Our resident Style Guru, Alex Calder, has done the leg work to ensure your kit not only looks good but enhances your efforts. It’s time to embrace tech!
We’re athletes … right?
Sometimes, as riders, we can be so focused on our horses and their needs that we forget to think of ourselves as athletes. How many of you do stretches before you ride? I know I don’t – and I pay for it in muscle pain later.
And we definitely don’t dress like athletes.
I love a good athletic kit (if this sounds crazy check out the chic Team USA Winter Olympics ’14 kit by Ralph Lauren, their ridiculously cool space race style podium jacket and the general coolness on show at London 2012) – and I’d love to see a little more of it in equestrian sport.
In this brave new world of printed textiles, wearable tech and anti-bacterial, breathable, magical moisture-wicking fabrics, is it finally time to let go of the tweed jacket and embrace the svelte silhouette of the modern athlete?
Here are some of my top picks of equestrian gear that is adapting for a more streamlined future.
Why more companies aren’t making these is mind-boggling. With 7 in 10 people in the UK using a smartphone, and 80% of people globally it seems logical that every pair of gloves – not just riding gloves – should allow you to use a touchscreen.
For riding, based on the design of the excellent Grand Prix glove, Woof Wear have added conductive fibres to the tips of the index finger and thumb – conducting the heat of your fingers out of the glove and onto the screen, allowing it to work (almost) as well as without a glove.
A really good sports bra
If you don’t wear a sports bra to ride then stop reading right now and buy one. Riding is seriously high impact so not wearing one is doing untold damage to your beautiful bosom. Shock Absorber are excellent for maximum support, Nike’s make you feel like a 100 metre sprinter and H&M have a colourful and affordable range developed in partnership with the Swedish Olympic team.
Not so very long ago people were going cross-country in woollen jumpers. Thankfully, we now have cross-country tops that act as a second skin, with advanced fabrics like Tredstep’s Airsilk to help you keep your cool in the warm-up.
Their Symphony Futura top come in several colourways to keep you cross-country co-ordinated, and I love the giant Tredstep logo down the sleeve (the wannabe pro in me loves a good logo).
Our sport is up there with motorsport and skiing when it comes to high impact injuries, so it’s reassuring to see some crossover in body protection. Both of my body protectors are based on technology used for motorbike riders – Kanteq which is reassuringly tough and molded for the female shape, and Hit-Air which inflates outwards to lessen that feeling of not being able to breathe, and has neck support and coccyx protection. I highly recommend them.
With many people opting to wear body protectors in disciplines other than cross-country, the Dainese Alter Real is an excellent slim-line waistcoat that will protect your back and spine without the bulk of a full body protector.
Dainese also make products for bikers and skiers and have an interesting range for riders, including this jacket combining warmth and protection.
Equiline Cinzia competition jacket | £450
Lightweight competition jackets made from breathable, moisture-wicking and windproof fabric have proliferated over the past couple of years, as we all collectively breath a sigh of relief at being able to shed the tweed in summer (keeping it in reserve for those bitterly cold winter shows of course).
What makes this one from Equiline stand out is the elasticated panels at the sides, across the small of the back and at the elbows, allowing for true stretch in motion.
Ten years of R&D, incorporating aerospace and auto industry technology, has gone into the development of what could prove to be a game-changing saddle from new Irish company Bua. It’s definitely eye-catching (and is very customisable colour-wise if you’re so inclined) but the real difference lies in its cantilevered tree, giving both horse and rider increased flexibility in movement.
In a smart move for a company selling something so new to an often very conservative audience, they allow you to book a trial before you commit to buying.
Made of a super-lightweight airmesh with inner-calf patches for added protection they seem to be the answer to the age old conundrum of sweltering under your leather half-chaps through the summer.