Last Updated on February 28, 2022 by Allison Price
You can confidently buy your next pair of chaps using the guidance from four experts and get tips from a chapsmaker.
Chaps are an essential part of any rider’s attire. Chaps are a professional accessory that gives a rider a clean, professional appearance and provides extra grip in the saddle. Chaps are useful for protecting riders from the brush and branches. They also protect them from the horns of cattle on the ranch. Chaps and chinks are worn by ranch riding competitors for the same reasons. However, these riders strive to maintain a Western appearance that is reminiscent of working ranches.
Chaps and chinks make up nearly half of your body. This means that they can be a significant part of your turnout. It’s important to choose wisely, consider long-term investments, and think about the possibility of losing your money. The price of high-quality chaps starts at a few hundred dollars. Custom-made chaps start from $500. The price will vary depending on the material and level of customization. While a pair of chaps can be expensive, they can last a lifetime.
Four experts from different fields shared their buying advice with us to help you choose your next pair of chaps and chinks.
Purpose Goodnight says that chaps are used for trail riding. They protect your legs and help you to’stick’ to the saddle. Your knees, thighs and lower legs are susceptible to being poked and scraped by branches, brush and ropes. The tougher leather will protect your legs from any impact and can withstand a wide range of weather conditions.
Choose Premium leather with outstanding craftsmanship. I prefer a smooth outer surface that has plenty of friction. Choose a pair that is easy to put on and take off, as well as allowing for adjustment as your needs change.
Avoid: The doctor advises against baggy legs and bulky bulk below the knees; chaps you need to be a contortionist in order to buckle, snap or zip; and chaps too long.
Material: Working cowboys, who often drag calves to the campfire or bushwhack down the trails, need thicker, more durable leather that can withstand a lifetime of abuse. Goodnight warns. I don’t do much hardcore work in my chaps so I prefer soft, high-quality split leather. It’s flexible and can be tailored to my leg. If you plan to use your chaps for everyday riding or rough use, avoid synthetics and ultrasuede.
Fringe Goodnight states that working men should not use fringe if they are looking for a functional look. It is more difficult to zip the fringes because of its decorative accent.
Color: She says that working chaps can get stained and scratched. Natural colors are more effective at hiding wear marks than any other colors. Consider the climate in which you live when choosing a color. Dark colors can be used to provide warmth in colder seasons or climates. Overheating can occur in hotter areas where darker colors may be harmful.
The Biggest Faux Pas: Goodnight recommends avoiding chaps who are too glitzy/blingy. They will distract from the functional equipment and leather that is so thick and poorly tanned it looks like cardboard.
Shopping advice: A pair of good chaps will last you a lifetime so don’t go cheap. Goodnight, shares: “Even though they have three pairs of zippers inside them, I still have the very first pair I wore when I was fourteen.” It is important to fit properly. Avoid baggy chaps. They can be uncomfortable below the knee and restrict your ability to move on your horse.
The purpose: The all-around trainer shares that chaps are required to create a smooth and sleek silhouette for all-around events. Judges want the rider to have a straight, clean body line with no excess around the waist. The rider’s ear is connected to her heel by the help of her chaps.
Choose Henry says that chaps are similar to a good hat. Both can be expensive. Choose a style you love and feel confident in. Confidence is not something you can fake. When you feel confident about how you look, you will be proud to show it off in the arena.
Avoid flashy silver in the front and back buckle areas. This is especially important for horsemanship. Henry shares that Henry encourages clients to use the smallest buckle for the front and the most concho in the rear.
Material : He claims that it is split leather. It lasts longer, has more stretch, and looks better overall. It is easy to see the differences between ultrasuede and split leather chaps in a glance.
Color Henry states, “In horsemanship classes I believe that the outfit should be one continuous color.” Black is timeless and slimming. Black will go well with any top, even if you are going to wear fancy, bright tops. Black boots are always available. It can be difficult to find matching boots for a brighter color if you don’t dye them to match. While brown and other natural colors are great for horses, they don’t work with every horse. We show in dirty and dusty environments. Darker colors conceal dirt better.”
