What they are, why we wear them, and our favorite options
Are you new to riding and on a budget? Half chaps are a great way to protect your legs while adhering to the riding dress code at your barn, without spending big bucks on tall boots.
Half chaps are tightly fitted leather, synthetic leather, or suede pieces of fabric that go around the lower half of the leg. They add support and protection to the rider’s lower leg. These help prevent chafing from the stirrup leather and keep your breeches from riding up while you’re in the saddle.
Here’s a quick reference for highly recommended half-chaps:
|Dublin||Suede II||2 Carrots||
|Tuff Rider||Grippy Grain||1 Carrot||
|Dublin||Easy Care Mesh||1 Carrot||
|Wide Boot Company||Custom||5 carrots||
1 Carrot- ($25-50), 2 Carrots ($50-75), 3 Carrots ($75-100), 4 Carrots ($100-150), 5 Carrots ($150+)
*Note–All of the half-chaps researched are unisex and can be worn by anyone!
Half Chap Basics
What do you wear them with?
Half-chaps should be paired with paddock boots. Paddock boots come in both a lace-up and zip-up option and can range from $35-200+.
If you have weaker ankles like me, I would recommend the lace-up paddock boots since they offer a bit more support and tend to sit a little higher up your ankle. That said, nothing compares to the zip-ups for ease of getting on and off!
How do we wear them?
If I’m wearing my half-chaps for a lesson, I will have tall boot socks over my breeches, then put my feet in the paddock boots, and finally put on my half-chaps.
If you wear spurs, your spurs will be worn over your half-chaps.
Half-chaps should zip up on the outside of your leg to prevent any pinching on your saddle or on your horse. A properly fitted half-chap will fit tightly across your calf and end right below your knee.
Where can you wear them?
Many local circuits allow half-chaps in the show ring at lower levels. Personally, I would recommend you use the half-chaps that look like the top part of show boots for this.
Make sure you check your circuit’s rule book and each individual prize list for dress code specifics.
Half-chaps are not exclusive to the English ring. Western riders also wear half chaps as they offer leg protection no matter your discipline!
Things to consider when trying out half-chaps
Know your measurements!
I’d recommend measuring both the widest part of your calf and the length of your calf from the heel to the back of your knee.
While you may experience some “drop” on a half-chap, it won’t be as extreme as the drop you’d find on a field boot or dress boot. Knowing your ankle measurement can be helpful, but not required.
Try them on locally!
Most large tack stores like State Line Tack or Dover Saddlery will have a variety of half-chaps you can try on. Trying them on allows you to understand how they fit you without relying on internet measurements and hoping for the best.
If you do the budget saving hack of going to try them on in store, but searching for a used or cheaper pair online, I highly recommend you purchase *something* at the store.
A lot of these employees are paid on commission—so make sure you are valuing their time even if you are looking for a lower-cost purchase. Also, many Dover stores have a consignment section, so you can find deals there too!
Half Chap Recommendations
Dublin Suede II Half Chaps
This classic starter half-chap is perfect for children or adults just starting to ride.
- Generous sizing options
- High rating for durability
- Great product for the price
- Reputable brand
- Available in Adult and Children sizes
- The black suede can rub off on your breeches, especially in warmer climates.
- Suede may not be allowed in the show ring
- Can be really warm, so if you’re in a hot climate—look for another pair!
Tuff Rider Grippy Grain Half Chap
These synthetic leather half-chaps will give you the look of a Parlanti-esque field boot without draining your pocket book!
- Machine washable! What a game changer!
- As the name suggests, super grippy material to help you feel secure in the saddle
- Elastic panel for a snug fit.
- Available in black, brown, and tall!
- The nature of the material will lead to cracking/rubbing off in time
- Not the right fit if you have a shorter lower leg
Ariat Breeze Half Chaps
If you’re ready to invest in half-chaps, these will give you years of use and compliment the Ariat Heritage Breeze paddock boots for a sleek look perfect for the local show circuit.
- Everything is reinforced, from the leather that sees the most contact, to stitching points
- Heavy duty zipper for extra durable wear
- Don’t require breaking in
- Larger gore stretch panel to fit more calves
- Are expensive!
- Zips up the side instead of the back, so may not give the cleanest lines for the show ring
Dublin Easy Care Mesh Half Chaps
If you live in a humid climate, these are going to be a life saver in the summer!
- Super breathable
- Machine Washable
- More stretch than a traditional half-chap
- Not as durable as leather or suede
- Can only use for schooling, hacks, trail rides—not for the show ring
This half-chap is designed for everyday wear. Boasting reliability, this option seems to hold up the test of time! Ariat is known for their quality products and this option is no exception. An added bonus? This particular half chap style also comes in kid sizes!
- Classic styling
- Affordable price point
- Great everyday option for schooling
- Made of real leather
- Some users reported that sizing may run small, but they do stretch with use
- Less ventilated than other chap options; may be hot in summer
In my personal opinion, this is the closest you can get to custom half-chaps without paying the price of custom half-chaps.
- Have you seen the size options?? Multiple widths and heights for every rider!
- Full grain leather + stretch leather panel for optimal fit
- Closes top down, so you don’t get that funky popping zipper if you have a too snug fit
- Full leather can stretch after time
- Reviews mention hard to clean
Wide Boot Company (see Sources)
I just discovered the Wide Boot Company, and for someone whose calves are basically giant squares (seriously, 16” width and 16” height), this company is a life saver!
This women owned company carries half-chaps and field boots in a semi-custom fit. An added bonus? Free shipping to the U.S.
Where to buy them: www.thewidebootcompany.com
Looking for custom?
If you love their unique wide stability stirrup leathers, you’ll love their fully custom half-chaps! For a true custom fit, I find this company is the best bang for your buck!
Celeris Riding Boots (see Sources)
If you’re wanting to splurge on some truly gorgeous half-chaps, I’d recommend Celeris Riding Boots. Though they are pricey, they have multiple design options and a truly custom fit with multiple measurements taken to ensure a custom half-chap just for you.
Note: These boots are custom made in Portugal and take 12+ weeks for delivery to the U.S. from the time you order.
Where to buy them: https://celerisridingboots.com/product-category/half-chaps/
For those looking for a deal…
Riding is an expensive sport, and if you’re a bargain hunter like me, sometimes paying full price for something you know is going to get rubbed in dirt, grime and who knows what else may hurt your soul a little. Never fear! There are plenty of equestrian consignment shops to help you find the products you love at a cheaper price! Here are the top three I recommend:
On the whole, I’d 100% recommend that you add half-chaps to your riding wardrobe. Not only do they help save your show boots from regular wear and tear, they are also great ways to protect your legs while giving you a polished look in the arena!
P.S. Enjoy this article? Trot on over to:
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