Riding Breeches Explained

No type of clothing is as closely associated with English equestrian riding than breeches. They are made with horse riding in mind. With less fabric to come between rider and horse, breeches allow for every movement of the rider's leg to be felt by and communicated to the steed.

Riding Breeches

Breeches are designed to fit snugly and not rub when horse riding. Horse riding breeches are designed to stretch to allow for more freedom of movement. This allows riders to sit and ride more comfortably. Riders can now concentrate on performing and riding instead of pinching, chafing and sliding in the saddle.

Another unique characteristic of riding breeches is that they are designed to fit inside tall riding boots. You’ll often find breeches available in pull-on, fly-front, or side-zip styles. Pull-on breeches have a drawstring or elastic waistband and don't make use of belt loops. Front-zip riding breeches are the classic style that most people are familiar with; these breeches have both belt loops.


Breeches are made in a variety of fabrics. Cotton or blends of cotton are the most common because they are so comfortable. Cotton doesn’t absorb moisture well so these breeches will become wet and damp as you sweat. Advanced microfibers are quickly gaining in popularity with riders. These fabrics provide excellent breathability and they wick away moisture from your body, always a plus on hot summer days. Some fabrics are designed to keep riders warm in the winter by providing excellent thermal protection.


Breeches are sized in inches according to waist size.

Ladies Pant Size

Suggested Breeches Size

2-4 24
4-6 26
6-8 28
8-10 30
10-12 32
12-14 34
14-16 36
16-18 38
18-20 40

They are available in regular and long which refers to the in-seam length. Long is preferable for riders who are 5’7” or taller. Breeches do stretch but they do so vertically which gives you some maneuverability in length but since they do not stretch horizontally, small sizes can be pretty snug.

Seat Styles

Full seat breeches are synonymous with event and dressage riding. They are notable for the contrasting and gripping fabrics from the knee to the inner thigh. The full seat style is chosen because the gripping fabrics create an almost sticky seat which helps them stay in the saddle as they perform their gaits.

3/4 Seat or Extended Knee Patch breeches are typically worn by hunter and jumper riders, these breeches use the same contrasting materials as full seat breeches but the gripping fabric is only on the knee area.

Riding Breeches

Riding Styles

  • Eventing - Riders wear white or light-colored breeches.
  • Hunter Classes - Beige, khaki, grey and other earthy tones are worn.
  • Jumper Classes - White is the most popular color during jumper classes.
  • Dressage - There is no specified color but white and light-colored riding breeches are common.
  • Clinics - It is advisable to wear light colored breeches.

Whether you ride for fun or competitively, it is important to feel comfortable and look good. A good pair of riding breeches not only look fantastic but they also give riders excellent freedom of movement that jeans simply do not provide.