What are Gaiters for Equine Riders?
Any experienced equine rider will tell you having the best chaps and gaiters is essential for safe riding. Although gaiters resemble half chaps in design and use, they have a smooth leather finish. Gaiters are also longer and ideal for events and competitions.
Gaiters protect your lower leg from pinching and rubbing the stirrup strap while you ride, thus giving you a comfortable ride.
What are Half Chaps?
If you love to ride horses but are on a budget, using half chaps would be a perfect way to keep your legs protected. Half chaps are genuine or synthetic leather pieces that equine riders wrap around the lower part of the leg to protect them from rubbing against the stirrup.
They strengthen and shield the rider’s lower leg and prevent your pants from riding up when you’re in the saddle. They go well when paired with paddock boots.
How to Wear Them
Just like with most gear equine riders wear, you should take measurements of your legs to ensure the half chaps fit properly. Whether they are riding breeches, tights, or jeans, ensure you wear the pants you intend to pair with your half chaps before wearing them.
It would be best if your half chaps zipped on the outer side of your legs to avoid pinching on your horse or saddle. A correctly fitted half chap should reach just below your knee and fit comfortably across your calf.
Where are Chaps Typically Worn?
Most equine riders wear chaps over heavy-duty pants like denim jeans. They typically fit around the hips, lying underneath the straps of the trousers, and have their belt. Most chaps are long, extending over the boot and draping somewhat over the boot vamp, except for chinks and armitas, often made to fit above the boot.
Certain patterns run to almost completely cover the boot, save for the toe, and hang long at the heel. Batwings, chinks, and shotgun chaps all fit snugly but comfortably across the thigh, with shotguns continuing to do so all the way down the calf. Yet, they don’t feel constrictive enough to prevent the wearer from moving their knees freely.
The shotgun shape has a slight ankle flare to accommodate the rider’s boot. The leg below the knee is not covered by batwings or chinks.
Benefits of Wearing Chaps and Gaiters
The main advantage of chaps or gaiters is support and protection for your legs while you ride. Chaps, however, provide several additional benefits that make them particularly beneficial for horse riders, including
Chaps are excellent insulators, keeping warm air against the rider’s body. During the winter or cold season, the best upland hunting chaps or gaiters will keep you warm when riding a horse.
While riding bareback or in a saddle, leather chaps offer a firmer grip than fabric breeches ever could. They are, therefore, essential for bronc and equine riders.
Working with horses and animals obviously takes a toll on your clothing. Chaps keep your breeches spotless and free of annoying stains.
Long rides can make one stiff and uncomfortable, especially if your horse has bony withers. Chaps are an excellent technique to prevent saddle sores and prolong your riding comfort.
Most cowboy chaps have stiff leather that cushions between the rider’s knees and the horse’s back. Riders spending numerous long hours in the saddle each day benefit significantly from this feature.
Lastly, cowboys and western equestrians rock the chaps look. The sole purpose of many equestrians wearing them is to simulate riding a Mustang like a cowboy. Chaps are also permitted in some horse competitions and frequently worn by reigning and western pleasure competitors.
What to Look for in Chaps
Make sure you measure yourself while wearing a pair of comfy pants. Use a measuring tape made of fabric to determine your waist circumference. After that, take your measurements using the instructions below:
- Sit on a chair with your feet flat on the floor and your knees bent at a 90-degree angle.
- Have a friend assist you in measuring the width of your calf using a tape measure. Take this measurement over your pants for accurate fitting.
- Take measurements of your lower leg from the floor to the tendon at the back of your knee.
- Finally, choose your half chaps by comparing your measurements to the brand’s sizing guide.
To ensure a good fit and that the half chaps are tall enough to accommodate your boots, try them on while wearing your paddock boots. To wear the half chaps, lay the elastic stirrup in front of the heel of your boot and slide it over the toe of the boot. Then secure the enclosures along the boot’s exterior or at the back.
When you initially put the half chaps on, they should feel extremely snug. After a few days of use, the leather will gradually loosen as it takes on the contour of your legs. When you initially try them, you don’t want them too loose since that will cause them to get baggy over time.
