A Parent’s Guide to Horse Show Apparel
My first horse show… I actually remember it like it was yesterday, but at this point, it was more like 25 years ago. And even though I was only 5 at the time, the one thing I remember was my mom running around the week before to get me show clothes and make sure I was properly outfitted.
She didn’t have much guidance on what to purchase for me, and why would she want to spend hundreds of dollars on show clothes that I was guaranteed to out-grow before the next show? So that’s what I bring you today – “A Parent’s Guide to Horse Show Apparel!”
Show helmet – In our last blog post, we talked about purchasing a helmet for lessons. So you may have chosen something more conservative like a black IRH or One K brand. But there is a good chance your kid choose a colorful Troxel, because, why wouldn’t they? Colors are more fun! Unfortunately, colored helmets are frowned upon in the more ‘traditional’ hunter/jumper setting. So, if your child is riding in a conservative, black helmet – YAY, you can check this one off your list! If not, you have a couple options:
- First, they do make helmet covers. For lower-level classes and beginner schooling shows, tossing on a black helmet cover will save you a lot of money. Check with your child’s riding instructor to see if this option is appropriate for the show you will be attending.
- Second, you can spring for a new, black, “professional-looking” helmet. The good news is, a number of children’s helmets now come with an adjustability setting, so as their head grows, so can the helmet! This should make you feel better about making a show helmet purchase. Also, show helmets come at a variety of price points. You can absolutely find something to fit your budget.
Show shirt – A show shirt with a ratcatcher is a must for the English show ring. Show shirts come in long sleeve, short sleeve or the least-expensive option – the ratcatcher dickie. Show shirts have really come a long way since my first show. Brands today often have a wrap-collar (so you don’t have to worry about losing the detachable collars), many have better, more-breathable fabrics, and there are certainly more color and trim choices. Boys should wear a collared shirt with a tie.
Hunt coat – You can’t enter the ring without one! Hunt coats should be purchased in a conservative color. Quick tip: Navy blue never goes out of style! Your local tack shop can help you determine proper fit. Brands and price points vary, but you can certainly find one to fit your budget.
Jodhpurs/Breeches – In the beginner riding blog, we talked about purchasing proper riding pants, jods or breeches with knee patches. Like the helmet I previously mentioned, I bet your kid picked out a fun, brightly-colored pair of riding pants, because again, why wouldn’t they? But, unfortunately, bright pink jods are just not appropriate for the show ring. Khaki or tan breeches/jods with knee patches should be purchased for showing. These should preferably have belt loops and not an elastic waist band. You also might be asking – does my kid wear jodhpurs or breeches – because there is a difference!
- Jodhpurs are appropriate for young children up the age of about 12. Jods have an elastic stirrup that goes on the outside of the paddock boot to hold the pants down and are worn with jodphur straps or garters.
- Breeches are worn by adults and teens over the age of 12 or 13. Breeches are secured with velcro or elastic at the calf and must be worn in the show ring with tall boots. If you still aren’t sure which style is appropriate for your child, ask your riding instructor.
Boots – Lucky for you, your child likely has a pair of paddock boots – what do they wear to their lessons? Black or brown, synthetic or leather are both appropriate to wear with jodhpurs. Just make sure they are clean and shiny before you enter the show ring! If your child is older and wearing breeches, you may need to purchase a pair of tall boots if you do not have them already.
A few other things to note:
- At the show, your child’s hair should be in braids with bows or secured up under the helmet with a hairnet. Ask your riding instructor which they prefer.
- Black riding gloves help put a finishing touch to your child’s overall show-look. You can purchase an inexpensive, appropriate pair through your favorite tack shop.
Garters/Jod Straps should match your child’s paddock boots (brown or black).
- If your jods/breeches have belt loops, be sure to have a brown or black belt on.
Please remember to check with your riding instructor before purchasing show attire. They may have preferences or specifications for your child depending on the show you are attending. Talk with other barn parents – they may have gently used show clothes that they are willing to sell at a discounted rate.
Shop smart. Shop savvy. Your child can look professional without breaking the bank!
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