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The Budget Friendly Guide For What To Wear Horseback Riding

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Wearing the right outfit can significantly impact your horseback riding experience. Get our comprehensive guide on what to wear and what to avoid for your first horse riding lessons.

If you want to know what to wear to horseback riding when your just starting out and you want to save money on your riding outfit because you are not sure if horses are going to be your thing, then this is the guide for you. Maybe you are going to your first riding lesson or maybe you are just going on a trail ride.

Even if you are going to be cheap, you are going to want to wear clothes that you’ll feel comfortable in and that will also help you to stay safe. No, you don’t have to wear a fancy jacket, a velvet show helmet and expensive Italian tall boots.

First Thing You Should Do

  • If you are going to your first lesson, call before your lesson day and see if the barn has a dress code.
  • Lesson or trail ride… ask if they provide helmets or if you must bring your own.

I will explain however why it is best to invest and fork out the cash for your own helmet, along with the must haves for your ride.

After 20+ years of riding horses for pleasure and competition, 11+ years of owning horses and 10+ years teaching lessons and training horses. I’ve been around the block with many different equestrian brands. The guide below will provide you with the minimalist gear needed for you to get started with horseback riding .

Check My Budget Friendly Everyday Riding Outfit Idea List For Newbies Idea List Where You Can Get A Helmet, Paddock Boots and Helmet For under $150.

VIDEO: What To Wear To First Riding Lessons

What to wear riding horses

Riding Helmet

The helmet is probably the most important piece of equipment you will need. Always where a helmet when you ride. It can save you from brain injury and even death. Harsh but true.

Make sure you are wearing an ASTM/SEI approved riding helmet, not a bicycle helmet. These certified helmets are specifically tested for the rigors of horseback riding .

I’ve fallen off one too many times and I definitely believe that they have saved me from major head trauma. I mentioned earlier that you should call and ask if the farm provides helmets. Now this may be okay for temporary use but definitely get your own helmet if you continue to ride.

I have been on a riding hiatus due to my pregnancy and I need a new helmet. I have my eye on the Fallen Taylor Performance Helmet from Troxel. Oh my gosh, it looks so sleek but what I love most are the colorful designs it comes available in. I honestly can’t decide which one I like most. I might have to compromise and buy at least two. Love. Love Love. (Update: I ended up getting the solid turquoise colored one and love it! Update Update: It has been 4 years since I had that one and will keep my eyes open for a new one.)

Troxel Rebel Low Profile Western Riding Helmet

5 Star Rating- Check it out on Amazon


  • Helmet Fit-It may not fit as well as a helmet you bought specifically for yourself, sized to fit your head. A correctly fitting helmet means better protection in the case of a fall.
  • Other Riders Wearing That Helmet– Another thing to consider is all the riders before you that have used the barn’s lesson helmets. They are sweating in these helmets, may have dandruff, could have lice, etc.
  • Unknown Falls-A safety issue when using the lesson barn helmets is that you don’t know if someone may have fallen with one of the helmets and that can cause the helmet to lose integrity. Helmets should be replaced in the event of a fall to the head or it may not do what it is supposed to do the next time.

Related Post: Do I Need My Own Riding Helmet For Riding Lessons?

Riding boots for what to wear horseback riding


The next important piece of equipment after a riding helmet are riding boots. You don’t need to go out and buy actual riding boots but you do need boots or shoes that follow some specific guidelines.


  • Sneakers
  • High Heels
  • Sandals
  • Hiking Boots with Large Treads


  • Hard Leather Toed Shoe
  • Distinct Heel About 1 Inch
  • Smooth Soles

Shires Moretta Clio Adult’s Paddock Boot

4-1/2 Star Rating- Check it out on Amazon

Horses are heavy animals and if they step on your feet without proper protection, then you may have a very painful situation. Your toes will be more protected with the tough leather and your feet will be less likely to slide through the stirrup with the 1 inch heel while your riding.

You want a smooth sole so that you can slide your feet out of the stirrups easily if need be, which tread on your boots could make it difficult.

If you don’t have a heel on your boot your foot could potentially slide through the stirrup and if you happen to fall off the horse, your foot can get stuck. Essentially you could be dragged by the horse.

Proper footwear is a necessary safety measure, but it doesn’t have to be expensive. You may already have a suitable pair of shoes in your closet. If not there are affordable options like the Tuffrider Starter Boots (Check out on Amazon).

Breeches for what to wear horseback riding


The pants you are wearing can really affect the comfort of your ride. Make sure you don’t wear pants with big inseams, or that are baggy which will bunch around the knee. This rubs your inner leg and will most likely result in sores or blisters.

Shorts are also a bad idea and cause the same problem because there is no protection from the rubbing. So even if it’s really hot out don’t wear shorts.

