How to Choose the Best Breeches for You
Breeches, breeches, breeches.
How can you possible find the right pair in a sea of brands, colors, and styles?
Before you start looking, you need to know what you’re looking for. There have been some advancements in modern breeches technology that you should know about (in addition to the traditional features). What you buy also depends on what you will use the breeches for: hunter jumper breeches are different then dressage breeches which are very different from riding tights, and so on.
Read on to learn everything you need to know to make an informed breeches purchase.
What are Breeches Made Of?
The fabric in breeches may vary based on what company manufactures or designs them as well as the type of breeches or tights. Typically, though, breeches are a blend of cotton and polyester (or another synthetic material), which makes them comfortable and breathable to wear while you’re riding or working around the barn.
Most breeches and tights also have a relatively small amount of Lycra (also known as Spandex or Elastane) which gives them their stretch, conforming to your body and allowing you to move freely. This, together with the knee patch or full seat, is what makes breeches better for riding than regular pants or jeans.
What Type of Seat Style?
There are two main types of seat style for breeches and tights: knee patch and full seat. What you choose to wear depends largely on what you want to use them for: if you’ll be competing or pleasure riding, and what event or events you’ll be competing in. But more on that later.
Knee patch breeches, as the name suggests, have patches of fabric or other material on the inside of the knees. These give the rider an extra grip where her knees make contact with the horse’s side. These breeches are especially used in hunt seat, although other hunter jumpers often wear them as well.
Full seat breeches, also as the name suggests, have grippy material along the entire seat area of the breeches and down to the knee or mid-calf. This provides a much stronger grip for the rider which can keep their body still as they direct the horse—something which is especially useful in dressage, where composure is an important factor.
Historically, knee patches and seats would be made of real leather; and this option is still possible, but is becoming increasingly uncommon.
Instead, many breeches now offer a synthetic leather or suede material for the seat or the knee patch which still provides a level of grip and a traditional look, while giving the option to appear in a variety of colors (and usually with a lower price tag).
A third, more recent option is silicone full seats or knee patches. These give breeches a very modern look, amplified by the huge variety of patterns that the silicone can take. In addition, silicone can give breeches an extra level of grip that seems almost sticky when sitting in your saddle.
Ultimately, the type of material you choose for your seat is up to you. If you like a more traditional look that provides good grip without necessarily being “sticky”, then a synthetic leather or suede knee patch or full seat pair of breeches could be for you. If you’d rather try out a modern style and an extra grippy seat, then silicone might be your choice.
High vs. Low Waisted Breeches
You may see some breeches described as ‘high-waisted’ or ‘high-rise’, and others as ‘low-waisted’ or ‘low-rise’. This describes the rise of the breeches or tights (‘rise‘ is the distance from the middle of the crotch seam to the top of the waistband).
A good general rule for what type of waist you should wear is the relative length of your torso: if you have a longer torso and a higher waist, a high-waisted pair of breeches will sit and look better on you. If you have a shorter torso and a lower waist, then a low- or medium-waisted pair of breeches will fit you well.
Many riders find that a higher waisted pair of breeches, with a waistband raised up close to their true waist, provide a more comfortable fit and a flattering look. We would encourage you to try a pair—you might just fall in love!
Breeches for Each Discipline
Based on which discipline you’ll be competing or training in (or if you won’t be in a discipline at all), there may be different requirements or recommendations for the breeches you wear. It’s important that you know and follow these guidelines because at higher levels, the dress code is strict at competitions. At lower levels, the rules may be more relaxed. Read on to find out what you should wear for your preferred discipline or disciplines.
Hunter and Equitation Riding
Traditionally, hunter and equitation riders have worn a classic beige pair of breeches with simple knee patches—usually in leather, synthetic leather, or self-fabric. Modern breeches may offer silicone grip knee patch breeches, but you may want to check with officials before you wear these to a show to make sure they will be accepted. Keep in mind that hunter seat and equitation are formal and traditional; as such, bling and other embellishments don’t belong here.
