Girl on horseback with trainer

What to Wear While Horseback Riding

Knowing what to wear when horseback riding is essential for your comfort and safety. The right attire not only enhances your performance but also ensures an enjoyable experience for you and your horse. In this guide, we’ll delve into the essential elements of equestrian apparel to ensure you’re properly outfitted for your next ride, whether it’s your first lesson or competition!

What should you wear horseback riding?

When horseback riding, wear attire that prioritizes your safety and your comfort. Whether you’re gearing up for your first lesson or hitting up the show ring for a Grand Prix, there are certain non-negotiables that you should always wear.

Riding helmet

You should always wear a properly fitted ASTM/SEI-certified equestrian helmet when horseback riding. It’s the most critical safety equipment to protect against head injuries in case of a fall. Make sure to replace your helmet whenever you fall or drop it or every five years to ensure you have the most effective head protection.

Learn more: How To Choose and Buy a Riding Helmet

Riding boots

Riding boots are another essential piece of equestrian attire. Your riding boots should be sturdy and durable with a clearly defined heel. Riding boots provide the necessary grip and support in the stirrups and protect your feet from slipping through and getting caught.

Learn more: 12 Best Horse Riding Boots

Breeches, jodhpurs, or riding tights

Choose riding pants specifically designed for horseback riding. Breeches and jodhpurs (usually worn by children) offer flexibility and grip in the saddle and prevent chafing or discomfort. These are typically worn during more formal riding situations. Riding tights are casual riding wear but provide the same support and comfort. Riders typically wear these when training or riding for pleasure.

Learn more: What Are Breeches & How to Choose the Right Pair

Riding shirt

Wear a comfortable, breathable shirt suitable for the weather conditions. For warmer weather, choose moisture-wicking fabrics with UV sun protection, while for colder weather, opt for thermal layers to stay warm.

Learn more: 13 Best Horse Riding Shirts for English Riders


Protect your hands with riding gloves, which provide grip on the reins and prevent blisters and chafing.

What NOT to wear horseback riding

When riding horses, there are certain clothing items that you should avoid due to safety concerns and impracticality. Here are some things you should not wear when horseback riding.

Open-toed shoes or sandals

These are a big no-no. Avoid wearing open-toed shoes or sandals as they can’t protect your feet and increase the risk of injury if your foot gets caught in a stirrup.

Loose clothing

Loose clothing such as baggy pants, oversized shirts, or flowing scarves can get caught on equipment while riding, posing a safety hazard. Your attire should be well-fitted while still providing ample freedom of movement.

Slippery fabrics

Clothing made from slippery or non-textured fabrics can cause you to slide in the saddle, leading to instability and potential falls. Choose breathable fabrics with grip or texture for better traction.

Denim Jeans

Regular denim jeans are incredibly uncomfortable to wear when English riding. The position of your legs combined with the inseam of the jeans will cause uncomfortable chafing while riding. Equestrian brands make denim breeches for riders that don’t chafe, though these are meant for casual riding, not training or competitions.

Dangling jewelry

Avoid wearing dangling jewelry such as long necklaces, hoop earrings, or bracelets that can catch on equipment or pose a risk of injury if they get tangled.

Shorts, skirts, or dresses

Riding in shorts, skirts, or dresses is impractical and uncomfortable because it exposes your legs to chafing from the saddle. Opt for riding-appropriate pants or breeches instead.

What to wear to your first horseback riding lesson

Beginner equestrians aren’t expected to wear the same gear seasoned riders wear. In fact, there are certain clothing items that instructors expect first-timers to wear. For example, some instructors prefer that beginners wear jodhpurs with paddock boots so they can keep an eye on your heel and leg placement. Lessons aren’t the place for pageantry but a time to learn proper technique and develop your riding skills.

 If you’re looking for an outfit for your first riding lesson, we’ve got you covered. Here are a few clothing recommendations that can take you from your first lesson to your hundredth lesson. 

(Always check with your instructor regarding the required dress code at the barn or facility where your lessons are held.)

