I don’t know about you but I don’t get dressed up to go to work. If you know me, or have ever read my blog, you know I love my jeans and boots. They are sturdy, comfortable and long wearing. They are the perfect uniform for my job. They are also just right for play. I work with horses, of course, but I also spend some of my best leisure time on a horse. I guess the moral of the story is that I spend a lot of time in my “uniform.” Don’t make the mistake of thinking that these clothes mean I am not interested in fashion. I may be a horsewoman but I know my fashion! So today we are going to talk about equestrian fashion.
Why is Fashion Important in the Show Ring?
In any horse show or riding event the first impression you make may have some bearing on your final score. It is important to make a good first impression. Even if you and your horse execute beautifully, a judge can be influenced by your appearance in the show ring. You do not have to wear the latest fashion trends but you must follow a few important rules every time you enter the show ring. Be aware of the type of competition you are participating in. Hunter events require a certain amount of elegance whereas the rules for Western riding attire are a little more relaxed. Whatever you choose to wear, look your best. The effort will pay off.
Fashion Tips for the Rider
- Check the specific requirements for the horse show you are competing in. First and foremost, follow the rules. Not doing so could cost you points.
- Good grooming is critical. Be sure your clothes are neat, clean, and wrinkle free. If you have longer hair, style it securely. Hair coming loose and flying around your face will detract from your appearance.
- It is OK to be yourself and follow your own fashion trends, within the confines of the rules. I like to let my girlish side show through every once in a while, so I will add a little color or a bit of bling. Maybe a pink tie or a rhinestone bracelet on my boot. Just don’t get too crazy because it can distract the judge.
- When all else fails and you can’t decide what your equestrian fashion statement should be, stick with traditional. You can’t go wrong with basic black. It will not make you jump out from the crowd but it will assure you that you look good while you are competing.
- A personal piece of advice from me is to choose your breeches carefully. I stay away from the pull up style because I call them the slide down style. I always stick with front zip or side zip breeches that stay in place. I do not want my equestrian fashion statement to be a flash of my underwear.
- Whatever style you choose, go for excellent fit. You do not want to worry about fashion mishaps while you are riding. A good fit equals a good style.
Fashion Tips for Horses?
What? Now you have to turn your horse into an equine fashion icon? Not exactly, but remember it is a horse show, so, of course, all eyes will be on the horse. I also have a few tips for the four legged member of your team.
- Clean and well groomed. I think I said that already, but this time it is about the horse. A combed and braided mane and a well groomed tail are essential. Believe it or not, depending on the competition, tail extensions might even be in order.
- It is acceptable to use a shine enhancer on the horse’s coat if you want to add a beautiful sheen, but be careful of anything used in the saddle area. The last thing you need is a slipping saddle while you are riding.
- Oil the saddle! Check every piece of equipment that your horse will be wearing. Equipment flaws are very obvious to judges and you will lose points for them. Worn stirrups, a saddle blanket that is not clean and frayed reins are all fashion don’ts.
- A pedicure is in order. Filing or sanding of the hooves is a common practice that adds to the well-groomed look of your horse. There is hoof polish available to even out the color but check the rules of the competition before you apply this product. Some horse shows do not allow this fashion trend.
As I always tell anyone who rides, follow the rules but don’t lose track of the fun. There is no point in competing if you are not enjoying the process. So have some fun with your look. Take pride in your appearance. Enjoy some bonding time with your horse who, I am sure, will love a little extra pampering. And don’t forget, when you are all done getting ready to take a deep breath and hug your horse!