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Tips for the Rider

Tips for the Rider: Equestrian Undergarments

Equestrian Undergarments

As equestrians, we spend a lot of time thinking about riding clothes – the boots, the breeches, the helmets.  Of course, show clothing is a whole subject unto itself. What we don’t think about much, and we should, is the underclothing we ride in. Pay a bit more attention to your “unmentionables” and you’ll find you have both a more comfortable and more effective ride.    
Every sport has unique physical requirements that shape clothing choices. Horseback riding, like running, tennis and many other activities, has a lot of concussive elements. Basically, every step your horse takes causes shock waves to travel through your horse to you.  In addition to concussive elements, riding also has friction issues, much closer to what a bicyclist experiences than a runner.   Finally, because horseback riding is a year round outdoor sport, there are also temperature issues – both hot and cold.    Choosing the correct riding undergarments can help with all of these issues. 

Riding, Concussion, and Sports Bras:

Your horse’s impulsion and movement travels up and through your body. Proper riding technique and muscular fitness can reduce the degree of shock quite a bit.   However, your breasts have no anatomical means of limiting the degree of motion. No matter how skilled a rider you are, your breasts will bounce! Not only is the bouncing unsightly in a sport where the objective is to be “one with your horse”, but it is painful and can cause permanent tissue damage.   A good, high impact, sports bra is really your only defense.  
A good sport bra minimizes breast movement in one of two ways:  By compression, where the breasts are held against the chest wall to limit motion; or encapsulation, in which the bra is engineered to surround and support the breasts.  Sometimes one bra uses both techniques.  If you're a small or medium breasted woman (A to C cup), chose a compression style bra for maximum support. Or, if you prefer to maintain a fuller silhouette, you can choose a bra that offers encapsulation for shaping as well as support.   If you're a larger-breasted woman (C to DD cup) you may find encapsulating styles that separate and support your breasts more comfortable and more supportive than compression bras.  For absolute maximum support, choose a sport bra that does both. (Our choice – Enell!)

Riding and Friction:


No matter how skilled a rider you are, there is always going to be some slight, subtle motion between you and your horse. Serious cyclists have been wearing anti-friction clothing for years, and their “mounts” don’t move about nearly so much as your horse does!  Seat, crotch, and inner thighs are all areas that can be painfully affected by friction. Breeches are designed to eliminate painful seams in friction areas, but that does little good if your undergarments aren’t designed correctly.  
Riding underwear comes in two basic forms – traditional and long line. Traditional styles look much like your regular underwear, but will have carefully placed seams to make sure you are not riding directly on a seam, and may also have subtle padding in the crotch area to help to alleviate painful rubs. Long line underwear fits all the way down to just above or below the knee. These garments are designed specifically to go under snug fitting breeches.   They are generally seam free in the crotch, seat, and inner thigh to eliminate rubs. They tend to be made of light compression fabric that will not only support heavily working thigh and gluteal muscles, but will also give you a clean, sleek appearance in your breeches. An extra plus of long line – they will add an extra opacity to your white show breeches! 

Hot and Cold:

Depending upon where you live, you likely deal with riding in hot or cold temperatures, possibly both. The right undergarment can help to keep you warm in the winter and cooler in the summer.
Regardless of season, you’ll want fabric that breathes.  As you exercise, you sweat. In the winter, sweat will eventually evaporate and make you cold.  For serious winter protection, look for “long underwear.” Not the old baggy flannel long johns, though; riding winter thermal wear is sleek, high tech, and designed for horseback. This snug fitting long underwear has flat lock anti-chafe seams, microfiber fabric, and sometimes stirrups and thumb hooks to hold it in place while you dress.   In the summer humidity, sweat will stay on your skin and make you sticky. Not only will that keep you hotter, but during longer rides, that can also make fabric prone to bacterial growth. For summer weather, look for mesh panels and anti-bacterial properties in the fabric.  
Remember not to forget your sports bra!  In summer particularly, compression sports bras can be hot and sticky.  Make sure you select one with breathable, moisture wicking fabrics and mesh panels. 


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