Horse Riding Breeches vs. Tights: Which is right for you?

Whether you’re just getting into horseback riding or are an experienced rider, you might be unsure what the differences are between riding breeches and tights. 

As both are designed to provide security, comfort and safety, you’ll need to consider your riding needs when choosing your next pair.  

To help you choose, we’ve listed the differences between equestrian breeches and tights, the pros and cons of each, and how to get the perfect fit, so you can be confident when choosing your next pair of riding legwear.  

What are the differences between riding breeches and riding tights? 

Firstly, riding tights are designed similarly to a pair of gym leggings, with the aim for them to be pulled on without using a button or zip. Most riding tights are made from 4-way stretch fabrics, making them lightweight and comfortable, with riders choosing them for the colours and trims available.  

However, breeches are more traditional and are the main choice for competition riding. Made from fabrics, such as cotton or suede, they feature a limited 2-way stretch. They have been designed to be worn with long-riding boots and are the shortest riding trousers. Riding breeches are also available in knee patch and full seat, as well as three waistband rise fits (low, mid and high), which we’ll discuss in more detail later.  

If you’re still unsure which riding legwear would suit you best, here are the features of both breeches and tights. 

  Riding breeches  Riding tights  
Design    Smart with a formal design and made from thick, sturdy fabric.   Similarly designed to a pair of ‘gym tights’, made from a thinner, but stretchy fabric.  
Style   Best paired with long-riding boots, as they’re not designed to be full-length.   Various trims available (reflective panelling, mesh, seamless, in-built phone pocket).  
Appearances                      Available in traditional colours, making them perfect for competition wear.   Available in a range of colours and patterns, giving you full customisation.  
Durability    Extremely durable, hard-wearing and will last for years.   Choosing a heavier fabric choice in summer and winter can make them last. 

Reasons to choose breeches  

Traditionally made with Velcro fastenings at the ankle, riding breeches are available in various options to make sitting in the saddle more comfortable.  

As they are designed to stretch, they are made from fabrics with 2-way stretch, such as cotton or suede, and have a fly closure with a zipper, button or snap. Riding breeches will have some stretch, but they should feel more structured, while being comfortable and breathable.  

Reasons to choose riding tights  

Designed to feel like a second skin, tights are made with 4-way stretch fabrics, giving them a sportier and thinner feel. They provide a good grip for riding and are growing in popularity amongst riders. 

What types of riding tights and breeches are there? 

There are many styles of breeches and tights available for every equestrian, from waistband length to grip type. When choosing your type of legwear, consider what kind of support and grip you are looking for from your riding trousers.  

Grip types 

Knee patch  

A knee patch riding breech or tight will have a grippy patch on the inside of the knee, traditionally made from suede or leather. You can also get silicone patches, which have become popular in recent years, due to their flexibility and breathability. A knee patch riding breech is appropriate for riders who jump their horses or eventing, as they have the extra security of the grip at their knees. 

Full seat  

For more coverage, a full seat riding tight or breech has a patch that covers the seat and inside of the legs down to the calf. This allows for more contact with the saddle, providing more security. Full seat breeches are most seen on dressage riders, as dressage requires a strong connection from seat to saddle.  

Waistband rise types 

Now you know the differences between a knee patch and a full seat, it’s time to consider which waistband rise fit is for you. The three choices are: 

  • Low: a low-rise waist sits on or below your hips  
  • Mid: mid-rise tights or breeches sit between your hips and belly button and are the most popular choice 
  • High: high-rise legwear sits nearer your natural waistline and tends to be super supportive and flattering.  

How to find the perfect fit  

To ensure your breeches or tights fit comfortably, you may need to measure yourself. To do so, you’ll first need a measuring tape and the below measurements:  

  • Waist: Take measurements from the smallest part of your waist, with the tape needing to be level.  
  • Hip: Measurements should be taken from the widest part of the hip, stand with your feet together and measure around your hips from the point you can feel your hip bone.  
  • Inside leg: Standing with one leg in front of the other, you should measure from your groin down the inside of your leg, to the base of your foot.  

Which should I choose? 

It depends entirely on your riding habits, budget and needs. If you ride a handful of times a week, your requirements will differ from those who ride daily. The more you ride, the better quality your legwear needs to be to withstand the demands and extra wear.  

Breeches, and specifically breeches for competitions, tend to suit riders who are partaking in shows, due to their more traditional appearance. Likewise, if you’re in lessons gearing for show season, it would be wise to train in something similar to what you’re competing in.  

If you’re aiming for a closer feel to your horse and wish to feel comfortable when working in the stables, then riding tights would suit you better. 

Final verdicts from the Edgemere Team 

Sacha, Purchasing Manager at Edgemere, says: “I think riding tights are great – however, I much prefer traditional breeches.  My favourites are the Cavalleria Toscana American Breeches as they are so comfortable and look amazing for shows.  I have a mixture of these. My next favourite would be the Ariat Trifactor Ladies Breeches, which are made from a super stretchy fabric, fit amazingly and the price is also very attractive.”

Kayleigh, Customer Service Manager at Edgemere, says: “Riding Tights all the way. When I am not in the office, I live in my riding tights.  I have summer ones and love the winter version even more.  I have Ariat EOS Riding Tights and the LeMieux Riding Tights. In Winter, I team them with the Waterproof Chaps to stay toasty warm.  You really need to try on the riding tights to feel the comfort and difference.”

Still unsure which pair to choose?  

We hope this blog has helped you decide if breeches or tights will suit you best. When purchasing your legwear, keep in mind your chosen riding discipline and seat options.  

If you’re unsure about sizing or fit, get in touch with a member of our friendly team today. We’d be more than happy to help.  

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Posted by: Danny Painter
Posted on: 01/02/2023

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