Jodhpurs are specialized pants designed for horseback riding. They are intended to be durable and comfortable, and are worn in a wide variety of disciplines including jumping, dressage, and eventing. Jodhpurs are sometimes confused with breeches, another type of pant often worn by riders, but the style of breeches is somewhat different, and in competition riders are usually directed to wear one style or the other. Many riding supply stores and catalogs stock jodhpurs, and it is an excellent idea to try a pair on before purchasing them, to check on the fit.
The pants are named for Jodhpur, a large city in Northern India. Legend has it that the men of the city wore pants styled much like riding jodhpurs, leading British colonialists to name the pants after the city of the wearers. It is also possible that the pants were developed in Jodhpur, and that the name was adopted into English as many Hindi and Urdu words were, thanks to diffusion through colonial staffers.
A pair of jodhpurs is characterized by a snug fit to the knee, with flaring hips. The snug fit in the lower leg accommodates riding boots, especially the jodhpur boot, a style of riding boot which extends to the area of the leg just above the ankle. The flaring hips allow the rider to move freely, and promote a comfortable fit for long rides. By tradition, jodhpurs are usually white or cream, although other colors can be found as well, and they are often made from an elastic material.
Several other embellishments set jodhpurs aside from regular pants, making them instantly recognizable as horse riding gear. The first is a heavily reinforced seat, which is designed to reduce saddle wear. The seat is often a slightly different color, and it is made from a thicker, more resilient material than the rest of the jodhpurs. In addition, the knees are usually heavily reinforced as well, since riders use their knees to signal their horses and to firmly grip the saddle.
The reinforcements on jodhpurs make them more comfortable, and the pants are also seamed differently than regular pants for increased comfort. Since inside seams could be very uncomfortable rubbing against a saddle during a long day of riding, jodhpurs are seamed on the outside, and the seams are often curved so that they do not come into contact with the saddle. When the fit is right, jodhpurs should feel like a second skin, allowing the rider to move freely and comfortably throughout the day.