What are Jodhpurs?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Jodhpurs are specialized pants designed for horseback riding. They are intended to be durable and comfortable, and are worn in a wide variety of disciplines including jumping, dressage, and eventing. Jodhpurs are sometimes confused with breeches, another type of pant often worn by riders, but the style of breeches is somewhat different, and in competition riders are usually directed to wear one style or the other. Many riding supply stores and catalogs stock jodhpurs, and it is an excellent idea to try a pair on before purchasing them, to check on the fit.

Jodhpurs are worn during horse jumping.
Jodhpurs are worn during horse jumping.

The pants are named for Jodhpur, a large city in Northern India. Legend has it that the men of the city wore pants styled much like riding jodhpurs, leading British colonialists to name the pants after the city of the wearers. It is also possible that the pants were developed in Jodhpur, and that the name was adopted into English as many Hindi and Urdu words were, thanks to diffusion through colonial staffers.

Jodhpurs are designed to be comfortable and durable for long term wear.
Jodhpurs are designed to be comfortable and durable for long term wear.

A pair of jodhpurs is characterized by a snug fit to the knee, with flaring hips. The snug fit in the lower leg accommodates riding boots, especially the jodhpur boot, a style of riding boot which extends to the area of the leg just above the ankle. The flaring hips allow the rider to move freely, and promote a comfortable fit for long rides. By tradition, jodhpurs are usually white or cream, although other colors can be found as well, and they are often made from an elastic material.

Several other embellishments set jodhpurs aside from regular pants, making them instantly recognizable as horse riding gear. The first is a heavily reinforced seat, which is designed to reduce saddle wear. The seat is often a slightly different color, and it is made from a thicker, more resilient material than the rest of the jodhpurs. In addition, the knees are usually heavily reinforced as well, since riders use their knees to signal their horses and to firmly grip the saddle.

The reinforcements on jodhpurs make them more comfortable, and the pants are also seamed differently than regular pants for increased comfort. Since inside seams could be very uncomfortable rubbing against a saddle during a long day of riding, jodhpurs are seamed on the outside, and the seams are often curved so that they do not come into contact with the saddle. When the fit is right, jodhpurs should feel like a second skin, allowing the rider to move freely and comfortably throughout the day.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments

sunshined

I have a couple of friends who are involved with dressage and it is not unusual to see them wearing a paid of ladies jodhpurs when they are competing in events.

Some of these events can take up a whole day and it is important for them to be comfortable when they are riding.

Even though I have never tried dressage, I know it is something that takes a lot of practice and discipline. It takes a lot more than just putting on a pair of jodhpurs and looking the part.

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