What do I need to wear to my riding lessons?

December 22, 2014

Galloping away on your noble steed is the fantasy of every novice rider. But getting kitted out can be costly on your way to that dream. You’ll need to shop wisely and invest in the best combination of value, comfort and safety features for all your clothing and riding equipment.


A riding helmet is strongly recommended. In fact, many instructors won’t give lessons to people who aren’t wearing one. Even seasoned athletes can take a spill from time to time, and although falls are usually not too serious at the beginner level, a proper helmet will absorb the shock. Invest carefully and choose one that is comfortable and allows air-flow around the head.


Even if it’s hot out, it’s best to ride in long sleeves. This is especially true if you’re going on a hack, where you could get scratched by branches. Specialty stores that sell riding equipment have staff who can recommend the best designs and fabrics for your days at the barn. They might suggest, for example, a quilted vest and back protector for your safety.


You’ll soon realize that riding pants or breeches are a wise investment. Slim-fitting, stretchy pants are best. You don’t want to be sitting on folds of cloth, and you don’t want to have the inseam cutting into where it shouldn’t be (your bottom will complain loudly). Denim jeans are typically discouraged for English riding, since they rub and irritate your skin. Reinforced breeches are tough and durable for the long haul.

And toes

Perhaps the most important item in your clothing and riding equipment kit is a good pair of boots. No matter the style you choose, you absolutely need boots with a small heel for the stirrups. Tall rubber boots are generally the most comfortable and are effective in limiting leg rub.

More advanced riders may want to invest in a pair of tall leather boots that will last a long time (and look great as well). Ankle boots are fine, but you may want to pair them with some riding gaiters.

Tacking up

The barn where you’re taking lessons should provide all the tack you need. Over time, you can gradually acquire your own saddle, saddle blanket and so on. But before you let yourself loose at the tack store, give yourself some time to see if riding really is an activity that you enjoy.

What do I need to wear to my riding lessons?
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