Summer is almost here, and in many parts of the country the high temps have already arrived. With the scorching air comes days spent sweating in the saddle. Fortunately, riding clothes have come a long way since the heavy woolen fabrics used in past centuries, embracing lightweight, high-tech fabrics that wick away sweat; some even have SPF capabilities.
While it’s one thing to wear a tank top (with loads of sunscreen, please), or sun shirt to beat the heat when in the saddle, our sport requires full coverage from waist to toe for safety and effective aids, making staying cool a challenge.
Several riding apparel brands have designed legwear – breeches, tights, and riding jeans – to be functional, lightweight, and super chic. Here are some of our picks for summer, including fabulous Canadian and American brands that have men’s, women’s, and children’s styles and sizes so that the whole family can look and feel cool at the barn. Happy trails!
Canadian brand Struck Apparel’s ethos is to treat equestrians like athletes, meaning they eschew tradition and lean on the technical and ergonomic side to design riding wear as sportswear. One of their latest breeches is the 55 Series, with some new design details such as handy back pockets with flexible buttons and a red sport zipper with a “click and lock” design that keeps you zipped up. We also love small but mighty details like the waistband lined with rubber to help keep your shirt tucked in neatly. All of the Rockwood, Ontario company’s breeches are made from a fabric designed specifically for equestrian sports that’s highly abrasion resistant, extremely stretchy and won’t lose its shape no matter how often you ride, wash, and repeat. They have a line of kids‘ and men’s breeches, too.
Another Canadian brand is Quebec-based Leveza Equestrian, which has a line of summer breeches and riding leggings. We love the Kyoto Summer Breeches for their full-seat silicone grip, and the functional front pockets that are large enough to store your phone. Made from Coolmax fabric to keep you comfy on those hot days. The brand has a line of kids’ riding leggings to choose from as well.
If you prefer to feel even lighter and more casual, then riding leggings might be for you. The Vancouver-based company Street & Saddle has been designing for riders since 2015. Their Bronco Equestrian Riding Legging (pictured at top right) features a high-rise look in a super-soft fabric with a stylish faux suede knee patch. The range of sizes is also impressive, going from XXS up to 4X. And if you fall between sizes or want something special, they offer a custom option; select the option on their site and a designer will contact you directly to help with measurements.
For full-figured riders there is the Barrie, Ontario-based company Plus Size Rider Canada, which offers their Ultimate High-Waisted Riding Breech (size L to 5X) and Ice Feel Full Seat Riding Tights with the ability to lower skin temperatures to keep you cool on hot days (size L-6X).
Western Riding Jeans
It really isn’t tough to believe that when it comes to western riders, the American brands have it well-covered. This is the land of Yellowstone, after all!
There are several brands of denim designed for western riders, basically jeans with more stretch such as those from Rock& Roll Cowgirl. We happen to like the look of the mid-rise extra-stretch bootcut riding jean that got rave reviews from customers on the brand’s site. “… extremely comfortable. Perfect with boots, and do not gap in the back.” The no-gapping really makes a difference when you’re in the saddle.
Cinch also has a line of riding denim for women including the Lyden Jean, a slim fit denim trouser silhouette that is flattering and elongates the leg. Made from a crosshatch denim that’s lightweight enough for long summer rides.
And when it comes to cowgirl style, it doesn’t get much more iconic than Wrangler. The brand’s Women’s Wrangler Ultimate Riding Jean Q-Baby style (pictured at top left) are designed to stay comfortable and fit perfectly whether you’re in the saddle or doing barn chores – and look awesome while doing it. The Q-Baby line are mid-rise bootcut jeans with a no-gap waistband for full coverage when riding as well as added stretch and flat seams to ensure a comfortable wear.
For the cowboy in your life, Wrangler has several denim fits, although the Cowboy Cut Original Fit Active Flex Jeans look rugged and ready for long summer days at the ranch. And as you’d expect, Wrangler has a full range of kid’s styles that are perfect for riding camp or family pleasure riding.
Ariat is known for both English and Western riding apparel, but we really vibed to the brand’s R.E.A.L High Rise Ballary Bootcut Jean with a dark wash that gives them a stylish ’70s look that can go from riding the ranch to rooftop terrace downtown. Bonus: these jeans are “earth-friendly” because they are made using 50% less water.