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Must-Have Gear for Adult Equestrians: First Ride Back In the Saddle

Must-Have Gear for Adult Equestrians: First Ride Back In the Saddle

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Adult Equestrians

So there I was, after 25 years of being away from horses, in a bit of a pickle. I signed up for my big comeback lesson, grinning like a fool with anticipation, and ready for this calendar day like a kid waiting for December 25th. But then it hit me. I didn’t have any horseback riding clothes just laying around, waiting for this glorious day. I started frantically sifting through piles of mismatched winter boots and rummaging through my closet like a crazed pirate on the hunt for hidden treasure. Who was I kidding? I had absolutely no equestrian gear in my possession. Why would I?

Adult Horseback riding gear

I certainly had no knowledge of horse web sites or stores of where to get this new gear. I realized I was clueless. Should I gallop to Khols? Trot to Marshals? Or maybe even canter to Target? I mean, should I be on the lookout for some extravagant name brand or what? The one thing I did know – the simple equine ABCs-, footwear, pants, and a helmet.

My Dad used to give my 16 year old self epic lectures that are etched into my brain forever. The first thing he said was that I had to wear a helmet. Like, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Till this day, I won’t sit on a horse without buckling one on! Then there was the whole footwear deal. I learned quickly that if I didn’t wear sturdy shoes, ones with a heel, I could end up with a mangled toe or worse, losing a stirrup while riding (thus the heel). Pants are important. Pants can help protect your legs from bug bites, scrapes, scratches, or even more serious injuries like bruises or friction burns.

This is why I am here for you my adult friends. I am here to help you get started on your journey back to the barn and first ride back in the saddle!

Are you riding English or Western?

The first question I am going pose: Are you riding English or Western? You will probably be making the basic choice before you arrive. Some barns offer both types of riding. But, little warning, things have totally evolved since the good ol’ days 25 years back. In those ancient times there were only two styles: English or Western. Well, hold on to your hats ‘coz there’s a whole bunch more to explore! I’m talking different disciplines within those styles. It’s crazy, I know! But hey, I’ll save the details for a future blog post, so stay tuned!

When I rode as a teenager, I was more formally trained English. My parents insisted I take lessons to learn how to care for a horse, and how to ride before I got my horse. Smart people. I took lessons with the most wonderful equestrian- Heather. She was the sister of my BFF. Heather competed also in driving and was an East Coast Driving Champion and she also had a beautiful 17hand Trakehner. She taught me everything about caring for horses and how to ride English.

I was formally taught English, I learned on my own how to ride Western. I eventually competed both English and Western in 4-H events with my horse every year. I loved Western. It was laid back and fun. So which to choose as a now adult? I choose English. I felt I had the most knowledge in English, and I wanted to put my best foot forward in my first lesson as an adult.

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What to Buy For your First Adult Riding Lesson and Where to Start Looking

  1. A Helmet – Safety first.

No matter which basic discipline you choose you will need a helmet. Now when you sign up for your first lesson, it is very possible that your lesson barn will have helmets. Mine actually did. But I wanted my own. I wanted one that I knew the history of, properly fit my head, and I knew had never been involved in a fall. Investing in a new helmet ensures that you are using a product that meets safety standards and provides the necessary protection for horse riding. Your head is precious, and protecting it should be a top priority.

Find a helmet that’s comfortable, fits well, and meets the highest safety standards. Remember, you want your noggin to be intact not just for your first lesson but for all the incredible rides to come. Plan to pay between $79-$150 for a good starting helmet. Some are more depending on name brand, or glam on the helmet. Heck I have overheard some of my equestrian friends talk about $400- $600 helmets. Lord, lets keep this easy. I paid somewhere around $100. It is one of your most important investments. Don’t skimp and don’t skip– non-negotiable! Just get it. Honestly, I still have the same one and its been 2 years.

Adult Riding Helmet

Ovation Deluxe Schooler Equestrian Riding Helmet

Troxel Cheyenne Horseback Riding Helmet

2. Equestrian Footwear for Adults: Barn and Riding

Just like a bossy teacher during recess, when I reached a time in becoming more of an adult mentor at the barn, I couldn’t help but eye everyone’s shoes! Yep, just call me the equine footwear fusspot! Never ride in sneakers and for the love….never ever- wear flip flops in the barn. Invest in some legit boots. They’re not just for show; they’ll help you maintain balance and grip. Trust me, the last thing you want is constant foot slippage while maneuvering a thousand pound animal. Equestrian boots – are fashionable and functional in 2023!

Personally I keep a pair of boots at the barn in case I arrive from work in less than sturdy shoes. Here are the boots I have for heading out to the pasture to get my horse, feed and groom, and barn activities.

Equine footwear Ariat Ladies Terrain Boots

Ariat Ladies Terrain Boots

In the Saddle Footwear

Back in the day, I had the those tall leather English Boots. Yup- they are a big pain to pull on- and honesty still pricey! When I discovered Paddock boots – you can bet I was excited! This is what I started my first lesson in.

English Paddock Boots

Dover Saddlery Riding Sport Ladies’ Provenance Zip Paddock Boots

These boots are versatile and can be worn for various types of equestrian activities, such as schooling, jumping, or trail riding. Typically have a lace-up or zip-up front, allowing for a secure fit. They often have a flat or low heel to prevent the foot from slipping through the stirrup while riding. Now, I am not saying you wont ever need tall boots. If you decide to start showing, you will want to invest in a pair of tall boots. But for what you need right now, paddock boots and half chaps will work just dandy!

