How to take the stress out of dressing to show
Of course we’re all familiar of what it takes to turn out a horse to participate in dressage shows. There’s the bubbly bath followed by mane and tail conditioner, trimming of excess hair and finally a clean sheet to protect your sparkling horse. Turn outs at this point are strictly prohibited. Of course all the tack has been cleaned and conditioned, the tack trunk packed and ready.
Organize your horses food. It’s a good idea to put supplements in plastic baggies for each feeding. These can be marked with a sharpie and reused for each show.
What what about the rider? In all the fuss about getting the horse ready we sometimes forget about our own appearance. Firstly equestrian fashion has undergone some radical changes in the past number of years. There’s bling – that had been formally reserved for the ice skating ring. It’s not unusual to see bedazzled riders in bright intense colors practicing their dressage moves at home stables. Everything matches and glitters from riders helmets, shirts, pants, boots to horses bridles, pads and boots and if you look closely on the saddles as well. Dressage has been previously a very conservative sport and it’s certainly fun to see all this color and creativity but it’s good to be clear what is and isn’t acceptable in the show ring.
The dress code according can be found on the USEF website for levels training through 4th Level. And a discussion of the new regulations was discussed on a AADA blog. It can be found HERE. I suggest if you’re thinking of expressing your own individually in the show ring, check there first.
So to make showing less stressful. Prep ! Start well in advance of the show. Organize all the clothes and accessories.
Your Stock Tie
Check your gloves, helmet, belt, boots, spurs, whip and even so and wash or polish them as needed.
It’s a great idea to try on your breeches and coat to double check there has been no size shift ! Check them to see if they need to be dry cleaned or washed . When shining your boots it’s a great idea to put some oil on the zippers. WD 40 and a toothbrush will make them slide easier and hopefully prevent any mishap. WD 40 on a rag can bring life back to your helmet as well.
A garment bag is great to protect your clothes going to the show. Don’t forget a cover-up for grooming or braiding if you have your show clothes on. One suggestion is medical scrub pants in a larger size . They can easily fit over breeches and boots. An old extra large shirt is a great coverup for your top.
Some other handy items can make your life calmer while you’re getting ready to mount up. White chalk is great for some last minute smudges on your pants. A black shoe polish sponge for last minute touch ups. A roller brush if your hairy horse or dog has rubbed up against you, black duct for quick temporary repairs and of course some clean rags for last minute wiping.
Happy show season and have fun going down the centerline.
Jane Doctor Paul is an avid adult amateur dressage rider who has styled many Hollywood Celebrities. She is presently competing on her own horse, a horse she trained with the help of Lars Holmberg, at the Intemediare Level. Best yet, she is thrilled that after 20 years her Shadbelly still fits.