Our Globetrotting horse riding holidays are an adventure of the senses. From the tantalising tastes of regional food and wine on our Margaret River Ride in Australia, to the rush of adrenaline and wind in your hair on top of an Andean mountain on The Patagonia Trail, Argentina, it’s all about feeling good. But for us ladies, the last thing we want to be feeling is our aching boobs. Seriously, if you’re anything over a size B you’re quite likely to be painfully aware of the importance of wearing the right bra for riding.
Once again we’ve gone straight to the source and asked our Globetrotters for their best recommendations, and we’ve done a bit of research to help you know what you’ll be (cough) getting yourself into.
So What’s in a Bra?
Your precious puppies, that’s what! The first thing you generously proportioned gals should know is that a normal, everyday bra just won’t cut it for breast comfort and protection while in the saddle. Think sports bra, high impact, low bounce.
The good news is that the science on breast bounce has progressed in leaps and bounds and there are a wide range of sports bras out there to take the load off. Research has shown that a sports bra can decrease bounce by up to 80%, while even the firmest regular bra can offer only 38%. Less bounce equals increased comfort levels. That translates to better posture and a more relaxed, comfortable and confident rider, which of course translates in turn to a more relaxed, comfortable and confident horse.
So bounce control is key, but just as we are all individuals, so there are a host of considerations that make up the perfect bra that’s just right for your size and shape. The right sports bra is definitely not a one size fits all proposition. Our age and weight will be a factor, as will the breast shape and size.
Look for a shape and style that you feel comfortable in, breathable fabric, supportive, adjustable straps and make sure you don’t have to become a contortionist just to get in and out of your latest ‘over-shoulder-boulder-holder’. The research suggests that the higher the coverage, the better the bra supports and protects. Even if it’s labelled as a ‘sports bra’ avoid a bra that exposes cleavage, it won’t get the job done, and over-tightening of straps can lead to bad posture through hunched shoulders.
There are two types of sports bra on the market, those that work on compression – they hold both breasts firmly against the chest, and encapsulation – where each breast is supported individually. Some prefer the compression option, however, studies suggest that the encapsulation type offer more support and a higher level of comfort.
What to look for in the perfect riding bra?
- Band – should be firmer than an everyday bra. It should not move up and down your back during activity.
- Straps – Should not take the weight of your breasts, and should be adjustable.
- Providing it’s well designed, a wireless bra can be just as supportive as an underwire.
- Check for bounce – jump up and down, run on the spot. There should not be too much movement of flesh above and at the sides of the bra and the breasts should move with the body, not on their own.
- Make sure you can get the bra on and off without help, even if you’re in a store with an assistant. Some sports bras, especially the racer back types, can be a challenge for people with shoulder, arm movement or strength issues. If that sounds like you, you’ll need to know you can get in and out of the bra at home on your own.
- If at all possible, get your sports bra properly fitted by a qualified fitter. 70% of women are wearing the wrong sized bra. For more on bra fitting see here.
- If shopping online is your only option, choose your size carefully and make sure the store has a good returns policy.
Our Globetrotters’ Top Three:
Enell – Enell was founded by Renelle Braaton, a large-chested athlete who couldn’t find the right sports bra, so she designed her own. Is it just me or does anyone else see the synchronicity in her name?
But wait, there’s more! Here’s the best of the rest.
Oh, and one last thing, anecdotally, it seems that a lot of women go for a home remedy and wear two, or even three bras or crop tops at once in an attempt to get the support they need. The experts suggest that, no matter how well endowed you are, this should not be necessary. With a list like this to choose from, there’ll be heaps more fun for you and your fun bags on your next globetrotting horseback adventure.
Written by Bernadette Kelly (loyal Globetrotter since 2010, with 5 rides spanning from Africa to South America and home in Australia).
Image Credits: She Science, Nordstrom, Enell