For those who do not know, jodhpurs are tight fitting pants that horseback riders wear when riding English style. They go from the waist down to the ankle. These pants were not always tight-fitting or the length of each leg. These loose fitting riding pants originated in the city Jodhpur, India around the 1890's.
The jodhpur comes from Churidar, an ancient style of Indian trousers, which are tight around the calf and baggy at the hips. The people of Jodhpur, India used the same style and created a pant suitable for riding. These pants are slightly different from the tight hip-hugging riding pant styles that we common today.
Sir Pratap Singh, son of the Maharaja of Jodhpur, India first introduced these riding trousers to England. Singh was an avid polo player and when he visited Queen Victoria in 1897, he brought his entire polo team with him. The jodhpurs that were worn by he and his team caused a sensation among the fashonistas of the United Kingdom. Singh's jodhpur style had a flared thigh and hip and tight at the calf, was quickly taken up by the British polo playing community, who then changed the jodhpur to its existing design much like the English breeches that end at the bottom of the calf and are worn with socks and tall riding boots.
Though the term "jodhpurs" was used for this style of breeches, though these are not true jodhpurs and were more accurately called "flared-hip breeches". The British versions of these riding pants were soon being produced in London. The use of the Indian-style, ankle-length Jodhpurs helped riders save money and not have the need for tall expensive riding boots. The calf of the leg was protected by the newly designed and snug lower fit of the longer pant leg which helped to keep the rider's calf from rubbing against a horse's sides and against the stirrup leathers.
There have been several changes made to the original jodhpur to help those who wear them; which include a pattern cut with the leg seams on the outside of the leg and a patch on the inside of the knee usually made material such as suede, which helps the rider stick to the saddle. The classic jodhpur colors are beige or white, also come in a variety of other colors.
The word "jodhpurs" is often used interchangeably with riding breeches, though this is technically incorrect, as breeches are similar to jodhpurs, but come down to only about mid-calf, designed to be worn with long socks and tall boots. Jodhpurs are ankle length and worn with short, ankle-high Jodhpur boots, also known as Paddock Boots, sometimes with knee-length half-chaps or leggings.
What's the Difference?
Jodhpurs are full length riding trousers and are meant to be worn with paddock boots. Breeches are similar to today's Capri pants. Breeches are different in that they designed to fit snugly and not rub while riding. Riding breeches are designed to stretch to allow for more freedom of movement. This allows riders to sit and ride more comfortably.