The Essential Equissentials Experience
by Nikki Alvin-Smith
The riding breech is an equestrian must have for most disciplines, and whether you ride Western or English, wearing a breech or riding pant that fits you perfectly improves your comfort, function in the saddle, and can ultimately contribute to your success in the saddle.
The custom breech maker Equissentials, makes breeches that come in all manners of shapes, colors and sizes. Based in Oneonta, New York, the company has been in business since 1999 and is now owned by Tracie Jones. While you can find their products at some tack stores, you can also order a pair of custom riding pants with an amazing 5 to 7 day time frame for a surprisingly reasonable price.
Equissentials offers hand-cut deerskin leather seats in several styles, from Hunt Patch to an Endurance Seat. In all, there are a total of six different seat styles, virtually ensuring there is one to suit every rider, whether you ride English or Western, Pleasure or Competitive. The French Terry fabric is a durable, yet breathable, blend of cotton and Lycra with four-way stretch that guarantees a great fit and unprecedented comfort. The deerskin leather is soft and supple, with just enough “give” to allow the freedom of movement necessary when riding, in addition to amazing “stick” in your saddle. The fabric and the deerskin are both available in several colors for a wide range of color combinations not available in other riding pants.
We asked owner Tracie Jones how the breeches are made:.
“All of our pants are made individually. We do not have stock size “blanks” that we start with. When we get an order, whether it is for a standard size or custom made, we determine the “starting” size and then we add or subtract to the pattern based on the exact measurements (if we have them). While one person is cutting the fabric, another is cutting the real deerskin leather that we use exclusively. Then it is just a matter of sewing everything and checking the finished measurements to ensure the pant is made to the correct measurements.”
Catskill Horse caught up with Sales Representative Kim Sanford at one of the many ‘Barn Parties’ she offers in order to find out more about this custom riding gear. The barn party is a great premise, as Kim will travel to your location and showcase the variety of products that riders can choose from and try on in the comfort of their own environment. It’s a fun event and if you need help making a decision, you will receive plenty of opinions from your barn buddies to help you decide.
“Our pants are manufactured with pride, using only American-made materials. We have earned a solid reputation based on providing a quality pant, coupled with outstanding customer service. Our pants are the most durable and the most comfortable riding pant you will ever wear. Since our inception, we have been listening to our riders, and to their thoughts and ideas about what they wanted in a riding pant. While not every idea is feasible, this has led us to the development of our three unique styles: the Western, the SmartChap, and the Santa Fe. None of these would have evolved into the popular pants that they are today without our customers input.” Kim explained.
“English styles include Hunt Patch, Dressage Patch, Half Seat, and Full Seat, and these all start with a pant that is tapered to the ankle to fit into a tall boot or tuck into a paddock boot. The Hunt Patch is an oversized knee patch, while the Dressage Patch takes it over the top with a patch that provides superior coverage in the thigh area as well as the knee. The Full Seat provides stick in the saddle but with a more tapered seat as it comes up onto the buttocks, making them more flattering to your figure. The Half Seat has the deerskin through the crotch but not up onto the buttocks. The deerskin on these styles ends just below the knee so that they fit comfortably into a tall boot. They also work well with half chaps.
Western styles include the BootCut, the Western and the SaddleSeat, and these all start with a pant that is wider at the ankle so that it goes comfortably over any boot. The leather seat is available in an Endurance Patch or an Endurance Seat. Both feature leather to the bottom of the pant which is pretty awesome because it means you don’t need half chaps.
The Endurance Patch starts above the knee, while the Endurance Seat has deerskin from the buttocks to the ankle. The BootCut style is similar to a BootCut jean and it comes straight down from the knee with very little flare. The Western pant adds bits of flare and a heavy duty zipper at the bottom of the pant with a gusset behind it so it can be worn open for more flare. Our SaddleSeat comes with a dropped hem in the back of the pant.”
