Essential Horse Riding Gear

Horse riding gear! There is so much of it available! There is a quote that says “horses are like potato chips, you can’t have just one.” If riders can’t just have one horse think of all the possibilities for gear! What a horse and rider need is all inclusive and can be done with style from head to toe.


First, a certified and approved horseback riding helmet should be on every riders’ head when mounted for safety. There is no reason not to have this essential piece of horse riding gear as they come in many lightweight and affordable options to fit every type of rider.

Helmets just make sense as you don’t know when and how an accident could occur. Skill level should NOT be a factor when deciding to wear a helmet as even the best horses can trip and can fall. You simply can’t predict how an accident may occur.

In many junior shows and increasingly due to legislation and insurance purposes, you will find that approved helmets are also required for horse riding lessons and/or trail rides.

Find one here


From western bling show shirts to the traditional english show shirt there are options galore in this category. Many schooling shirts and even some newer show shirts are now made from wicking, breathable performance fabrics. There is no reason to roast in the summer and freeze in the winter.

You can also buy plenty of riding jackets, horse related hoodies, and weatherproof gear made just for your time in the saddle when the weather is less accommodating. Most of the jackets have hems in the back that are cut so they fit over your saddle.

Pants and Breeches

Traditionally the western rider goes for Wrangler or Carharrt Jeans and English riders tend to favor breeches or if you are younger, jodhpurs. There are a whole range of styles of horse riding pants in both categories. Good western jeans are comfortable, have seams that won’t rub when riding, and are meant to last.

Breeches fit snug on your body. They tend to be made from cotton or other materials combined with some spandex to help them fit. English breeches keep you from sliding around on a smooth leather saddle.Traditionally they are worn at the natural waist and are fitted at the bottom (so field or tall boots can fit over them), but boot cut and low rise breeches are now available as well as english fitted riding jeans!


From Fringe laced full leather chaps to the english schooling half chaps there are many types of Chaps and Chinks to fill your needs. Full chaps are worn from the waist all the way down to the ankles, while chinks only go about to the knee. Half chaps are an english version commonly used for schooling or lessons. They connect under your shoe and zip or snap up and end at the knee.

Chaps are a great addition to your horse riding gear. They can give you more grip in the saddle as well as keeping your legs dry from the sweat of your horse or the outside elements. Getting a pair that has the proper fit needs to be at the top of your list with this bit of horse riding gear. Ill fitting chaps are super uncomfortable!

Socks, Boots and Gloves

Do you love cowboy boots? Or are you more of a paddock boot person? Many times the style you ride dictates what the appropriate horseback riding boots are! Western riders typically wear cowboy boots, and english riders tend to like paddock (shorter) boots for schooling or field (taller) boots mainly used for showing.

There are even lightweight boots that look like sneakers or hiking boots made for the endurance rider or those who don’t like the traditional choices.

With sock choice, the height of your boot comes into play as well. You’ll notice if you go to buy english riding socks that they pretty much are all tall, but again many are made of wicking and comfortable fabrics. Take advantage of the technology, your tootsies will thank you later!

Horse riding gloves can be used for show or schooling and help with grip on the reins.

Under Garments

Remember those performance fabrics I have been talking about? Well technology just got better even for your undies. Seamless performance underwear (that don’t show under breeches!) and bras made just for riding will keep you comfortable all day in the saddle both at the show and on the trail.

Horse Riding Gear for the Horse

The gear that people buy for their horses is extensive! There is no way I could even begin to describe it all in this article. I will do my best to cover all the basics.

Halters and Leads

Halters and leads are one of the most frequently used pieces of horse riding equipment there are! Even though we don't generally use them for riding, we do use it for about everything else!

I prefer longer leads made of yachting braid. This allows the horse to have more drift if he needs to move his feet. Better quality leads have more feel to them than a cotton or poly rope. Other longer training lines test the level of the communication with your horse from farther away. As for halters, you can read more about those on my horse training halters page.

Bits and Bridles, Oh My!

The bridle is an important piece of horse riding gear. It consists of a headstall which is all of the parts of the bridle that go on your horses’ head, and the reins that you hold. Learn how to bridle, here.

The bit is the metal portion that goes in the horses’ mouth and is connected to the headstall and reins. The Headstall is made from anything from nylon to leather, in many varying styles for the different disciplines.

For instance, a noseband (the part of a headstall that goes around a horses’ nose) is commonly found on english bridles but not on western ones. While a western bridle will generally sport a curb chain, which is a small strap of leather or chain that goes under the horses’ chin and attaches to the bit on both sides, and english one will not.

Bits are generally made of metal of varying sorts. Stainless steel, copper, and sweet iron are very popular choices. They type of bit you choose depends on the style you ride and the level of training both you and the horse are at, and mostly what the horse prefers. The standard for starting out with a bit is a simple snaffle (jointed bit). Myler bits are one of the most popular and best brands.

There are also bit-less bridles of varying sorts as well! Side-pulls, mechanical hackamores, and bosals all fit into this category.


One of the most important pieces of horse riding gear for both horse and rider is the saddle. Many people have never ridden bareback, so that tells you how important it is!

The saddle helps keep you balanced and secure on your horse, while for him it distributes the weight down his back more evenly, making it easier for him to carry a person comfortably for a longer time.

It’s a Matter of Style

Saddles come in many different styles. English, Western, Endurance, Australian, Saddleseat, and Tree-less to name a few. What type of riding and what discipline you choose will be a large factor is what style you end up riding in!

Saddles are made from a variety of materials. Leather is traditional, lasts a very long time and can be very heavy especially the western and roping varieties. It also requires regular maintenance, cleaning and care.

Saddles that are made from synthetic materials such as cordura are gaining popularity because of their ease of care, lower cost, and lighter weight.

The Fit is the Most Important Thing

Saddle fitting requires experience to get the best fit for both you and your horse. Using tracings of the horses’ back is a very popular method to assist with saddle fitting. In conjunction with consulting an experienced saddle maker or fitter and giving them your size and what style you plan on riding is the best way to find the right saddle!

Make sure you get the right saddle. You can’t just expect to go buy a saddle on craigslist and expect it to work unless you are experienced enough to know what to look for. Your horse might just buck you off if the saddle is pinching him!

Don’t forget the girth or cinch, either. This important piece of horse riding gear is responsible for keeping the saddle in the upright position on your horse!

Don’t Forget the Pad

There are a lot of pads for saddles out there! From English gel pads to Western wool pads, even air pads. You can spend a small fortune on a good pad.

Investing in the right pad for your saddle and horse is a highly personal choice, one that will probably land you with more horse riding gear than you need along the way!

Everything Else

In addition to the basics mentioned above there are tons of other kinds of horse riding gear to consider based on your needs. If you ride a lot in hilly terrain, you may need a breast collar or breastplate to keep the saddle from sliding back off your horse.

If you can think what may happen when you ride your horse doing something specific, chances are there is a piece of horse riding gear that someone designed just for that

Here are some other articles you may enjoy:

Horse Training Tips- The five most important but often overlooked horse training tips revealed!

Natural Horse Training- Interested in learning about natural horse training or natural horsemanship? Often this type of training and riding uses unique horse riding gear. Get started here!

Riding Horses- Check out this insight into the horse lovers mind! People that ride horses are different in a good way, and we know it!

Horseback Riding Tips- Horseback riding tips to keep your time in the saddle fun and safe.

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