When you progress from riding in your jeans (which is probably where we all start) to riding in your first pair of breeches, you discover a new world of riding comfort. Riding pants come in a huge range of different styles, with riding breeches being one particular style. So let’s learn all about breeches and what type is best for you.
(Also, if you need help with buying half-chaps as well, check out this article.)
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What Are Breeches?
Riding breeches are a special kind of riding pants that are wide at the top with a tapered leg section to provide a comfortable seat when in the saddle. Horse riding pants help protect the rider’s legs while also helping to minimize friction and give strength to the areas of the rider’s legs that are in contact with the saddle. Regular pants won’t last long in the saddle, but the best riding breeches should now only last years but also offer better riding performance.
Breeches originated in India during the late 1800s. Indian riders used these unique riding pants to improve their seat, offer better freedom of movement, and get maximum comfort while in the saddle. Some of these pants were known as knee breeches as they ended just below the knee.
Soon, breeches replaced English riding pants for many sports riders. Unlike jodhpurs which are less flexible and not nearly as comfortable, breeches are ideal for everyday riding and performance in the show ring. Many riders agree they are the best riding pants to date.
So what do you look for when you choose the right pair of breeches for yourself? Here’s what you need to know.
Considerations When Choosing Your Riding Breeches
Traditional breeches are a good place to start when choosing your first pair of riding pants. But there are many different styles to choose from:
- Do you want an elastic waistband that offers a pull-on style?
- Do you want a zip closure that requires a belt to keep the pants secured?
- Do you want knee patch breeches that are reinforced for cross-country riding?
Here are a few considerations I use when shopping for new riding pants:
Type of Riding
When shopping for riding breeches, you first need to consider what kind of riding you will be doing. If you’re going trail riding, you will wear different breeches than when you are in the show ring. Embellishments and details such as contrast piping, silicone grip, and diamante patterns aren’t necessary on the trail, and these may not be allowed in the arena either. So I’m always very clear about where I will be riding in these breeches.
On the trail, I want breeches that are durable and offer thermoregulation for cold and warm riding days. A full seat is often more comfortable as opposed to low-rise breeches. I usually want my trail riding pants to be a dark color so they won’t show dirt as easily. Denim breeches are usually a good choice as they’re both comfortable and durable. Paddock boots are fine to wear while out on the trail.
In the arena, I prefer full-seat riding breeches that are mid-rise, as they offer more movement across my waist. Dressage riders will need to opt for white breeches with tall boots. Knee patches that are silicone reinforced offer better grip to help keep me in the saddle when I am jumping or doing cross country.
Style of Breeches
My next consideration is the overall style of the breeches I am interested in. I don’t want to ride in ugly pants! Even though horseback riding can be a physically intense sport, that doesn’t mean you can’t look good doing it!
Design, Material, & Personal Preference
The design of your riding breeches needs to accommodate your physique, offering you comfort and practical wear. Cotton and cotton-blended breeches are ideal for riders as these can be worn in any riding conditions. Additionally, cotton and cotton-blend riding breeches will be more durable than just plain spandex.
I like super soft breeches, and my perfect pair of breeches has a secure fit that snuggly contours my body shape. Luckily, most breeches are somewhat adjustable so they fit most body shapes. The way stretch is incorporated into the fabric is very forgiving for most body types, making riding breeches ideal for work and play.
That being said, everyone will have different preferences when it comes to fabric and fit!
Finally, the budget I have available at any given time will also weigh in on what I can afford. While I don’t want to be a cheapskate and try to ride in yoga pants, I don’t want to bankrupt myself for the most expensive riding pants on the market either.
How to Choose The Best Riding Breeches For You
Again, different breeches will serve different types of riding. When you’re shopping, you’ll want to keep in mind style, material, budget, and any other preferences you might have.
I’ve gathered together some of my top choices for riding breeches to help get you started:
Best Women’s Riding Breeches (Overall)
In my opinion, the Ovation Ladies Euro Melange Full Breeches are the most flattering breeches in general riding classes. These full-seat breeches are ideal for ladies due to the very forgiving cut.
