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BLOG: The struggles of buying new breeches

Sally's criteria for breeches is they need to look good enough to wear to the supermarket and school pick up! © Sally Kirkwood

Do you live in your joddies?


By Sally Kirkwood

This little topic is one that should really be talked about in major schools, master classes and clinics! We put all our efforts into riding, training, horse health, mental health, physical health, dietary requirements, safety standards etc. but we overlook one of the most important tools when it comes to riding! The breeches/jodhpurs or riding jeans!

Let’s face it, they are a compulsory item of clothing that ranks right up there with the helmet and boots. However when it comes to buying a new pair breeches I just about break out into a cold sweat and a wave of panic sets in. I am one of those people who find my perfect pair of breeches and keep buying the same style until they no longer make them. When that frightful day happens I then have to embark on an epic journey to find the next perfect pair of breeches!

There are many things to consider when searching for the perfect pair of riding pants. Quite frankly I would like to meet some of the so called designers who have made these vital pieces of clothing over the years as well. I think before you design a pair of riding pants you should in fact ride a horse! It doesn’t have to be at Olympic level, just to have sat in a saddle on the back of a moving horse and gone for a ride would be enough. You see the most important thing we look for in riding pants is comfort. So WHY do they make these pants with the biggest seams and stitching all in the WRONG places? Holy smokes! I have some breeches and jeans that make you think you are riding in a cheese grater! I have had the saddle sores from hell that make me very glad that I am not a bikini model as my bikini days would be over before they began.


Trying on breeches is... trying! © Sally Kirkwood

Trying on breeches is... trying!


At the end of my worst cheese grater day I would have sworn that they just whipped them together with staples to save time on sewing. Now the worst of these offending cheese graters came with a price tag that would make my husband pass out! Plus they had rave reviews from the sales assistant who swore black and blue that they were comfortable and every rider loves them. Not only did these bad boys come with the stitching from hell they also came with the added extra bonus of too much material behind the knee and ridged stitching in front of the knee. You know that feeling when it is all bunched up at the back and cutting in the front of the knee cap, which proceeds to rub until your skin is raw? What they don’t realise is the damage and pain doesn’t just stop there. Oh no! You get a second hit of it when you have a shower at the end of the day. It is made extra painful if you have to wash your hair and the shampoo runs down and burns the living daylights out of you. You then yodel like a dingo with 1080 bait and breathe like you are giving birth, praying that it will soon be numb. I think at this point I was plotting revenge on the sale assist and let me tell you it wasn’t going to be pretty.

I had some comfort when at a super clinic out west I heard quite a few 1080 yodel noises coming from the shower block. It turns out this is quite a common problem. So a sisterhood of keeping it real about breeches formed! For the first time we discussed the brands to steer clear of and just as important the saddle sore cream to always stock in the cupboard. Now I can’t speak for the gentlemen of the equine world as you have a whole “set” of riding comfort issues that I don’t understand. However, I could only imagine that you would have to face the same dangers with ill fitting, ill made, ill designed riding pants!

There are other vitally important facts that come into play when purchasing the perfect pair of riding pants. If you are like me and seem to spend the majority of your day in jodhpurs, your first concern is comfort. Secondly and let’s be VERY honest here, you have to be happy with how they look. I think they are the most unflattering piece of clothing in the universe and some of them make the skinniest string bean look like they are packing saddlebags and baking muffin tops.


There's more than one way to make sure they fit. © Sally Kirkwood

There's more than one way to make sure they fit.


You need to be able to still look respectable so you can step out onto the arena to teach, run into the P&F meeting on your way home and then do the grocery gallop as you have nothing left to eat in your house! The worst place of all is the school yard for the pickup. Oh how there are days that I would like to dig a hole and hide. We really do have some very well dressed mummies that breeze in looking glamorous – then there is me – still wearing the same pair of breeches that I pulled on at some horrid hour of the morning, in the dark before shovelling a ton of manure and riding enough horses to make you lose count. The lesson in this is to find the pair that makes you feel confident enough to tackle the school yard and grocery store and not want to pass out and hide in shame if you are seen in them.

