Horse riding chaps

Chaps & half chaps – what are they and what are they for?

What are chaps?

Chaps are a very basic element of the rider’s outfit. They work as solid protection of the legs, consisting of tights and attachment strap. They are attached to classic pants, but unlike them, they do not have a part of a seat or a joining in the crotch. They are designed in such a way that they wholly protect the lower limbs. They are made of leather or similar materials, and their name comes from the Spanish word “chaparreras,” referring to an outfit designed especially for cattlemen from the terrains of today’s Mexico and Texas. Currently, they are used both for work with animals, but also for shows and competitions. Chaps are also used by bikers, especially Harley-Davidson’s lovers.

What are the types of chaps?

Let’s say that we could divide chaps into ones having equestrian utility and those that are not useful for horse riding. In the first group, you will find:

  • shotgun – simple and rather narrow leather models, tightly embracing the legs,
  • batwing – comfortable, widening at the bottom, also making it easier to mount the saddle,
  • chinks – shorter with characteristic fringe hanging from around the knees,
  • armitas – most primal in their build, low, but with completely closed legs,
  • farrier’s apron – reinforced with solid leather, used by smiths as protection from sparks,
  • woolies – the warmest type, usually with an admixture of velvety fleece,
  • zamorras – similar to batwing, but widening lower, even lower than the shoes with characteristic triangular cloches.

What is more, you can also find the so-called “half-chaps,” which are much easier to put on, especially on professional riding boots. Among the second group, the most popular are chaps for woodsmen, industrial and sawmill workers. They are also used by hunters to protect themselves from snakes, sportsmen during some disciplines, also the aforementioned bikers, or fashion influencers.

Half chaps

To provide support and protection, half chaps are worn on the lower leg of a rider. They prevent rubbing and chafing from stirrup leathers or riding pant legs, which can otherwise twist, wrinkle and rub, or rise up. Half chaps can be paired with paddock boot to provide the same functionality as tall boots. Half chaps and paddock boot can be used for daily riding, allowing riders to save money on tall boots or keep tall boots for special occasions. You can find half chaps in black, brown, or other colors. They are made from synthetic material, suede, or leather. They are generally more comfortable than tall boots and require less break-in.

Main functions of half chaps

Chaps are supposed to protect the legs of riders or people that work in dangerous environments. They help protect the legs from hurting on needles, thorns, mosquitoes, or flies. Leather outfit fits best to a leather saddle or an animal without equipment, due to which it provides a more stable position while moving. They are commonly worn by Western riders during shows, where competitors need to stick to traditional clothing norms.