The Guide for New Riders

Are you trying horse riding for the first time?

Welcome! Horse riding is friendly, inclusive and accessible for people from all backgrounds. It's a fun, challenging and addictive hobby that offers the opportunity to learn new skills and spend time with horses. It's also a great way to enjoy the outdoors, explore the countryside and keep fit!

We would always recommend that you start your journey by taking some lessons at a reputable riding school. The best place to look for a local riding school would be on the British Horse Society website where they have a list of BHS approved centres - this approval ensures riding schools provides the highest standards of equine welfare and instruction, are fully insured and have your safety as priority.

Once you've chosen your riding school and booked your first lesson, you'll probably be wondering what you'll need to wear. It's easy to get overwhelmed and confused, but don't panic! We're here to help. We've put together this simple guide to get you looking the part and feeling comfortable for your first ride, while making sure you're safe. You don't need to spend a fortune or choose the most technical clothing and equipment straight away - unless, of course, you want to! Just make sure that it's comfortable, fits well and that your safety equipment meets the latest safety standards. Stick to your essentials and go from there.

Essential items that you will need for your first ride are a correctly fitted riding hat that meets the latest safety standards and a pair of riding boots with a smooth sole and a small heel. You may also benefit from a pair of riding gloves to protect your hands. Choosing to wear a type of riding trouser - riding tights, breeches or jodhpurs - instead of jeans or jogging bottoms will make you more comfortable in the saddle too.

Riding Helmet

We would not recommend ever riding without a riding hat, but if you are having a lesson at a riding school they are compulsory. Riding schools will usually provide hats for beginners to use, but it's better to have your own if you're going to be riding regularly.

It doesn't matter which style of riding hat you choose when you're just starting out. Jockey skulls paired with your choice of hat silk are a popular choice but peaked helmets are fine to wear too (riders often prefer this style as it gives a more elegant look). It's most important that the helmet fits your head well; some styles suit particular head shapes better than others. We would highly recommend purchasing your helmet from a tack shop with a professional BETA (British Equestrian Trade Association) trained hat fitter who will be able to best advise you on the style and size of hat which will suit your needs.

Information and advice on riding hat sizes and fitting can be found here on our Riding Hat Fitting Guide.

Key Points:

  • A riding hat is the most important piece of equipment to keep you safe
  • Either a jockey skull or a peaked helmet is fine to wear
  • It must fit well and be comfortable
  • Being fitted by a BETA-trained professional is highly recommended

Jockey Skull

  • Often a cost-effective helmet choice for new riders
  • An all-purpose helmet which can be worn for dressage, show jumping and cross country at all levels
  • Identified as a shell without a peak, normally worn with a hat silk over the top
  • Different colours and styles available for adults and children

Peaked Helmet

  • Considered to be a more stylish and flattering option
  • Often a more expensive choice than a jockey skull
  • The peak will help to shade your eyes and face from the sun
  • Choose from basic or innovative, technical styles
  • Different colours and styles available for adults and children

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We've got a wide range of riding hats from top equestrian brands for up-to-standard protection you can trust.

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Riding Boots

Correct footwear for riding will both protect your feet and help with the security and position of your foot in the stirrup.

There are two main types of riding boots to choose from and both are suitable when you start riding - you can choose from either shorter (ankle-height) jodhpur boots or long riding boots. Some new riders find long boots restrictive (and they are a more expensive option) so jodhpur boots are a more popular choice as they allow more flexibility at the ankle. Jodhpur boots are commonly worn with half chaps or gaiters which prevent rubbing to the inside of your calf.

Suitable riding boots will have some grip, a small heel and aren't too bulky. Slimmer fit designs are more comfortable to ride in and should allow for room between your boot and the sides of the stirrups for safety.

Key Points:

  • Choose either long riding boots or short jodhpur boots
  • It's common to pair short riding boots with half chaps or gaiters
  • They should have some grip and a small heel
  • Your riding boots should not be too bulky for safety - we wouldn't recommend riding in wellies, yard boots or walking boots

For a wider selection of riding boots, shop here:

Riding Gloves

Riding gloves will protect your hands from blisters, rubs and callouses while improving your grip. They might not be essential at first, but as you ride more you will find them useful. Regular wear will keep your hands clean and soft while making riding more comfortable.

There's a huge number of glove designs to choose from. We would recommend looking for a pair that are stretchy for a comfy fit, with textured areas for grip and re-inforced material between the fingers. They also need to be thin enough that you can have a good feel of the reins. Slightly thicker and warmer gloves are invaluable for winter riding.

No matter your budget, shop riding gloves perfect for new riders here.

Body Protector

If you would feel more comfortable and confident wearing further protection to ride in, a body protector would be a great option for you.

Body protectors are designed to protect your torso, absorbing the impact from a fall or a kick from a horse. They are a sensible choice when you start jumping and for riding at speed. As with riding hats, body protectors should be fitted by a BETA-trained professional to make sure they fit you properly and won't hit the saddle or hinder your position. We would also recommend purchasing one which meets the latest safety standards.

Key Points:

  • Optional safety wear
  • Being fitted by a BETA-trained professional is highly recommended
  • Essential for it to fit well without hindering your movement
  • We would recommend buying one that meets the latest safety standards

We stock body protectors from Racesafe, Champion and Airowear which all meet the current highest safety standards.

Shop a great choice of body protectors here for both adults and children.

For more details on sizing, visit our Body Protector Fitting Guide or contact us at

Riding Trousers - Riding Tights, Breeches & Jodhpurs

You don't need to invest in a pair of trousers for riding right away but a lot of options are highly affordable and will make riding more comfortable for you. Breeches are normally worn with long boots whereas jodhpurs are designed for wearing with short boots. We explain the difference between riding tights, breeches and jodhpurs in our blog here.

We would recommend choosing a style which are made from stretchy fabric and fit you well, with added grip at your inner knee and/or under your bottom for security in the saddle. Any colour is fine, but we'd suggest you avoid beige, white or cream - these are normally worn for competitions and are difficult to keep clean. A simple black or navy pair are safe and look smart when you're starting out. Riding tights or leggings (for women especially) have become a popular choice as they're so comfortable and easy to wear, but if you prefer more coverage and support then we would suggest choosing breeches or jodhpurs.

Key Points:

  • Riding tights, breeches and jodhpurs are all suitable
  • We would recommend a "safe" colour such as black or navy; steer clear of beige, cream or white
  • Look for stretchy and supportive material with grip at the knees and seat
  • Riding tights are popular but breeches and jodhpurs offer better support

Riding Tights

Riding tights are the latest, fashionable and comfortable choice of riding legwear for women. They are designed to feel unrestrictive and lightweight, made from stretchy material which both supports you and keeps you feeling free to move at the same time. Riding tights are often designed with a silicone seat or knee patch which can help you to feel more secure in the saddle - perfect for when you're learning to balance!

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Breeches are considered to be a more figure-flattering and supportive option than riding tights, made from a thicker (but still flexible) material. They give a more professional look and riders often find that the fit of breeches promotes an improved position in the saddle. Breeches are designed with a close-fitting elasticated sock bottom that fit closely to your leg, sitting comfortably underneath long boots.

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Jodhpurs are a more traditional design of riding legwear, designed from a thicker fabric for a supportive fit and good coverage. The material is stretchy for freedom to move, but not as flexible as with riding tights. Riders may find the material is too thick for summer riding. Jodhpurs are a longer-length design, made for wearing with short jodhpur boots, but they may be a bit bulky under long boots or half chaps.

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