How Chaps Work and Why You Should Wear Them
If you’re a beginner rider or a recent convert to the country lifestyle, it’s understandable that you might have some questions. Even seasoned riders and experienced cowboys can get confused about the purpose of some everyday products that make a frequent appearance in tack stores and around Western ranches all across the country. While riders might use chaps all the time, the real reason why they’re so commonly used might still be confusing to some people.
Before you start riding a lot, you might think it’s a best of time and money to invest in a pair of chaps or half-chaps. You may wonder what the big deal is, especially if you haven’t had a problem with your stirrup leathers rubbing uncomfortably against each other, or if you’ve ridden in fairly dry areas where dirt splatter isn’t a regular occurrence. On the other hand, if you ride through the mud, or through thorny bushes, you will begin to understand why chaps are such an important and crucial part of the cowboy lifestyle.
Comfort, Warmth, and Safety
The main reason why so many riders prefer to wear chaps is to protect their legs. When stirrup leathers rub together, they can be highly uncomfortable—even painful. Chaps create a soft barrier that prevents your legs from becoming pinched or chafing uncomfortably while you ride. Another added benefit for those riders who live in cold climates: in the winter, chaps provide warmth. If you’re riding outdoors, this can be a real blessing!
Even if your jeans are thick, you’re likely to come away from a ride with some unsightly bruises—but not if you take the time to put on a pair of chaps. Your overall riding experience will be improved when you don’t have to concentrate on avoiding chafing. When you use chaps, you can put all your focus on guiding your horse and navigating difficult trails. If you’re distracted, you’re more likely to get injured. Using chaps increases comfort, puts your mind at ease, and keeps you safe.
When you’re barreling through the mud, you’re inevitably going to come home covered in splatters. That’s one of the unavoidable parts of being a rider, and most of the time, we love the rugged outdoors and getting dirt under our fingernails. However, you don’t want to risk ruining your best pair of jeans. Even one short ride can cause serious stains that will take a long time to get out, if they can be removed at all. Chaps prevent splashes of mud and rainwater from destroying your Levi’s.
Unfortunately, one of the downsides to this is the fact that chaps absorb all the grease from your trail ride—as well as the grease that rubs off your horse’s body while you’re in motion. You’ll need to take the time to wash them every so often to ensure they remain in good condition.
Thorns and Brambles
If you like riding through the woods or other forested areas, don’t leave the house without your chaps. You’re bound to run into some issues with burrs, twigs, brambles, and thorns. It’s all part of the great outdoors, but when branches graze against your legs or get caught in your jeans, it can be quite painful. Chaps are a stylish way of blocking thorny bushes and keeping your legs free of scratches as you ride.
Of course, if you’re still a new rider, you can hold off on purchasing chaps until you really need them—such as when you step out of the indoor ring and hit the trail for the first time. In the absence of a good, reliable pair of chaps, you can wear very high boots. They do the same basic