You can further customize any of Equissentials Western styles by making them a Santa Fe or a SmartChap. Santa Fes are made by adding fringe and conchos from below the knee to the ankle, mimicking the look of a Vacquerro boot. The SmartChaps are a unique combination of riding pants and chaps all in one, which offers the function of chaps without the bulk and at a more affordable cost.
While Equissentials Riding Pants are designed to be a slip-on, they do offer several options including a front or side zipper, belt loops, front pockets, back pockets, fringe, conchos, and even a horseshoe trimmed cell phone pocket.
The custom made breeches price points range from $159 to $300 per pair depending on the style and design chosen, while riding tights (which are also available), are in the $80 to $90 range; for a custom made breech, this is a very reasonable price, especially when you figure in the cost of real deerskin. As reader of Catskill Horse Magazine, you can use coupon code CH15 to save an additional 10% off any order by phone or online.
Asked to describe their product line in just one word, Tracie Jones had this to share:
“Wow – just one word! [brief pause] Maybe investment? I say that because Equissentials are the only riding pants on the market that will recycle the leather. Whether it’s Equissentials, or any other brand, the fabric will fade/wear out much faster than the leather (if you take proper care of it). Instead of just tossing the pants, we encourage our customers to return them to us so that we can remove the leather & put it on brand new fabric. There’s nothing like great “broken-in” leather, and it’s a shame to just stop using it because the fabric wore out. We will recycle the leather for about 40% off the price of a new pair, so if you take the time to take care of the leather on your pants, you may never have to pay full price again.”
For Tracie, the best things about running a business such as Equissentials is personally talking on the phone with riders from all over the U.S.A. “Many of them have really interesting stories and some are just plain funny!” Another, is getting people into riding pants that fit them they way that they should fit. No loose, chaffing knees, or saggy bottoms, with a correct length, a waistband that will not slip, bind or roll... There is nothing like a truly happy customer, especially one that thought their old pants fit “ok” and believed that they had to settle for “ok.”
When asked about her vision for her small business, Tracie said that she would love for Equissentials to continue to grow so that she can pass it on to her children and grandchildren.
“I know we make an amazing product here, and that as more and more people come to realize this, our company will grow large enough to be a real asset to our community, both locally as an employer and internationally as a place to get comfortable, durable riding pants that are made in the USA and ‘fit the way they are supposed to fit.’”
If you’ve ever thought about starting your own equestrian apparel business, Tracie had some thoughtful advice:
“Do your homework and see what’s already out there in whatever area you are looking at getting involved with. The internet is your friend. Do ask advice from as many people as possible. I have found that in this industry, even your potential competitors are usually more than happy to help! And don’t expect miracles. It takes a long time to build a business. Expect many late nights/early mornings. Sweat equity is not just for home owners.”
Like any company, Equissentials is continually evolving and, in addition to riding pants, Equissentials also offers other products for riders:
Half Chaps in any fabric or leather color with a wide range of choices, and Hi-Vis Vests and Jackets, which are a stylish lightweight fleece vest or jacket that becomes a safety garment because they feature an added gusset at the shoulder that holds a bright orange strip of fabric lined with 3M reflective tape. You can pull these strips out and attach them to the Velcro hidden at the bottom, and you will be seen from several hundred yards away. Equissentials also promotes Leather Therapy products, which are specifically designed for cleaning leather in the washing machine, with products including their Laundry Solution and the Rinse & Dressing.
Additionally, if you are looking for maternity riding pants, Equissentials will make them for you; the best part is that they will alter the pants to your post-pregnancy size, for just the cost of shipping and handling.
Equissentials products and information on measuring and how to order can be seen on their website at www.equissentials.net and don’t forget to use the coupon code CH15 to save that additional 10%.
If you would like Sales Representative Kim Sanford to come out to your barn, given that you are a reasonable commute from their factory in Oneonta, NY, you can book a barn party.
¥ 10% of total sales credited toward purchase.
¥ Have 10 attendees and we will award the hostess a pair of half chaps…made in her choice of fabric/leather combo.
¥ Other incentives possible…contact Kim, Tracie or Heather for more information.