I have had notoriously bad fashion sense for as long as I can remember. As a kid, I rocked holey jeans, baggy t-shirts, gumboots and no gloves – even at my first work riding job. I never dressed up to go into public until the darling entered my world. In fact, I got away with wearing pyjamas in church a few times – and things haven’t improved. I’m practically a hermit, and I dress like one most of the time, since who spends money on clothes when you can spend it on horses?
All this to say that I’m not used to getting compliments on my clothes. Well, I wasn’t: right up until these wonderful riding leggings came into my life.
Finding durable, comfortable riding pants is a lifelong struggle for riders with shallow pockets. I ride 4-6 horses every day, and I’m particularly hard on pants. The only ones I could find that would last were denim-style breeches. These looked nice, but they were extremely hot and very uncomfortable, with the added downside of chafing occasionally after a ride too many in the Wintec.
After several years of the denims, I was desperate to try something new, and I stumbled upon Bridle Boutique’s leggings on Facebook because I was following them anyway for their pretty bridles. They immediately caught my eye because of their unique style and colours. And at only about R650 a pair, they were some of the cheapest riding pants I could find. They looked so beautiful and the cellphone pockets drew me in, and so I ordered a pair to see how they’d hold up.
As luck would have it, my denims both gave up the ghost just before my new Bridle Boutique leggings arrived. I figured I’d try the leggings and see how they were before purchasing a second pair. Circumstances (read: vet bills) conspired to make it so that since I bought them in September, these leggings have been my only pair of everyday riding pants. Since I spend about six hours in them per day, they have worked really, really hard. In the past four months, I’ve probably worn them as much as your average rider (riding one horse every day, and owning more than one pair of riding pants!) would wear them in an entire year.
So what’s the verdict? Are these leggings as nice as they look? Let’s start at the beginning.
The Ordering Process
Bridle Boutique has some of the best service around. When I saw their Facebook ad on my news feed, I left a comment to pre-order a pair of leggings, asking for my size and colour. (Pre-orders are at a slight discount). I left my email address and received an invoice within a couple of days. I took a few days to pay, but once I’d paid up, Bridle Boutique stayed in contact with me for the entire process.
It did take a few weeks for the leggings to get to me. These are imported from the UK, and there was a bit of a complication at customs, which delayed the leggings quite a bit. However, Bridle Boutique stayed in touch with constant updates. If you’re looking for a pair of leggings to arrive quickly, pre-ordering is not a good idea. I’d imagine that things would be a lot quicker if you order once there is a shipment in the country, but you have to move fast – they sell quickly!
As soon as the leggings hit the ground at Bridle Boutique, they were sorted and sent off within a day. I had mine shipped to me via Postnet-to-Postnet. Bridle Boutique sent me the tracking number as soon as the leggings had been packaged, and they arrived at my nearest Postnet within two working days. They were in perfect condition and neatly packaged.
I have never, EVER, EVER worn riding pants as comfortable as these!
As soon as I took them out of the packet, I could feel that they were going to be a whole lot friendlier than my stiff old denims. The fabric is stretchy and soft, yet very sturdy. It has stood up REALLY well to climbing through fences, catching on bits of wire, getting stained with purple spray/baby oil/horse snot/miscellaneous dirt, baking in the sun, and being generally abused. It hasn’t worn thin, torn, or even stretched out at all. Even better for summer in Africa, these leggings are really breathable and cool. I wouldn’t be donning them for a winter morning, but they’re perfect for the summer – much cooler than either my old denim breeches or even the pair of cheap gym leggings I have as a backup. (Rumour has it that they’ll be importing fleece-lined ones for winter, too). It was my first time riding with silicone sticky bum pants, and honestly I didn’t feel that much of a difference compared to a smooth seat. The silicone stars are really attractive, though, and I enjoy the look and texture. They do make a bit of a funny noise on the Wintec in rising trot when brand new, but I’m guessing all silicone riding pants will do it. The fabric is also thick enough that you don’t get underwear lines.
