Dressing for Success: A Guide to Choosing the Perfect Outfit for an Equestrian Competition

Dressing for Success: A Guide to Choosing the Perfect Outfit for an Equestrian Competition

When you're getting ready for an equestrian competition, it's important to choose an outfit that will make you look and feel your best. There are a few things to keep in mind when choosing the perfect outfit for an equestrian competition.

1. You'll want to make sure that your clothing is comfortable and won't restrict your movement while you're riding.
2. You'll want to consider the type of competition you're entered into and dress accordingly. For example, different events will require different dress codes.
3. You want to choose clothing that is appropriate for the weather conditions and the type of competition you will be participating in. If hot, choose breathable fabrics such as cotton or linen that will keep you cool and won’t cause you to overheat while riding. If it is cold outside, opt for thicker layers that can be easily removed if necessary.
4. Don't forget about accessories that are within the guidelines! A well-chosen belt or browband can really complete your look and help you stand out from the competition.

Considerations for Choosing the Right Competition Outfit

The type of competition you are participating in will also dictate what kind of clothing is appropriate. No matter what type of competition you are participating in, be sure to check the official dress code beforehand so that you are properly attired. Here are some examples of what you should wear to certain shows-

Dressage - 

-For introductory to advanced medium tests (including FEI junior): uniform, short jacket or tweed coat with correctly tied stock/white round collar or shirt and tie, with a protective hat

-Advanced tests and upwards: option of a tailcoat or short jacket both with protective hat, and correctly tied stock or shirt and tie. Forces uniform may be worn with protective hat (or protective service hat)

-Body protectors may be worn

-Tailcoats, short jackets and waistcoats may be a conservative colour in a muted tone

-Bright colours or bold patterns are not permitted

-Subtle pinstripe, coloured collars and contrast piping are permitted

-Tweed is permitted, so long as it is not brightly coloured or boldly patterned

-In regular competitions, competitors may ride without jackets, but with a fitted waistcoat in muted tones as above

-Shirts can be long or short-sleeved in a solid colour and must fasten at the neck with a tie, white round collar or correctly fastened stock

-Breeches/Jodphurs must be cream, white, canary yellow or beige, unless worn with official services uniform when they may be of the uniform colour

-Gloves are compulsory

-Top hats are no longer permitted

-Hats and hat covers may be any conservative colour

-Boots can be conventional riding boots, either short or long. Gaiters may be worn with short boots as long as they are the same colour as the boot and are not suede or fringed

-Spurs are permitted at all levels; no longer mandatory from advanced level and upwards. For FEI competitions, refer to FEI rules

-Saddle cloths or numnahs are to be predominantly white/cream or a conservative colour. Contrasting piping is permitted. check out luxury competition saddle pads perfect for dressage here (white), here (black) or here (navy)

- Ear covers are permitted for all competitions including Para classes, and may also provide noise reduction. Ear covers must not cover the horse’s eyes, should not be fastened to the noseband and should be discreet in colour

-Any unusual decoration of the horse with unnatural items such as ribbons, flowers or anything applied to the horse, such as glitter, pastes or paints/ointments, is forbidden unless worn in breed specific classes.

-Red bows in the tail for horses that kick or discreet items such as diamanté plaiting bands are permitted.


  • Breastplates, breast girths, and cruppers
  • Neck straps or balancing straps (a loop on the front of the saddle) are permitted at all levels
  • Plastic or glued on shoes are permitted providing no more than 50% of the hoof is cov- ered. The heel area should not be covered

Not Permitted:
  • Martingales and bearing, side, running or elasticated insert reins
  • Bandages, boots or any sort of blinkers or tongue strap
  • Hoof boots or any form of shoe replacement are not permitted during competition
  • Rugs of any type may not be worn during a test
  • Nasal Strips are not permitted for use
  • Horse body/belly bandages are not permitted during warm up or in competition
  • Kinesiology tape may be used on the horse in the warm up but not in the competition.


  • Hat - with chinstrap properly adjusted and fastened.
  • Jackets - traditional style tailored jackets in dark colours, traditional tailored hacking jackets, new style jackets as approved by British Showjumping.
  • Shirts - Shirts may have long / short sleeves and must have a white collar; long-sleeved shirts must have white cuffs. Ladies may wear shirts with high white collars without a stock. Coloured ties or stocks may be worn with hacking jackets. Shirts must be properly done up at all times.
  • Breeches/Jodhpurs - white, pale yellow or fawn in colour.
  • Boots - all footwear must be black or brown including traditional riding boots, leather jodhpur boots with plain black or brown leather “gaiters.” Pony riders may also wear leather jodhpur boots which can be worn with plain black or brown half chaps. Gloves - optional
  • Body protectors - optional but if an inflatable body protector is worn a BETA approved body protector must be worn underneath.
  • Hairnets - in the interest of safety are advisable for long hair, long hair should always be tied back.
  • Spurs - not in excess of 3cms long, spurs capable of wounding a horse are forbidden. Spurs worn by Junior members are not allowed to exceed 2.5cms from back of the riders boot.
  • Whips - between 45cm and 75cm in length.
  • Jewellery - worn anywhere on the body can increase the risk of injury, riders are strongly recommended to remove all jewellery

Ridden showing -

  • Tweed jacket for men, tweed, black or blue for women.
  • Beige or canary jodhpurs or breeches (not white).
  • Long boots if over 16, short boots with jodhpur clips if under 16 and small breeds if rider is over 16.
  • Bowler hat for men, bowler or hunting cap for women. Shows have their own regulations about safety hats, so check before entering. While hunting caps and beaglers are traditional, you should always think of your safety and not be put off wearing a safety hat if you want to. Alternatively, a velvet hat, or if you only have a skull cap then it needs a velvet cover in navy or black.
  • Hair in a hairnet if long enough. Should always be neat and tidy.
  • Shirt and tie – tie discreet and matching/complementing your jacket. No gaudy ones! No stock. Shirt can be plain white, some wear coloured stripey ones.
  • Waistcoat is optional.
  • Brown or black plain gloves.
  • Show cane is correct, but not imperative. It finishes off the overall picture. Should match gloves and tack – ie – all brown or all black. Black cane with brown tack is better than brown cane with black tack.
  • Coloured browbands for Riding Horse, Riding Pony, Intermediate Show Riding Type and Hack classes. Check out custom made satin ribbon coloured browbands, perfect for the showing ring here! Plain browband for Hunter Pony and Mountain and Moorland classes
  • No numnah, or a discreet one that matches the saddle and shows as little as possible.
  • No boots or bandages allowed. Remedial shoeing (i.e. eggbars) may be taken to mean the horse has a conformational problem, so may mark you down.
  • Brown or black tack. Brown is preferred by traditionalist judges, but many wear black these days. Brown is always correct in the show ring, black may not be.
  • Bridles should be reasonably plain and workmanlike. Discreetly stitched nosebands and browbands are acceptable in some breeds, but need to be matched with the horse’s head.


Now that you know the basics of choosing the perfect equestrian attire for a competition, it’s time to head out and start shopping. With an eye for style and detail, you can put together a winning outfit that shows your skill in horsemanship as well as your sense of fashion. Remember to stay comfortable but chic when selecting pieces for your ensemble so that you look great and feel confident in the ring. Good luck!

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