Horse show prep means knowing the gear you need

Horse show attire is quite different from everyday riding gear, so it's easy to get confused about what types of clothing are permitted--and prohibited--for each discipline. To help you dress for success, we've put together this handy guide to Equine Canada's rules for dressage, cross-country, and show jumping/hunter attire.

Your riding attire will depend on the level of the show you’re competing in: Bronze, Silver, or Gold. Bronze level competitions are usually regional and therefore less formal than Gold level National competitions. It’s important to adhere to the dress code for your level, as not following the rules could lead to a lower score or disqualification. Different levels also require different certifications nationally and regionally for you and your horse (Gold Level requires our horse to have a passport). All competition levels also require you to show proof of a passed coggins test, and your horse must wear his assigned number the entire time on the showgrounds.

 

Dressage

All riders, regardless of age, discipline, or competition level, must wear an approved helmet. White breeches are recommended for riders at all levels, as is a dark coloured jacket with a show shirt, collar and gloves. All riders may wear dark coloured riding boots, and Training and Level 1 competitors may wear matching half chaps and short boots. Riders must secure their hair with a hair net, and spurs and whips are optional at all levels.

For your horse, you’ll need a well-fitting English saddle in either brown or black with matching stirrup leathers. You’ll also need an all black or brown English bridle with a regular dropped, figure 8, crescent, or flash noseband. Only certain types of bits are allowed in the dressage ring; namely, plain snaffle and jointed mouthpieces. Blinders, ear plugs, bit guards, bit wraps, side reins and any leg protection for your horse (polos included) are also prohibited. Your horse should be clean with its mane tightly braided.

After your dressage test is complete, you will need to check in with the Steward, who will check that your gear follows all regulations. If you fail the steward check-in (or don’t check in) you will be disqualified.

 

Show Jumping & Hunter

The rules for show jumpers are more relaxed than the rules for dressage. Riders must wear approved helmets, and are permitted to wear open-neck polo shirts without jackets. Riders may also wear dress shirts with or without ties and chokers. Keep in mind that while show jumping is a less formal equestrian event, riders are still expected to dress neatly and conservatively. Sweatshirts, t-shirts, tank tops, and other casual types of shirts are prohibited. Shirts must be tucked neatly into clean riding breeches. Your boots should be cleaned and polished before you enter the ring.

Hunter classes require you to wear a conservative colored blazer, shirt with a collar and beige breeches.

 

Cross-Country

Cross-country shows are in an altogether different category as far as attire goes. Cross-country events are a great way for riders to show off their own unique personalities in the ring, as riders are permitted to wear any colours they like. While riders will still need to wear a certified helmet, breeches, tall boots, a long-sleeved shirt and a cross-country vest, these can be in any colour or combination of colours, as can their horse’s boots, saddle pads, and other accessories. Consider your options and choose a winning colour combination for your equestrian outfit that will impress the judges and motivate you to perform at your best.