Full seats and knee patches and tights, oh my! There are so many different brands, styles, and materials of breeches on the market that it’s sometimes hard to know where to start. Riders’ preferences may be swayed by the discipline they ride in, what they personally feel is the most comfortable, and even by the current styles that are showcased across social media. Does full seat vs. knee patch make a difference in and out of the show ring?Does the grip material really matter? Is there one brand dominating the market right now? I dove in to answer these questions and more.
In a poll conducted via the Tried Equestrian and Pine Point Equestrian Instagram stories, knee patch breeches pulled ahead as the favorites: 68% of riders who responded preferred knee patch breeches over full seats for shows and clinics, with 70% of those riders preferring knee patches in their everyday riding as well. The discipline did appear to make a difference, with 80% of the riders who preferred full seats competing in either eventing or dressage. The hunter/jumpers and equitation riders all favored a knee patch breech.
For Justine Griffin, a journalist and adult amateur rider from Tampa, FL who shows in hunters, eventing, and dressage, her love for full seat breeches was a slow burn. “I grew up riding [in the] hunters and equitation, so knee patch breeches have always been my go-to”, Justine comments. “Once I started dabbling in dressage, [that’s when] I began introducing full-seat styles”, says Justine, adding that, “full seat breeches are an ‘acquired taste’ - it took some getting used to for me, personally.” Nowadays, Justine rides in full seats for dressage and eventing, saying that she “appreciates the extra grip it offers in my leg and seat.” Justine calls out the SmartPak Hadley, Romfh, the Crossover line by Kerrits, and Elation’s Chelsea line as her favorite brands, with silicone being her top pick for grip material.
Elizabeth Phillips, an amateur jumper and hunter rider based in Ocala, FL, only rides in knee patch breeches. “As a hunter/jumper rider, [we don’t] compete in full seat breeches, so I don’t use them in everyday riding or training”, says Elizabeth. She notes that her favorite brands include For Horses, Struck, Equiline, and recently, “a Dutch brand, HV Polo, that I really like.” Elizabeth adds that she prefers the silicone material “to the older style with suede” on her knee patch breeches.
“I have only ever ridden in knee patch breeches because that is what is most common at Paint and Quarter Horse shows,” says Amanda Stevens, an amateur Hunter Under Saddle, Equitation, and Ranch Riding rider from Oklahoma, adding that, “it is not a rule, but kind of an unspoken thing.” Amanda tends to prefer suede or deerskin leather for grip on her favorite Botori, Irideon, Kerrits, and FITS knee patch breeches. “Since I don’t jump or do cross country, I have never felt the need for extra grip in the saddle that you can get from full seat breeches,” says Amanda.
I personally live in full seat breeches because I prefer the security when switching between multiple horses and riding in different weather conditions. I also think they are more comfortable when I’m in and out of the saddle all day. My favorite brands and materials include the Kerrits Crossover Full Seat Breech with their GripSoft, leather-like, segmented grip material; the FITS Full Seat Summer Breech with their TechTread silicone grip material; and the Ariat Ladies’ Heritage Elite Full-Seat Breech with a synthetic suede grip material.
With all that being said, it appears that most riders tend to ride in the same style of breeches every single day - from a casual ride to clinics to shows. The silicone and synthetic suede materials seem to be dominating the market right now, with the Kerrits and Tailored Sportsman brands being the most loved. Do you prefer riding in full seat or knee patch breeches? Do you have a brand that you swear by or a grip material that rocks your world? We want to hear! Comment below, message us, or get in touch with Jessica directly (@pinepointequestrian) to join the conversation!