Parents of horsey boys are calling for retailers to shift away from the predominantly feminine bias in children’s riding clothes.
Models in catalogues and on websites are almost exclusively female, and there is a proliferation of pink and purple, from breeches to hoof picks.
Susan Fletcher, mother to Harry, 13, believes the lack of masculine kit available does little to encourage boys to keep riding.
“I couldn’t find 1 stall at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) selling a tweed hacking jacket for a teenage boy,” she said.
“One stand said they had only brought girls’ jackets [to the show]. Everything is geared to girls — pink brushes, bling jods, nothing in masculine colours. When you look at the top showjumpers there are more men than ladies so shouldn’t we try to encourage boys into the sport?”
Diane Wyatt, who has an eight-year-old son, said although she has found some cream jods, “they didn’t fit his shape well”, and some “blue chaps were still a bit girlie”.
“For younger kids, it should be more unisex,” she said. “[Riding] is often seen as girlie and the market reflects this. But I have seen a lot of men’s riding gear around if we persevere.”
The Pony Club membership is around 13% male and the latest British Equestrian Trade Association survey (in 2011) shows 75% or riders are women.
Lucy Nicholas, a director at leading equestrian retailer The Saddlery Shop, said that while she “would welcome a bigger, better variety of boys from [her] wholesalers”, matters are unlikely to change.
“The lack of demand — I believe it’s 94% girls to 6% boys — leads to a lack of supply from the wholesalers,” she said. “It’s cheaper to mass produce so a small quantity of product will push the cost up. Parents would not be happy to pay twice the price for boys’ jodhpurs.”
Ariat agreed: “It really is a demand issue,” said a spokesman. “There are just too few boys wanting riding clothes for it to be possible to produce efficiently. We do offer some styles as ‘Youth’, with means they could work for girls or boys.”
This article originally appeared in H&H 31 October 2013