Polainas (or half chaps, or gaiters if you prefer) are worn by horse-riders and equestrians, on the lower half of the leg to provide protection and support. They prevent rubbing, chaffing and bruising from stirrups leathers and can be a fairly inexpensive way of protecting the leg. They also have the added benefit of protecting clothing on the lower half of the leg when wearing short boots. On the whole half chaps are easy to keep clean and they are very versatile – they can be worn over a wide selection of short boots, as an alternative to long boots. There are a huge amount on the market from leather half chaps through to suede or neoprene and other synthetic materials.
Why wear them?
There are a whole host of benefits associated with wearing half chaps / polainas; it is much easier to remove them quickly when walking or doing yard work than it is to remove long boots. They are also easier to put on than a lot of long boots, especially pull on long boots as the half chaps have fastenings up the leg They preserve the life of your long boots, enabling you to save them for special occasions and shows. It is usually easier for riders to find half chaps to fit the leg than it is to find tall boots. They also protect your legs and jodhpurs from getting dirty and getting scratched by bushes when out hacking. If you buy leather or suede they will be flexible, durable, breathable, and tough.
Half chaps versus full chaps
Most of us associate full chaps with cowboys, but they are not purely the domain of the Western rider. Full chaps go from the waist all the way down to the floor, they can have great functionality and keep you warm and waterproof. However full chaps can be expensive and very heavy and cumbersome to wear – they are not the easiest things to walk around in! Nor are they the quickest to remove once you have finished riding.
If you ride in the warmer weather then half chaps are the perfect option for you, you can easily remove them once you have finished thus cooling down quickly. Who wants to wear full length chaps on a hot day, trying to get out of them in a hurry, when you are already hot, is not an easy thing to do!
Half chaps versus long boots
Half chaps are much easier to put on than long boots and they are a lot of cheaper than a great deal of the long boots out there, they are also a lot easier to remove quickly. We all know that decent quality long boots are expensive so you don’t want to get them ruined by mucking out or scratched when you are out hacking. You don’t want to spend all that money on a pair of beautiful boots only to ruin them within months do you? No, you want to keep them looking pristine for as long as possible. This is where half chaps / polainas / gaiters come in handy. But if we are not convincing you to leave your long boots at home then perhaps @heelsdownmag will in her blog post.
Styles of half chaps
There is a huge variety of half chaps / polainas on the market, with differing price tags to match. A lot of people opt for the suede version because they are soft and provide excellent grip and a secure hold. They are instantly supple and you can feel the horse through your chaps – these are perfect for schooling. There are some very reasonably priced suede half chaps out there, such as this pair by Kramer Equestrian, for only £29.90
Leather is obviously a more robust option and the possibilities are varied, as is the price tag. If you are looking for a pair of everyday polainas / gaiters then you can’t really go wrong with these Dublin Evolution rear zip half chaps priced at £74.99.
Or perhaps you have your eye on something more dressy? Then these Pro Chaps Competition II would be perfect. They are based in Canada but ship to most destinations worldwide.
If you are looking for half chaps for children then you must check out the fun products by Just Chaps they have a fantastic range called ‘Just fun’ which are made from neoprene so are durable and breathable and have great designs such as daisies or even this pirate version! If only they did them in adult sizes!!
If you are a lover of all things Spanish then look no further than our range of authentic Spanish inspired polainas; available in brown, black or tobacco and hand crafted in the highest quality Spanish leather. You can take a close up look in our video.
- please note the tobacco colour are an order item and fulfilment can take up to 8-10 weeks.
They really are stunning and add the hand crafted detail really makes them stand out.
They are all available in sizes small and medium (check here for the size chart and scroll down to the relevant page) but if those sizes are not quite right for you, they are also available made to measure. If you are going down the made to measure route we ask that you take your leg measurements when wearing a pair of jodhpurs or trousers. As well as your leg measurements we also ask that you provide the foot size you require.
The beauty of these chaps is in the detail, the leather is soft and supple, they have stud fastenings up the outside of the leg with 2 holes so you can adjust the size a little to suit your leg. As with all of our leather boots we recommend you treat them regularly with sunflower oil and a good quality leather wax. If properly looked after, these polainas will see you through many happy years in style.
Looking for something a little more ornate and eye catching? Then how about these Iberian beauties, the factory we use also produces these although we don’t currently stock them but could if there was enough demand. They truly are a work of art!
If you want to see what else is out there then check out Horse & Hound’s guide to the best half chaps and gaitors of 2019:
What short boots do I wear with polainas / half chaps?
So now you have decided that polainas are the way forward, you are wondering what boots to pair them with. Most paddock or jodhpur boots work really well with half chaps and with the variety of colours and materials available these days, you should be able to match your boots and chaps pretty well. A perfect match for our black or brown polainas are our Spanish Yard Boots, they have all the detail of our longer boots just in a mid calf length. The tassel is detachable, so you can change the colour depending on your outfit – or remove it completely when you ride, if you prefer. These boots are hard wearing and versatile and look just as good with a pair of jeans on a night our as they do with a pair of chaps at the yard!
So do we have you convinced? If you don’t already own a pair then we would definitely recommend giving them a try. Half chaps / polainas / gaiters, whatever you may call them, you’ll soon begin to wonder how you ever managed without them!