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Horse Etiquette: Fashion Do's and Don'ts


Fashion do's and don'tsYou and your horse have worked hard, logged hundreds of training hours and now you're ready to hit the show pen. What you select to wear into the arena is the finishing touch on your training. The difference between what you have to wear in the show pen and what you choose to wear is called fashion.

As much as you want to stand out from the rest of the great joggers, you don't want to stick-out negatively due to a fashion faux pas!

1. Don't Break the Bank

You can find the perfect western show outfit for your budget; it is possible. All you have to do is break down the essentials. What do you really need to enter the show pen? The answer – boots, pants, chaps, shirt, and hat – that's it! Remember, it's not a fashion show but a horse show.

Let's start at the bottom. When you choose a pair of boots make sure that they blend with your total outfit. The last thing you want is to have a nice, classic black outfit with a pair of red boots sticking out from under your chaps. Bright color calls attention, so unless you are a skilled rider with above par horsemanship keep the color toned down and coordinated. In the world of show chaps, you can't go wrong with black. Of course you'll have the choice between smooth leather and suede; that decision is up to you and your checkbook.

If you compete in showmanship and rail events, try to find a tunic that you can tuck in after your morning showmanship class and use for your rail classes. This will save big bucks! If you are entered in horsemanship and western pleasure classes during the same day it's best to have a top that is fitted and reflects more of a horsemanship style rather than the more flashy pleasure top. Now for your hat, look for the best one that your budget can afford. High quality hats will stand out in the show pen and last for years. But, remember to visit a professional hat shaper that will perfect that cattleman's crease and shape the hat to fit your face!

If you have some money left in the budget, accessorize. Add a belt but make sure that it coordinates with your show pants and chaps. Hatbands are a great addition but it should be simple with a small silver buckle. Silk scarves are fun and can add some flare to a button-up top.

2. Do Have Your Own Style

The fun thing about fashion is that it gives us the ability to be individuals instead of carbon copies of each other. All too often in horse-centric communities, one style seems to catch on and engulf all others. A certain amount of this is completely normal and necessary – it's called a trend. Engage in trends if you happen to love them, but still make them your own. All trends do not fit all body types so don't feel like you must dress a certain way just because everyone else does. When in doubt hold true with the classics.

Consider the age factor. Youth riders can dive into color, while the older amateur might want to use the bright hues on a more limited basis.

Proper fit is the most important element to your style. The last thing you want is to feel uncomfortable all day in a pair of show pants that are too tight! On the flip side you'd hate for your hat to be too big and fly off in the first strong wind gust. It is your style, so make sure it fits you.

3. Don't Go Overboard

Too much of a good thing is just that… too much! Bright colors, patterns, glitter, and rhinestones can be brilliant in carefully measured doses, but can be downright tragic when practiced with a heavy hand. This holds true especially in the show ring. In western events where you are allowed more freedom of what you wear, the desire to stand out often results in some pretty scary ensembles. A little glitz can go a long way to make a beautiful, classy outfit.

4. Don't Forget Your Horse

Remember your four-legged partner when flipping through the fashion racks. A bold crystal-encrusted floral pattern, paired with smooth red leather chaps, a big belt buckle and a silver-dipped saddle that clashes with your palomino horse will confuse onlookers more than anything. Here are a few suggestions for pairing outfit color with horse color. Sorrels, chestnuts, and red roans – any horse with a red tint will look best in earth tones – rust, sand, brown, peach. Those bay, black, white, and blue roans will really look great in pretty purples, reds, and blues.

5. Do Your Research

Take a Saturday to scope out your competition. Keep a close eye on what others are wearing in your division. Pick up a current breed magazine to check out the popular trends in the show pen. Above all else though, make sure that you read the rules and regulations book for your breed or show association. The last thing you want is to be disqualified for attire!


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