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What to Wear
Riding clothing, especially English riding clothing, has evolved for comfort and safety. Breeches or jodphurs are stretchy, allowing you to lift your leg up to the stirrup without cutting into you behind the knee. They often have knee patches of suede, or faux-suede. These give you a little added security in the saddle, while at the same time giving your leg some protection from getting pinched in the stippup leathers. Riding boots protect the lower leg and support the ankle.
While it's not necessary to run out and buy expensive riding habit before your first lesson, you will certainly be more comfortable if you wear suitable clothing.
Shorts are a definite no-no. Whether you ride English or western, after an hour in the saddle your inside leg will be rubbed raw without the protection of long pants of some sort. Jeans are best, as an alternative to breeches. If you've got stretch jeans, preferably without a seam on the inside leg, you're in great shape for your first horseback ride.
On your feet, you'll want shoes with a good shank to give your feet support in the stirrups. A small heel will lessen the chance that your foot will slip all the way through the stirrup. Sandals are definitely out, since as well as giving no support, they don't protect your vulnerable toes from getting stepped on before you mount. Sneakers are not really a good choice either, since they don't offer the arch support you'll need, however there are many selections of "riding sneaker" that offer the correct support and can also be used as everyday wear. Western boots are also a suitable choice for your first horseback ride.
I'd like to see every rider wear an approved safety helmet every time they ride. But that's just my opinion and the helmet/no-helmet debate rages daily so I won't get into it here.
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