It’s essential to remember that a child’s feet are still developing; thus, a young rider should select soft and flexible chaps (textile, suede, or nubuck). It balances the cost and the fundamental purpose (calf protection).
On the other hand, older equine riders might choose to get thicker suede chaps or grain leather chaps right away (made of natural or synthetic leather). These models are strong and will survive for many years.
Be cautious; check that the chaps aren’t too thin because, among other things, calf protection depends on the thickness. An advantage is the finishing, which consists of reinforcements applied to the inside side of the calf.
Our Preferred Chaps Brand
All the chaps and gaiters mentioned in this article are unique in their ways. However, Dublin Adult Suede II Half Chaps Sports & Outdoors is our preferred chaps brand. These chaps are made from a high-quality suede material and have an elastic calf for a comfortable and secure fit. They also have a secure full-length zipper and a bottom press stud closure for added security.
Our Top Picks at a Glance
|Best for case
|Dublin Adult Suede II Half Chaps Sports & Outdoors
|Best for overall use
-Available in adult and children sizes
|ARIAT Unisex Adult Breeze
|Best unisex chaps
|Tredstep Deluxe Side Zip Half Chap
|Best side-zip half chap
|ARIAT Adult Scout Chap Half Chaps
|Best English riding chaps
|-Full-grain leather exterior
-Elastic goring for a perfect fit
-Full-size side zipper
|Tredstep Ireland Medici Air Half Chaps
|Best leather chaps
|-Lightweight and flexible
-Specialized mesh lining
|Rhinegold Elite Curved Zip Gaiters
|Best curved zip gaiters
|-Press stud zip keeper
-Super soft feel
-Luxury grained leather
Our Cowboy Chap Reviews
Dublin Adult Suede II Half Chaps Sports & Outdoors: Best for Overall Use
Color/s: Black, brown
Size/s: X-small, small, small tall, medium, medium tall, large, x-large
Style: Half chaps
Age range: Adult
Dublin Adult Suede II Half Chaps, made of premium suede, have an elastic calf for a snug and comfortable fit. They close with a full-length zipper at the side and a button push stud at the bottom for added security.
These half-chaps are ideal for sports and outdoor activities. Dublin’s reinforced stitchings, vertically crafted, help keep the chaps strong and flexible for everyday riding.
- Very durable product
- Available in various sizes
- Great product for the price
- During warmer climates, the black suede can chaff your breeches
ARIAT Unisex Adult Breeze: Best Unisex Chaps
Color/s: Black, chocolate
Material: Suede, leather
Size/s: XX-small, x-small, small, medium, large, x-large
Age range: Adult
ARIAT Unisex Adult Breeze is an incredibly soft chap that pairs perfectly with breeze paddock footwear. Together they form a protective system with the authority of a tall boot and the comfort of half chaps.
ARIAT Unisex Adult Breeze chaps have a moisture-wicking lining, elastic gore backside panel, and a full-length zipper. Made with premium machine-washable suede, you can be sure your chaps will have a new clean look for a longer period.
- Heavy-duty zipper for extra durable wear
- Well-reinforced and durable leather
- Black suede chaff off your breeches in a warmer climate
Tredstep Deluxe Side Zip Half Chap: Best Side-Zip Half Chaps
Size/s: 12/15, 14/15, 15/17, 16/18, 16/19, 17/18, 17/19
Style: Side zipper
Age range: Adult
The Deluxe Side Zip Half Chap by Tredstep is among the best western riding chaps on the market. They feature a leather stretch interior seam for a superior fit. These half chaps are a product of combining a strong stretch fabric with premium quality soft leather. It creates a snug fit and more secure chap without compromising flexibility and mobility.
The Tredstep Deluxe Side Zip Half Chaps are ideal for equine riders who love to spend plenty of time in the saddle. These chaps have full-grain durable leather that can endure daily use while providing maximum comfort.
- It has a full-length YKK side zipper
- Easy to clean
- It can stretch over time
ARIAT Adult Scout Chap Half Chaps: Best English Riding Chaps
Size/s: X-small regular, small, medium, large, x-large, SS-R, XST-R
Style: Scout half chap
Age range: Adult
Made of full-grain premium leather, The Ariat Unisex Scout Half Chap has a stretch skirt over the instep, an elastic gore, and a rear side panel. This English riding chap has a suede inner leg panel and a side zipper system that zips from top to bottom. It is ideal for both men and women riders who love traditional English riding styles.
