Suits You, Miss

ANY FANS OF THE FAST SHOW? In this post, Jules from Otterkat asked:

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!

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2 Replies to “Suits You, Miss”

  1. Can’t help you with the aroma issue there, as I always wondered about that myself. However, I CAN help witht he clevage issue… I think!

    Go to:
    http://www.equestraincollections.com and seek out the Enell No Bounce wonder Bra. If you have clevage- even band aid covering size- when you ride, you NEED one of these babies! I have a “tad” bit more than the band aid variety, and was in constant discomfort when I rode. Until I found the Enell that is!!

    If you can find something like it on your side of the pond, try it!! Your boobage will thank you, as will your back and shoulders! 😉

  2. The first time I went out, I cluelessly wore jeans (a bad idea if they are either hipsters, tight, or have sequins on the bottom — all of which cause chafing), high but non-riding boots, and a long wool coat, which my trainer forced me to take off.
    Eventually, I realized I had to go shopping. Being a poor back-to-school adult student, I limited myself to one pair of black jodhpurs (Saddlcraft, 50 quid), one pair of black half-chaps (Jacson Legging, 30 quid) and one of those padded sleeping-bag coats (Barbour; I’ll never use it now that I’m home in Hong Kong.) My ankle boots aren’t particularly for riding — just a cheap pair with a smooth sole and low heel I picked up when I came home to HK for XMas.
    I’m only 5’1″, so finding stuff in England was hard, particularly, as I’ve discovered recently, I have “abnormally large calves” for my height. I ended up cutting off the bottoms of my 26″ jodhs, because they were too long and the elastic stirrup kept getting in the way. My half-chaps are a size medium, and I just deal with the unflattering baggy bottoms, which make my ankles look huge.
    But what a difference! The jodh-chaps kept me warm, dry and supported compared to my jeans. I feel a big difference in the ability to grip with my lower leg. Also, when hacking, it’s nice having more than a single layer of denim when I inevitably veer into thorny bushes, etc.
    G-strings or any restrictive underwear is bad. I wear slightly loose boring cotton full-seat panties. Any old bra will do. In England, I always wore a long-sleeve tee under a thin cashmere sweater, which was the warmest combination I could fit under my coat.
    I really hope I can find a way to continue riding in HK!
    BTW, when the wonderful lady at the Oxford covered market saddle shop saw me hemming and hawing over the cost of gear, she threw in a pair of free riding gloves — not the classy leather kind, but the stretchy fabric kind with the nubby stuff on the palms to help you grip the reins. They’re much better than leather.

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