Fashion in and out of the show ring – Part 1
Equestrian fashion has been a long enduring statement on the runways, streets, catalogs and department stores for years. Thanks to Ralph Lauren and other designers we can all decorate and dress our homes and ourselves with images and styles inspired by the animals we love.
This month’s featured rider is Shirley Gencarelli, owner of the online store, The Fabulous Horse and a model, actress and of course an amateur rider. Shirley’s store carries fashion for horse and rider for competition and wonderful casual horse oriented clothing items for everyday wear. Be sure to read her story on the AADA home page today!
But, did you know that there are very specific rules for what a rider is allowed to wear when she/he comes down the centerline at a US Equestrian licensed competition? A judge can eliminate a rider for violation of a dress rule. This blog will only cover rules from Intro to Fourth Level. FEI dress will be featured in a future blog.
According to USEF rule DR120 entitled “Dress”
The dress code for all Dressage tests and classes through Fourth level is a short riding coat of conservative color…
But then drop down to section 3.
At all test levels, riders may wear jackets in other colors within the international HSV color scale, as described in the FEI Dressage Regulations Art 427.1. Contrast coloring and piping is allowed… see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HSL_and_HSV
Confused some more about what you wear?
First it says conservative so think dark. Think business meeting or Catholic school jacket: dark blue (turquoise would be ok), dark green, maroon, dark purple, black. But not hot pink, red, bright yellow, no madras plaid. Especially no dancing unicorns or bright flowers. One can be creative with a tasteful piping, contrasting color on the cuffs and lapel or even a little (key word, little) bling. Nothing is more distracting to a judge than the sun shining off crystals lining every edge of a jacket, gloves, spurs, boots, helmet, saddle, ear bonnet etc.
Section 1 continues…
with tie, choker, stock tie or integrated stand up collar…
There is no mention of color allowed but be tasteful in case an overzealous judge thinks your Scottish plaid stock tie is too much. And in cases when jackets are waived due to heat, according to section 8.
Competitors must wear protective head gear (I’ll get to that too) and a shirt with sleeves and collar without neckwear and without decoration except as described in section 15. (which refers to logos, a topic for another day) T-shirts are not allowed.
No color is mentioned here either but err on the side of conservative and tasteful, always.
But I judged a gentleman in Florida this year who had a purple and white plaid shirt (I could only see the collar) with a white tie and black jacket. My scribe commented that she knew a judge who would have eliminate him. I did not because I didn’t consider the plaid “with decoration.”
It was such a lovely ride that I gave him a 79.7%.
Getting back to Rule DR 120.1 it continues:
with tie, choker, stock tie or integrated stand-up collar, white or light colored breeches or jodhpurs, boots or jodhpur boots and protective headwear as defined n DR 120.6 and in compliance with GR 801.
Again, I’ll address headgear later. But breeches can not only be white, they can have black full seats and have a tiny decoration on the thigh. Pikeur has a tiny black logo. No rule against that…yet. Breeches can be beige, light yellow or even a pale gray. I still recommend traditional to be safe. The rule goes on:
A cutaway coat (modified tailcoat) with short tails is permitted. Half chaps, gaiters and/or leggings are not allowed. Exception: Riders through First Level may wear half-chaps, gaiters or leggings in solid black or brown, without fringe, matching the color of their boots, and made of smooth leather or leather-like material. Gloves of conservative color are recommended.
So white is not required! If you have hands that bounce, move a lot, are too wide or on even height white only accentuates that. In my opinion go with a color that matches your jacket or when in doubt wear black. Now here is an interesting variation on the dress rule. DR 120.5:
Riders in classes and tests at all levels in Level 1 Competitions, and riders in Opportunity classes in Level 2 and Level 3 Competitions, may compete wearing breeches and shirts of any color as permitted in DR120.8. Jackets or vests of any type are allowed but not required and neckwear may be worn only if the rider chooses to compete in a riding jacket. Boots and protective headgear are required as specified in DR120.1-6.
So, a Level One show is essentially a one ring, one day show limited to 75 horses and there does not have to be a food concession. Opportunity classes are offered at Training and First Levels for non USEF members at Level 2 and 3 shows but Second Level can be offered at a Level One show. In other words, as an amateur wanting to get your feet wet for the first time at a show, you can enter an opportunity class or two without paying all the USEF fees and you don’t have to spend money on a jacket or new breeches and a shirt!
Lastly, let’s talk about headgear. There are some beautiful helmets I have seen in the show ring and anyone riding a horse on the show grounds must wear one according to DR 120.6:
From the time horses are officially admitted to the competition grounds by competition management, anyone mounted on a horse at any time on the competition grounds, including non-competing riders, riders on non-competing horses, mounted participants in exhibition classes and those competing in all classes and tests, including Para-Equestrian tests, must wear protective headgear as defined by this rule and otherwise in compliance with GR801. Any rider violating this rule at any time must immediately be prohibited from further riding until such headgear is properly in place. Protective headgear is defined as a riding helmet which meets or exceeds ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials)/SEI (Safety Equipment Institute) standards for equestrian use and carries the SEI tag. The harness must be secured and properly fitted. Unless jackets are waived, while in the competition ring, exhibitors wearing protective headgear must wear a short, dark jacket, dark tailcoat (only permitted for tests above Fourth Level), or Armed Services or police uniform (if eligible), dark hatcovers (where applicable) and must otherwise conform to DR120 (see GR801).
You should also know that according to DR124.2b
Dress code violations inside the competition ring listed under DR120.1-5 at the discretion of the Judge at “C” except elimination is mandatory for failure to wear properly secured protective headgear. Elimination is mandatory for violations listed under DR120.6-16.
Be sure that your helmet is properly clipped and snug around your chin. If the harness becomes too lose or unsecured during your test, the judge can ask you to stop and fix it and then continue. In that case you will not be eliminated.
If you get to a show and have any questions about what you plan to wear, BEFORE you get on your horse, got to the Technical Delegate and ask!
That’s it on required dress in the show ring. Next up, dress for FEI classes and rules for spurs and whips.
All the best