Switching from English to Western...what should I wear to lessons and on the trail? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 24 Old 09-29-2016, 05:09 PM Thread Starter
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Location: I'm an American girl living in southwest France
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Switching from English to Western...what should I wear to lessons and on the trail?

Hey all.

Having been taking English riding lessons for 3 years, I'm used to wearing tight fitting, stretchy breeches with ankle boots and half-chaps in leather with knee-high socks underneath. But I'm switching over to Western lessons (woo hooo!) and would eventually like to compete.

Could someone please help direct me to the clothing items that work for Western? I tried to wear just jeans once with shorter socks and ended up with a hell of a calf burn from the jeans rubbing on my leg. I own a pair of Justin steel-toe cowgirl boots and some Wrangler jeans. I suppose that's good for a start, but I notice when I ride, my jeans tend to ride up at the bottom until they're bunching at my knees and then they're just uncomfortable and silly looking. I figure I'm either doing something wrong or I'm missing some clothing items!

Links to products or pictures would be much appreciated. :) Thanks!

“When I bestride him, I soar, I am a hawk: he trots the air; the earth sings when he touches it; the basest horn of his hoof is more musical than the pipe of Hermes. ” ~ William Shakespeare
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post #2 of 24 Old 09-29-2016, 05:40 PM
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Unless showing there is no proper look really. Wear what you're comfortable in!
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post #3 of 24 Old 09-29-2016, 05:44 PM
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If you were to wear breeches and paddock boots {short boots} you would be comfortable and have leg protection from rubs you can still get in a western saddle...
I see people riding on trails, rings, competition trail rides all the time wearing breeches, leggings, short boots and chaps {full or half}....
It is what you are comfortable in that makes the decision for you...
Safety wise.... a shoe that has a heel to stop foot slip no matter the discipline ridden is the way to go...
A helmet if you rode English still protects the noggin no matter the saddle...and people fall off western saddles just like English..

You don't need to get crazy with your attire.
If you have paddocks and breeches, use them.
You don't "have to" buy certain clothes to partake of the sport for lessons...
Shows is a different thing, but to "ride in lessons", use what you have and are comfortable in...

I ride in paddock boots {Ariats} and breeches all the time...with a western saddle!!
Wearing a English riding helmet to protect better my head and brains if I eat dirt..
So do hundreds of other riders...just look around.

Ummm...personally I would not wear steel-toed shoes or boots around horses.
Yes, they are made to protect.
They also can bend, cutting your toes seriously if a horse should "land" hard on that boot toe it is going to move and potentially crush/cut your toes...
I'm talking really land hard his weight on your foot...
I'll take a broken toe{s} inside a leather boot any day than needing extrication from that steel toe crushing your foot!
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The worst day is instantly better when shared with my horse.....
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post #4 of 24 Old 09-29-2016, 05:58 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: I'm an American girl living in southwest France
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I know I don't "need" anything other than I have, but I "want" to have a more western look. :) So how do people who wear Wranglers, for example, keep from getting leg burn from the jeans rubbing?

“When I bestride him, I soar, I am a hawk: he trots the air; the earth sings when he touches it; the basest horn of his hoof is more musical than the pipe of Hermes. ” ~ William Shakespeare
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post #5 of 24 Old 09-29-2016, 06:04 PM
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You spend "big" bucks and buy jeans with no inside seam and some of them have a "hidden" patch like a pair of breeches...specially made for riding jeans. So $$$$$$......
Western boots and calf high socks so the boot doesn't rub the calf area...
You learn to sit with quiet legs and minimal movement if what I see in a show ring environment is correct...
Same as English, quiet and steady legs...

The worst day is instantly better when shared with my horse.....
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post #6 of 24 Old 09-29-2016, 06:22 PM
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For riding western, I have to buy jeans a couple inches longer than what I normally wear to keep them from riding up. Wranglers don't have a French seam on the inside legs which will help with the rubbing. Don't ride in steel toed boots since they tend to be wider in the toe, making it more difficult to get out of the stirrup in an emergency. Buy a pair of Western boot that fit you and since you're use to half chaps, the taller boot may be preferable.

I also ride English, so it's not unheard of for me to be riding in my western saddle dressed in breeches and field boots which always gets a few comments! I love the Ariat Terrains I bought several years ago since they are good for walking too.
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post #7 of 24 Old 09-29-2016, 07:33 PM
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This is for the casual lesson/trail ride. I don't show.

Generally I ride in jeans. I like Wranglers (q-baby) but will use anything that is comfortable. My favorite pair are jean leggings that I picked up on sale at Sam's Club last year for about $10. Tuck in boot for skinny jeans and leave out for boot cut or normal leg. Buy a bit longer so that you can runch (also called stacking) at the bottom and they won't ride up.

Boots are calf high Ariats (similar to build though not style to these http://demandware.edgesuite.net/sits...w=1500&sh=1500 ) and have never been too particular about my socks. I'd go with a rather plain boot for everyday around the barn thing. Justin's and Corral boots are a bit more of a "steppin' out" boot to me. I pick my boots because they are comfortable and practical rather than fashionable.

