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Dressage Apparel Confusion

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  • Dressage Apparel Confusion

    Currently, I'm showing training 1 and 2 locally (mostly through 4H, honestly) and preparing to move up next season. I show in my AP (brown) saddle and matching bridle, white square pad, navy hunt coat, white shirt with collar and pin, pseudo field boots (lace up paddocks with chaps... although I'm saving up for a pair of custom dress boots, this combo is currently the only thing non-custom that I can find to fit my wacky legs , although it's pretty hard to tell I'm wearing chaps from a distance), and black Roeckls. Basically, the picture is hunt seat rider doing dressage (which, for the level shows I'm doing now, is pretty much the norm).
    However, I plan to try to move up in dressage land, both in test level and types of shows. I was wondering if you could answer a few questions about what my horse and I should be wearing:

    1. At local shows, when (what level) should I begin to look more "dressage-y"? As in stock tie, black dressage coat, white gloves, etc... Also, what about for higher-profile shows (or should I look like an all-out dressage rider from the get go)?

    2. How should I integrate more dressage-oriented gear into my wardrobe? As in, if I get a dressage coat, do I need a stock tie and white gloves? What about white breeches... would they look tacky if I'm still wearing my hunt coat? Similarly, if I look like a dressage rider as far as apparel goes, must my horse (or when--at what level--must my horse)? A new saddle and bridle are certainly a more profound investment than a dressage coat, white breeches, etc... Would it be a total faux pas to still ride with my AP saddle at lower tests if I’m wearing dressage gear?

    Thanks all!
    Equito ergo sum.

  • #2
    good for you

    and those are some good questions. Unless your legs are really, really strange, your first purchase should be boots, the good news is, there are so many options when ordering, you don't need them. You should not ever wear white breeches with your hunt coat, unless you are doing the jumpers, and most probably shouldn't then, though you can wear a stock tie ( a proper stock tie, not one of those awful pre tied frilly things). Save the white gloves for when you get to wear white breeches, which truthfully, unless you are planning to really go all out at "real" or rather "only" dressage shows, I wouldn't bother with. If you pull up the apparel rules, it does not insist on white breeches or white gloves, or even a "dressage" coat at the lower levels. As long as you are riding in hunt tack, you should probably just stick with hunt attire, although a dark navy coat would be preferable to say the tan and plaids that are trendy in hunterland these days. A plain white pad is fine.
    Your biggest problem is that usually in any kind of "dressage" show, a boot/chap combo is not permitted. In 4H, it may not matter, but check the local rules. Neat and tidy and well prepared for the test you are riding is the MOST important thing. Doesn't matter what you look like if you can't trot a nice round 20 meter circle.


    • #3
      The training of the horse is more important than the attire, no matter what the level. Why not put money into training instead? I don't think it matters what you wear even at schooling shows. Approved shows, yes you should wear proper attire. Of course you can wear that at local schooling shows if you want. White gloves can be worn at any time. White breeches would be fine with a navy coat.

      When you say you are preparing to move up next season, what do you mean? In levels or to approved shows?


      • #4
        Actually, per the USEF,*leather* half-chaps are allowed through first level:

        On page 3:
        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.

        Of course, the photo they show is of something that is not allowed: brown paddock boots with black half-chaps

        Beyond that... white gloves only if your hands are steady. If you have the budget for it, a good dressage saddle -- look for something used, and get someone to help you with fitting if you can -- IMHO is the first thing I'd go for. Your bridle should match it in color (mine actually does not, but the bridle is so dark brown that no one would notice unless they knew to look for it.)

        I personally dislike white breeches enough to just say no way, and wear tan or cream. It's not usual, but that's me My dressage coat started as black, but faded to very dark navy after the first dry-cleaning, sigh...
        You have to have experiences to gain experience.

        1998 Morgan mare Mythic Feronia "More Valley Girl Than Girl Scout!"


        • #5
          Everything you've currently got excep the half-chap combo will do you just fine until you complete First Level and are ready to move up to Second and beyond. (showing second = schooling third/fourth.)

          Even at second, you CAN still wear your current outfit. It's just that by then you'll probably want a real dressage saddle to help with the position needed for more collection... and I suspect that if you get that far, then you'll know it's worth the committment... and want to go with the traditional 'look.'

          Navy is ALWAYS correct, the only difference is in the cut and style of jacket. Buff or light tan breeches are always correct. Even with a shadbelly!

          I have scribed many shows where the lovely hunter turnout and lovely horse scored much better than the 'perfect' dressage turnout...
          InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs

          Bits are like cats, what's one more? (Petstorejunkie)


          • #6
            I stand corrected... I thought the half-chap rule did not pass??

            I think it's a very good thing for lower levels, boots for the 'not off the shelf' fit are an ungodly expense for many of us. Half-chaps also allow for different physical issues.

            InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs

            Bits are like cats, what's one more? (Petstorejunkie)


            • Original Poster

              Originally posted by pintopiaffe View Post
              I stand corrected... I thought the half-chap rule did not pass??

              I think it's a very good thing for lower levels, boots for the 'not off the shelf' fit are an ungodly expense for many of us. Half-chaps also allow for different physical issues.


              It's good to hear that they're usable for now; although I am definitely looking into customs, the price is a lot right now (wishing super hard that "Santa" will bring them this year! ). To fit perfectly, my boots would have to be extra-tall (like 20, 20 1/2 inch), extra small calf (13, 13 1/2 or so), and have an 11 size foot... just not something even Ariat sells off the shelf... I'm also considering looking into having a leather worker (right name ???) slim down the calf of a pair of otherwise well fitted boots and add a zipper, although whether this is possible or not and whether the boots will still look nice when all is said and done I don't know...

              Originally posted by Fantastic View Post
              The training of the horse is more important than the attire, no matter what the level. Why not put money into training instead? ... When you say you are preparing to move up next season, what do you mean? In levels or to approved shows?
              To answer the first point, half the reason I don't own a full dressage wardrobe is because of all of the money that is poured into horse care and training on a daily basis. As we all know, this isn't the cheapest sport and everything from schooling attire for the horse and rider to horse care items to lessons and clinics can cost a bundle! I currently am working with a very talented trainer and training has always been first and foremost on my agenda. But I also know from hunterland that if the judge has to choose between a talented but poorly-dressed me and equally talented AND conventionally-attired competition, I'm just not going to pin well. Since I'm less familiar with dressage decorum, I figured it would be best to inquire here and see to what extent this principal applies in dressage.

              By moving up, I mean both. I plan to show training 3 and 4 and to venture out to a few more completive shows.
              Equito ergo sum.


              • #8
                If you ride a good test no dressage judge gives a poop what you are wearing. Dressage is not a clothes show.

                But I think there really is no reason to 'do without'. Just do what I did. Make friends with the rich person at your barn who has a low frustration threshold. She'll quit, and on the day, you will have a black Harry Hall coat for 20 dollars, and a pair of white Hall breeches for not much more...LOL. Seriously, there are plenty of used dressage clothes around.


                • #9
                  you might want to check out Midddleburg Tack Exchange and the Old Habitin Marshall, Va. Both have websites. Middleburg has a huge inventory. I have had great luck there.
                  Intermediate Riding Skills


                  • #10
                    Really, you are doing fine. If you have a burning desire to spend money () then I'd go for a dressage saddle followed by boots before you worry about the rest of the attire.

                    I've been showing for years, on and off, in a pair of ten year old Cotton Naturals full seats and a Harry Hall coat of roughly the same vintage. They are neat and clean and fit right.

                    I see no reason to spend a bunch of money on stuff I'm going to wear for a couple of hours for maybe 10 days a year, as long as I'm not embarassing my trainer and my family (any more than normal) when I enter at A.

                    However, I have good boots and a good dressage saddle that I ride in every day, because I regard these as tools of the trade.


                    • #11
                      You are doing just fine and your attire is perfectly appropriate. Now if you want to look more like in the dressagey game, here is the list of items I will purchase in order....

                      1. dressage saddle (you will find your life is easier in a dressage saddle)... Now this is a big purchase, so just whenever you get enough money... But your AP is perfectly fine for lower levels.

                      2. White shirt and stock ties/pin. This is cheap and allow you to look dressagey immediately.

                      3. White breeches and white gloves. This is still cheap and match your white shirt, white stock ties/pins, white square pad very nicely.

                      4. Dressage boot. This is getting pricier but again complement what you already purchase. If it is a choice between getting a dressage saddle and a dressage boot though, I will stick with dressage saddle.

                      5. Dressage coat. Now you can look nicely with your hunt coat with your white shirt and stock ties but I think it kind of looking weird with your dressage coat with your choker so I'm putting the dressage coat on the 5th.

                      6. Dressage bridle.


                      • #12
                        i'd check out craigslist too-- i just found a tack trunk on there, but it looks like people sell attire and everything. and check out the sale or consignment sections of stores (it says you're in NJ, so maybe taking a drive up to horsemans outlet would be good). it can be hit or miss, but worth a shot. and ebay is always an option ditto what gloria said about getting a dressage saddle before the other stuff.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by equito View Post
                          Would it be a total faux pas to still ride with my AP saddle at lower tests if I’m wearing dressage gear?
                          I show Intro. level tests locally. I have a dressage coat, stock tie, white breeches and gloves. But... I also ride in an A/P saddle. My mare is impossible to fit, so I wound up getting a custom Albion Ultima GP saddle. I can only afford one custom saddle. I've never received any negative comments.

                          Personally, I didn't find the outfit that expensive. I have a TuffRider dressage coat that cost under $100. If you have a black or navy hunt coat that will suffice too. I got the stock tie on clearance at a local tack shop. The breeches and gloves were also picked up on sale.