Tuesday, March 2, 2010

What to Wear: Hunter Rider Edition

When it comes to dressing yourself up for the hunter ring, conservative is only the way to go. You want the horse to stand out, not the rider. The Equine Canada rule for rider attire is the following:

ARTICLE G109 DRESS
1. All competitors must be properly dressed in the confines of the arena. This includes the inspection of the course and at the presentation of prizes.
2. Competitors should be neatly and suitably dressed in coat, shirt and tie, choker or stock, breeches or jodhpurs and boots. Black or brown smooth leather half chaps are permissible providing they match the boot colour.
... Only approved helmets (see Article G102) of a conservative color are allowed.
3. If competitors are not suitably dressed, the judge may refuse to allow them to compete.
4. In hunter competitions, in extremely hot weather, coats are optional at the discretion of the Competition Committee.
...
6. At all EC-sanctioned competitions, anyone mounted on a horse must wear the required headgear (see Article G102.1) as well as safe, appropriate footwear.

So what does all of that mean?

Helmet

You will need an ASTM approved helmet of a conservative colour. That means no bright colours and no bling. Ideally, your helmet will complement the rest of your outfit and not really stand out at all. There are many different styles out there and some are much more conservative than others. When in doubt, providing it fits you well, choose a more conservative helmet over a flashier one.

Hair

If you have long hair, it should be contained in a hairnet. The "show bow"-type hairnets that have a pocket for your hair and sit at the base of your neck are not really acceptable for the hunter ring. The best way to contain your hair is to put your hair into a low ponytail, flip it up over the back of your head, cover everything with a traditional hairnet that matches your hair colour and then put your helmet on to hold it all together. This method keeps your hair up and out of the way while looking very neat. The most popular way of tying long hair in the hunter ring is to have the hair cover the tops of the rider's ears.

Make-up

If worn, make-up should be applied sparingly. Remember, the emphasis should be on your horse. The same goes for any jewelery that you might wear; less is more.

Show shirt

Opt for a show shirt with long sleeves as the lack of a cuff on short-sleeved or sleeveless shirts can give you an unfinished look. You can choose whatever colour you want for your shirt but make sure that it doesn't clash with your jacket. The most common colours are white and pastels. When you want a very formal look, go with a white shirt.

Your show shirt will come with one or two chokers that are to be fastened over the collar. Once you have buttoned up your shirt, fasten one of the chokers securely over your collar to finish the look.

Show jacket

Make sure that your jacket fits you well as a wrinkly, over-sized jacket will look sloppy.  Jackets in the hunter ring are very conservative. The classic colour is navy blue, although greys are also common.  Black is fairly common as well, but it tends to stiffen the look of the rider. Green and brown jackets are also allowed but green is out of style and is therefore not commonly seen. Subtle patterns in the fabric are often seen.

There are several different materials to choose from depending on your budget and personal preferences. There are lightweight, machine-washable or waterproof styles available. The newer "soft shell" jackets can sometimes lack the formality desired for the hunter ring, especially when combined with metallic buttons and over-styled pockets/lapels.

For a hunter classic or stake class, a shadbelly (seen in the photo on the right) is appropriate but not mandatory. If you choose to wear a shadbelly, you will need to use a stock tie over your show shirt. Shadbellies are too formal of a choice for regular hunter classes.

Number

Your number, which is provided to you by the horse show, should be tied around your waist using a string that matches your jacket. String it through the holes such that the string passes behind the number, not in front of it (potentially obscuring the number). The number should be centered on your back unless the judge asks for it to be moved to one side or the other.

Breeches

Breeches should be light in colour. Beige (or greenish beige) is appropriate for all showing in the hunter ring. White breeches are occasionally worn in hunter classics or derbies by men but beige breeches suit the hunter ring much better for women and for most men's classes.

Boots

Hunter riders should wear field boots. These are the boots with laces in front, as shown in this photo. There is no way to go wrong with black leather. Be sure to polish your boots to a shine before you show.

Leather half chaps worn with matching paddock boots are allowed but field boots are the better choice.

Spurs

Spurs may be worn but they are not mandatory. Spur straps should be clean and match your boots.

