Horseback Riding Gear and Apparel

Table of Contents

    Welcome to Equestrian Boots & Brides – this is the Horseback Riding Gear and Apparel Page! This is your one stop shop to finding out about horseback riding gear online.

    Are you about to have your first lesson and you have no idea what to wear or what to bring?

    Or are you about to compete in your first show jumping competition and you don’t know what the regulations are for clothing and gear?

    Or do you want to know a little bit more about what types of riding there are out there for you to try?

    Then this page is for you!

    This page is a complete a breakdown of the different types of rider’s clothing necessary for each style. From show jumping to dressage to Western pleasure, you’ll find out what kind of horse gear you’ll need here!

    Horseback riding gear: English beginner

    Whether you are just thinking about getting on a horse for the first time or a seasoned riding pro, your horseback riding gear is going to be one of your most important assets.

    Below is a quick guide to the different types of horseback riding fields and the associated horseback riding gear and apparel for each. Some of these types of riding are simply leisurely pastimes while others are competitive sports.

    You can also click here for our full catalogue of articles on horse riding gear and apparel!

    Horseback Riding Gear: English

    English riding is one of the two main types of riding styles – the other being Western. Within it are a variety of disciplines, but what brings them all together is the lack of a saddle horn on the horse’s saddle.

    This is because an English rider needs mobility in the saddle for appropriate movement as the horse jumps (in Hunter/Jumper and Eventing), to bend down (in Polo), and generally to move around in response to the horse’s movements.

    You can think of the English saddle as a “minimalist” version of the saddle, designed to give the rider a place to sit and stirrups for his or her feet.

    English Casual and Training

    Horseback riding gear

    What’s needed?


    Show jumping riders gear and apparel

    What’s needed?

    • Formal rider’s attire.
    • A white competition shirt or show shirt with a white standup collar and white cuffs.
    • White tie, choker or hunting stock.
    • An equestrian show coat that is either black, blue, green, grey or scarlet.
    • Lightly colored and conservative riding breeches or jodhpurs that fit well.
    • Glossy tall black field boots.
    • ASTM/SEI certified riding helmet.
    • Standard english riding crop.
    • Optional:
      • Spurs (these must be so clean that they shine!)
      • Riding gloves that are black or navy.
      • Equestrian protective vest.

    I would definitely recommend double checking with the FEI (International Federation of Equestrian Sports) and / or your particular competition for any variations on what I’ve suggested though!


    Dressage riders horseback riding gear

    What’s needed?

    • Formal and conservative rider’s attire.
    • White competition shirt or show shirt with a standup collar.
    • Stock tie or choker for women, or a tie in a conservative color for men.
      • Riders usually wear stock ties for Training and First Levels.
      • Then they will move up to ruffled stock ties for upper levels.
    • Dressage coat of conservative color such as black or navy.
    • Riding breeches that are white or light beige.
    • Conservative belt if your breeches have belt loops.
    • Tall dressage boots, field boots or jodhpur boots in competition – half chaps, gaiters and/or leggings are not allowed, except for riders through First Level.
      • Riders through First Level may wear half-chaps, gaiters or leggings in solid black or brown, with no fringe, matching the color of their boots and made of smooth leather or leather-like material.
      • If you are wearing breeches and paddock boots together then wear them with simple half chaps that match the color of the boots and resemble the look of a field boot.
      • Young children will often wear jodhpurs and paddock boots together. If so, they should team these with matching garters or jodhpur knee straps.
    • ASTM / SEI certified riding helmet or Top Hat (A Top Hat may be worn at upper levels, however it is becoming more popular to wear a helmet instead for safety reasons)
    • Upper levels require clean and shiny spurs.
    • Optional:
      • Riding gloves that are white or black (higher level riders tend to wear white whereas lower level riders wear black as white may show inexperience with more apparent hand movements).
      • Standard black riding whip (in certain situations – whips are not permitted in eventing dressage).

    Again, I would definitely double check with the FEI and / or your particular competition for variations to what I’ve suggested!

    Here’s an entire article on what horseback riding gear you’ll need for dressage with a lot more detail: What to wear to a dressage competition.


    Eventing riders gear and apparel

    What’s needed?

    • See the section on Dressage above for the Dressage portion of the competition.
    • See the section on Hunter/Jumper above for the Stadium jumping portion of the competition.
    • For the Cross-country portion of the competition you will need:
      • Well fitting riding breeches in any color.
      • Polo or rugby style shirt that is light weight.
      • Riding boots with a heel (either paddock boots with half-chaps or field boots).
      • Equestrian protective vest.
      • ASTM / SEI certified riding helmet.
      • Medical armband that contains the medicinal history of the rider.
      • Optional:
        • Stop-watch to track time (in the UK only available to novice level riders and above).
        • Riding vest or coat.
        • Standard riding crop.

    And I’ll say it again: definitely double check with the FEI and / or your particular competition for any modifications to what I’ve recommended!


    Polo riders gear and apparel

    What’s needed?

    • ASTM / SEI certified riding helmet. The helmet you wear in polo is often a vivid colour so that the player may be identified from a distance by the audience.
    • White fabric pants or jeans.
    • Polo style shirt matching the colour of the helmet and with the player’s number.
    • Some clubs require kneepads, but in others they’re just optional.
    • Optional:
      • Riding gloves on one or both hands.
      • Wristbands.
      • Spurs.
      • Face mask.
      • Riding whip.

    Be sure to check with the USPA (United States Polo Association) for any updates!

