Jodhpurs and breeches are horse-riding trousers designed to provide a more comfortable and safer ride. There are not many differences between the two types of trousers, but the choice between the two dictates the type of boots the rider must wear. Additionally, some of the differences make one more age-appropriate for children and for equestrian competitions.
The major difference between jodhpurs and breeches is the length of the inseam. The trouser legs on jodhpurs go all the way down to the ankles--or beyond, with the help of stirrups--whereas they end halfway down the calf on breeches. Because of this, breeches can only be worn with long riding boots. Jodhpurs can be worn with long boots or short boots---jodhpur boots---that can be secured in place with jodhpur clips. Aside from the difference in leg length, both trousers are close-fitting, usually made with stretchable material, and come with knee and rear reinforcements. The rear is covered with a material meant to grip the saddle in order to help keep the rider in place. A similar material is placed on the inside of the knee to enable the rider to keep a firmer grip on the horse. Unlike casual trousers, the leg seams are placed on the outside to prevent rubbing the horse or rider.
Young riders traditionally start out wearing jodhpurs, because wearing them helps children get the correct leg position and grip. Additionally, it allows the instructor to see how the children's heels are positioned. Jodhpurs are also the obligatory dress for equestrian competitions, for similar reasons. They allow the judges to see the leg positioning of the rider.
Jodhpurs are named after the city of Jodhpur in the Rajasthan area of India, where polo was the royal pastime. Jodhpurs were the trousers worn by polo riders. Breeches is an English term for riding trousers that is often used interchangeably with jodhpurs, though they are not the same.
Not all breeches come with the knee patches that all jodhpurs have. This gives show riders the option to wear plain breeches or reinforced ones (or jodhpurs), depending on what they need to do. Show jumpers tend to wear breeches with knee pads, as it allows them to grip the horse better when taking jumps. Dressage riders usually prefer a simple rear patch to keep them in proper sitting position, and they have no great need for the knee patches.
Jodhpurs and breeches traditionally came in a range of cream shades, and now they can be found in a variety of colours and even materials like corduroy or denim. Despite the variety available, traditional white and cream still dominate. Most competitions adhere to a strict dress code that sometimes dictates what colours the riding trousers can be. For those without a colour ruling, riders are still encouraged to err on the conservative side and wear either white, cream or muted green shades. Some riders wear jodhpurs or breeches that match their team colours, though it is still advisable to check with the competition sponsors whether those colours are acceptable.
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