Gloves

Gloves are not mandatory, either, but they do look good. Black gloves are ideal, but brown gloves can be appropriate if they match the rest of your outfit. White gloves are never appropriate in the hunter ring since the rider is not meant to stand out.


24 comments:

  1. As an adult rider who is very, very novice in the show ring, I'm glad to find this blog! Looks like good information.

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  2. No no no!!!! White breeches are NOT appropriate for the hunter ring - not even for classics or derbies. Whites are for medals and jumpers only. Formal attire for Hunters is beige or buff colored breeches.

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    1. You're right, Anonymous. I'm not quite sure how that slipped by me the first time (I must have had my attention pulled away mid-paragraph and forgotten to finish it); I've actually written about it several other times on the blog! Correction made!

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  3. My daughter will be showing leadline. Can she wear her hair in braids at the back with bows on the ends> I just think it looks so cute:)

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    1. Yes, she can! Braids and bows are very much "in" right now for the younger pony riders.

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  4. I was told that paddock boots and half chaps are only allowed for schooling and never for showing.

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    1. In Canada, they are allowed for showing. The rule book for the federation overseeing your horse shows should tell you whether paddock boots are permitted where you show.

      Some trainers will also say that something is "against the rules" when it goes against their personal preferences ;)

      When done properly (that means matching, polished leather and a fit and look like field boots), paddock boots and half chaps look very similar to tall boots, and you often have to get very close to tell the difference. Ideally you will wear field boots to show, but that isn't always possible for every rider or in every circumstance. Some federations might allow them only up to a certain level while others will permit them at all times (excepting FEI Children's Jumping classes).

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  5. So, I can wear a shadbelly for ANY hunter classic? Or is there a level or height that I have to enter in for it to be suitable?

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    1. Generally speaking, if something is labelled as a hunter classic, a shadbelly will be among your options for appropriate attire. They are quite an investment, so you will not see them as often in the lower circuits, and it is rare for them to be explicitly required. The prize list should give you an idea of the expected attire at any given show, and looking at photos from previous years can help to give you an idea of what the norm is for any class that you are considering entering.

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  6. Are coloured jackets like burgundy aloud in the hunter ring?

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    1. It would be ill-advised. Technically Equine Canada rules don't specify a colour for hunter jackets (jackets for equitation, however, must be conservative), but conservative is usually the way to go since you don't want to draw attention away from your horse.

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  7. You mention that green is no longer trendy. At the Royal West last year and the stores this year I saw hunter green Grand Prix Show Coats. I picked one up as I loved the darker green colour. I typically show jumpers, is it still out of trend to wear it in the hunter ring??

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    1. That's one reason why it's difficult to maintain posts like this; trends change and a post from five years ago won't always still apply!

      The classics remain classics, but the other colours will rotate in and out of style. Green is currently back in style, so you wouldn't be out of place wearing it in the hunter ring, but there's no telling how much longer it will remain in style.

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  8. Is it mandatory to wear a show jacket? And can my hair be in a French braid? I'm showing for the first time tomorrow and I'm not 100 percent certain of what I need..

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    1. It depends on the level of the show. At a schooling show, the attire will depend on the individual show and it's best to ask if you're not sure.

      Good luck!

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  9. Does the horse's main have to be braided?

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  10. Does the horse's main have to be braided?

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    1. It depends on the show. A well-braided mane is never wrong, but that requires either lots of practice or paying a professional. If you can't braid neatly, you might be better off with a neatly pulled mane at a schooling show or low-level show.
      If you're not sure what is expected of you, look at photographers' sites to see what others have done at previous shows for your division.

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  11. Green coats are actually coming back in...I love the green!

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  12. I have a draft cross that I keep with a long mane and show with a Spanish braid in the dressage ring. Can the Spanish braid be used in the hunter ring?

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  13. Can I wear 4 buttoned jackets in the Hunter ring?

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    1. Yes, you can. Make sure that the cut of the jacket is suitable for jumping and that the buttons are plain rather than the metallic dressage variety. There are several Euro-style jackets out there nowadays made for the hunter/jumper set with four buttons rather than the traditional three. As long as the styling and cut are appropriate for the hunter ring, the judge should not be counting your buttons.

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  14. How about pins on your collar? Are they allowed/encouraged?

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