    Horseback Riding Gear: Western

    Western riding is the second of the main types of riding style. Within it are also a variety of disciplines. In Western, your saddle will have a horn, it will be larger and more supportive, and the stirrups will be larger.

    Another distinction is that Western bridles do not have a noseband or cavesson.

    Finally, I would say that the Western horse gear and horseback riding gear can be (although it isn’t always) more colorful and stylised than its English counterpart. But remember that you can show your personality in both with the right choices – it can be a lot of fun!

    Western Casual and Training

    Western riders gear and apparel

    What’s needed?

    • Any type of shirt will be fine, although long sleeved is better (remember what I said about falls and scrapes!).
    • Full length jeans.
    • Cowboy boots (authentic ones meant for riding, not only for fashion purposes).
    • ASTM / SEI certified riding helmet (I always recommend this, but it can be a little uncommon in Western).
    • Optional:
      • Riding whip.
      • Spurs.
      • Equestrian protective vest (very rarely worn by western riders).


    Reining riders gear and apparel

    What’s needed? 

    • Long sleeved shirt.
    • Full length jeans.
    • Cowboy boots:
    • Chaps (they’re always allowed, but they’re not required in all competitions).
    • Women may sometimes wear brighter colors and decorated vests depending on the fashion influence.
    • Competitions will sometimes allow ASTM / SEI certified riding helmet, but they’re unusual to see during reining events.
    • Optional:
      • Riding gloves.
      • Spurs.
    • Not allowed:
      • Riding whip.


    Rodeo riding

    What’s needed?

    • We’re still working on this section – it’s coming soon!

    Horseback Riding Gear: Other Styles

    Other riding types include vaulting and endurance. Equestrian vaulting is where the riders perform a variety of movements and exercises that include mounting and dismounting the horse, standing on top of the horse, assuming other positions on top of the horse and performing movements on the horse all while the horse is in motion. Endurance is where the riders compete in long-distance races in either trail riding or classic endurance riding.

    Equestrian Vaulting

    What’s needed?

    • Form fitting uniforms such that the “line and form” of the vaulter’s body is not hidden. These should leave the vaulter as mobile as possible, minimizing any hindrance of movements and assuring safe interaction between vaulters.
      • Competitors usually wear unitards!
    • If men are wearing any type of pant, they should be secured at the ankle.
    • Not allowed:
      • Any accessories, belts, capes or hats.
    • Be sure to check with the FEI for any changes or updates

    Be sure to check with the FEI for any changes or updates!


    Endurance riding

    What’s needed? 

    • Riding breeches.
    • Riding boots with a heel (either paddock boots with half-chaps or field boots).
    • Collared shirt.
    • ASTM / SEI certified riding helmet at FEI competitions.
    • Additional weights may be required if the rider plus saddle plus saddle pads fall under the minimal weight requirement.

    Be sure to check with the FEI for any changes or updates!

    Looking for more inspo? Click here for our full catalogue of articles on horseback riding gear!

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    Horseback Riding Gear

    10 thoughts on “Horseback Riding Gear and Apparel”

    1. Hi Martina just wanted to say that I really enjoyed reading this article on the various different types of horse back riding. At first I was surprised that there were so many, but now looking back over all of the different shows and movies I’ve seen, plus the fact that I grew up really close to Aiken, SC, a city known for its horse back riding; I can go back in my memory and see instances of each of these types of riding.

      Seriously, this a a really enjoyable post to read, very informative.

      Looking forward to hearing more from you soon!

      • Hey Alec,

        Great to hear from you and thank you for your positive feedback! Yep there sure are a lot of different types of riding, and I’m glad you enjoyed the post.



    2. You have great information. I like the way you explain each category. It educates the reader in different aspects of horseback riding. Your love for the sport shines through your posts. The information you post isn’t overwhelming for the reader. I love your website!

    3. I didn’t realize that there were different types of apparel recommended for those two types of horse riding you mentioned. I think it’s important that you pick clothing that helps you feel comfortable and confident. Since it’s likely that the horses can sense your feelings of confidence, it helps to have clothing that helps you feel safe and comfortable.

      • Hey Bernard,

        Thanks for your comment 🙂

        Of course you should always be as comfortable as possible. That said, different types of clothing are suited for different types of riding. Breeches for instance are useful in jumping since the rider is consistently switching in and out of 2-point positions and needs to be very light on the horse. Western riding is more endurance-based, it doesn’t require that kind of continuous mobility and the rider is attempting to sink as deep into the saddle as possible and so blue jeans are great to wear. And especially in competition – then different types of clothing are mandatory to wear otherwise you can be disqualified.

        Are your clothes Canadian made by the way? I like them – feel free to get in touch with me about that if you’d like 🙂


    4. It’s great that you’ve mentioned about the different types of riding style. What got my attention was the equestrian vaulting, where riders perform various movements and exercises such as standing on top of the horse or mounting and dismounting the horse. This is a challenging type of riding since one needs to be able to do these tricks while the horse is moving. Personally, my wife is interested in learning how to ride the horse and would like to have lessons so that she could learn it. I’ll be looking for horse riding helmets for women first before I allow her to start with the lessons.

      • Hey James,

        Glad you liked the breakdown – vaulting is definitetly challenging and requires a lot of balance, strength and muscle memory. I’m excited your wife is starting out with horseback riding, here’s some helmets I recommend that aren’t too pricy. Feel free to check them out if you’re still looking around.



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      • Hi Hassan,

        Thank you for your message; however, the gloves you manufacture are probably not gloves that would be needed for riding.


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