I'd also emphasize that being well turned out doesn't replace the elements of a good performance; it simply adds to them.
It may add to the enjoyment of the rider, or the members of the public watching the rider, but it most certainly does not add to the scores. I think that's probably what you mean?
Originally Posted by alto
...but if you think it's not important, you haven't been watching enough higher level competitions ...
I'm curious what you mean by this Alto. I have been watching, and participating, and I'm not following you here...? I know when I was a judge (albeit decades ago) I certainly didn't have time to think about what colours were worn by the rider. In fact there was a great study done a few years ago that revealed where judge's eyes focus during a dressage test, and as I recall the rider's body hardly came into it at all. (Now I'm not suggesting that judging is never influenced by external factors, but seriously, turnout - beyond the basics of neat and professional - is rarely one of them).
To the OP, I think your cream and black choice is an excellent one and I'm sure you'll look very spiffy! Enjoy yourself, as it sounds like you've put in a lot of hard work and that will surely be reflected in your scores!
As luck would have it, I walked into my local tack shop's consignment and found exactly what I was looking for. The perfect shade of very subtle cream. So many creams I found were too yellow for my liking when I really just wanted off white. I am thinking that someone unloaded their cream set because I found a lovely couple of cream untied stock ties and two sets of matching gloves. Both were too big, but I am wondering if I could have the all leather pair sized down a ful size by a tailor. Anyone know if that's possible? Now I'm a saddle pad away from perfection. And I have a white cotton pad that I am sure I could have dyed to match. The best part is that the breeches look virtually new (Millers full seats and very high waisted, which is perfect for my long torso) for a whopping $35... Stock tie in a gorgeous brocade floral for $7....
As for the sub topic of this topic, well I understand that judges don't care about whether my breeches are white or the perfect shade of cream. I also understand the sentiment of those who think those who deviate from tradition ought to have their ducks in a row before being so alternative. And I guess it's the former Western Pleasure rider and current Event rider in me that has to be over the top! My mare is a very green 5yr old. Smart, fit, schooling wonderfully at home with 3-5 days of work/lessons a week, but she wasn't off the property much at 4. This year we're getting out as much as possible because she's mentally ready. But that's not to say that she won't walk off the trailer knowing that she is a very fit 5yr old OTTB in a new place full of exciting things to see and places to run! And I'm supposed to wait until she's perfect before we can get all dressed up in my perfect maroon coat and cream accents? Not a chance! I'm making her a beaded browband to match my coat too! We're going to look fabulous and unique even if it's a blur past everyone on the grounds! She may not be perfect now, but one day she will. We'll look great every step off the way too.
Though I do believe in the saying "to each their own." That's really the beauty of Dressage tests and how they're judged. There's quite a bit of play in the rules for attire so we can take creative liberties if we choose and still score well!
Well... I am a former hunter princess, so I am accustomed to caring about appearance as well as performance.
I understand that a lot of dressage riders kind of dismiss the whole subject, but I'll tell you the main reason why hunter people put so much time and care into putting together a really gorgeous appearance - and it's not purely vanity.
It's because they know that a really pulled together, attractive appearance says to the judge, "Look at us; we are completely prepared and our performance is going to blow you away. I am your winner."
That doesn't mean that they think a pretty coat is going to make up for a horse being on the forehand, or blowing a lead change or any other deficiency or mistake. It's about making a good first impression, and maybe getting the edge if all other things are equal.
Now, in the hunters, there is no scribe taking down comments and generally the judge isn't scoring as they go, other than to make their own notes about the round to help them remember each ride when they go to pin the class; a really pretty coat or a particularly polished appearance can help the judge recall a performance when it comes time to hand out ribbons.
That is obviously different than what a dressage judge is doing, as they score each movement during the actual ride, and the ribbons get handed out based on the math scores that result. But I still think that it makes perfect sense to show up looking like you "mean it," and are prepared to put in a really polished performance.
As my old coach used to say, "there are so many things you just can't control when you are in the ring showing. But dressing the part and looking like the winner is something you CAN control. Why wouldn't you give yourself every edge?"
THIS! I've always been fond of saying, LOOKING the part of competence and professionalism makes a great first impression even if you only half know what you're doing. There is no down side and it's great for your self-confidence!
Your stock tie will. Cream looks wonderful on a liver chestnut (I had one) and I found all the matching cream things I needed at Dressage Extensions (catalog/website). It is not cheap, but as my husband always says: "if you look good, you'll feel good, and if you feel good, you'll do good" (ok well) but you get the idea. Also consider a navy or dark brown jacket, softens the look a bit, black is a harsh color.
I agree with this.
BTW, as a spectator at the NEDA spring show last weekend, I saw that while everyone was wearing the white stock tie, when they took off their jackets less that 50% were wearing a white show shirt! It's covered by the jacket, so why not?
I have a palomino, and while I've given up on finding the brown saddle of my dreams, she has a dark brown bridle, and I use a cream saddle pad for her and stock tie/show shirt for me. I have yet to find cream breeches that fit me, though...