To get the chance to win a prestigious horse show, you have to adhere to the strict dress code rules and required tack. All competitive riders are required to follow whatever the show requires. These guidelines give the judges ability to see more of your talent and skill without any distractions.
However, this does not mean that show attire is devoid of individuality. Play by the rules, but add your stylish touches to help you stand out. A show-stopping outfit may help bring out your best performance to date. Don’t worry, we’re here to help you figure out how to build the proper show attire wardrobe, whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro.
In this article, we will talk about:
- Show attire essentials
- Best pieces to invest in
- Buying good quality pieces on a budget
- Sartorial choices that will get you noticed
- Smart looks for your horse
- Matching show attire for you and your riding partner
The Essential Show Attire Checklist
- Review the rules. Most horse shows follow the same show attire rules, with some exceptions or additions. Whether it’s your first or 41st horse show, review the rules in each competition. Better safe than disqualified.
- Acquire the bare minimum. Invest in a few key pieces first before moving on to the “nice to have” items. Key pieces that must take up your wardrobe are those you need for the show you are entering, such as a riding helmet, show shirts and pants, and boots. Get these key pieces in colors stated in the rules, which are usually black or navy blue for jackets, and shirts in white, black, or beige.
- List down every specific item, not just “riding horse outfit.” One missing piece from your attire will mean your disqualification from the show. Making an itemized checklist for packing or dressing up will ensure compliance with the dress rules of the show. Include your horse riding gear and spare items in place of weather changes or if anything breaks or goes missing.
The standard items that must be on your list are:
- Riding shirt, preferably made of cotton
- Riding breeches or tights
- Riding boots
- Approved horse riding helmet
- Horse riding gloves
- White show shirts
- Show Pants or breeches
- Show jacket, depending on the class and show
- Equestrian Boots
- Show Boot care kit
- Riding gloves
- Stock or choker
- Tie, pin, choker, or stock tie (for Dressage)
- Sewing kit
- Safety pins
- Stain remover
- Lint roller
Make a separate checklist for your equine partner as well. These would include:
- Complete tack
- Extra leathers and irons
- Horse care supplies
- Look neat, tidy, clean, and presentable. All pieces of clothing must be devoid of stains and well-pressed. Give your boots a good shine, and clean your helmets to look their best.
- Choose weather-appropriate attire that is according to the horse show dress code. The horse show attire changes, depending on the season and weather of the day of the competition. If dealing with unpredictable weather, bring extra pieces to deal with any changes.
- Don’t wear loose clothing or pieces that make noise. Loose clothing might get caught while you are in the middle of a show, putting you and your equine partner in harm’s way. Do without items that make noise—it might scare the horses and cause a commotion.
Top-quality is worth the price.
- Quality pieces last longer, even with rigorous use. The items you use most often need to be made with quality materials. Low-quality pieces will fall apart quickly or look worn out easily, and you’ll end up spending more to replace them.
- There’s no price too high to keep you and your riding partner safe. A helmet that is blocked for you should be at the top of your list. Beyond the regular cleaning and upkeep, keep it clean and polished for the show. It will lengthen the life of your helmet.
Tack for shows should not only adhere to the rules of the show but give the utmost protection to your equine partner.
Shopping for your show attire on a budget.
- Go thrifting. If you’re still building your horse show attire, visit thrift shops or go online to look for jackets and boots. Be discerning of the condition and the quality of the pieces you find, though. Seek pieces that look good as new.
- Borrow from equestrian friends. Swapping pieces with fellow equestrians is an inexpensive way to instantly have new items to wear for more casual schooling show attire or hunter show attire. Borrowing jackets, gloves, whips, chokers, and the like are acceptable. It should go without saying that borrowing show pants and shirts are unacceptable.
- Shop during the off-season. If you scout hard enough, you will get to find quality key pieces during the off-season. Items used for winter, like heavier rider coats or fur-lined gloves, often go on sale during the summer. Choose off-season items in classic styles and colors to make each piece you find easier to blend into your existing show attire.
Get noticed without going overboard.
- When it is allowed, add touches of color. Showjumpers have a little leeway when it comes to show dressing, but you must still adhere to the rules. A colorful belt, a decorated helmet, or a bright saddle pad, paired with the standard hunter show attire will give off enough personality while still being appropriate.
- Keep it tasteful and discreet. For some casual shows, it is acceptable to have rhinestones on your attire or have colorful lapels on your dress shirts. These are great ways to express yourself.
- Match your show top to your chaps. This trick makes you look taller and leaner because it tricks the eyes into seeing one cohesive look. It will help you stand out from the crowd, even from a distance.
- Wear a contrasting color to draw attention to what you want. White or beige breeches will call attention to your legs because it comes in contrast to your dark show jacket. Matching the color of your gloves to your jacket gives you a neater, cleaner look. Always ensure that the color of your boots blends in with your entire show attire outfit.
Show attire for your equine.
- Again, check the rules. The equipment and how your horse looks matter as much as what you wear to a show. Even if you are an intermediate or expert rider, it won’t hurt to check the rules of the show for any changes in show attire requirements.
- Wear subtly matching pieces. Incorporate the same colors and hues in your show attire with the tack of your horse. If you are planning on wearing predominantly black and white, choose the same colors for your riding partner. It subconsciously shows professionalism, unity, and teamwork!
- Pay attention to their hair. Braiding your four-legged pal’s hair keeps it neat, presentable and prevents it from tangling. The kind of braids will depend on the event or show that you and your horse will enter.
- Choose a tack that is right for your equine partner. When choosing the right tack for your four-legged pal, the necessary factors to consider are their safety and comfort. Once you know that, you might want a fleece-lined half pad or dressage boots to dress your equine up, or a fur saddle pad rather than your standard one.
The neutral tones and function of show attire have reasons behind them. If choosing between safety and style, staying safe takes precedence. Showcasing the skills of the equestrian and their horse is the main reason for events. Being stylish should not get in the way of you and your horse’s performance. Good luck on your show!