For anyone with even a passing interest in horse riding, jodhpurs and breeches should be considered wardrobe essentials. Some may claim the two terms are interchangeable, but there are a few subtle differences that make one or the other more suitable for certain situations.
So what is the difference between jodhpurs and breeches, and which should you choose?
The history of jodhpurs
First of all, let’s start with a very brief history lesson on jodhpurs. They are named after the city of Jodhpur in the Indian state of Rajasthan where the royals and wealthier citizens would play polo.
While doing so, they wore a particular type of pants known as ‘churidars’ that were flared at the top and tapered at the bottom. As the British also started to play polo, they adopted these garments as their pant of choice, naming them after Jodhpur in the process - this would account for the unusual spelling of the word.
As with most things, jodhpurs have evolved over time, with the baggy fit becoming tightened, along with a few other subtle alterations.
What’s the difference between jodhpurs & breeches
The only real physical difference between jodhpurs and breeches is how far down the leg they go.
Jodhpurs are full-length, like any other pants, and will usually need to be rolled up by a couple of inches at the bottom. However, you can buy jodhpurs that have a ‘stirrup’ that goes under the foot to stop them riding up the leg. They are usually worn with paddock or jodhpur boots.
Breeches, on the other hand, stop just above the ankle. They will likely be more tapered at the bottom, and may even have a touch and close fastening to get as snug a fit around the calf as possible.
As they finish higher up the leg and have less material at the bottom of the leg, breeches fit neater into long riding boots or boots with chaps, which is one of their biggest advantages.
Both breeches and jodhpurs are tight fitting and made to stretch and move with your legs. They will also often have thicker patches of padding on the inside of the legs and sometimes a fullseat patch for extra comfort and to make it easier to grip the saddle. The seams may also be offset or on the outside of the leg only, to prevent friction between you and your horse.
Should you wear jodhpurs or breeches?
At the end of the day, whether you should wear jodhpurs or breeches largely comes down to personal preference, and our advice would be to try both to see which you’re more comfortable with.
Jodhpurs are great for everyday riding and are often deemed a little more casual than breeches. You wouldn’t tend to wear them with long riding boots, however, as the material between the boot and your leg can get a little uncomfortable.
Some riders deem breeches to be more formal than jods, and prefer to wear them when competing, but jodhpurs can be just as smart. Breeches do tend to be a little more on the expensive side, but most will agree they are more comfortable, thus warranting a few extra dollars.
Jodhpurs are often thought of as children’s horse riding gear, primarily because they will usually learn to ride wearing jods and move onto breeches when they’re a bit older. However, there is absolutely nothing wrong with adults wearing jodhpurs, and many prefer them - again, it’s down to personal preference.
Let’s throw another one into the mix - riding tights. As you’d expect, tights are almost exclusively worn by female riders, and are designed to be even more stretchy and flexible than breeches and jodhpurs. They’re great for warmer weather, although you can get fleece-lined riding tights for the colder months too.
Some would consider riding tights to be informal, primarily for more leisurely riding activities, but they’re becoming a much more popular and versatile item now, and some brands are starting to produce them in competition colors. Many riders love the extra comfort of riding tights, partly due to the lack of fastening around the top.
What are the best jodhpurs and breeches?
We’ve selected a couple of pairs of jodhpurs, breeches and riding tights that we think are particularly great...
Toggi Ladies Fenton Everyday Jodhpurs
These are some of our bestselling jods and great for everyday wear.
Toggi Ladies Somerford Full Seat Jodhpurs
These full seat jods feature a full simulated leather seat, and are incredibly stretchy and comfy - not to mention a fantastic price.
FITS Free Flex Full Seat Zip Front Breech
These faux-leather breeches from FITS look fantastic and grip like real leather, while also feeling great on your skin and wicking away moisture.
Pikeur Ladies Lugana Breeches
These fantastic breeches from Pikeur are the most commonly used premium riding breech, so you know you’re buying top quality.
Cavallo Ladies Chagall Breeches
These breeches are high-waisted, so riders often feel a little more secure and comfortable wearing them. Female riders may also find them to be a more flattering fit.
Noble Outfitters Printed Balance Riding Tights
New in this season, these tights look fabulous and have great moisture wicking and UV protective properties.
Dublin Ladies Performance Cool-It Gel Riding Pants
These riding tights have a silicon seat rather than suede. This makes them more grippy and less bulky in the saddle.
Noble Outfitters Ladies Balance Riding Tight
These are one of our best selling products, and riders seem to absolutely love them. Available in a range of colours, including the new Pacific Blue.