Also, pls advise: Half chaps, benefits, uses of? Underwear choices whilst riding? [or, is a G-String REALLY a good idea? also, ah jaysis I need a heavy duty armour plated sports bra …. ] Preferred riding gear in general? Where do you get kitted up? I can’t recall any major saddlery / riding shops in Dubh.
Very happy to talk about equestrian clobber. I can still see myself, in those first weeks, wearing flared jeans and a pair of dress boots that at least looked Western-y, which made me feel less of a plonker, despite the English riding.
I was waiting for my paddock boots, you see. I had to order them online. Not having a car was a problem right from the start, apparently, and there were no tack shops to be found city centre. Easy enough to buy shoes over the internet, so that wasn’t a big.
When I’d had enough of the stinky hats, though, well, things got interesting. With no tape measure to hand— only one of the metallic kind which I was fairly sure would slice off half my head if I tried to wrap my crown with it— I cobbled together a couple of strings and ribbons and laid them alongside a ruler.
Luckily, I was spot on, and my first hat arrived in the post about six weeks into the adventure.
I bought my first pair of jodhs in London, as recounted here, which is fun to look back on, given my ongoing whip saga. The jodhs cost a bomb— £50!— but at least now I not only had proper bottoms, but also a template on which to base future internet purchases. Those were Rhinebecks, which I have not been able to find anywhere in virtual reality; my current faves are Shires Saddlehuggers. [Gone down a size, too!]
Gloves were easily found. The next thing, though, was the big thing, and the very thing that Jules asked about first: half chaps.
First of all, no one wears full chaps at the yard. So, forget that. And all the cool girls wear half chaps. So yeah, obviously had to have. When I was working at my penultimate desk job, I had Heidi drive me out to a tack shop in Sandyford. Joy! Stuff everywhere, the majority for horses, and nothing that I could remotely make use of. They had stuff for riders, too, hats and coats, and I think I bought a couple of pairs of summer-weight gloves— a snip at €4 each.
They did have half chaps, the trying on of which was entirely necessary. My, er, muscular calves would allow nothing less. I grabbed up a pair of grey suede jobbies— €45!— and looked forward to sporting them the following Saturday.
I think I walked around for only about twenty minutes before I realised I had them on backwards.
I believe they help with keeping the leg on. Perhaps they protect one from bruising when applying said leg. I couldn’t say what they’re doing for my riding except the coolness thing.
The suedes didn’t last long: they fit fine around the calf, but gapped at the ankles— uncool— and once they got mucked up, well, they looked mucky. So I found a new brand, from justchaps.co.uk, made of neoprene, and washable. These are hopelessly cool-looking [if encouraging a rather sauna-like effect to the lower leg], black as pitch, inspiring admiring comments from the instructors, so step back. They are slightly intimidatingly structured, though, lots of black patches, as though fabricated in the Darth Vader House of Equestrian Couture. It took ages to get them stretched enough to zip, worked up a sweat the first few times, along with blisters on my fingers.
Now they fit a treat, and I got another pair, less forbiddingly wrought, that have, er fluorescent pink stars marching up the back of the calf. I haven’t had the guts to wear them yet— maybe Tuesday…
Bra: some class of Nike thing that slips over the head and has cross straps, like on a swimming costume. Knickers: plain black, the ones that were going out of active day-to-day rotation. The other day, all my riding smalls were in the wash, and I felt absolutely decadent wearing a pair of red ones covered in pink hearts.
My favourite top is currently a long-sleeved T from cafepress.com sporting the face of a likely looking lass and the legend ‘Cowgirl’ beneath it in a script-y font. I wear it every time, lately, no matter its funk. But who can smell it? The horses don’t care.
The horses don’t care, full stop. I suppose that suitable gear may have a positive knock-on effect for the day’s mount: I’m sure I sit better in jodhs than I do in flared denims. But it’s fun to be kitted out correctly— you wouldn’t go skiing in a ballgown, would you?
I’m on my second pair of low boots [zip-up-the-front Dublins] and my second hat— the velvet one I’d earned— was a gift from my friends when I left my penultimate job. I’ve got a question now: it’s getting a bit stinky. I have this vision of setting it down on my dining table, stuffed full of potpourri, but I don’t think that’s the way to go. Quite attached to that hat… anybody got any ideas as to how to spruce it up? Ta!