Custom chaps maker Betsy Tuckey owns Horsewares Custom Chaps, based in Liberty, Kentucky, and she’s an AQHA Professional Horsewoman and judge. She knows the “fit” riders need to achieve when buying a new pair of chaps. Here are her tips.
“Fit is not universal for men and women,” Tuckey states. “For women, the waistband should rest high on her natural waist and fit smoothly across the front with no gap in the front or sides. It’s important to have the fringe edge of the chaps leg come up the back of the leg and meet at the center of the back, at the concho. It’s the most finished look, and the most flattering.
“Conversely, for the men,” she continues, “the chaps ride a bit lower, ideally at mid-waist. Two conchos, with a short belt in between that’s no more than 2 to 4 inches, creates the best look.”
For all riders, well-fitted chaps should feel snug and lay smooth all the way down the leg and be free of gaps in the rise. Tuckey says the chaps should be long enough to rest on top of the foot without excess fabric piling up when you’re in the saddle. Chinks and ranch chaps are slightly different. They shouldn’t be as long as traditional show chaps and have many more options for dressing them up.
“People come in all shapes and sizes, and good measuring is the key to purchasing a pair of chaps that fit correctly,” she advises. “Ideally, the chaps maker can take the needed measurements in person. When that’s not possible, most makers provide measurement instructions online.”
Tuckey cautions to read the instructions thoroughly. “Customers assume the chaps will be too tight and add a little to each measurement. Resist the urge to do so as it can result in chaps that are too loose. Most chaps makers add a half inch to the upper thigh, knee, and calf. So, if you add to the size the chaps end up too loose.”
Custom chaps are expensive, but they are a very important part of the picture when you enter the arena. “Speaking not only as a chap maker, but also as a judge,” Tuckey shares, “I always notice if a rider has a good, well- shaped hat; good- fitting chaps; and a good, clean saddle pad that’s large enough for the saddle.”