Training shirt or sun shirt

Our recommendation: Tailored Sportsman Long Sleeve IceFil Sun Shirts

Blue long-sleeve 1/4 zip sun shirt

These sun shirts are incredibly comfortable for horseback riding lessons. The revolutionary IceFil technology makes the material soft, breathable, and cool. This shirt also features UV sun protection to help prevent sunburn on super sunny days. With dozens of colors available, you’re sure to find a few options that reflect your style and personality.

Breeches or Jodhpurs

Our recommendation: Kerrits Women’s Ice Fil Full Seat Tech Tight

Black riding tights

These tights offer year-round comfort and style for riders of all levels. Featuring Ice Fil® technology, they can keep you cool in summer and act as a warming base layer in winter. The original anti-slip Kerrits Sticks™ provide maximum contact with the saddle while you learn proper form and posture.

Paddock boots 

Our recommendation: Ariat Women’s Heritage Breeze Zip Paddock Boot

Black paddock boot with zipper on the front

Ariat’s paddock boots are some of the best riding boots for beginners. The lining is moisture-wicking and breathable, so your feet stay dry and comfortable throughout your ride. The construction is durable and sturdy, so your feet remain supported, and the leather upper is supple and washable, so they’re easy to care for. 

What to wear to horseback riding competitions

Once you’ve had a few lessons, it’s time to sign up for a few competitions and wow the judges with your skills! Competition attire is vastly different from training apparel. The garment’s material quality, structure, and overall appearance must be exceptional and professional. Many competition garments, like show coats, also feature discreet mesh paneling to help keep riders cool while maintaining a traditional look.

Though each discipline has a specific dress code, here’s a general breakdown of what horseback riding outfits to wear by discipline.

What to wear for a schooling competition 

Though schooling is one of the more casual equestrian competitions, you should still follow the dress code provided by the organization for both professionalism and safety. For lower levels, most riders wear clinic attire for schooling, usually tan breeches, a collared polo shirt or show shirt, and a belt. Paddock boots and half chaps are generally acceptable for lower levels and children. Riders may add dark jackets and tall field boots at higher show levels and exclusively wear show shirts while competing.

Here are our recommendations for your first schooling outfit.

Show shirt or training shirt 

Our recommendation: Ariat Women’s Aptos Vent Show Shirt

White collared show shirt

This gorgeous show shirt is an excellent addition to any equestrian’s wardrobe. It has a great silhouette, and it’s designed to keep you cool and dry, especially on hot summer days.

Breeches or jodhpurs 

Our recommendation: Ariat Women’s Tri Factor Grip Full Seat Breeches

Tan full seat riding breeches

Ariat Tri Factor breeches are hugely popular in competitive equestrian spheres. They have excellent compression, patented Freeze Point fabric to keep you cool, and a silicone seat that provides excellent contact with the saddle.

Riding boots or paddock boots 

Our recommendation: Ariat Women’s V Sport Zip Tall Riding Boot

Tall black riding boots

These tall riding boots from Ariat are supremely comfortable. Their cushioned sole also absorbs shock. The full-grain leather upper and high-cut Spanish topline give these boots a sleek, professional appearance.

What to wear for a dressage competition 

Dressage is a formal equestrian sport with a specific dress code that all riders should adhere to. Show coats are standard dress across the board, except when waived due to hot weather. Young and beginner riders can wear paddock boots with half chaps, though breeches and tall boots are standard for adult riders. More established riders can wear shadbelly coats at higher levels to signify their experience.

Here’s what we recommend for your first dressage competition.

Collared, solid-colored show shirt

Our recommendation: EGO 7 Women’s Mesh Top Long Sleeve

White and black collared 1/4 zip show shirt

Dressage riders should wear a collared solid-colored show shirt underneath a show coat. We recommend the EGO 7 Mesh Long Sleeve Top. This mesh show shirt is perfectly breathable and comfortable for long competition days. It’s anti-wrinkle and anti-odor, ensuring you look your best all day.

