If you, or your child, are new to horseback riding, you may be confused by all the types of breeches available -- and the sizing. Breeches are tight-fitting riding pants that are designed to fit snugly and not rub as jeans do when one is riding a horse. They are designed to fit inside tall English-style riding boots. Jods are similar, but they are designed to be worn outside of the shorter paddock boots.
If you see sizes listed such as 28 or 30, the number refers to the waist size in inches. Breeches usually come in Regular or Long, which refers to the inseam length, but different manufacturers use different lengths for what constitutes an R or an L, so if you are particularly tall or short, it can help to inquire about what the inseam is. In general, a size 26 will equal a size 8 in women's, 28 will equal a size 10 in women's pants, and so on.
Breeches generally come in pull-on, fly-front or side-zip styles and in a variety of colors. Different horse sports prefer different styles and colors for showing. Dressage riders, for example, usually wear white breeches, or occasionally a pale cream color, in the show ring. However, for everyday schooling, you should just choose whatever color strikes your fancy. Although breeches are more popular with English riders, many Western and trail riders enjoy the comfort that provided by the seamless fit and smooth fabrics of breeches.
Most breeches come with knee patches, which help prevent wear and provides grip in the saddle, or full seats, in which the knee patches extend up the leg and also cover the rider's seat as well. Full-seat breeches provide the most grip in the saddle, which some riders prefer but others find annoying.
The patches can be made of Clarino, ultrasuede and other synthetic materials, or of deerskin or leather. The synthetics are less expensive and an excellent choice if you ride infrequently or are outfitting a child who will outgrow her clothes before she wears them out. Alos, they can be machine washed for easy care. Pros or amateurs who ride daily often prefer buying breeches with deerskin or leather because even though the initial cost is higher, they will last longer. They last the longest if they are hand-washed.
Today, there are many choices in breeches fabric. Some people prefer cotton or cotton blends, but some of the advanced microfibers provide the most breathability and wick away moisture, which can be great in the summer. Some Polartec-type microfibers provide great warmth in the winter.
I hope this guide has been helpful. I'm always on the lookout for a bargain in breeches or other equestrian items. I maintain an eBay store, http://stores.ebay.com/Brighthorse-Affordable-Tack, where I post some for sale if I've come across some goods buys. If you have questions, please feel free to e-mail me. I love talking about horses and tack!