Fringe He says that fringe is a nice accent but that he doesn’t like long fringes that flap around like motorcycle fringe.
The Biggest Faux Pas: “It is important to avoid tightening or loosening your trousers for all events. They should be as comfortable as a pair of jeans. Although I don’t love smooth-leather chaps they are making a comeback, some riders actually like them.
Shopping Advice. Henry says chaps should be a one-time purchase unless you are shopping for a young rider. So they last, make sure you get the best quality for your money. Spend more if you have the funds.
Purpose “In reining, appropriate and well-fitted men convey a professional look to the judges,” states the reiner who has earned more than $475,000.
Select Chaps with enough flexibility to allow you to “feel” the horse while still allowing you to move your legs easily. She shares that she has had trouble finding chaps in a catalog. I want custom-fitted chaps that fit me perfectly.
Avoid Materials that stretch. Jenkins explains that leather can stretch and chaps will no longer have the polished appearance judges desire in the show pen.
Material She shares that although it is up to each individual to decide, she prefers split leather. Split-leather chaps are durable and easy to clean.
Color: Personal preference is what carries the greatest weight. I’m attracted to great pairs of black, tan, or chocolate chaps for my reining pen.
Fringe She advises that the fringe should be properly cut so it hangs well while the rider is riding the horse. “I don’t know if the fringe should be double-colored, but it could detract from the clean appearance I want when showing my horses.”
The Biggest Faux Pas: She says, “A pair that doesn’t fit well.” It takes away the clean, neat look we all desire.
Shopping Advice: Make wise investments. Jenkins states that chaps are an essential part of show attire. It is worth the investment to get a pair that you love.
Purpose “Exhibitors at ranch riding events are bringing home the traditional Western look,” states the judge. “Chinks can be worn by chaps, and they are designed to protect the legs of riders. People are adding fashion to them, just like any other item.
You choose: Choose what works best for you. Cooper states that exhibitors enjoy “feeling western,” so choose what suits you best. Both chaps and chinks can be secured in the front or back with a variety of options. There are many choices when it comes to chinks. You have the option to zip, snap or use hook closures for your legs.
Avoid “Chaps too short,” Cooper warns.
Material Many of the chaps or chinks that you will see at the national level appear like a leather couch, so the smooth side is visible,” she said. It’s acceptable to show the rough side. Ranch riding has more natural textures. Some ranch riders wear chaps and chinks made from cowhide.
Color: Cooper suggests that neutral tones, such as browns, blacks and tans, are the most common. However, you can choose a color you like and makes you feel good. It’s unlikely that you’ll see bright colors in pleasure or horsemanship classes.
Fringe Cooper says that the fringe is generally longer on chaps than on chinks. Double fringe is also very popular, with two different colors twisted together. Ranch events have produced some amazing chaps and chinks. You will often see designs made by hand that reflect the personality of the rider. You can add yellow roses to your yoke if you like them. A rider who is passionate about dolphins wore chaps that had dolphins in the tooling. These embellishments should be discrete.
The Biggest Faux Pas: Cooper states that he doesn’t believe there is one. “Ranch riding events are preserving tradition so you’ll find fashion trends that were popular in the 1950s or 1960s.” This often includes accents like whip stitching, buckstitching and double fringe.
Shopping Advice Have some fun picking your chaps and chinks. Cooper states that ranch riding events allow riders to be more flexible than other events. However, it is important to remember that an outfit alone will not make a rider stand out. Judges expect riders to be well-groomed and put together.
I’m Allison, born and raised in San Diego California, the earliest memory I have with horses was at my grandfather’s farm. I used to sit at the stable as a kid and hang out with my Papa while he was training the horses. When I was invited to watch a horse riding competition, I got so fascinated with riding!