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Breech Buying Guide

Which Breech is Right for Me—or Do I Need Tights?
Riders wear breeches in English riding disciplines for daily riding, training and showing. Once you’ve ridden in a pair, you’ll feel how much more comfortable they are than riding in jeans—even for those leisurely trail rides. Why? Breeches are athletically-inspired pants designed to help you stay comfortable and be effective in the saddle. They’re made to fit snugly throughout the seat, thighs and legs without bunching or shifting. Pant legs end in hems that remain neat, prevent the pants from rising up or twisting and feel free of bulk when tucked in tall boots or half chaps.

All breeches and riding tights are made of fabrics that provide either two-way or four-way stretch. Built-in stretch is necessary to give you full mobility and unrestricted freedom of movement, despite the close fit. Fabrics, features and price points are where riding breech designs begin to diverge. Breeches can be made of some type of economical cotton blend knit, finely ribbed synthetic fabric, stretch denim fabric or a highly technical microfiber with advanced properties, such as water- and stain- resistance, moisture wicking or thermoregulation.

Breech colors for competition remain conservative (as described in the United States Equestrian Federation Rulebook), but for schooling or pleasure riding, anything goes from classic to bright colors and plaids to eye-catching trims. Contrast top stitching, embroidery, crystal embellishments or color blocking can please the most fashion-conscious rider, while plenty of breeches maintain a traditional look for timeless performance.

Construction features vary to suit every rider’s taste, including low, mid or traditional/high rises, wide or narrow waistbands, pockets front and back, stretchy cuffs or hook-and-loop ankle closures, front-zip or side-zip and more. Regardless of fabric, brand, style features and price point, two main types of breeches exist: knee-patch or full-seat. The type that is right for you depends on your main riding discipline.

Knee-Patch Breeches
This type of breech has a layer of faux suede, silicone grip or some other textile in “patches” along the inner aspect of the knees. The patches offer grip and add durability for those riders who need to maintain two-point or jumping position. This functionality makes knee-patch breeches the classic choice of hunter/jumper riders and hunt riders, and they are often worn by event riders in the jumping phases of three-phase horse trials.

Full-Seat Breeches
This type of breech has faux suede, genuine leather, silicone grip or some other grippy textile along the seat, inner thighs and down to the knees. Most full seats cover the area entirely for consistent grip, but some have segmented panels for enhanced freedom of motion. Regardless of the cut, the full seat provides the dressage rider with “stick.” It helps the rider maintain a deep and secure seat, which in turn helps with the execution of subtle weight and seat aids. Many event riders choose full-seat breeches for the dressage phase of three-phase horse trials and may also wear them cross-country for extra grip.

Where Do Riding Tights Fit In?
The equestrian equivalent of yoga pants, riding tights are exceptionally comfortable, economical and easy-care—perfect for pleasure riding or schooling, but not for competition. They come with either knee patches or a full seat, so you can choose a tight to fit your discipline. They also come in an array of stretch knits from summer-weight to all-season/mid-weight to fleece-lined. The comfort and ease of riding tights makes them a staple of many riders’ wardrobes across disciplines and a favorite of beginning riders.