Rider Underwear Etiquette

Horseback Rider Underwear Etiquette

Your Mom Was Right

I need to talk about a delicate subject — that is, your “delicates.”

When I first started riding I was given instructions on how to get on and off a horse, how to hold the reins, position my legs, feet, hands, and all the other usual beginner stuff.  I was even told what to wear:  riding breeches, paddock shoes, gloves, a hair net, half chaps, and a safety helmet.

No one talked to me about underwear.

At the beginner’s walk underwear is not an issue.  You are pretty much in constant contact with the saddle (and at low speeds) with little risk of wardrobe malfunction, but when you start to trot, the need for the right panties becomes apparent.  Still, it was not until I learned to canter in the hot summer sun of SoCal, that I realized cotton panties were just as necessary for rider safety in preventing injuries as a helmet.

I was not really comfortable discussing my unmentionables with my trainer, or, other riders.  Not that talking about underwear itself is taboo, but the reason mine was not working was sort of embarrassing.

I am talking about chaffing, sores, and well, to be honest, sweaty “vertical smile” sounds.  The right undies can help you avoid all those unmentionables caused by not wearing the right unmentionables.

Your mom was right, you should always wear clean underwear and this is particularly true when riding horses.

Please, Wear Underwear

First, be kind to your trainer and the rest of us who ride behind your behind and just wear some damned underwear.  From an aesthetic standpoint, tight riding pants show everything.  I had a trainer turn to me once and remark a rider was not wearing underwear.  It was obvious to us all.  He was not ogling her ass, he was annoyed by it.  “Gross” were his exact words.

I fully appreciate that panty lines are also considered “unseemly” so again, wearing pants that fit properly — and underwear that covers your ass (both sides of it — G-strings only separate the problem into two problems while attempting to saw you in half) will help a lot.  By “fit” I mean riding pants that are the correct size and style.  Shoving yourself into jeans, jodhpurs, and breeches two sizes too small does not make you smaller.  It makes you look silly.  Riding pants are not bodyshapers — but riding horses is.  Horseback riding is great exercise so just keep riding your ass off and your pants size will become smaller, naturally.

Look, if gymnasts can manage to wear underwear under a leotard, you can do so under breeches.  All right, admittedly, they cheat and use butt glue, which I do not recommend for riders.  So forget gymnasts, equestrians are harder core anyhow.  We don’t need butt glue to keep our underwear from riding up into uncomfortable places.  And neither do our closest second cousins, twice removed — bicyclists and motorcyclists.  If they can wear underwear, why can’t we?  Just because our horses are bigger and badder ass than bicycles doesn’t mean we should be bearing our bad asses.

Commando, Not Just For Boys, But For Devil-May-Care Girls

If you want to go commando (or god help you, wear a thong) make sure your riding breeches are not skin tight, preferably dark (tan and other light colored pants tend to show crack lines, cellulite and camel toe more than dark pants.)  Put a panty liner in your pants — sweat, bacteria, and nasty things will wear your crotch out fast because underwear does not just protect you it protects your pants, too.  If you happen to enjoy the itchy, burning sensation of a nasty yeast infection, leave your panties at home.  But frankly, a light panty line is a lot less noticeable (and a lot less offensive) than the tell tale signs of a yeast infection. You know what I am talking about, that hip adjusting, discrete thigh rubbing, and stolen crotch scratch when you think no one is looking.

Top Riders Do Too Wear Panties

Competitive riders do don skivvies.  In fact, many wear lucky undies along with their lucky socks.  But if you have reached the pro circuit or are jumping grand prix heights, you have paid your dues and know what you are doing.  If you know how to ride without underwear without injuring yourself or offending the eyes of those around you, well, go for it.  Besides, most English style riders at that level wear jackets, hiding any shameless lack of panties from view, and most pro western riders wear jeans and full chaps (which makes it almost impossible to tell whether or not you are properly attired under your pants.)

For the rest of us, you have been warned.  If you are going commando, we know, and that thong isn’t fooling anyone either.