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English Half Chaps

I started my first few lessons in just Paddock boots I quickly added half chaps. Paddock boots are often paired with half chaps for added protection and support. I prefer to wear my paddock boots and half chaps even now that I have tall boots for daily rides. I remember being completly confused about half chaps. So let me explain: Half chaps are commonly used by riders who do not wear tall boots, as they provide a similar level of protection and comfort. Half chaps typically cover the area from the ankle to just below the knee. They are designed to provide extra grip, support, and protection while riding. They are often made of leather or synthetic materials and have a zip or strap closure system to secure them onto the rider’s leg.

Once you get your paddock boots on the half chaps go over the top. If you do not wear the half chaps with the paddock boots the stirrup straps do start to pinch and irritate your lower leg as you get better and stronger using your legs while riding. That is what happened to me and my coach suggested half chaps. So they are an important investment. I got the Half Chaps about a month after I started riding. I started with these exact ones. Still have them a year later. Love them.

Dover Saddlery Riding Sport Adults’ Synthetic Suede Half Chaps with Silicone Grip Patches

Breeches That Make You Look Like a Jockey (or at least pretend)

3. Riding Pants

Okay, let’s be honest here: these tight, stretchy pants may not be the most flattering, but they serve a purpose. Breeches allow for a better connection with your horse, preventing unnecessary chafing and making your seat more secure. Plus, you’ll look like a real pro when you walk into that ring.

You know how your all giddy to share a juicy secret with your best friend? That’s how I am feeling typing these words. Gonna let you in on a beginner adult secret. I covet these PANTS! I am gonna drop these here- for you! I went through several pairs of riding pants when I first started. Too small, too tight, no grip. I have a graveyard of pants that I ordered in the beginning.

I will order these until the cows come home. They are stretchy, more true to size, have a pocket and extra grippes in the seat and legs. You need all of this as an adult. They are totally affordable and come in multiple colors.

Willit Women’s Riding Pants Full Seat Silicone Breeches Equestrian Horseback Riding Tights with Zipped Pocket

Western Riding Wear

While I was formally taught English in my early riding days, I very much enjoyed riding and eventually competing with my horse in 4-H Western events. I loved Western. It was laid back and easy. If you are riding western, good for you. You will love it!

4. Western boots

Designed to cater specifically to the needs of riders. They provide durability, support, protection, comfort, and style. Western boots are typically made from high-quality materials such as leather, which makes them extremely durable and long-lasting. This is especially important when riding, as your boots can come into contact with various elements such as mud, water, and rocks. I look for the most comfortable boots when I ride and these are awesome.

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ARIAT Women’s Anthem Waterproof Western Boot

5. Layers for All Weather

Being that we are in fall time right now. Mother Nature loves to keep us on our toes, especially when we’re on horseback. So, dress in layers, my friends. Wear a moisture-wicking base layer to keep you cool and dry, a stylish long-sleeved shirt to protect you from the sun, and a zip-up fleece or jacket to keep you cozy when the weather decides to be unpredictable. I have this vest and love pairing it with a cheap long sleep shirt or short sleeve top- fall or spring.

HORZE Womens Classic Quilted Vest

6. Jeans

So I started riding Western this year and I will go on and on about this is a future blog post, but I was excited about riding in jeans! YES! I had this pair of jeans in my closet and I absolutely love them. They are a little big, which is good. You don’t need anything that is going to be tight on your waist.

Judy Blue Women’s High Waist Slim Bootcut Easy Pull On Jeans

Random Horse Back Riding Items

7. Sunscreen

The sun, my friend, can be a sneaky devil. Sunscreen no matter the time of year- If you want to off stay wrinkles- wear sunscreen. Protect your beautiful skin from harmful UV rays with a high SPF sunscreen designed for sports. Slather it on and ride with confidence, knowing you’re safe from unwanted sunburns and early wrinkles.

8. Sports Bra

If I didn’t remember to mention these next two things, I wouldn’t make a great friend. Most adult ladies will appreciate me for not forgetting about this one! You really need a top-notch sports bra.

Yvette Sports Bras for Women High Impact Racerback Workout Sports Bra High Support for Large Bust Plus Size

9. Long Socks

Even though it may not seem like a big deal, I didn’t have the right kind of long socks when I first started. But I found some at horse stores and have become a real sock connoisseur. Can you believe I even paid $20 for just one pair before? Now getting three pairs for this price is a real bargain!

Wrangler Ladies Rayon Horse Shoe Pattern Knee High Boot Socks 3 Pair Pack

In Conclusion

As I ventured forth into this bewildering marketplace, I embraced the confusion and laughed in the face of my own cluelessness. I might not have known the hottest online stores or the hippest brands, but hey, as long as I had my trusty essentials and a heart full of excitement, I was ready to ride into this new chapter of my equine adventure, fashionably challenged and all!

Adult Riding Clothing

My adult equestrian advice. Embrace the unexpected, the fumbles, and the moments that make you laugh until your sides hurt. Remember, it’s all part of the horsey adventure. Take everything slow. Find your peace. Find your moments. Take it all in. Every. Single. Ride. Being at the barn will become one of the best gifts to your well-being you have ever decided to take part in. Learn to let troubles go as you pull onto that dusty driveway, I promise it will change you to the core.

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