White or light-colored breeches

Our recommendation: EGO 7 Women’s Dressage FG Breech

Beige dressage breeches

White or light-colored breeches are standard for dressage competitions, and riders typically opt for full-seat breeches for maximum seat-to-saddle contact. These breeches by EGO 7 are made of 100% Italian jersey with four-way stretch for unrestricted movement, yet the luxurious fabric retains its shape during even the most vigorous of rides. These flattering breeches are perfect to wear for dressage competitions.

Dark-colored show coat 

Our recommendation: RJ Classics Sydney II Ladies’ Show Coat

Black show coat

You should wear a formal show coat during dressage competitions. Black and navy are most common and never go out of style, though dark gray and emerald are also popular. The Sydney II Show Coat from R.J. Classics has a gorgeous classic silhouette and is incredibly affordable for first-time dressage riders. 

Tall dress boots 

Our recommendation: EGO7 Aries Dress Boots

Tall black riding boots

Tall dress boots are standard to wear during dressage competitions. The EGO 7 Aries dress boots are perfect for dressage because they give your legs a long, elegant look. The anti-shock insoles, soft, flexible leather, and breathable elastic band make these boots comfortable all day.

What to wear for a hunter competition 

Hunter competitions typically have a traditional and formal dress code emphasizing neatness, professionalism, and respect for tradition. Hunters must wear a solid show coat and light-colored breeches at all levels. Shadbellies are commonly worn at higher levels. 

Here are our top recommendations for your first hunter competition.

White or light-colored show shirt 

Our recommendation: Essex Classics Ladies Performance Long Sleeve Show Shirt

Gray and white long-sleeve show shirt

A white or light-colored show shirt is standard for hunter competitions. Essex Classics show shirts are super stylish and feature stretch performance fabric for maximum breathability and freedom of movement. They come in various styles and designs, so you can proudly display your personality.

Knee-patch breeches

Our recommendation:  Ariat Women’s Tri Factor Grip Knee Patch Breech

Tan riding breeches with knee patches

Knee patch breeches are essential for hunters needing extra grip along the legs and knees. The Ariat Tri Factor Knee Patch Breeches are perfect for hunter competitions as they are highly flexible and breathable, with ample compression for a sleek silhouette.

Solid-colored hunt coat

Our recommendation:  R.J. Classics Monterey Ladies’ Show Coat

Black show coat

A solid-colored hunt coat is traditional for hunter competitions. The Monterey Show Coat by R.J. Classics is perfect, soft yet durable, and made with premium Italian jersey. Though sporting a conventional silhouette, the fabric allows airflow between fibers for cooling, is quick-drying and features UPF 50 sun protection for comfortable all-day wear.

Tall dress boots or field boots 

Our recommendation: EGO 7 Orion Field Boots

Tall black field boots

Hunters commonly wear tall dress boots and field boots during competitions. These Field Boots by Ego 7 are of exceptional quality and easily broken straight out of the box. These boots are the perfect choice if you’re looking for a custom boot without a custom price tag.

What to wear for a show jumping competition

Jumper competitions are similar to hunter competitions in terms of dress code. As a jumper, you need to look your best while you perform your best. Here are our recommendations for the best jumper competition apparel.

Show Shirt 

Our recommendation: Equiline CamberK Women’s Polo Shirt

White collared short-sleeve show shirt with buttons

The Equiline CamberK is a timeless short-sleeved women’s show shirt. This shirt is crafted from a high-tech, stretchable, and breathable fabric, ensuring all-day comfort.  It exudes elegance in the ring with its top button closure and button collar. This shirt is easy to care for and a must-have for any equestrian wardrobe.


Our recommendation: Equiline ATIRK Women’s Knee Grip Breeches in 4 Seasons B-Move

Beige riding breeches with knee grips

The ATIRK Knee Grip Breeches with X-Grip is tailored to provide unparalleled comfort, ensuring your comfort throughout the day. With their classic design and impeccable fit, these breeches are perfect for jumpers and hunters.