On top I'll wear a close fitting t-shirt in the summer if I'm feeling a bit fancy, I might throw on a button up vest. In the winter, layers as long as they don't get too bulky my favorite jacket is shearling.

I will admit though, that I'm not exactly a fashion conscious rider. I wear whatever is practical for what we will be doing (Full western chaps if we will be bush riding. Ugh, mesquite!). I figure that I can dress to the hilt but, in the end, how I ride will speak louder than what I am wearing.
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Last edited by Reiningcatsanddogs; 09-29-2016 at 07:46 PM.
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post #8 of 24 Old 09-29-2016, 08:23 PM
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Any western brand of jeans will do and a pair of western boots, I like the Justin`s, I have 4 pairs. I don`t know what kind of weather you are having right now, when it`s cold, I have a Cruel girl jacket, or a heavier Ariat jacket. If you want to look uber western out on the trail, wear a full length oilskin. You`re good to go now girl.

I am not here to promote anythingNo, that's not true, I am here to promote everything equestrian and everyone enjoying horses!
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post #9 of 24 Old 09-29-2016, 08:51 PM
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I don't have problems with either Wranglers or Levis, but there might be a position thing going on there. People talk about the flat part of the inner thigh, and my inner thigh doesn't seem to have a flat part...

Also, when I rode English, Littauer taught the lower leg was the anchor and had constant contact. In my western saddle, my lower leg is near the horse, but not ON the horse. That might also be a difference. And some people teach it like I do it, and some teach that what I do is wrong...but western riding tends to be pretty flexible unless competing, and then it depends on what sort of competition it is:

Steel toe or not steel toe is a debate without an answer. On the flight line, the US Air Force didn't allow steel toes, while the US Navy required them. When I was attached to a Navy squadron, they bought me steel toe boots so I could be safe, although I had spent many years doing the same job without them.

I do like my riding cowboy boots looser than my go to church cowboy boots. If something goes wrong, I want my foot to slip out of the boot. The horse is welcome to run off with my boot, but not dragging me along.

I do like wearing boots socks when I ride. I didn't used to, but now I like them. My black Red Wing work boots (pictured above) lasted me from 1990 until now, so I bought some brown ones a couple years ago. Figure 20-30 years out of a boot made paying $200 OK...but boots are also a very individual thing. Ariat and Tony Lama make good boots at a lower price. I like a shorter boot because I find them easier to get on and off. I like these because I hate struggling to get a boot on/off, and because I consider it a safety thing with horses:

That's a man's boot, but the 11" shaft plus the deep split make it easy on/off. I normally ride with my feet pretty deep into the stirrups. I gather that is controversial and I don't want to argue with anyone, but that may also be why I like my boots to be easy on & easy off!

Even jeans are not universal, at least out of the arena. My wife prefers fatigue pants (my oldest daughter's USMC uniform pants) - looks painful to me, but what do I know...

Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"
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post #10 of 24 Old 09-29-2016, 10:18 PM
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Well, trail riding, ride with what works for weather conditions, not fashion.
In fact, just got back today from a few days out west, going on long day rides and staying in our tent, complete with stove
Since weather can change quickly, in the mountains, I go prepared, far as clothes and footwear
My slicker certainly is tied to my saddle, regardless of how nice the day starts out
Nothing like being hours from camp, when an un expected weather system moves in, and your slicker is back at the trailer, because the morning was 'so nice'!
I do ride in jeans during warm weather, but prefer sweats this time of year
At home, i ride in western boots, but not on trail rides. I ride with hiking type boots, that have good sole treads, just in case there is a[place you have to walk-usually one very steep, or full of dead fall, and the last place you want smooth soles! I do make sure they will come out of my stirrups, and change to wider stirrups , if I have to. I don't trail ride with spurs
Now, far as showing, I wear western showmanship type pants, so that there is no added bulk under my chaps, plus of a color that matches my chaps.
I buy mens western boots, as I find those for women , usually too tight across the toes
I don't wear a western hat, trail riding, around home or to clinics-just to shows
Also admit to not wearing a helmet, but that is personal choice-not advise!
Yesterday, we left camp about 9AM and got back at 7PM. We rode into Dormer lake, where I had not been for 10 years,as it is both along ride, and the trail to Dormer itself, can be tricky.
I left camp wearing sweats, long johns, T shirt, thick sweater, parka, gloves, toque, and by noon my coat was tied on my saddle, toque changed to a ball cap.
IO gotta ride a taller horse though, crossing those rivers, as my feet got soaked both going and coming !
Show picture:

Just schooling,a round home (anything goes )

Trail riding, summer

Trail riding late fall

Last picture, shows my brother, out from Ontario, one year, when we took him on an elk hunt.
we did suggest that he was maybe a bit 'loud'Had to throw that one in!

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