Silicone seat - is it right for me? What are the options?
I started riding on a Shetland pony stallion. The ladies who owned him saw me spending time with him over the fence on my way to and from primary school, and asked if I would like to ride him. For the 8-year-old, horse obsessed me it was heaven to be allowed to ride Crispian. They had not been invented yet, but I could have really used a silicone seat back then. A combination of a cheeky pony who hadn’t been ridden in years, a beautiful near new pony pad that was like polished glass to sit on, and zero riding experience meant I spent a lot of time bouncing off the grass.
These days we have wide range of options when it comes to added grip. I would like to explain some of those options.
You may have seen the terms “Full Seat” and “Knee patches” this refers to the areas covered by the grip material. Knee patches are fairly self explanatory, they cover the area on the inner knee. Full seat covers the area that comes into contact with the saddle, so the seat area and the inner thigh down to below the knee. Obviously this option gives you the best possible grip.
Self-seat refers to jodhpurs or breeches that don’t have any variation in the material, the seat is made of the same material as the rest of the garment.
The “Sticky Bum” is made of Clarino which is a man-made material that looks and feels very similar to suede. It gives you more grip than a self-seat and has the advantage over the older actual suede model that it stays soft and does not dry out and get hard if you wash it like the traditional suede ones did. While some people swear by “Sticky Bums” they are not my personal choice. Mostly because the clarino material has less give than most materials used in jodhpurs or breeches. And this produces a bit of an uneven feel where the garment does not move with you in a uniform way.
Silicone grip seat refers to jodhpurs or breeches that have had a silicone pattern printed onto the seat to give you extra grip. But there are so many variations that it’s hard to make this one variety.
You may have tried a silicone grip and decided you don’t like them. That’s okay, but it’s good to know that there are many variations that produce a wide variety of results. Silicone grip seats are not all the same!
First there are the patterns, everything from tiny sparse dot’s & company logo’s to thick stripes that run across the seat and everything in-between. And these produce grips that range from “do I have any extra grip?” to “I can’t rise to the trot”
At Plum Tack we have experimented with several different types of patterns. I personally don’t like the thick stripe type of pattern. I find that it makes me sweaty, because under those stripes my skin can’t breathe. I have also found that unless the silicone and the printing is very good quality, they have a tendency to peel.
After much experimentation at Plum Tack we now use two patterns a “rice” pattern that (unsurprisingly) looks like grains of rice, and a small triangle pattern. They are simple patterns that provide plenty of grip, while still allowing you enough movement to rise to the trot. The spacing of the of silicone in the pattern allows for your skin to breathe.
Like almost everything silicone comes in a wide variety of qualities. It’s not all the same! Poor quality silicone is not good value. It’s often hard, which is uncomfortable to ride on, and does not give very good grip. It can also give a squeaky effect, particularly with larger patterns, I’m personally not a fan of having to listen to my jods as I trot.
Quality silicone is not hard, its flexible. If you are using a small pattern such as the rice or small triangle patterns you should not notice sitting on it, except for the enhanced grip.
Good quality silicone is also not sticky to touch, it won’t collect pet hair or fluff.
Silicone is printed onto fabric in layers, not all in one go. Good quality printing will ensure the silicone does not “bleed” through the fabric. Thicker applications of silicone make it more susceptible to peeling, so quality printing involves building up the layers slowly.
I hope this has helped to show you the options that are available. If you haven’t tried a pair of silicone seat jodhpurs or breeches yet, or you were put off by a poor-quality pair. I hope that you will give a good pair a try. They have been a significant advance in rider wear, helping to avoid falls, and increase rider confidence. We all love riding, and anything that can so easily add to the safety and comfort of our ride is worth a look.