Should You Wear Shorts Horseback Riding – Pros And Cons

Wear Shorts Horseback Riding

Yes, you can wear shorts horseback riding. For example, if you just want to go for a quick dip in the water bareback. Although in most cases, riding with jodhpurs, breeches, tight-fitting jeans, riding tights or even yoga pants/leggings will be far more suitable and beneficial.

Of course, this depends on what type of horse riding you are planning on doing. Outride, jumping, or going for a dip? In most instances, I wouldn’t recommend wearing shorts.

There are some riders that enjoy riding their horse while wearing shorts and a lot of them have no problem with it. They are usually more experienced riders and so they know how to control their legs in a way that won’t chafe against the sides of the horse.

One Advantage Of Horseback Riding in Shorts:

If you are going for a run on the beach or doing something involving water, going for a swim in a nearby lake perhaps, it’s faster to dry than long pants and a bit cooler but that’s about it.

Another example of when it would be ok to wear shorts on horseback: When you just want a few good photos with you and your horse. None of the disadvantages of wearing shorts will impact you if you just walk in circles for some photos.

When Do People Horseback Ride With Shorts?

Here are some examples of when riders choose shorts for horseback riding:

When you experienced enough to do so without being uncomfortable

You can get used to casually riding your horse wearing shorts, the more you do it, the more comfortable it will feel. Some riders prefer it mostly just for casual short rides.

When you go for a very short ride

It would be best to keep the riding time down to a minimum and try to stay close to the farm so that you can get back quickly if you get uncomfortable.

When there aren’t any obstacles

It’s best to avoid wearing shorts when performing any jumps because of all the vigorous movements you need to endure with the horse. With the way that you control the horse with your legs, especially with jumping, it’s just better with riding pants like the ones further down in this article.

When you go for a quick dip in the water nearby

Sometimes it’s a treat to go for a dip in the water nearby. This is one of the times where I think it’s great just to go bareback and perfectly fine just to wear shorts. They won’t get heavy with the water and they’ll dry quickly as well.

When it’s very hot

Sometimes you just need a little more open air on your legs to cool you down. Remember to use sunblock to protect your legs.

When you just want a few photos with you in your shorts on your horse

Maybe you just want to hop on your horse with your shorts on and have someone take a few photos. I don’t see any cause for concern with this.

Horseback Rider Shorts

Disadvantages of Horseback Riding in Shorts

Rash, blister, and pinching:

For less experienced riders you’ll most likely land up with a bit of a rash, sometimes even some blistering, and if you saddle up your thighs are probably going to get a few good pinches between the stirrup straps throughout the ride.


With short pants, your legs will be exposed to the sun and you can get burnt very quickly. Apply sunblock, even if you have to buy some on the way.

Burning Saddle:

The leather of the saddle can also heat up rather quickly and burn your skin sometimes. So, for the most part, there’s not much good to say about riding a horse wearing shorts.

Sharp bushes and branches:

We can’t even suggest wearing shorts for an outride. Your legs will be so much more exposed to all sorts of sharp branches from bushes and trees. Bugs will have an easier time feasting off your legs.

When in doubt, ask.

It really is up to you, however, if you are not riding your own horse on your own land, check with the owners or renters on whether they will allow shorts to be worn. Some places won’t let you ride in shorts. Short pants have no place in the competitive equestrian scene.

Tips for Horse Riding in Shorts

Ok so at this point you have seen all the pros and cons but you still want to or maybe need to ride your horse wearing shorts. Maybe you just want a few good photos out of it. That could work. Here’s my advice:

  • Don’t go out for any lengthy rides
  • Use sunblock on top of and on the sides of your legs
  • If you start feeling skin irritation, call it a day, it will only get worse
  • Be careful not to get pinched between the stirrup straps and the saddle
  • If you are capable of riding bareback, rather do that in shorts so that you don’t get pinched and burnt by the saddle.
  • No matter which pants you wear or don’t wear, ALWAYS wear proper riding boots with heels. (More important than the pants)
Horseback Rider Wearing Shorts

Quick Tip on Casual Clothing:

Don’t wear any flowing clothing while horse riding or anything that has any freely hanging laces or straps.

Why Wear Jodhpurs, Breeches, or Riding Tights?

There is a reason why long pants are the preferred choice of riders in general and why it’s the ONLY choice in the professional horse-riding scene. It’s because of how well they work for horse riding.

These types of riding pants are tailored specifically for horse riding so they often have extra padding, they are stretchy for comfort and the seams of these types of pants are offset so that they don’t cause irritation between your legs and the horse.

Advantages of Jodhpurs, Breeches, and Riding Tights are as follows:

  1. Protection for your legs from sunburn.
  2. They will protect your legs from chafing or even blisters.
  3. They will prevent any pinching of your legs around the saddle and straps.
  4. They will guard your legs against bugs and other insects.
  5. They will keep your legs from getting scraped and scratched against bushes and tree branches.
  6. They give you more leg control on the horse without any discomfort.
  7. You will be able to go out for longer riding sessions.
  8. Certain jodhpurs and breeches will have extra padding on the areas that go through the most friction for a more comfortable ride.
  9. The seams are offset so that they don’t cause discomfort between the horse and your leg.


Jodhpurs, the little more casual choice, go all the way down to the bottom of your ankle and are usually folded up for the perfect fit. Some jodhpurs have a stirrup at the bottom to wrap around your foot to prevent them from riding up to your ankles.

Some jodhpurs also have extra padding on the inner leg section to make riding more comfortable. Jodhpurs stretch with the movements of your body, making everything feel better. The seams are offset away from the horse’s body to avoid chafing.

Jodhpurs are very well suited for children and beginners of all ages because of their ease of use. You put them on and they stay in place from start to end. Most of the time.


Breeches, the little more formal choice, are very similar to jodhpurs in that they are also stretchy for comfort, more often they have padding where it counts. Breeches usually don’t have a stirrup at the bottom, but they fit tightly around the top of your ankle. The further to your ankle the breeches go, the more narrow they become making them fit snugly around the bottom of your leg.

Riding Tights

Riding tights have become very popular amongst all riders over the last decades. They are very flexible and quite durable. You don’t have to fasten them at the top. Riding tights are available in many designs.

Bonus Tip, Wear Proper Riding Boots

Wearing proper horse riding boots is one of the most important things you can do. More important than whether you want to wear shorts on a ride. Have a look at the most

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