Unlike full chaps, which cover the rider from seat to ankle, half chaps end at the knee. For English equestrians especially, half chaps worn with paddock boots provide the feel and support of tall boots. You may choose half chaps for everyday training and preserve the dress boots for the show ring; or you may opt for half chaps if a wider calf makes the tall boot uncomfortable.
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The Best Sizing
Equestrian boot and chap sizing is based on the height of the leg from the boot heel to the back of the knee, and the width of the widest part of the calf. Though English tall boots are expected to fit a little high at the knee when new, then drop into place with some wear, half chaps need to fit snugly and securely from the start. An adult's calf width may range from 12 to 22 inches; typical boot sizing extra wide runs about 16.5. Half chaps can run as wide as 17.5 inches as XL, though they also can run taller. Riders with lower legs shorter than 16 inches and calves wider than 16.5 inches may find half-chap sizing most accommodating at online outlets such as Plus Size Riding Apparel.
The Best Style
Half chaps come in English and Western styles and the differences are mostly cosmetic. English styles are commonly plain, to imitate the look of tall boots. Western half chaps may come with fringe, a favoured style of motorcycle riders as well as equestrians. For wider calves and short legs a plain-styled half chap will likely wrap most securely around the limb.
The Best Material
Top grain leather, synthetic leather and suede make up the strongest, most durable half chaps. For wider or more muscular lower legs, chaps with a built-in zipper or elastic panel, called a gusset, will provide some necessary stretch over the largest part of the calf. Some half chaps are fitted with Velcro strips, making them easier to tighten or loosen.
The Best Way to Buy
If you are comfortable with a particular brand and size, comparing prices online can offer the opportunity for a good deal. If you're new to half chaps a visit to a tack or feed store is the best way to buy. Try them on over your typical clothes and paddock boots or similar footwear. If the tack store is equipped with a saddle on a sturdy stand, sit in it and test the fit as you bend your knee. You should feel a secure fit with no gaps; at the same time, the half chap should be able to move with your leg and not feel constrictive.
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