person riding a horse in a practice area

What to buy to start horseback riding: Essential gear for beginners

When you start horseback riding, being well equipped like pros is very important. Your equipment and accessories will be a big part of your success, so a little piece of advice: take the time to choose wisely! Decathlon presents its essential horse riding gear to ensure your comfort and safety.

Protection for the rider's head

A helmet or riding cap

This item is an essential piece of riding gear for beginners. Wearing a helmet when riding a horse is mandatory as it will protect your head in the event of a fall. Your helmet must conform to the rigorous Canadian safety standards (all Decathlon helmets do) and it must fit your head properly in order to ensure maximum protection. Some horseback riding schools rent helmets but, for safety and hygiene reasons, it is preferable to have your own.
Always avoid wearing used riding gear.

Be careful: If you do experience a fall, it is strongly recommended that you buy a new helmet as the impact may have damaged the interior of your helmet—even if the damage is not actually visible. This is true of all sports where a helmet is worn: After a fall, you need to get new gear for a safe experience.

woman adjusting her riding helmet
woman wearing riding pants while horseback riding

Riding pants for confort

You don’t need to ride for very long to understand the importance of having proper riding pants.

When you're just starting out, your legs will have a tendency to move quite a lot, which will quickly cause irritation on the inside of your knees. Not very comfortable! Riding pants, or breeches are lined with Basane leather on the interior to minimize friction between the legs and the saddle. We recommend choosing a cut that is fitted so as to avoid any folds in the fabric that may irritate the skin. Choose a comfortable fabric that is stretchy, sturdy and easy to care for. If possible, avoid synthetic materials.

Shirts or polos for freedom of movement

While riding a horse, breathability and freedom of movement in your clothing are key. In summer, short-sleeved shirts or polos are the best because they allow you to spend hours outside without feeling the heat. In winter, long-sleeved shirts are preferable because they provide warmth and breathability, without restraining any movements. 

women's riding boot

Boots or mini-chaps: The best riding boots for beginners

Horseback riding boots go quite high up the leg (up to knee height) in order to reduce the friction between your calves and the saddle. The heel is designed to stop your foot from slipping through the stirrup entirely and getting stuck there. You can also pair your regular boots with "chapettes", which will provide the same protection as riding boots.

If you plan on wearing your boots in winter, just be sure you have enough room to wear thick socks as well.

Accessories: Gloves for a better grip of the bridles

They are not necessarily required, but gloves are strongly recommended to reduce the friction of the reins in your hands and also to keep your hands warm. 
Note: Your gloves should be soft and flexible to ensure you still have a good sense of contact with the reins and the horse.

Safety gear: A protection vest to secure the back and ribs

A protection vest is a body protector in case of a shock while horseback riding. Indeed, it absorbs shocks to the back and spine, and protects the ribs in the event of a fall. A protection vest is recommended for both experienced and beginner riders. These vests are generally used for cross-country or obstacle jumping. All Decathlon equipment conforms to current regulatory standards. Always make sure the protection vest is the perfect fit for your body.

A carrying bag, for easier travel

Once you have purchased your horseback riding gear, it is a good idea to buy a practical transport bag that will make it easier for you to carry your gear with you. Opt for a model with wheels (like the pros use) this will make it easier than ever for you to transport your gear with minimal effort. 

Woman holding helmet and carrying bag

Winter riding: Gear up! 

Make sure you have the right gear for the season. 

To avoid getting too cold, adopt the three-layer technique. You’ll be nice and warm from the start and you can then adjust the layers as the workout intensifies.
- A breathable base layer to keep you dry (ideally made with Merino wool).
- A fleece or down jacket to shield against the cold.
- A protective layer to block the wind and rain.

For particularly harsh winter weather, a riding jacket can serve as layers 2 and 3. The jacket’s long cut covers the lower back while the gussets (side zippers) at the hip optimize comfort when you’re seated in the saddle. This small detail also allows you to better regulate your body temperature.

The body loses most of its heat through the head; so, in periods of intense cold, it’s important to cover your head. Your best bet is to wear a fleece top with an integrated neck warmer and a hood worn under your riding helmet.

When horseback riding in the winter, you need two pairs of gloves: a very warm pair for the stable and a thinner pair to allow for close contact with the reins while riding. You may also want to consider hand-warmers, especially for longer outings.
Winter riding pants are an essential piece of equipment. Made with thicker fabrics, these pants are often water-resistant and wind-proof. While walking with your horse before and after the session, you can also cover your legs with your horse’s exercise rug or sheet. You take care of them, and they will take care of you!

As you know, the extremities get cold quickly and more easily than the rest of the body. To avoid having cold feet, go for socks with a high percentage of wool. You will also need boots lined with wool, polyester, or fake fur.

Handy tip: When dismounting from your horse in cold temperatures, try to let yourself down smoothly. If you jump while your feet are cold, you may feel something like a rather unpleasant electric shock.

kid horseback riding in a field

Fouganza, the horseback riding brand for every level

Horseback riding often seems like an expensive sport, but it shouldn't be. Every day, our teams strive to design the best technical products for each level of practice. This is why each piece of equipment is designed in a progressive way, so that it can properly accompany you on your horseback riding journey. 
You're on the right track!

Let our teammates advise you

New riders generally need to be reassured when purchasing riding gear for the first time, and they help finding progressive equipment adapted to their level. Decathlon experts understand these issues because they are riders themselves. They know exactly how to choose the right gear when you start your practice! Their expertise and active listening help you make the right choice. Together, let's make horseback riding accessible and fun, so your first practice can be unforgettable moment.

Tamara Ducatel with her horse

Tamara Ducatel

Horseback riding specialist at Decathlon Boisbriand

My name is Tamara and I have been riding for more than 25 years. I have competed at high-level competitions, both nationally and internationally. As I am originally from France, I have been familiar with the Decathlon brand for many years. I am passionate about horseback riding and am happy to share my knowledge and my approach with you. I look forward to helping you get the horseback riding gear you need to fully enjoy this sport! 


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Everything about horseback riding

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