So you’ve decided to give it a try – you’re going to finally take those horseback riding lessons that you’ve always dreamed of trying.  You’re Not going to let anything stand in your way, especially your age.  Now comes the part where you must decide what you are going to wear for your lessons.

If you have not spent much time around horses, you may be thinking of all of the svelte equestrians that you see on t.v. who are dressed in perfectly pressed jackets, breeches and polished tall boots.  Rest assured, it is not necessary to spend a ton of money when you are first starting out, though you may decide to invest in some quality riding gear further down the line.  When first starting out, it is important to have a pair of comfortable stretchy pants that will allow you to move easily in the saddle.  If you are wearing a pair of jeans or other pants that are stiff and unyielding, you will have trouble getting your legs into their proper position.  If you would like to purchase a pair of breeches or riding jeans there are a few recommendations you will find on this site.  However, it is not necessary to buy anything as long as you have a comfortable pair of stretchy yoga pants in your closet.  I often times throw on my yoga pants to ride and find they do just fine for my lessons.  If you are going to wear jeans, please make sure they have at least 1% Lycra in the fabric, otherwise they will not move with you.  Also, many jeans have thick seams which can cause rubbing and irritation (not fun!).  Many people believe that if you are riding English you should not wear jeans, and if you are riding Western you should not wear breeches.  I say this is hogwash.  Wear whatever you find most comfortable.  If you decide to start showing at some point, then you can find the appropriate clothing for your discipline.  I am a Western rider and I frequently wear breeches, especially in the winter months.

Next, you need to find a sturdy and safe pair of riding boots.  I know that many barns tell new riders that they can wear sneakers, but for safety reasons I am opposed to wearing sneakers around horses.  There is a high chance that your toes will get crushed if a horse steps on your foot and you are wearing sneakers.  In addition, the thick rubber tread on the bottom of most sneakers can get stuck on the metal stirrups if you were to fall off.  Therefore it is important to have proper boots that will protect your toes and easily slip out of the stirrups in the event of a fall.  So what are your options for footwear?  You can pick up an inexpensive pair of paddock boots from a number of online sites, including State Line Tack ($29.99), Chick’s Discount Saddlery ($35.95), and Dover Saddlery ($39.95).  Of course these are only a few of many affordable paddock boots available online.  Another option is to find a pair of western boots, which is what I prefer.  If you decide to go this route, do your research as not all western boots are comfortable to ride in.  I have always had good luck with Ariat, and have found their western riding boots to be extremely comfortable.  A few other brands to check out include Justin and Laredo, both of which can be found at Boot Barn for a reasonable price.  However, expect to pay more for western boots as most run for around $65.00 and up.

The final item you will need, and arguably the most important piece of equipment, is a riding helmet.  Please do not wear a bike helmet as it will not protect your head in the event of a fall.  A helmet that is ASTM/SEI certified is essential for all horseback riders.  Proper fit is also essential.  Dover Saddlery has a terrific page on their site that explains in detail how to measure your head for a perfect fit.  Expect to pay around $25.00 and up for a certified helmet.

It is possible that your instructor will ask you to purchase a whip or spurs.  However, those items should not be necessary for your first lessons.  You can usually get some pretty good deals online, so shop around.

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