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do you have to earn it???

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  • do you have to earn it???

    Today I went to a show and I saw a lot of something that I don't remember seeing years ago, and once again, I'm asking an overall opinion.

    Top hats: do you have to earn it?? I was always taught that you had to ride at least through 4th level to get your top hat, and then after that you could wear it if you so desired.

    This weekend I've seen plenty of people that I know have not competed at that level donning their top hats at training level.

    Whats the feeling about this?? I see it as almost a karate belt.
    "The ability to write a check for attire should not be confused with expertise. Proficiency doesn't arrive shrink-wrapped from UPS and placed on your doorstep."

  • #2
    No, you can just buy it.


    • Original Poster

      well... of course you can just BUY it... just like I can buy a black belt. I'm asking about the feelings of people riding in them without riding an upper level.

      Has the top hat just become a fashion choice vs. a velvet cap?
      "The ability to write a check for attire should not be confused with expertise. Proficiency doesn't arrive shrink-wrapped from UPS and placed on your doorstep."


      • #4
        Originally posted by Quest52 View Post

        Whats the feeling about this?? I see it as almost a karate belt.

        You can just buy and wear those too.

        But I know what you mean.

        As far as I know the shadbellies are still only allowed at FEI, but the hats are fair game.


        • #5
          If you've got a top hat and you look good in it and enjoy wearing it and don't feel an overwhelming need to wear a helmet, go for it.


          • #6
            LOL, Black Belt and top hat....

            I take a top hat over a bowler/Derby anyday


            • #7
              Originally posted by swgarasu View Post
              You can just buy and wear those too.

              But I know what you mean.

              As far as I know the shadbellies are still only allowed at FEI, but the hats are fair game.
              I thought the fashion "rule" was that top hats go with shadbellies, period. Hunt caps/helmets go with the normal jacket, and technically CAN be worn all the way up the levels, while shadbellies are reserved.

              So wearing a normal dressage coat and a top hat, fashion-wise, is like wearing one brown shoe and one black shoe. Sure both feet are covered, but the pair doesn't really go together.

              Obviously, as a fashion rule, it's about as meaningful as a wet noodle, but if you're trying to present yourself properly and follow the traditions of the sport, then wearing a top hat with anything other than a shadbelly is not the way to go about it.


              • #8
                This weekend I've seen plenty of people that I know have not competed at that level donning their top hats at training level.
                At training level? That's just silly. I can't wait to wear a top hat. I hope to wear one, one day, but I surely won't be wearing one at Training level.


                • #9
                  Australia put a stop to that - by making crash hats compulsory. They even forced the FEI riders to wear crash hats with their tails for almost a season before they lost that fight.

                  Certainly don't see any top hats below PSG here anymore.


                  • #10
                    Things have changed. It used to be that if you showed up to compete wearing a short coat and top hat...well...no one would do such a thing, because it would just be the wierdest thing in the world to do....like showing up with Olympic medals bought in a garage sale.

                    The top hat thing, I believe changed the most when the USEF (then AHSA) made a rule change on clothing - that anyone could wear whatever hat they wanted to wear, ostensibly because this would save people money and they didn't have to buy a lot of different hats, especially to switch from Hunt Seat to dressage.

                    The other thing of course is that those little squishy top hats came over from Europe, and despite the fact that they make most people look like a sort of demented fishmonger, everyone went nuts over them.

                    The other driving factor of course is that over here, we didn't really have the tradition of wearing a bowler at the lower levels, where as in Europe it always used to be quite the done thing, and older pictures show riders at anything below the FEI in a bowler.

                    And here, most people seem to regard wearing a bowler as tatamount to being a 90 year old wearing a spandex gary glitter costume at a funeral. So what are people going to wear if they want to look cool? A tophat.

                    To allow the top hat at lower levels, when 99% of people are at the lower levels and can show in a hunt cap in dressage, the rule change made absolutely no sense at least per its justification, and I think the pressure came from people who wanted to wear top hats at lower levels, which I think stinks, but nobody asked me.


                    • #11
                      IMHO (and it is just my opinion) top hats look inappropriate on someone whose riding does not do them justice whether it is Training Level or 4th Level. If you're going to wear a top hat, you should be good. I actually saw someone with a top hat on in a schooling show. Roll Eyes! Again, just my opinion.


                      • #12
                        Add me to the group of people that think you need to earn it.

                        I will say I know people that show multiple horses and different levels and they don't change their topper, just their coats. Which falls into the above mentioned catagory of people that have earned it.

                        You will not see me wearing mine until PSG...even then I might still wear my helmet, now that I have the option.


                        • #13
                          I agree that you should have to earn it and I feel that anyone who is wearing one that hasn't made the levels just looks silly.

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                          • #14
                            Oh I don't feel that strongly about it, especially because it is so widespread right now and a lot of people have no idea of the tradition behind it.


                            • #15
                              Waaalll, my personal opinion is that a top hat with a short coat is the fashion equivalent of a tiara with a business suit. Mixing full-on black-tie formal with less formal is just silly. But no-one ever asks my opinion on these terribly important matters, so I guess we'll just have folks going around dressage shows looking silly.
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                              • #16
                                I think people that get into a wad re what hat someone wears - and frighteningly, you do see it too often - must have an otherwise worry-free life. I mean, they'd have to, wouldn't they? To worry about something as trivial and random as what hat someone else wears, a hat which has eff all to do with their own life? Sweet bejayzus, it's a hat. It's not world peace.


                                • #17
                                  when I show I focus on my own fun.

                                  I wore a top hat for what I knew was going to be my last ride. It was important to me
                                  -- * > hoopoe
                                  Procrastinate NOW
                                  Introverted Since 1957


                                  • #18
                                    I agree with Coreene. I mean really, who give a flying one about what someone else is wearing? You all sound like a bunch of stuffy old colonels in an English gentleman's club. I thought the USA was supposed to be more relaxed about stuff like that.


                                    • #19
                                      Hooray for Coreene, atr and hoopoe. It's allowed by USEF rules, I think I look very sharp in my topper (OR my derby) so pftftftft to the Fashion Nazis!

                                      Those of you who fret over what someone else wears, eats, thinks or does -- get a life!


                                      • #20
                                        Someone needs to print the unwritten etiquette rules so others don't accidentally offend the fashion police. No top hats until 4th, wear your jacket even if it means heat stroke, etc.

                                        I suspect many people don't find helmets flattering and like the look of the top hat better, and had no idea that there was an invisible rulebook that only those "in the know" had access to.