When you first enter the equestrian world it can seem a completely overwhelming and expensive place! Especially for parents who maybe don’t come from a horsey background or have been out of the sport for a while. But don’t stress! I’m here to help you narrow down that essentials shopping list for a first lesson and maybe point you in the direction of a few “nice to haves” that could go on Santa’s list later in the year
Most riding schools will require your child arrives in
- long sleeves,
- long pants, and
- with a pair of short leather boots with a small heel, known as 'paddock' or 'jodhpur' boots
Lessons are usually half an hour to an hour so a long sleeve shirt will keep the sun and bugs off your child during their lesson. We love the Mare and Me riding shirts because they not only look stunning on but they are made from comfortable, stretchy fabric that breathes with additional mesh panels in the arms for airflow. Our favourite is Mare and Me Indie with her beautiful cherries and rainbows print and pearl buttons or for boys Hampton & Harlow Equestrian make beautiful check shirts that are comfortable and smart
Long, fitted riding pants such as Jodphurs or riding tights allow your child’s riding instructor to see their legs and feet properly during the lesson. There are lots of options now, when it comes to riding attire but keeping kids comfortable is key plus take it from me and go for a darker colour to save your sanity in the laundry! Most kids will need a pair of Jodphurs or Riding Tights. Breeches are also an option but these are designed to be worn with tall boots, usually by adult riders, or by juniors in some horse sports such as show jumping. Jodphurs are usually made from a thicker material than tights and will generally have a button or some sort of clasp whereas tights are pull on and fit like gym/sports-wear. Peter Williams Riding Apparel make Jodphurs right here in Australia, you can view their kids range on our website here. Giddyupgirl are another long standing Australian equestrian brand who have been designing kids riding apparel for nearly 20 years, their tights are comfortable, durable and beautiful, you can find them here.
Some schools will have helmets you can borrow that comply with the Australian safety standards AS/NZS 3838 (this means the helmet meets the SAI Global standard of testing for safety) and other instructors will ask you to bring your own. If you do need to send your child along with a riding helmet you will need a purpose made horse riding helmet. The easiest way to ensure your child’s safety is to take them along to your local saddlery and have a helmet fitted for them.
Seasons will also play a role in your list as we equestrians ride year round and even when it’s too hot or wet to ride there are horse jobs to be done!
In winter gloves are a great idea to keep little hands from turning blue and of course a coat to keep them warm. Ponyclub NSW no longer allows children to ride in hooded jumpers for safety so we love our Giddyupgirl puffer coats for lessons and club days or if like me you’ve found yourself on the side of an arena watching lessons while getting soaked dreaming of shelter and hot coffee, do yourself a favour and invest in an ELT Fehmarn coat, it can’t make you coffee but it will keep you dry!
Summer lessons are hot and full of flies (I’m not making this sport sound glamorous am I) you can purchase sun brims that attach to the riding helmet to keep the sun off and also nets that keep the flies out of your face, I won’t lie though – these are a hard no from most kids over 10 as they don’t exactly say ‘cool’, I’m personally not a fan of eating flies though so I can pass on ‘cool’. Sunnies are an option and of course Sunscreen with the highest SPF rating you can get your hands on!
Now onto a few things that are nice to haves but if your child is just heading out to their first term of lessons they probably don’t need to have them.
Your Own Tack/A Saddle – Saddles are fitted to the horse or pony first and then the rider comes second. For this reason your chosen instructor will have saddles that are fitted to their school ponies and you don’t need to take your own. The same can be said for saddle pads, the thickness and style of the pad is chosen to support the fit of the saddle and ensure the horses comfort so you won’t need to supply your own of these either.
A Grooming Kit – all good schools will have plenty of brushes, hoof picks and combs to keep their ponies looking and feeling great. A personal kit is a great gift though and Hairy Pony make an absolutely stunning kids grooming set that includes their own child size, handmade, beechwood brushes and a gorgeous unicorn horse cookie from another small Aussie business, Huds and Toke Handmade Pet Treats.
Helmet Cover – To me these are essential but to most they are definitely an added extra however I find they prevent my whirlwind of a child from scratching & marking her helmet and I can’t resist the adorable bobble of a Pompom on the top of a riding helmet!
A riding journal – this is a really nice idea for an older child or teen who has started riding lessons to document their riding journey and there are some beautiful equestrian journals & riding diaries available to buy.
So to recap here is my essential shopping list for a child just starting out with lessons; Jodphurs or Riding Tights, a long sleeve riding shirt, short leather boots with a small heel.
- Ask your instructor if you need to provide a helmet
- If it’s hot pack a water bottle, sunscreen, lip balm, towel and a change of clothes
- If it’s cold and wet send them with a coat, a pair of gloves such as these ELT Lucky Carla ones, a spare pair of socks and shoes for if they get wet feet – depending on your school it can be a good idea to arrive in gumboots during winter to preserve the life of your riding boots.
- Riding is hard work and your child will likely be hangry at the conclusion of their lesson so snacks are always an essential when I pack to head to our riding school