Jodhpurs and breeches are types of horse-riding trousers that are designed to provide a more comfortable and safer ride. There aren’t a vast number of differences between the two, but the choice you make dictates the type of riding boots you need to wear.
The major difference between jods and breeches is the length of the legs. On jodhpurs the legs go all the way down to the ankles, or beyond if they have elasticated underfoot stirrups. Jods can be worn with long boots or short boots. When worn with jodhpur boots they can be secured in place using jodhpur clips which stop them from rising up the rider’s legs.
On breeches though, the legs end halfway down the calves and feature touch tape or button fastenings at the hem of each leg – as they are shorter and so less bulky around the ankle area, they tend to be more comfortable when worn under long riding boots.
Both jods and breeches are close fitting, made from a stretchy fabric and generally feature knee and seat reinforcements. The seat is covered with a fabric meant to grip the saddle in order to help keep the rider in place and it’s usual for a similar material to be positioned on the inside of the knees to enable the rider to keep a firmer grip on the horse. Unlike casual trousers, the leg seams are placed on the outside to prevent rubbing the horse or rider.
Traditionally young riders start out wearing jods, as wearing them helps children get the correct leg position and grip. It also allows the instructor to see how the child’s heels are positioned. Jodhpurs are also the obligatory dress for many equestrian competitions for similar reasons – they allow judges to see the leg positioning of the rider. Not all breeches come with the knee patches that jodhpurs feature. This gives show riders the option to wear plain breeches if they prefer. Show jumpers tend to wear breeches with knee patches as it allows them to grip the horse better when jumping. Dressage riders though prefer a simple seat panel to keep them in the proper sitting position and they generally have no great need for the knee patches.
Traditionally both jods and breeches came in a range of cream shades. Now though, they can be found in a whole variety of colours and materials such as denim and cord. Despite this variety, most competitions adhere to a strict dress code that sometimes dictates what colour the riding trousers can be. Some riders wear jods or breeches that match their team colours, however it’s advisable to check with the competition organisers whether these colours are acceptable in the ring.
Jodhpurs are named after the city of Jodhpur in the Rajasthan area of India, where polo was the royal pastime. The riding trousers used became popular with the British and became known as jodhpurs. Breeches originated as part of male fashion and were highly popular in the 18th century. They used to be made in a wide fit called a ‘flare’ cut to provide comfort and room for movement.