The History of Riding Jodhpurs
Where do jodhpurs get their name from?
Jodhpurs get their name from the capital city of the former princely state of Marwar. Situated in the modern day state of Rajasthan in western India, Jodhpur city was founded in 1495 by Rao Jodha who belonged to the Rathore clan of Rajputs. It ceased to exist when it merged with the newly independent state of India in 1947. The Rajputs belonged to the warrior class in India and took great pride in their equestrian skills. This pride was evident in peaceful times in their mastery in the game of Polo which has Indian origins too.
In the late 1800s Sir Pratap Singh, who was the Maharaja of Idar and the Regent of Jodhpur, was dissatisfied with the style of breeches he had to wear when he played polo. So he set out to produce a garment more suited to the needs of the game. He modelled his template on the ‘churidar ‘which is a traditional Indian long pant. The Churidar are tightly fitting trousers that are cut wide at the top and narrow at the ankle. He retained the basic style, the tight fit from the calf to the ankle, but he increased the baggy aspect by flaring the garment along the thighs and hips. This gave riders much more freedom of movement while riding. Do bear in mind this was before the invention of stretch fabrics. In addition, he reinforced the fabric along the inner calf and knee to protect them from rubbing and wearing while riding . The first pair was tailored in Jodhpur in the year 1890 and was made from thick cotton twill cloth. They were quickly adopted by the other Polo teams in India.
Jodhpurs come to England
When Queen Victoria, Empress of India, celebrated her Diamond Jubilee in 1897, several rulers of the Princely States in India travelled to England to participate in the celebrations. Sir Pratap Singh, as the Regent of Jodhpur was one of those that came to England and he brought with him the Jodhpur Polo team. The team, besides winning most matches, also caused a sensation with their new riding attire. The British were quick to spot the advantages of the new design and quickly adopted them even our own Queen Elizabeth II did, shown in this delightful picture on her thirteenth birthday.
This is the first in a series of short blog articles about jodhpurs. Read our next article about the differences between Jodhpurs and Breeches here!
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