Jumper riders can choose from similar styles to hunter and equitation riders, but can add classic white to their collection as well as lighter grays and other pale colors. A knee patch seat style allows additional grip where riders need it most while allowing plenty of freedom of movement to get up out of the saddle to clear big fences.
This formal discipline requires either white or light-colored breeches, and typically riders will choose to have a full seat. Full seat breeches in either leather, synthetic leather or silicone grip will hold your seat firmly in the saddle and offer support and a touch of help while riding an extended sitting trot or a collected canter. Full seat breeches are now also designed with breathable fabrics to help you ride better while keeping cool in the saddle.
Cross Country Riding
Cross country riders are given a lot more freedom to express themselves when it comes to their attire. Riders may choose to wear full seat or knee patch breeches based on their preference; and the color is also up to them. You may want to wear breeches in your barn colors, or a personal favorite—or maybe you just want to stick to a traditional color. Breeches with bling or interesting piping are also allowed and can give your outfit a touch of personality. Depending on the event, though, some riders may choose to wear a pair of breeches that is allowed for the other disciplines. For example, if you are eventing and have to compete in show jumping soon after cross country, it may be wise to wear a light colored pair of knee patch breeches so that you don’t have to change.
Fox hunt riders can wear styles and colors similar to the hunter, equitation or jumper riders—typically beige or other another light color. There is no particular seat style that is required, so here again it is up to the rider to decide.
As for the pleasure rider and casual backyard pony rider? The sky’s the limit when it comes to options such as soft tights or bright colorful trendy breeches. The main purpose when it comes to casual hacks around the field or woodlands is to enjoy the ride and feel comfortable and confident in the saddle. The choices in styles and colors at Equinavia include everything from low-rise denim for teens and those young at heart to high-waist supportive breeches for the adult female rider looking for more stability. The added details such as crystals and graphics help you add a touch of fashion flair and personality to your day. Zip from stable to errands around town in your favorite colorful trendy breeches and everyone in the neighborhood will know what your favorite pastime is.
Do you ride in lots of clinics and take lessons with other competitive riders at your local stable? Are you always striving to look your best even when training? The colors and styles from Equinavia include contrasting full seat breeches in today’s trendiest colors and added details such as bold silicone print seats will show off your impeccable taste. Forget riding in jeans or with the same boring pair of schooling breeches, there are so many choices of trendy breeches offered, you can wear a fresh style every day and never grow bored.
One of the greatest newer inventions in the equine world has got to be the invention of riding tights. Gone are the days when all you had to choose from were formal breeches which required an actual belt to look polished and put together. Now riding tights are the perfect choice to ride in complete comfort while still looking professional. Tights are a favorite for young riders too. Pull on riding tights and forget about buckles, snaps, buttons and zippers. This makes them perfect for busy parents who don’t have time to dress their little riders in a full, formal wardrobe. Tights are practically like wearing sweatpants or yoga pants but with the added durability and reinforcement of a pair of breeches. Many styles of riding tights offer a reinforced knee area and more sturdy stitching than traditional workout gear. While they may feel and look like your ordinary casual gym clothes, riding tights are designed to give you a subtle boost in the saddle without the formality of more expensive traditional breeches. You will love riding tights so much you may even forget you’re wearing them and treat them more like your favorite pajama pants!
Do you love to ride in the snow or during cold temperatures? Equinavia offers thermal, insulated breeches too. Choose a pair of warm fleece-lined riding breeches to make cold weather lessons more enjoyable. Or add a pair of wide-leg water-resistant breeches to make snowy rides fun and memorable.
Whatever your need, Equinavia offers riding breeches for any riding situation. Choose your discipline, choose your venue (casual or show) and then pick your size and favorite color. We guarantee you will never run out of choices to help you ride better, look amazing and feel great about your love of horses.
Let us know in the comments what your favorite pair of breeches is!