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It’s probably rare that you get a man posting about shopping.  However here is the rarity.  While this may not be a positive post about shopping from a man’s point of view (that probably isn’t so rare!), it’s actually not  negative in the way that most would expect, so I would encourage you to read on.

As followers/readers will know, two of the activities that I take part in regularly are horse riding and ballroom/Latin dancing.  For both of these there is a certain amount of specialist items that can be bought.  Now, with the exception of a riding helmet, which can always be borrowed from most riding schools, I realise that all these things are not items that you have to have to be able to take part.  Probably just as well as who would want to pay for a load of stuff only to find that you don’t enjoy the activity or sport that you bought it for.

Until recently I’ve been dancing in a pair of normal black shoes (the ones I wear for work) and for riding I’ve been borrowing a helmet and riding in a pair of tracksuit bottoms.  I will confess that I quite quickly bought a cheap pair of short riding boots as I didn’t have anything that would substitute.  These are things that most people would have, and will enable you to enjoy the respective activities without great expense.  (The boots were £20 on ebay).  However, the longer you participate in an activity, the greater the need and ‘push’ from others for getting the ‘right equipment’ becomes.  This in itself is not a problem.  They understand that there is a difference and specialist equipment will actually make things easier for the participant.  (Jodhpurs will help grip a saddle better than a tracksuit and dance shoes have a very different sole to work shoes).

So this is where the problems occur.  There are in the dance world a host of male, world class dancers!  Just look at the judges panel on Strictly!  In the world of riding, some of the top performers and most recognisable names are male!  Yet for some reason, when it comes to shopping for specialist items, it’s almost as if these people didn’t exist.  They may have their own range of clothing, but actually having a shop stocking it seems to be a different matter.  Looking for jodhpurs I found the range available for men in some of the bigger stores to be as little as 1/20th (yes, I have typed that correctly and it’s probably a conservative estimate) that of those available for ladies.  The same issue exists for dance shoes, especially if you head down the very specialist route of a different shoe for Latin and ballroom.  It’s probably not to the same extreme, but it is certainly there.

So I’m left wondering why this is the case.  With the shoes I can sort of understand that for the ladies the shoes range would need to meet different dresses, but even then, finding a dance shoe for a man in the right size can be a lottery and normally requires a phone call in advance to save a wasted journey, even with common sizes.  For the riding clothing I find the disparity too much to come down to different styles/fashion.  In other countries riding wouldn’t be considered a mainly female sport and more would be on offer.  (Anyone heading to Boot Barn would realise that from the boot selections!).  So why has that developed in the UK.  I don’t have any answers, just the need to put in the mileage in the car to find the clothing that I need!

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