- Ideal for showing or casual riding
- Available in four colors: Beige, blue, indigo, and gray
- Front or zip closure for greater comfort
- 4-way stretch knit cotton polyester for extra shape retention
- Full seat silicone grip
- Mid rise breeches, leveling off under navel
- A shaped leg pocket on each leg
- While great for Western showing, they’re not ideal for classic showing
- The pockets aren’t large enough for keeping a cellphone in, which could lead to damage if the phone falls from a pocket
Shop the Ovation Ladies Euro Melange Full Breeches.
Best Knee Patch Breeches
Knee patches aren’t only practical, but they’re also fashion statements with different colored knee patches and details to catch the eye. With all the color options, horseback riding has become more of a fashion statement.
I love the Ovation Celebrity Slim Secret Knee Patch Breeches. These mid-rise breeches are comfortable, and with the knee patches, they offer greater grip and durability on this high-friction area of the leg.
- Front or zip closure
- Made from EuroWEAVE™ material, which is moisture-wicking for a dry riding experience
- Belt loops for fitting your belt
- Inner seams are protected by knee patches
- Choose from eight sizes to fit snugly
- Can be commonly worn or used for showing
- Available in four colors, from light tan to gray
- Large sizes can be problematic for riders with narrow waistlines
Shop the Ovation Celebrity Slim Secret Knee Patch Breeches.
Best Men’s Riding Breeches
Men often complain they struggle to find the correct size of riding breeches as they easily chap and worry about freedom of movement. Well, look no further than the TuffRider Men’s Patrol Breeches.
- Functional slash front pockets and two flap back pockets
- Knee area reinforced with a knee patch
- True to waist size, unlike other breeches
- Best breeches for movement and space for men
- Male riders say they appreciate the full seats and optimal grip
- Snap closure that neatly finishes off the front zip, while the belt loops can help further secure the breeches from slipping down
- Inseam length is different to other breeches, causing leg length to be questionable
- Baggy cut that may feel uncomfortable when used to tighter breeches
Shop the TuffRider Men’s Patrol Breeches.
Best Winter Riding Breeches
Horse riding in winter can be challenging. The temperature drops, and rain and wind can make riding uncomfortable. Luckily, with the unisex Mountain Horse Polar Breeches, you have one less thing to worry about because at least your legs will be warm enough!
- Reflective piping on legs for trail riding
- Side seams are full length waterproof zippers
- Imitation leather seat in full size for better grip
- Two front pockets with microfiber inners to warm hands
- Wide waistband for extra comfort
- Sizes run big with extra length, which can worry shorter riders
- Quite high-waisted
- Being unisex, these pants are baggy over the legs, but narrow over the seat area
Shop the Mountain Horse Polar Breeches.
Best Bootcut Riding Pant
Riders rave about these bootcut riding breeches. The Kerrits Dynamic Extended KP Bootcut breeches are extremely comfortable with highly elasticated fabric to allow freedom of movement.
- Ideal for mid-weight riders who desire a slimming look
- The legs are a tailored sportsman length, being longer in the back than the front, it features the classic bootcut design
- Pockets are accessible when in the saddle
- Double snap closure to secure the pants, while a two-inch wide waistband keeps the pants up
- Double belt loops at back to secure pants
- Full seat breeches are mid-rise, but can be too high up on the waistline for shorter riders
- Only available in black, so not suited to dressage riders
Shop the Kerrits Dynamic Extended KP Bootcut.
The Final Verdict
I really love riding in my breeches, and I adore my Mountain Horse Polar Breeches because they are really comfortable and uber fluffy. As a bonus, they keep me warm and toasty while I ride out in winter.
In really cold climates like where I stay, these warm, weather-resistant riding breeches are ideal to be worn over thermal underwear. With these riding breeches, I can face the trail or a morning of training with confidence.
What are your favorite breeches?