Why wearing jeans when you ride is a bad idea

Like many people, I grew up riding in jeans.  Breeches were a luxury item reserved for shows. To protect my legs, I usually wore chaps. I didn’t worry much about my saddle. In fact, I owned the same saddle from the time I was 14 until I was in my early 30s and it held up pretty well, considering.

Saddle that shows wear on the pommel, probably caused by the owner riding in jeans
Here's a saddle that shows wear on the pommel, probably caused by the owner riding in jeans

These days, with many saddles covered in calf skin, they don’t seem to be as durable and riding in jeans is a sure fire way to wear down the leather and stitching over the pommel.

Once the leather or stitching is worn, you have a problem that can be costly to fix. Replacing the seat on a saddle seems to run between $200 and $600 and you’ll also be without your saddle for several weeks — or

Saddle showing wear in pommel
In this saddle, the wear is more advanced.

even months!

If you catch the problem early enough, you can use super glue leather mender on the seams to keep them from splitting further. And if you don’t have the $$ to spring for a full seat you can get the area patched or sewn. Those options aren’t the most attractive but once you’re in the saddle, it’s an area that’s hard to see.

Saddle seat with stitched repair
This is an inexpensive (but not very attractive) way of fixing the problem.

The best way to avoid the problem is to either stop riding in jeans (or at least wear jeans like Wranglers which have flat felt seams) or put a seat saver on your saddle. If you’re not into the puffy and comfortable sheepskin covers you can get thin leather covers custom made for your saddle. Two sources I’ve seen referenced for them are Broken Horn Saddlery (yes, they are a Western shop but they will make saddle covers for English saddles for about $50) and Journeyman (no website but the phone # is 540-687-5888). I would expect that Chuck Pinnell or other custom chap makers could also provide one.

2 thoughts on “Why wearing jeans when you ride is a bad idea

  1. My current saddle is hard leather (old saddle) and my jeans even leave scuff marks on it. I had a beautiful Prestige years ago and learned FAST that taking time to change into breeches was worth it.

  2. I have only recently heard that riding with jeans is hard on a saddle and I thought, “Pshaw! I always used to ride in jeans and chaps and my saddle was fine!”. Now that I see your pictures….. well I thought all saddles wore like that on the pommel. Oops! Thanks, lesson learned 😉

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