- Affordable pricing
- Great for everyday use
- Made of durable leather
- It has less ventilation compared to other chaps
Tredstep Ireland Medici Air Half Chaps: Best Leather Chaps
Material: Leather & neoprene
Size/s: 13/16, 14/16, 14/18, 16/18, 17/17,17/18
Style: Air half chaps (perforated)
Age range: Adult
Tredstep’s Medici Air Half Chaps bring a brand-new style that combines exquisite premium leather with supple, lightweight perforated neoprene. This chap style guarantees a precise fit to all leg contours for close touch and outstanding comfort.
The eye-catching texturing, curve design, and new side zip placement work together to create the latest version of Tredstep’s renowned half chaps. This manufacturer brings a vibrant freshness to half chaps, complete with an attractive, visible logo, ultra-strong size 10 zip, and a specialized mesh lining.
- Made from superior perforated leather
- It is lightweight and comfortable
- It has a full-length zipper
- Perforation may cause cracking over time
Rhinegold Elite Curved Zip Gaiters: Best Curved Zip Gaiters
Color/s: Black, brown
Size/s: Small, medium, large
Age range: Adult
Rhinegold Elite Curved Zip Gaiters have a distinct leather grain and an elastic strip at the calf for flexibility of movement. These gaiters feature a European-style curved zip for a nice fit and flattering shape.
Additionally, they have an elasticized strap with a press stud at the top and a conventionally fashioned curving topline. If you love competitive horse riding, these soft gaiters from Rhinegold are a great choice.
- It has a super soft feel
- It allows easy leg movement
- It has a distinctive look
- The elastic strap may get loose from frequent use
FAQs on Chaps
Where can I Have Custom Chaps Made?
Several online shops offer custom chaps. Stores like Custom Cowboy Shop, Ben Swanke Saddlery, Western World Saddlery, Millbrook Leathers, Celeris Riding Boots, etc. All you need to do is visit their website, provide your chaps measurements and details, and order your custom-made chaps.
What’s the Difference Between Gaiters and Half Chaps?
Although gaiters and half chaps are generally similar in style and use, gaiters have smooth leather, which provides a far more neat finish. As a result, gaiters are increasingly common at events and competitions, whereas half chaps are often suitable for regular use.
Another way that gaiters differ from half chaps is that the zip on a gaiter runs down the back of the leg rather than the side, which results in a far more aesthetically pleasing fit. Gaiters offer a wide range of sizing options compared to half chaps.
Gaiters do generally cost more than half chaps, and because of the materials used in their construction, they appear to get worn out more quickly. Gaiters have a leather build that replicates long boots, while half chaps come in various textiles, including suede, faux suede, leather, and neoprene.
What is the Difference Between Chaps and Half Chaps?
More frequently seen are half chaps, which protect your lower leg by covering it and give the appearance that you’re wearing long boots while wearing short boots. Similar to riding pants, full chaps have zippers down the outside of each leg to make it simple to put them on and take them off.
The difference between them and riding pants is that they end at the top of your leg in the back, leaving your seat exposed for greater contact with the saddle.
That’s All, Folks
The best half chaps and gaiters should protect your leg from getting bruised and pinched when in the saddle. They give a stylish look of extended leather riding boots when paired with short riding boots. Short boots and half chaps or gaiters often give the rider more flexibility in the ankle area and eliminate the need to “break in” heavy riding boots.
Dublin Adult Suede II Half Chaps Sports & Outdoors will be your best companion if you want a versatile pair of chaps. They have a zipper that runs from top to bottom with a push-stud for extra security. These premium suede chaps with elastic calves guarantee a comfortable fit while you ride your horse.
While many brands offer matching pairs of short boots and half chaps (or gaiters), some riders combine different brands to achieve the best fit. Always find the most comfortable pair of boots to match your chaps for a comfortable and enjoyable ride.
Enjoy your ride!