So, you've decided to stop wearing holes in your jeans and get a new pair of breeches, but where do you start? There are many styles of riding breeches, made with many different materials. Some are made for comfort in summer months, with cotton blend moisture wicking materials, and some are made to help you keep warm in the winter, and may be lined with fleece or made with thicker materials. Breeches are a great option because the seams are all placed in a fashion so that they do not rub your inner thigh when riding, and they are more flexible and stretchy than jeans. Most breeches have suede or leather patches on them to aid in staying in the saddle, the placement of these patches can be essential to your comfort.
Full Seat Breeches
Full seat breeches are most commonly used by dressage riders. The “full seat” covers your entire rear, back down your thighs and knees to about mid-calf. The “full seat” is usually suede, but it can also be made with smooth leather for extra “stick”. A dressage rider's “base of support” when riding is their seat, so maximum contact is ideal, which is why they often prefer full seat breeches. Also, many dressage horses have very big, expressive movement, and a little friction on the saddle with full seat breeches can be very helpful when staying with the horse's motion.
Knee- Patch Breeches
Knee-patch breeches are the first choice of hunter and jumper riders. Unlike “full seat” breeches, the seat is just fabric, the suede patch is at the knee, sometimes it continues up towards the lower thigh as well. These breeches are ideal for hunters and jumpers, because over a fence, they need to raise their entire backside out of the saddle- a leather or suede seat would impede this. Over fences, in two point, a rider's “base of support” is their knee, this is why a gripped knee patch can really help a rider have a secure position in the air.
When picking your new pair of breeches, it is important to consider what kind of riding you will be doing, as well as the weather you are riding in. Try on some different styles of cut to decide what you are most comfortable riding in- most come in either high waist-ed or low rise cut.
How to measure for breeches
First, determine what style you want- high waist breeches will around your waist, low-rise will be around your hips. Use a tape measure to measure around your waist or hips (depending what style you are getting). Then measure your inseam (inside of your leg), you want the breeches to fall right below your calf. Order your breeches based on your waist and inseam measurement, not pant size. Generally it is suggested to order one size up from your actual waist measurement. The breeches should be a comfortable, not tight fit, without any gaping at the waist, and the knee patch should be at the knee.
Breeches VS Jodhpurs
Breeches are riding pants that come to about mid-calf or above your ankle, with suede knee grips or a suede full seat. Usually the material is very form fitting, and they are meant to be worn with tall boots or short boots and chaps. Most English disciplines use breeches- Show Jumping, Hunter Jumping, Eventing, Hunter Under Saddle and Dressage all require breeches for show attire.
Jodhpurs are a longer pant that almost look like “flared” jeans in shape. They are fitted and often pleated at the waist, fit closely through the thigh and then flare out towards the bottom. They have a suede knee patch and elastic at the pant leg bottom to keep the pants in place over the boot. They are meant to be work with short ankle boots, and they are sued in Saddle Seat English disciplines.