Equestrian sport isn’t exactly geared towards the well-endowed woman. There’s the competition jackets for a start – elegant tailoring just works better on those neat-figured ladies. Then there’s the uncomfortable and unsightly bounce that arises while riding – let’s not even talk about attempting sitting trot when you’re anywhere above a B cup. Jokes about riders giving themselves two black eyes are all very well, but according to new research, a lack of decent underwear is actually causing us to hang up our riding boots for good – and that’s no laughing matter.
Many of us struggle with the eternal quest to find a sports bra that provides some level of support without cutting off our circulation. The bigger the cup size, the higher the likelihood of style and comfort vanishing out the window. Then we have the price of proper undies – in a sport where nothing comes cheap, decent sports bras are just yet another expense we have to suck up.
Talking of expense, according to a survey of 1,300 equestrians, many ladies ‘within the larger-breasted category’ claimed their chest size was the fourth highest barrier to riding – even more so than the high-costs of horse ownership. And we all know that riding is Officially The Most Expensive Pastime in the World* so that’s saying something.
More than 1,300 women took part in the study, led by Dr Jenny Burbage, who is a sports scientist at the University of Portsmouth. So what was Dr Burbage’s conclusion? “Many horse riders were dissatisfied with their current bras, the breast was often a barrier to them riding as often as they’d like to, and breast education levels were low.”
Breast education? I don’t have a PhD and nor do my breasts. They came along to university like the rest of me, but I’m not sure they got much out of it. Nonetheless, I’d like to think anyone who has ever sat on a horse knows that trotting + cantering = bouncing, but perhaps not. Apparently, only 1/3 of us bother to wear a sports bra – which means 2/3 of us are either a) struggling with pain and/or discomfort or b) small enough in the chest department that we can wear any old bra and barely notice the merest bounce.
Anyway, according to the survey, 19% of larger-breasted riders reported they were embarrassed by excessive breast movement. Thankfully I’m one of the 1/3 who DO wear a bra with more engineering and structure than your average suspension bridge, because I’ve got enough to be embarrassed about with my riding already – namely my dodgy lower leg position and that weird thing I do with my chin.
Anyway, this new research has cleared one thing up for me – why so many soccer WAGS (that’s wives and girlfriends in case that’s a peculiar UK term) love dressage. While us normal folk are struggling with pain and/or buying expensive bras to enable us to ride, the WAGS are able to show off their unfeasibly large breasts and afford to buy the best underwear known to mankind. That must be what’s happening – unless sitting trot just doesn’t have the same affect on silicone…
* There isn’t any academic research that I’m aware of that proves riding is indeed the world’s most expensive hobby, but I think there should be.