English Meets Western in a Jean


Like a lot of you, riding makes up just a fraction of my horse time. There’s all that farm and ranch work that supports the habit – mending fence, hauling hay and water, moving horses, reseeding pasture, repeat. Jeans are what we wear. No other pants can survive our lifestyle. We like them tough, comfortable, and pretty.

As a Western rider, I wear jeans outside my boots. English riders, on the other hand, wear stretchy breeches or jeans. They wear them inside their boots.

— What if a new jean satisfied all these rider and ranch requirements for English and Western riders alike?

— What if this new jean also made you feel good about not neglecting the earth or the folks making the jeans?

This year, Patagonia answered the call with a stretchy, tough, super comfortable jean. It’s the Patagonia Straight Jean, available for men and women in short, regular, and long lengths.

What took the company so long?

The cuff snugs over boots and doesn’t ride up.

If you’re like me, you didn’t realize the denim industry is rife with abuse. From the cotton fields to the garment manufacturing, it’s a business that has historically treated the planet and the people poorly. Up to now, Patagonia chose not to engage with standard denim practices and production. Instead, it took time to research how to make a jeans purchase you could sleep with (and in).

Watch this video.

Next, Patagonia needed to get the word out about their new, standard-busting product. Who best to review the jeans?

Forget about rock climbers, hikers, surfers or sailors. Forget about urbanites or backcountry wannabes. If you really want to test the worthiness of a pair of jeans, give them to horse owners.

This horse owner wore them on and off horses. In rain and snow. Over many miles of back country and front country living. These dark indigo jeans, 71 percent cotton and 29 percent Coolmax polyester, held up marvelously, even with the jean-trashing task of haying.

I thought I didn’t like any stretch in my jeans. All cotton or forget-about-it. But these jeans converted me. With Patagonia jeans there is:

No more hitching up my pants before stepping up into the saddle.

No more wearing a size bigger for riding and a size smaller for going to town.

The deep indigo color means they will look sharp for years. Their comfort will keep them on the top of my jeans pile, ready for the next wearing. Their durability and versatility means they will stay on, from barn to trail to town to night-on-the-town.

When things got muddy, they tucked into rubber boots with no fuss. Otherwise, they wore well outside of my cowboy boots. In fact, their stretch and narrower-than-boot cut line meant that they did not inch up when we rode fast (loping and galloping), but the leg snugness may not suit every one or every pair of boots. They have all the features you’d want in a horsewoman’s jean, except maybe the rhinestone bling.

Rhinestone bling? Ew.

Rhinestone Bling? No, thanks!