Measuring Up

Accurate measurements are key to fitting your horse showing chaps properly.

Accurate measurements are key to fitting your horse showing chaps properly.

Wear your chaps while AQHA's Incentive Fund pays you to show.

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

Some of us dread it, but it’s a fact. To find comfortable, practical, perfectly fitting chaps, we have to face the measuring tape.

Babe Woods is the resident artisan at Woods Western, where chap fitting has become an art.

“We’ve had a booth at the AQHA World Championship Show for around 20 years, and I’ve been doing this work for even longer,” Babe said. “I showed horses, worked for a trainer and worked in a western store. I saw the need for riders to get chaps that fit right and filled it.”

Babe says chaps can be purchased off the rack, but with so many different body types walking around, it is hard to get a good fit from a pair of used leg huggers.

Did you spend a pretty penny on your show chaps? No problem! If your horse is enrolled in AQHA’s Incentive Fund, you’ll get paid back for showing.

Getting the proper fit from custom-made chaps requires more than knowledge of your pant size. Most companies ask for about 10 different measurements from the waist down. If you aren’t a tailor, call the company you are ordering from and solicit its expertise during the process. Measurements must be exact. If you start off with a wrong measurement, they’ll be wrong all the way down the leg.

“We measure, and we make the pattern, so we know what’s average,” Babe said. “Some companies have one person do the measuring, and someone else makes the product. Then, the creator isn’t sure what works on a pattern. So, there are some number combinations of measurements that I know don’t work. That’s when we call the customer and re-check the measurements.”

Most chap shoppers have a hard time determining the “chap waist.” Babe reminds people that this mark is taken slightly lower than what the chaps actually fit.

“It’s a bit of a drop measurement,” she said. “The chaps are going to fit higher than where the measurement originates, but through trial and error, we’ve found that’s where the measurement needs to be taken.”

After you determine the proper dimensions, choose a color and material. Base these decisions on personal preference. Blacks, sands and tans have stayed at the top of the “most-widely purchased” list for years. These colors mix well with many horse and tack colors, while also working with various outfits if you’re headed to a show. Consider your use, attire and reasoning for the chaps. Babe says leather generally hangs better than ultrasuede and pig suede, but amateurs seem to prefer the flexible comfort of pig suede or lamb skin.

The AQHA Incentive Fund is a multimillion-dollar program with pay backs to the stallion nominators, foal nominators and owners of the competing horses.Enroll your stallion to ensure his babies are eligible to earn you, their breeders and their owners money for showing!

Chaps are a logical piece of any rider’s wardrobe. Take your time and double check measurements when ordering chaps. If you’re buying used chaps, incorporate outsiders’ opinions on quality of fit prior to purchase.

Some areas to watch that will improve your overall look:

  • Make sure chaps are high enough at the waist.
  • Order chaps long enough to cover your boots.

2 thoughts on “Measuring Up”

  1. Hello,
    I am a seamstress and have made custom chaps for people in this area for several years. I’ve learned to take the measurements and have generally been successful with fit. I’ve used both ultra suede and leather, fringe and scallops. Since I don’t show horses myself, it’s been kind of hard to understand the difference between proper fit standing and proper fit on the horse. The areas you’ve covered (length and waist) seem to be OK. The most recent pair I made were ultrasuede and fit perfectly at first. However, after riding a few minutes, the leg from knee down started shifting to the front so that the zipper and fringe at the bottom ended up over the toe of the boot. The lady said she thinks the cut of the chaps needs to be changed so the shifting won’t happen. Can you help me understand how to adjust the pattern to fix this problem? Thank you.

    Anita Weaver

  2. Where can I find decent quality chaps for low prices? I”m on a budget and going to be showing in APHA next summer. Thanks

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