The next step is to find the seat that is right for you. There are many options. Full seat, super-duper sticky seat, knee grips, no knee grips, the options are endless. There is no right or wrong as everyone has different needs. However my pet hate are the ones that have an overly thick, no-stretch seat. Holy smokes! I have no idea how you get on the horse, let alone ride in these bad boys! They make you so restricted and stuck that it’s impossible to go “with” the horse and you feel incredibly uncoordinated. I call them “whale humpers” as I imagine it would be how a beached whale would feel trying to hump his way across the sand. I explained to a sale assistant how I didn’t like the feel of a particular pair of breeches as they felt like whale humpers. She promptly told me it was because I had “enough junk in my trunk to hold my backside in the saddle”! No wonder we hate shopping for breeches!

Then we go into the PSI. You need to have the correct stretch and hold in the garment. You need something that will hold in all the unflattering bits and hide the hail damage without the risk that the garment might blow apart due to too much tension and tightness! You also need to get them on easily and not have the hassle of launching yourself off the roof to pile into them. If they are that tight, there is no way they are going to be comfy, plus knowing my luck they would cause lack of circulation and I would pass out in the middle of the school yard or worse still, down the bread isle of the supermarket.


Checking the PSI. © Sally Kirkwood

Checking the PSI.


The next on the list is to make sure your new breeches are going to match your magical super-powered brown boots, that you are happy with the material and colour, and that of course they are a price you can afford – as I have seen some for the same price of a small island.

So how are we to know if the new breeches that you are about to buy are going to be killers or not? If they are going to be your perfect pair of riding pants or cheese graters in disguise!

This is my FAVOURITE part of riding at the bigger events. It is all the shopping! My hometown, Charters Towers, doesn’t have any shops that sell jodhpurs – hell, I think the poor town has only just come to terms with me wearing them down the main street! They still call me Sally Long Socks as they sure haven’t seen anyone wearing long socks with jods around these parts.

Here’s how I buy. Firstly, I run around like a mad woman on a mission touching, feeling and looking at breeches. If you have a friend who will tell you honestly what she or he thinks and not lie or be condescending, drag them along too. I make my selection and cram into the dressing room - which at these events are usually quite cramped and only held together with a flimsy curtain and peg so be careful. Don’t drink a bottle of champagne before undertaking this challenging sport of getting tight clothing on in a small space. Trust me it doesn’t end well and it kind of resembles wrestling with a crocodile behind a curtain with lots of laughs.  I like to test the new breeches out in a little test that may be mistaken for a brolga mating dance!


One of many exercises to try before you buy! © Sally Kirkwood

The brolga mating dance.


Check out the cheese grater level. © Sally Kirkwood

Check out the cheese grater level.


Squatting to check the stretch. © Sally Kirkwood

Squatting to check the stretch.


Put them on, then stick one leg out and in then repeat with the other leg, crouch down in a squat position and then thrust up and down, back and forth to make sure the garment has sufficient stretch for your liking. Next you attempt your best yoga stretches followed by a stomping march, then into a re-enactment of a jockey riding down the straight riding for his life in the Melbourne Cup, to see if the stitching, seams and gathered material aren’t in fact cheese graters in disguise. Once you are satisfied with the comfort, PSI and stretchiness you can then move onto the important issues of how they look. Are they going to stand up to the school yard test, or more importantly do they give you enough confidence to not give two hoots. Could they even give you super magic powers and come with a piaffe button on them!


Good joddies need to stretch... © Sally Kirkwood

Not suitable for yoga poses? Not suitable for riding!


Once they have passed these tests you can ask your trusted friend for their opinion and then you sit down and double check that the price tag is correct and that you didn’t pick up the ones that are made from the rare gold encrusted cotton plant that comes with the price tag that will make you pass out.

Sure, you may look a little crackers, however it is a very small price to pay for fabulous fitting riding pants. Plus you will save money on saddle sore cream and not set the neighbourhood dogs off yodelling in the shower.

I hope this little segment of Keeping it Real has helped you in your quest to find the perfect riding pants.

Till next time,

May you find those jods with the piaffe button and super magic powers, may your ponies be prancing and your days fabulous!



(Who may have been seen wrestling a croc in a change room at a CDI after a bottle of champagne!!!)

Photos supplied by Sally Kirkwood.





Issue 38


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