As you probably don’t have breeches or riding tights you can get away substituting with stretchy jeans. Make sure that they are full length and fitted. Also make sure they cover your whole bum when you are sitting down. 🙂

Once you decide to commit to riding, invest in some breeches, they come with knee patches or a full seat patch for extra grip on the saddle, to protect from wear and tear as well as protect your precious skin from rubs and sores.

Kerrits low Rise Knee Patch Performance Tight

4-1/2 Star Rating- Check out on Amazon

Sadly I think I am not fitting into any of my breeches at the moment… tear. Either I need to actually start exercising and cut the calories or I could just buy some new breeches… hmm that’s a tough one. My favorite brand is Kerrits and I might just buy a pair of their riding tights.


ARIAT Women’s Sunstopper 1/4 Zipshirt

4 Star Rating- Check it out on Amazon

For safety reasons as well as visual, you don’t want to wear long baggy shirts or jackets. You may get caught and it’s harder for your instructor to see your riding position.

Don’t wear tank tops in the summer because if you fall off you are more likely to scratch up your shoulders and it may not be appropriate. In the summer short sleeve polo shirt tucked in work well and they look quite presentable, but a fitted t-shirt works as well.

There are some long sleeve t-shirts that are made for riding in the sun and have sun protection yet keep you cool.

In the cooler weather fitted sweatshirt and jacket work. Just make sure they are fitted and not baggy. Also make sure the sweatshirt or jacket is short enough that you are not sitting on it.


Jayefo Horse Riding Gloves

4-1/2 Star Rating – Check it out on Amazon

These are optional, however there are circumstances where you will want to have gloves.

  • Cold weather riding you will want winter riding gloves to keep your hands from freezing to the reins. Your hands won’t really freeze to the reins but they will be cold!
  • You are getting blisters on your fingers from the reins.
  • You want better grip.

If you have fitted leather gloves, gardening gloves, or winter gloves with grip, any of these can work. You could also just buy some inexpensive all weather riding gloves or winter riding gloves if you decide to keep riding past a few lessons.


Asmar Equestrian Tall Boot Socks for Horse Riding, Equin Boot Socks

4-1/2 Star Rating- Check it out on Amazon

Knee socks are generally worn under tall boots but you can wear them with paddock boots as well. They go over your riding breeches and even if you are wearing shoes or paddock boots it will provide extra protection for your calf from rubs do to the stirrup leathers.


SYROKAN Women’s High Impact Support Wirefree Bounce Control

4 Star Rating- Check it out on Amazon

There is going to be a lot of bouncing going on in certain areas if you know what I mean. Make sure you wear a supportive bra that will withstand the bouncing that is to come. As far as underwear… seriously… don’t wear a thong. It is not comfortable.

These are the basics that you will want when you start riding. However if you decide that riding is something you want to continue to pursue then it will be worthwhile to invest in purchasing the whole riding getup.

If you haven’t already check out my Budget Friendly Everyday Riding Outfit Idea List For Newbies Idea List Where You Can Get A Helmet, Paddock Boots and Helmet For under $150.

Related Post: Can I Wear Leggings Horseback Riding?

Related Post: Do I Need My Own Helmet For Riding Lessons?

Cheers, Kacey

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Disclaimer Notice: Please be aware that horseback riding and related equestrian activities carry inherent risks. The advice and experiences shared on this blog are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional training or advice. Ensure your safety and that of your horse by wearing appropriate gear, practicing safe horse handling, and consulting with certified equestrian professionals. Remember, each horse is unique, and techniques may vary accordingly. Always prioritize safety, respect, and patience in your equestrian endeavors.

Kacey Cleary Administrator
Kacey has been an equestrian since 1998. She was a working student at several eventing and dressage barns. She has owned horses, leased horses, and trained horses. Kacey received an A.S. in Equine Industries from UMass Amherst, where she rode on the dressage team. She was certified with the ARIA and is licensed to teach riding in MA. She has been a barn manager and has run her own horse farm.
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4 thoughts on “The Budget Friendly Guide For What To Wear Horseback Riding”

  1. I’m planning to go on a horseback riding this coming month, which is why I’m currently looking for work boots. Well, of course, I’ll keep in mind to look for an ASTM/SEI approved riding helmet. Thank you for also sharing here the importance of wearing a full length and fitted pants.

    • Glad I could help! A tip for the boots make sure the soles don’t have large treds you want smaller treds or a smoother sole, so your foot doesn’t get stuck in the stirrups. Also you want boots with around a 1 inch heel to not get in the way but still help to keep your foot from sliding through the stirrup. I hope you love you have a great horse riding experience. Have fun!


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