The Essential Guide to Equestrian Show Riding and Equestrian Riding Apparel

Competitors in every sport want to be at their best. And being at your best includes the right apparel. Equestrian apparel is especially important because unlike casual riding, competitors in English riding must appear sleek, refined and in control at all times. In the show ring, the judges want to be looking at the way you and your horse communicate and how well you control and direct your horse. Loose fitting clothes have no place in show riding as safety is of the utmost importance. English riders also need their show clothes to reflect a neat, subdued and elegant air, so that their riding skills and the training of the horse shine through.

Dressage, hunt seat, and pleasure classes each have specific requirements regarding equestrian clothing. It is up to you to check with the sponsoring organization to get the details of your equestrian clothing needs.

Show Clothes From Head To Toe

Starting at the top, helmets are the most important accessory because they may save your life in a fall. An ASTM F-1163-01 and 04a/SEI certified helmet is a mandatory part of your equestrian clothing any time you are on or working around a horse. These helmets are tested for the rigors of riding. Helmets are sized by measuring the circumference of the rider’s head.

The Importance Of A Show Coat

The first part of show clothes that judges will notice is a rider’s show coat. A properly fitted jacket should give you a trim appearance with squared shoulders and a narrow waist. To check for a good fit, you should be able to take a pinch of approximately one-inch of fabric from the sides of the shoulders, which will allow the freedom of movement you need.

The waistline of your jacket should be at your natural waistline. The length of your show jacket should take it just to the bottom of your buttocks. Show jacket sleeves are measured at one inch below the wrist. Show coats are generally beige, gray or a dark color. Dressage show coats are black.

Underneath Your Show Coat

Under the show coat, women wear a ratcatcher and men wear a buttoned shirt. Getting the right fit is crucial to creating the right image while allowing you to ride safely and effectively. Ratcatchers are extra long-sleeved shirts with a short, upright collar. Ratcatchers and shirts should be form-fitting yet allow the rider the necessary freedom of movement with show clothes.

Riding shirt sleeves are generally two inches longer than normal clothing, to allow you the reach when jumping. After putting on your show jacket, one-fourth to one-half inch of your shirt cuff should show. Ratcatchers are normally white or of a pale color. A stock pin should be worn with your ratcatcher. Men are required to wear a button-down shirt with either a tie or a stock pin.

Jodhpurs And Breeches

Jodhpurs are riding pants with an elastic cuff that is worn over your horse riding boots. They are also essential if you are wearing paddock boots. When sizing for jodhpurs, measure your inseam plus one inch with your paddock boots on. If you will be wearing your jodhpurs in the show ring, try to find a color to match with your show jacket.

Breeches come in many styles, including front-zip, pull-on, side-zip, low-rise and full-seat. You’ll want to make sure that your breeches maintain the overall trim and professional look of your equestrian clothing. Show breeches are normally beige. When shopping for most show clothes including Jodhpurs and Breeches, fabrics with Lycra are ideal in order to provide a trim fit with stretch for movement.

Boots Made For Riding

Your field or dress tall black boots must fit properly. Since manufacturers differ, you must use the sizing chart for the horse riding boots that you are buying. Most horse riding boot sizing charts will ask for calf and height measurements, plus your normal show size. Calf measurements are taken at the widest part of your calf, with socks and riding breeches on, while seated. The height measurement is from the base of your heel to the top of your lower leg plus one inch.

Tall horse riding boots must fit snugly in all the right places to give you the look and support you need to do well in the show ring and to complement the rest of your equestrian clothing. Those with hidden zippers will give a snug fit and will be easy to put on.

Dressing with the appropriate equestrian clothing for competitive events not only will showcase your command of the sport, but will also provide the safety you need when jumping. Wearing the proper show clothes also shows respect for the elegance and control of English riding.