Trip Planning - 7 min read

What To Wear Horseback Riding (Something for All Types of Weather!)

Lauren Abbott

Lauren Abbott, Updated October 7, 2022

Horseback riding is a fun outdoor activity for people of all ages. It can be done in many locations, from the forest to the beach. Whether you are an experienced rider or trying it out for the first time, you may be wondering what you should wear on your next adventure.

Horseback riding attire usually includes long pants for leg protection, an athletic top, and a pair of good quality riding boots. However, what you wear will depend on the weather conditions. For summer, moisture-wicking fabric is appropriate. In winter, scarves and a warm beanie are ideal. Riding gloves and helmets are highly recommended for safety, especially when racing or going over rugged terrain.

Before your next horseback riding adventure, learning about the best pieces of clothing to wear for your trip will be worth your time. We have put together an extensive guide that contains everything you need to know about dressing for a horseback riding excursion. 

We will cover the best things to wear for horseback riding by season, along with what to wear in specific locations and some pointers for what not to wear. Read on to discover our best tips on the subject. 

What is Best to Wear for Horseback Riding?

Credit: Horses Love To Know

In general, the clothing you wear for horseback riding should be comfortable for the current weather conditions, with potential chafing against the saddle kept in mind. Your fabric of choice should be thick enough to protect you from scrapes or cuts while riding. 

Long Pants

Credit: Philip McMaster / Flickr

Long pants are the best choice for horseback riding in any scenario. In the event of a fall, your legs will be protected from injury as much as possible. Try to find pants specific to horseback riding for your first outing. 

Athletic Top

Mussi Katz / Flickr

Your top should also be comfortable and non-restrictive. Depending on the weather, you may choose to wear short or long sleeves with or without additional layers on top for warmth. 

Riding Boots

Alex Von Schmidt / Flickr

Special boots should be worn for horseback riding for safety purposes. The right pair of boots will have a one-inch heel to grip onto the stirrups properly. 

Helmet and Pads

Thomas Gorman / Flickr

When going horseback riding for the first time, safety is the first thing you should keep in mind. As an inexperienced rider, you are more prone to injuries than someone who has taken several trips already. 

For this reason, you should consider bringing along additional safety gear to avoid getting hurt. This can include a helmet, knee pads, and elbow pads. 

What To Wear for Horseback Riding In Cold Weather 

Credit: Horse Racing Scene

While the general horseback riding apparel remains the same regardless of season, there are some minor tweaks you can make based on the current weather conditions. Dressing for horseback riding in the cold involves layered clothing. 

Sweater

dwmatty19 / Flickr

A sweater makes the perfect base layer for a winter horseback riding outfit. Choose a thick material like wool to keep you warm against low temperatures and possible wind or snow. 

Jacket

hpaich / Flickr

If it’s freezing outside, you must layer a thicker covering on top of your sweater. This can be a zip-up jacket with a hood or a long button-up coat. 

Beanie

Wendy / Flickr

In extreme or windy weather conditions, you will need to protect your head and ears from the cold. Choose a knitted cap or beanie to cover these areas while you ride. 

Scarf and Gloves

Marco Verch Professional / Flickr

Winter gear may be necessary for the winter or particularly cold areas. Wear knitted or riding gloves with a scarf around your neck to avoid freezing while horseback riding. 

What To Wear for Horseback Riding In Warm Weather 

Credit: Horse Rookie / Pinterest

It may be tempting to wear shorts on your horseback riding adventure in the summer, but this is not ideal. You should still wear the same long pants and riding boots when it’s hot outside, with different materials that will be more comfortable in the heat.

Athletic Pants

G S / Flickr

While you must wear long pants for horseback riding any time of year, they don’t have to be uncomfortable. Avoid overheating by choosing a pair of lightweight athletic pants instead. 

Moisture-Wicking Top

Jessica Lopez / Flickr

An athletic top that combats moisture will be ideal for horseback riding in warm weather. Depending on the specific conditions, this can be a short-sleeved t-shirt or tank top. 

Lightweight Socks

Willo Sanna / Flickr

Riding boots are still necessary, but your sock material can be more lightweight to combat sweat in the summer. Recommended materials for the best comfort include cotton, rayon, and spandex. 

What Not To Wear Horseback Riding 

Credit: Deep Hollow Ranch

While certain clothing items are ideal for horseback riding, others should be avoided. Consider leaving the following pieces out of your horseback riding wardrobe. 

Loose Accessories

Kylie / Flickr

When horseback riding, you can expect to be jolted up and down frequently. As a result, you shouldn’t have anything on you that is loose and could potentially fall off. This pertains to oversized sunglasses that don’t hug your face or loose hats that don’t have a snug fit. 

Low Cut Jeans 

45 SURF Hero’s Odyssey / Flickr

Horseback riding involves a lot of movement, including pulling and tugging on your clothing. If you wear too low-cut jeans, you may be exposed at some point to the people behind you. 

Slippers and Sandals 

Slippazzthing / Flickr

Slippers and sandals are not ideal for horseback riding for safety reasons. Instead, you should wear riding boots that can grip onto the stirrups. 

Shorts 

Ponnicka / Flickr

Long pants should be worn on every horseback riding trip to protect your legs from scrapes and cuts. As a result, shorts are not ideal for this activity. While the weather may permit shorts on the ground, your legs should be covered appropriately before getting on the horse for safety. 

Skirts and Dresses 

Charlene Ashley Dy / Flickr

Lastly, skirts and dresses should not be worn while going horseback riding. For the same reason that shorts are not ideal, this clothing exposes the legs to potential injustice while riding. 

What To Wear Horseback Riding (Comfort and Functionality) 

Credit: Horse FactBook

In addition to the essential clothing items you should wear while horseback riding, some additional accessories can improve comfort and functionality. Consider adding the following pieces to your horseback riding outfit for an easier time. 

Riding Gloves 

AZCHAPS / Flickr

While optional for a horseback riding trip, riding gloves are an excellent choice for both convenience and functionality. They protect the hands from blistering over time, which is especially helpful during long outings. 

Zippered Pockets 

John Watson / Flickr

Zippered pockets are beneficial when horseback riding and they can help you hold onto essential items like a cell phone or wallet without fear of dropping them while you are riding. Horseback rides can be very bumpy, and the last thing you want to do is return from your trip with missing personal items. 

Are Jeans or Leggings Better For Horseback Riding? 

zip-a-dee-Cassidy / Flickr

Jeans are ideal for horseback riding than leggings, as the material is thicker and more protective. On the other hand, leggings are generally too thin and would not provide the protection needed in the event of a fall. 

Can You Wear Sneakers for Horseback Riding? 

Jon Lee / Flickr

Sneakers are not recommended to be worn for horseback riding. Instead, you should wear boots that are intended for horseback riding specifically. These special riding boots will contain a heel to give you a grip on the stirrups and will also protect your ankles from injury. 

Are Hiking Boots OK For Horseback Riding? 

Jennifer Gomez / Flickr

Contrary to popular belief, hiking boots are not ideal for horseback riding. While they may be durable for walking, the grip on the bottom is too firm and can get stuck on the stirrups. 

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