The colours are absolutely incredible. I wanted to be different but still fairly conservative and picked out the attractive olive green. The pictures on Facebook are pretty accurate, and they have wonderful colours – the standard black, white and navy, but also plum, pink, red, sky blue, olive green and purple (and a truly glorious unicorn print that just arrived at my house). Every colour except the white has a classy little unicorn printed on the right pocket.
As for the design, I really found them to be comfortable and serviceable. The high waist took some getting used to as I’ve only ever worn hipsters, but I love that the waist is reinforced and extra stretchy, as well as being really wide. It doesn’t don’t pinch, rub, or roll anywhere. I’m a little awkward to fit, with a tiny waist and wider hips, so I did find that the leggings slip down just a little, which most pants do on me. The legs are elasticated without Velcro (I hate Velcro bottoms with a passion), and they were really comfortable in long boots, with none of that folding or crumpling up that leaves rubs or marks.
I found the cut to be super flattering, too. I’m rocking a lil muffin top thanks to switching from full-time riding to part-time, and the broad elasticated waist keeps that tucked right away. The fabric is forgiving to one’s curves and thick enough that it keeps everything from wobbling about.
The cellphone pockets are AMAZING. Their location right on the thigh is ideal since your phone ends up well out of your way but also easily within reach. The elastic is stretchy enough to keep things securely in the pockets, but easy to take out. These pockets are pretty tough, too – I carry my keys around in them routinely and other breeches always seem to end up with holes in the pockets, but these haven’t shown wear at all.
I found the sizing to be pretty standard, too. I’m normally a size 28, and I ordered an XS, which is a 28-30 according to Bridle Boutique’s page. It fits me pretty perfectly – a little loose around the waist, which all pants are on me, but the right length. The stretchiness makes these leggings pretty forgiving to fit, and you can probably order your standard size, which makes ordering them that much more convenient. They come in all sizes, including children’s (although there are different colour options for kids).
Over the past four months, I’ve worn these leggings every single day to do horse chores and ride multiple horses. They have worn really well. I’m extremely hard on clothes (gloves do two months on me; pants normally make it a little longer) and these have held up well despite daily use. One or two of the silicone stars did come off, and the unicorn print on the pocket is starting to look a bit cracked. The stitching under my left hip has also worn out so the seam has split a little, but it’s easily mended. The fabric itself has hardly faded at all and shows almost no wear. For the price, and for what I’ve put it through, it’s pretty good.
These leggings are on the cheaper end of what you’d expect to pay for new riding pants as an adult. They run at around R600 excluding shipping. About the only pants you can buy new that would be cheaper are the run-of-the-mill riding slacks, which you could get for R400 or less if you shopped around, but honestly – they’re not the same value for money.
Joyride jodhpurs, a bit nicer than the slacks, are available at most tack shops in the same price range as these Bridle Boutique ones. I have a pair of them for shows, and frankly, they can’t compare. They are a much more classic look for shows, and they’ve stood up to some abuse, but they have no pockets and they’re extremely hot and tight around the waist.
You can get similar and very pretty leggings from Western Shoppe for more than double the price of these. I can’t comment on how nice those are in comparison, but like I say – more than double the price.
Ultimately, it’s really hard to find nice riding pants in this kind of price range. These are not only comfortable and durable, they’re also classy. They are the best value for money I’ve ever spent on riding clothes, hands down.
Bridle Boutique’s leggings have been a real blessing for me lately. As anyone trying to do this sport on a shoestring can testify, while we’re all completely blessed with the opportunity to be part of the sport at all, sometimes it can feel really disheartening when all your tack and riding gear is kind of cheap and nasty or very secondhand. Sometimes it’s difficult not to compare yourself with the next rider over who has Pikeur breeches, knowing you’re never going to fork out a car payment on a pair of pants.
These leggings are good value for money. They’re tough and comfortable, but that’s not what makes them just a little bit magic. It’s the look of them. They look amazing, and it’s a real confidence booster, especially for those of us who are not as fit as we would like to be (those of us who have to sit at a desk all day in order to be able to ride at all). Ordinary, less well-off riders like us seldom get compliments at all, whether it’s on our riding or our horses or our gear. And when someone notices these beautiful leggings and spontaneously exclaims, “I like your pants!”, it can put a smile on your face just when you need it.