Show coat 

Our recommendation: Samshield Women’s Victorine Premium Show Jacket

Black show jacket

Wow the judges with the Samshield Victorine Premium Show Jacket. The gorgeous Swarovski detailing is eye-catching, and the asymmetrical cut is flattering and stylish. This show jacket is crafted from breathable, highly stretchable fabric, providing unrestricted motion to ride effortlessly. Its wrinkle-free design is easy to care for and maintains a gorgeous appearance throughout your competition.

Tall boots 

Our recommendation: Tucci Sofia Tall Boots

Tall black riding boots

These tall boots are crafted from premium Italian leather designed to provide a snug, custom-like fit with unparalleled comfort. This innovative design not only maximizes comfort but also promotes a proper heels-down position, ensuring optimal performance and stability in the saddle.

Ariat Women’s Kinsley Field Tall Riding Boot

Tall black riding boot

The Ariat Kinsley Field Boot is a favorite for its luxurious full-leather lining and integrated heel cushion, ensuring comfort and durability. Its contoured fit around the ankle offers added support, while the rounded toe provides a classic yet refined look. The high Spanish cut topline exudes elegance, guaranteeing you stand out in the jumper ring.

What to wear for an eventing competition

The cross country phase of an eventing competition is an incredibly thrilling equestrian sport. Safety is paramount during these events, so safety vests and body protection are required at all levels. Medical armbands are also essential to wear in case of falls. 

Matching with your horse is also important in eventing. Coordinating your attire with your horse’s saddle pad, leg wraps, and ear bonnets is commonplace. We’ll share a few suggestions for customizing horse tack to match your eventing outfit.

Whether you’re competing solely in a cross country competition or as one stage of an eventing competition, here are the pieces we recommend wearing.

Show Shirt

Our recommendation: Ariat Women’s Aptos Show Shirt

White collared show shirt with check pattern

The Aptos shirt is comfortable and stylish, perfect for the cross country course. The ample stretch and breathable fabric help keep you cool when the competition starts to heat up, while the stand-up collar stays in place for a professional appearance.


Our recommendation: KL Select Gabrielle Knee Patch Breech

Beige riding breeches with knee patches

These sporty KL Select breeches are perfect for cross country riders. The superior compression fabric paired with four-way stretch flatters your figure while still providing freedom of movement. The full silicone seat grants maximum control in the saddle throughout your ride.

Safety vest

Our recommendation: Freejump X’Air Safe Vest

Black riding vest with airbag

Air vests are crucial safety gear for cross country riders. We love the Freejump X’Air Vest because it provides a superior airbag and body protection. Stay ready in case of falls with the Freejump X’Air Safe Vest.

Tall boots

Our recommendation: Ariat Women’s Kinsley Field Tall Riding Boot

Tall black riding boots

The Ariat Kinsley Field Boot is a favorite for its luxurious full-leather lining and integrated heel cushion, ensuring comfort and durability. Its contoured fit around the ankle offers added support, while the rounded toe provides a classic yet refined look. The high Spanish cut topline exudes elegance, guaranteeing you stand out in the jumper ring.

Saddle pad

Our recommendation: LeMieux Suede GP Square Pad

Blue saddle pad with black trim

These colorful saddle pads from LeMieux are a great way to personalize your horse’s tack and match it with your eventing outfit. With so many colors, you’re sure to find something that speaks to your specific style. These pads are also great at absorbing sweat and staying secure throughout your ride.

Ear bonnets

Our recommendation: LeMieux Classic Fly Hood

Bright blue fly hood for horse

Don’t forget the matching ear bonnets! These colorful fly hoods match the saddle pads perfectly and make your horse look super cute while keeping pesky flies away.

Saddle up with confidence

From your head to your toes, every piece of clothing and equipment plays a crucial role in ensuring a successful and enjoyable ride. Whether competing in the show ring or exploring the trails, prioritizing proper riding attire sets the foundation for a confident and rewarding equestrian experience. So, the next time you saddle up, remember to dress the part and ride on confidently!

For all things equestrian, from horseback riding apparel to tack and more, the Farm House has you covered! We offer only the best horseback riding attire to passionate equestrians like us. Browse our extensive selection of English riding apparel today to find your next competition outfit!

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