I don’t know about you but I have pants in my drawer that are not for riding, far too painful as they move into the wrong places if you know what I mean! I have pants in a special section that have passed the “test” that I use for riding that don’t move too much in inappropriate ways, that are bearable even over cross country. Frankly, I had never really thought about technical pants specifically made for riding.
The challenges of underwear
Not to put too finer point on it my bum is important to me especially for riding. Having been doing a lot of work on myself with the lovely Clare Howard at The Balanced Rider, I am now straight, my muscles now fire in the correct sequence and my leg hinges are working in the appropriate way – big thanks to Giles Carradine of Huntercombe Horses, coach extraordinaire for his memorable explanation on this. I have truly understood that moving my weight is incredibly important and I need to do this subtly and carefully to ensure that my horse understands what I am asking for. This is sometimes a challenge as I am often trying to make sure that my underwear isn’t in the wrong place, if you get my drift.
Talking with Claire Galer from Derriere Equestrian a month or so ago, she took me through how her equestrian pants were made. She pointed out where things were double locked and bonded and how important it is to have the right underwear. Well I have to say I got the quality thing but I couldn’t quite get my head around the padded pants. They are not exactly sexy, more like passion killers but then they are designed to do a job not to be strutted in front of your other half!
I didn’t buy them straight away but had a think, was I really going to buy padded pants?
Padded Pants? You can't be serious.....
Sheepishly I went and bought a pair just to try. I have to confess that they have sat in my pant drawer for over a while and I kept making excuses to myself as to why I wasn’t going to wear them that day. I should say at this point that I did buy some of her unpadded pants and they worked a treat, no movement into the wrong places at all so why would I need these padded things if the others worked better than normal pants?
Finally, on Friday I was going to a conference and I thought about the possibility that I might be sitting on hard chairs for a while and then I had a riding lesson straight after. A good test, I thought to myself, and opened the packet. Putting them on felt a bit weird, I can’t quite remember wearing nappies but I imagined that this is what it may have felt like. I pulled on my jods and then spent a rather more than a little while in the mirror checking that you couldn’t see what I was wearing underneath. After twisting this way and that I was satisfied that no-one would know, I got in my car and drove to Sparsholt.
It was a great conference by the way, run by the pupils at Sparsholt College. Interesting presentations from Dr David Marlin on Equine Technology, Dr Graham Cross on rein tension and the position of the rider and Dr Caroline Benoist on bits. The fabulous and entertaining Russel Guire from Centaur was the last before lunch, on the testing that they have been doing on saddles, bridles, martingales, breastplates, mounting from the ground and from a block and a lot more besides, as he says remember horses can feel a fly – excellent advice me thinks.
I couldn’t stay to the end as my phone and email had gone nuts and I had a ton of work to do so I belted home to finish stuff at the office. Looking at my watch it was 17.10 and I had to get my horse tacked up for my dressage lesson at 17.30. Hurry, hurry. Then I saw lights at the end of the drive, Giles was early, Yikes. Rush, rush but I was on and mounted and in the arena with about a second to spare, Giles telling me to calm down it was only a few minutes and he had been very early.
We have been working hard on impulsion, correcting me and my far too grippy knees, getting Mr Stretch to really move forward into the bridle. Leg yields were horrendous until my leg position had been corrected. Tonight, it just worked, I mean I really felt like this dressage thing wasn’t getting the better of me anymore. Walk, trot, canter, leg yields with my horse working beautifully. I think I must have looked somewhat shocked as Giles was laughing at my facial expressions. “Yea Gods, I think I might have this, I can even believe that I can get sub 35 dressage scores at BE” I exclaimed “I might even begin to like this”. Giles retorted “Sub 30 is what we are looking for and if you carry on like this you will be getting them!”.
After my lesson, I untacked, brushed my horse off, put his cooler on. Had a cup of coffee with my husband. Went back out to give the horse’s their tea. Rugged them all up for the night, fed the cat all the normal stuff. Had dinner. Did 10 O’clock stables, skipped out, did haylage, emptied the wheelbarrow in the pitch black getting stuck in the mud in the process. Then it was time for a luxurious end of the week bath with tons of Badedas.
Only then did I realise that I had been wearing my padded pants all day! Courtesy of my husband, who asked what on earth was I wearing? I had completely and utterly forgotten about them!
So here is what I can tell you about these padded pants: -
1. They are so comfortable you forget you have them on
2. Fear not, no-one can tell you are wearing them
3. My dressage lesson was one of the best I have ever had
4. My seat was good, I was supported and I felt great
5. I hacked for 2 hours yesterday with normal riding “bearable” pants and noticed the difference
6. I will be buying at least 7 more pairs! White, Black and nude to make sure that I have a pair for every day of the week and a spare!
7. I don’t care if my husband laughs at my funny pants!
8. I think Mr Stretch despite his size (remember a horse can feel a fly) noticed the difference with them and without them
Now I am not going to tell you that a pair of pants made all the difference but I do find it interesting that my downward transitions in my lesson seemed to be on point, rather than an abrupt walk from trot, makes you think doesn’t it?
So, Claire from Derriere Equestrian, you were right. I am sold. Yes, they may look a little strange when they aren’t on but when they are on, just wow! You have another fan.