March 16, 2020 4 min read

How to Dress for Equestrian Competitions

Are you planning to participate in a english riding competition with your horse, but you still don't know the clothing rules to follow?

There are regulations to follow that differ by the type of discipline and show you are doing. The type of equestrian sport clothing required also varies depending on the level at which you are competing. Amateur riding classes competitions are usually more relaxed, while professional competitions require specific clothing.

In this article we want to help give some clarity so that you can be confident and better face your competition.


Show Jumping Dress Code

Show Jumping is one of the fundamental pillars of equestrian sport. It is the discipline that tests the horse, which is required to jump over an obstacle. The rider, who must be agile and quickly juggle obstacles within the arena course design, is also tested.

This discipline is won solely on the performance of the horse and rider, rather than a vote by a jury. The horse and rider who finish the course in the shortest time possible and with the least possible errors in the obstacles win.

In this discipline, there are two categories: Show Jumping and Hunter. Both essentially dress the same, but Hunter riders wear more formal attire and have stricter clothing requirements.

Some of the Show Jumping competition dress code regulations are:

  • Breeches: These should be of a light color, preferably white, but they can also be worn light gray or beige. Breeches usually have a grip feature on the inside of the knee to guarantee greater adherence to the saddle, especially during the jump and when managing quick turns.
  • Shirt and Ties: Competition shirts should be all white, or at a minimum, with a white bib front and white closed choker collar or wrap-neck collar. Light pastel colors are also acceptable, as long as the collar and cuffs are white. Men often wear a tie. Competition shirts must be tucked into breeches.

Most riders opt for comfortable, multi-elastic competition wear in order to allow maximum freedom of movement during the competition.

  • Show Jackets: Competition jackets are usually worn in darker colors, such as black, navy, grey, green and burgundy. A rider should look coordinated with their breeches and other attire, as well as the coloring of the horse. Jackets today are made of stretch fabric to allow freedom of movement, and for easy care and traveling.
  • Boots: Most regulations state that tall, black field or dress long boots are required. The boots should be cleaned and polished for competition. Young riders may wear paddock boots (length up to the ankle) or jodhpur boots.
  • Helmet: The riding helmet is certainly the fundamental item to keep a rider safe during riding. It's a must have body protector. For the helmet you can indulge yourself, in fact all the colors you want are allowed, even of any designs. Regardless of the color, your protective cap must comply with the safety standards and the regulations in force in the country in which it is used. Long hair is usually wrapped in a net and tucked inside the helmet, or worn in a ponytail. Cowboy hats are not allowed!



Dressage Dress Code

In the discipline of Dressage, horse showing and rider perform a series of movements called "figures" or "movements", inside an arena generally measuring 20x60 meters. The arena has 12 letter markers positioned in such a way as to make the rider understand where a movement or change of time must begin and where it must end.

Breeches: These are almost always white in order to give the judges a sense of elegance and cleanliness. Breeches with full seat grip are usually used for Dressage to guarantee greater adherence to the saddle during the movements performed.

  • Shirt and Ties: Dressage riders wear a white shirt or under their competition jacket. Often a white stock tie is also worn.
  • Show Jackets: The most popular color is black, but a new trend towards dark colored jackets and tailcoats has started. Novice dressage riders wear a short jacket, whereas more advanced competition requires a tailcoat or shadbelly. It is important to know the new ruling for matching boots to your tailcoat color; black boots may be worn with any color jacket, however, non-black boots must be the same color as your jacket.
  • Boots: Dressage boots are very rigid and have a high bow on the side of the knee to achieve a sleek, long look. Often patent or brushed polished leather is worn in competition to achieve a high shine.
  • Helmet: The riding helmet is certainly the fundamental element to keep the rider safe during the race. In Dressage the helmet must be black or match the color of your jacket. It must meet the security requirements of your region and be fitted correctly. The helmet must comply with the safety standards and the regulations in force in the country in which it is used. Cowboy hats are not allowed!
  • Gloves: Dressage competition gloves are usually worn neutral colors such as white or cream, and should match the color of the rider’s breeches. Some dressage competitions require the use of gloves, so always check the regulations in advance to make sure you have all the right clothing.
  • Hair: Long hair must be tied neatly in a bun or tucked into the helmet. Often pretty nets with crystals and pearls are used to cover a bun.


Our guidelines should help you dress properly for equestrian competition, but it is always recommended to check the regulations beforehand. Know the dress code of your federation or governing body. 

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