while riding.

What to Wear for Horseback Riding: Seasonal Considerations

13. Spring and Summer Riding

Whether embarking on an English riding lesson or a horseback ride on the beach, dressing comfortably and safely is essential.

For such warm-weather outings, lightweight and breathable fabrics should be your go-to.

One expert suggests, “You should wear comfortable tops and leg-covering bottoms, preferably not loose or flapping.

The pants you wear should be thick enough to avoid chafing from the stirrup leathers on the side of the saddle” [1].

These considerations hold, especially if you’re planning a beach ride, where preventing chafing in hot weather is essential.

A breathable long-sleeve shirt is an excellent choice for sun protection.

While it might be tempting to opt for open-toed shoes or sandals for beach rides, choosing a comfortable pair of closed-toed shoes or riding boots is safer.

As for protecting your head, a riding hat or helmet is essential for safety, and your riding school should provide and fit you with a correctly fitting helmet.

If helmets are not provided, especially during casual beach rides, a hat with a wide brim offers good sun protection.

14. Fall and Winter Riding

In colder weather, comfort is about warmth and mobility. Hence, it’s all about layering your equestrian clothing and choosing suitable materials.

Start with your typical riding tights or pants and a comfy top.

Then, layer with sweaters, vests, jackets, and winter accessories, including neck warmers, hats, gloves, long underwear, and warm socks.

Remember that safety should never be compromised regardless of the weather or riding locale.

Whether trail riding, beach rides, or English riding lessons, always wear a helmet, suitable shoes, and comfy pants.

As wisely noted by a competitor, “leg chafing is no joke!”

After you’ve had a fun ride through the “Benefits of Horse Riding,” why not trot over to our other handy articles?

Get the scoop on “What to Wear Beach Horseback Riding,” and mosey through our “Best Cowboy Boots for Walking” piece to keep your feet happy on all your equestrian escapades!

Additional Tips for a Comfortable and Safe Ride

15. Check the Weather Forecast

Always check the weather forecast before heading out on a ride.

This will help you dress appropriately and be prepared for any weather conditions.

16. Pack a Change of Clothes

Bring a change of clothes after your ride, especially if you’re expecting wet or muddy conditions. This will ensure you stay comfortable and prevent chills after your ride.

17. Know Your Limits

Dress for your skill level and the riding you’ll be doing.

Especially if you’re a beginner, prioritize safety and comfort over style.

Keen on a nutshell version? Feel surprised with this epic infographic to ebb and flow into the right clothing…

Horseback Riding Infographic

FAQs on What to Wear for Horseback Riding

1. Is it okay to wear jeans for horseback riding?

Jeans are acceptable for casual riding, but specially designed pants or breeches offer more comfort and functionality.”

2. Do I need to wear a helmet every time I ride?

equestrian taking of her helmet so When to Replace Riding Helmet?

Yes, wearing a helmet is crucial for your safety, regardless of your skill level or riding experience.

3. What type of footwear is best for horseback riding?

Riding boots with a sturdy heel, non-slip sole, and adequate ankle support are essential for proper foot support and grip in the stirrups.

4. Is it necessary to wear riding gloves?

Riding gloves are recommended as they offer protection from blisters and improve grip on the reins.

5. How should I dress for a trail ride?

Comfort and functionality should be your top priorities. Opt for comfortable riding pants, sturdy boots, and layered clothing to adapt to changing weather conditions.

4. What should I wear for a horseback riding lesson?

Consult with your instructor or riding school to learn about any specific dress code requirements. In general, prioritize safety, comfort, and functionality in your attire.


Understanding what to wear for horseback riding is essential for a safe, comfortable, and enjoyable riding experience.

By adhering to the guidance in this ultimate guide, you’ll be all set for your next horseback riding adventure.

Remember to prioritize safety, comfort, and functionality in your attire, and always seek expert advice when in doubt.

As equestrian expert Mary King emphasizes, “The key is to be safe and comfortable, allowing you to focus on enjoying your ride and improving your skills” [1].

So saddle up, dress for success, and ride on, fellow horse lovers!

Did you find this guide helpful? Share it with your fellow riders or leave a comment with your own tips below!

lady riding a horse


1. Wilson A. Applied Posture Riding – Common Injuries Suffered By Horse Riders [Internet]. www.appliedpostureriding.com.au. Available from: https://www.appliedpostureriding.com.au/articles/back-injuries/133-common-injuries-suffered-by-horse-riders

2. First Riding Lessons: What To Wear [Internet]. Aztec Diamond Equestrian. Available from: https://aztecdiamondequestrian.com/blogs/news/what-to-wear-to-go-horse-riding

3. Püschel V, Michaelsen U, Giensch M, Lockemann U, Meenen NM, Hessler C. [The question of safety in horse-riding sports]. Sportverletzung Sportschaden: Organ Der Gesellschaft Fur Orthopadisch-Traumatologische Sportmedizin [Internet]. 2012 [cited 2023 May 25];26:159–63. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22786717/

4. Today D. Riding a Square with AnnA Buffini [Internet]. Dressage Today. 2021 [cited 2023 May 25]. Available from: https://dressagetoday.com/instruction/riding-a-square-with-anna-buffini/

5. Wylie L. Showjumper Hannah Selleck is the spokesmodel for Reviver, a “deodorant for clothes” [Internet]. HORSE NATION. 2013 [cited 2023 May 25]. Available from: https://www.horsenation.com/2013/12/17/showjumper-hannah-selleck-is-spokesmodel-for-reviver-the-worlds-first-deodorant-for-clothes/

Siun L
Siun L

Siun is an all-around animal lover, with a passion for horses. She grew up in the United States, competing in the hunters, equitation, and jumpers. Now living in Ireland, she competes with her own showjumping horses. She is experienced in the care and training of horses, as well as teaching riding lessons. She loves to combine her love for horses with her work. When not working, Siun will be found at the stables, rain or shine.
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