What to Wear Riding: everyday + show

Hopefully you’ve already read the post on What to Wear Riding: footwear. This post will detail what you can wear to a riding lesson, and if you choose to show, the special “uniform” for Hunter/Jumper competitions.

Everyday / Riding Lessons

Horseback riding is a sport! So think about wearing flexible clothes, that allow movement, breathability, or even feature moisture-wicking technology (esp. in summer).


Ideally, you’ll want to ride in either breeches, or schooling pants (often called schooling tights). These are specifically designed to allow movement in the saddle, and can have knee grips, thigh or bum grips to help keep your “seat” sticky.

Jodhpurs are also appropriate, though typically worn by younger riders. Riding pants come in lots of colors so express yourself! Smartpak has lots of styles for children and adults.


Western riders often wear jeans to protect their legs from passing bushes or branches, and mud flinging up from their horse’s hooves. However, choose the wrong pair and you could end up with severe chafe marks (and sore legs!)

Choose a loose fit or “relaxed fit” jean. No jeggings, or skinny jeans here! You need to be able to swing up in the saddle with ease, and avoid your inseam rubbing in the wrong places.

Western riders can wear breeches too! It is perfectly acceptable to wear these for everyday or lesson riding.

For new students, typically flexible pants, loose jeans, or leggings are acceptable for your first lesson. However, you will find it much easier to ride with balance when wearing the proper clothes.

What about shirts? Wear what is comfortable! Technical or workout tops are acceptable, as are ranch style button down shirts, and regular t-shirts. Layers are recommended as you might get warm while exercising.

There are many tack shops with a consignment section so check there for good deals! As with many equestrian items, there are products at every price point – breeches or pants can be as low as $30-50 or over $200.

Show Gear – English

The English shows we attend are Hunter or Hunter/Jumper discipline and follow the rules set by the USEF or AQHA or show-specific attire. Even if a show is schooling, or describes that formal wear is not required, there are certain expectations as to what is worn. The idea is for riders to dress similarly so the focus remains on the horse and/or their equitation.


For girls and boys a polo (long or short sleeve) is acceptable in a “conservative color”. This typically means, white, navy, or black.

Showing breeches are almost always some type of beige or light brown. The specific tone isn’t important but don’t wear black or grey or another color. White breeches are usually reserved for formal shows.

Show jackets are not required at informal shows, but do contribute to a nice look, and may keep you warm depending on weather.

Gloves are not required either, but can help you keep a steady grip on the reins, and hide any errant hand movements you want to keep from the judges.

Footwear for shows can be paddock boots + half chaps, tall boots, or paddock boots and garter straps for 12 and under.


For both genders, a white show shirt is typical. Even if a show is informal, you can never go wrong wearing a proper show shirt.

These shirts are made of moisture-wicking material and often have mesh air vents to promote breathability.

A well-fitting show jacket in a “conservative color” finishes off the look.


Every rider who wants to look proper at a show will have a pair of black gloves, a belt, and a plain black helmet.

12 and under

There are some special exceptions for the 12 and under group at formal shows. Garter straps, to be worn with jodhpurs and paddock boots, and braids with ribbons for the girls!

A bit of an outdated rule, but young riders should wear brown paddock boots with brown garters for formal shows.

For detailed explanation on Hunter show attire, Dover Saddlery has an excellent guide here.

Remember – check your local tack store for consignment items to get a bargain!