© Alain Laurioux

Young rider in training

Each type of horse riding has its own outfit and each type of rider his or her own clothing, the symbols of membership in a social group. Thus, a dandy may adopt the outfit of a rider, even if he does not mount a horse. For some twenty years, a mini cultural revolution broke out in this realm and overturned previously held codes: helmets replaced riding hats and "mini-chaps" substituted boots. While the 19th-century horseman sought a mixture of danger and safety, new-generation riders seek zero risk (which is a pipe dream). On competition grounds and at equestrian centres, riders therefore wear padded trousers, side vests and even airbags capable of absorbing the shock of a possible fall. This desire for protection reveals many changes in attitudes and practices.