I think my husband would love me writing a blog post on this. You see, unlike in Europe, men riding English have a horrendous time riding riding clothes in the United States. Somewhere over the years between the Revolutionary War and the 1700s and now, we as a culture as Americans have forgotten that men can ride English too. Now don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of high level and high achieving men at the Olympic and Grand Prix level. They do exist, but I get off topic.
When searching popular sites for horseback riding clothes such as SmartPak, Dover, and even local tack shops, men’s apparel practically does not exist. At our local Dover, he has not even a full rack of men’s clothes and that includes breeches and tops. There are some breeches (but if you want another color beside tan, you’re done for), but almost no polos. They practically do not exist. When he finds a polo on a website or in a store, he almost always jumps on it especially if it’s on sale. Otherwise he just can’t find them.
Since when did riding English become an almost all-female sport in the U.S.? Why does it matter if he’s a man who enjoys riding in the English saddle? He should have the same opportunities for clothing as we females do.
Now I know the stores’ side of it. The market is small. There are not as many men who ride English as women especially up here in the Northeast (though the national chains aren’t much better.) However how can you really tell the market if you offer absolutely no products for them? It’s almost as bad as the plus-sized market for women in our sport.
As an equestrian wife who also rides and happens to usually fall in the more plus-sized clothing market (I’m right between. It’s annoying.), I feel for him. I know the struggles. And I hope slowly just maybe it will change and brands will offer more plus-sized and men’s clothing because not all equestrians are a breeches size 26 and some of us happen to be men too. The plus-sized market has certainly grown in the last few years as the demand has become more obvious and women have spoken up.
For now, all I can do is support him and be a good wife and help him find clothes as much as I can. And if anyone has suggestions on how to find a decent selection of men’s clothing, please leave me a comment. I am always open to help navigating this.