Rider’s Gear and Apparel

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!

English beginner rider gear and apparel

Whether you are just thinking about getting on a horse for the first time or a seasoned riding pro, your riding gear and apparel 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 gear and apparel for each. Some of these types of riding are simply leisurely pass times while others are competitive sports. Each category will have its own rider clothing as well as equipment needed:

English Horseback Riding

English riding is one of the two main types of riding styles – the other being Western. Within it are a variety of disciplines, all of which are most notably characterized by the lack of a saddle horn on the horse’s saddle. This is because the 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 horses movements. You can think of the english saddle as a “minimalist” version of the saddle, designed simply to give the rider a place to sit and stirrups for his or her feet.

English Casual and Training

What’s needed?English riders gear and apparel

  • Any type of shirt is fine although long sleeved is preferred by some to minimize scraping after a fall
  • Layer thin materials if its cold to stay mobile and avoid overheating
  • Riding breeches or jodhpurs that are well fitting with knee patches to avoid material wearing
  • Riding boots with a heel (either paddock boots with half-chaps or field boots)
  • ASTM(American Society for Testing and Materials)/SEI(Safety Equipment Institute) certified riding helmet
  • Optional: Riding crop
  • Optional: Riding gloves
  • Optional: Spurs
  • Optional: Equestrian protective vest


What’s needed?Show jumping riders gear and apparel

  • Formal 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
  • Riding breeches or jodhpurs that are well fitting, lightly colored and conservative
  • Riding boots with a heel (either ankle boots with half-chaps or knee high boots) ?
  • Tall black field boots that are shined so they are very glossy
  • Optional: Spurs that are cleaned so they shine
  • ASTM/SEI certified riding helmet
  • Standard english riding crop
  • Optional: Riding gloves that are black or navy
  • Optional: Equestrian protective vest
  • Double check with the FEI (International Federation of Equestrian Sports) and/or your particular competition for modifications


What’s needed?Dressage riders gear and apparel

  • Formal and conservative attire
  • White competition shirt or show shirt with a standup collar
  • Stock tie or choker for women
  • Tie that is conservative in color for men
  • Stock ties for Training and First Levels
  • Ruffled stock ties for upper levels
  • Dressage coat of conservative color such as black or navy
  • Riding breeches that are white or light beige for adults
  • Riding breeches or jodhpurs that are white or light beige for young children
  • 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
  • In the cases of riders through First Level: if breeches and paddock boots are worn together then simple half chaps should also be worn that match the color of the boots and resemble the look of a field boot
  • In the case of riders through First Level: if jodhpurs and paddock boots are worn together usually by young children then matching garters or jodhpur knee straps are often also worn
  • ASTM/SEI certified riding helmet or Top Hat (Top Hat may be worn at upper levels however it is becoming more popular to wear a helmet instead for safety reasons)
  • Spurs that are cleaned and shiny are required in upper levels
  • 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)
  • Optional: Standard black riding whip in certain situations (whips are not permitted in eventing dressage)
  • Double check with the FEI and/or your particular competition for modifications


What’s needed?Eventing riders gear and apparel

  • 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 the following is needed:
  • Riding breeches that are well fitting of 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)
  • Optional: Riding vest or coat
  • Optional: Standard riding crop
  • Double check with the FEI and/or your particular competition for modifications


What’s needed?Polo riders gear and apparel

  • ASTM/SEI certified riding helmet
  • Helmet 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
  • Kneepads are required in some clubs but optional in others
  • Optional: Riding gloves on one or both hands
  • Optional: Wristbands
  • Optional: Spurs
  • Optional: Face mask
  • Optional: Riding whip
  • Be sure to check with USPA (United States Polo Association) for any updates

Western Horseback Riding

Western riding is the second  main types of riding style. Within it are also a variety of disciplines. In Western there is the presence of a saddle horn, the saddle is larger and more supportive to the rider and the stirrups are larger. Western bridles do not have a noseband or cavesson.

Western Casual and Training

What’s needed?Western riders gear and apparel

  • Any type of shirt is fine although long sleeved is better
  • 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 is often not worn when riding western)
  • Optional: Riding whip
  • Optional: Spurs
  • Optional: Equestrian protective vest (very rarely worn by western riders)


What’s needed? Reining riders gear and apparel

  • Long sleeved shirt
  • Full length jeans
  • Cowboy boots
  • Chaps (some competitions do not require this but they are always allowed)
  • Women may sometimes wear brighter colors and decorated vests depending on the fashion influence
  • ASTM/SEI certified riding helmet is sometimes allowed but not always, and usually not worn during reining events
  • Optional: Riding gloves
  • Optional: Spurs
  • Not allowed: Riding whip


What’s needed?Rodeo riders gear and apparel

  • Coming soon




Other Horseback Riding

Other riding types include vaulting and endurance. Equestrian vaulting 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 for the purpose of leaving the vaulter as mobile as possible and minimizing the hinderance of movements and assuring the safe interaction between vaulters
  • Usually unitards are worn
  • 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


What’s needed? Endurance riders gear and apparel

  • 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

Learn more about horse riding gear and apparel here!


  1. Alec Terry

    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!

    • Martina

      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. Caryn

    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!

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