Horse Show Protocol: All Three Rings

DSC_0212.jpg    When showing, you and your horse should always look your best. Since judging can be subjective, you always want to earn those little bonus points for the simple things you can do before you are even in the saddle! But, “looking your best” isn’t always the same for all 3 rings (hunters, jumpers, and equitation). Each area of the hunter/jumper riding style encases many different elements to help out with the choice you make on how you look when you and your horse strut into the show ring!

The basics of preparation for showing include:

  • Clean tack: It never looks nice to walk into the ring and have a dirt covered bridle that you haven’t cleaned in the past week.
  • Polished boots: “I should see my reflection in the toe of your boot.” is what my trainer always says. Being that most show boots are black, the dirt attracts and shows very easily, so it’s very important to have your boots spotless when showing.
  • A Clean Horse: Your horse should be pristine when you compete. Whether your horse has white socks, is totally grey, or doesn’t have markings, they should be stainless and shiny. Also, their mane should be pulled beforehand (about an adult hands’ length). And last, a horses hooves should be polished, just like your boots.

Hunters: In the hunter ring, it’s important that you look great, but almost more important that your horse looks better.

You: To start, when showing in basic hunter divisions, you should alway wear a collared show-shirt, show jacket, tan breeches, and tall boots. Also, as a normal standard, make sure your hair is in a hairnet and tucked inside of your helmet. In this arena, you have a little more freedom to pick the color show-shirt or show coat you want to wear. But, saying that, I would stick to the main colors (black, navy, & hunter green) for a show coat, at least. (With that said, I have seen some beautiful boysenberry and brown colored coats in the hunters). I wouldn’t astray from your basic tan breeches in this ring.

In stakes classes and derbies, it’s traditional to wear a : instead of your normal show jacket. As stated before, it’s best to stick to the main color group of show coats. But, if you want to spice it up, you can always find some cool shadbelly points to complete your look!

Your Horse: When you walk into that ring, your horse better look like a-million bucks! The judge is going to focus primarily on your horse in these classes, so this is the most important part. Tack your horse in clean tack and a white, traditional show pad (not a square pad). If you are showing at an ‘A’ rated show, make sure you braid your horse if you are showing in the hunters. Otherwise, just make sure your horse is gleaming and ready to go. In the hunter ring, keep it flashy!

Equitation: This is the one ring you don’t want to walk into with your hair in a ponytail and your shirt untucked.

You: Everything about you in this division is going to be precisely looked at. So, you should always wear a hunt coat (navy, black, or hunter green), a white, collared show-shirt, and *tan* breeches. Tall boots are a must and they need to be shined! Make sure your hair is extremely neat looking in your hairnet and helmet. In this case, YOU must look like a-million bucks.

Your Horse: Even though the judges will be focusing on you for the class, it is still important that your horse looks outstanding. They need to be shiny, polished, and whitened in the needed areas. Always tack up in a traditional show pad and clean tack, as I stated in the hunter section. You can put protective boots on your horse, if you wish. Braiding, you are usually obligated to do at an A rated show. In the equitation ring, keep it classy!

Jumpers: Jumpers is the one ring you can truly express yourself!

You: This ring you have a little more freedom to further your creativity in how you look. In normal jumper divisions, you are free to wear a classic looking, collared sun shirt or polo. This means if you want to wear a bright blue shirt, go ahead! Just make sure it’s collared! I would recommend still sticking with the tan breech and tall boots combination, as well. In jumpers, you can wear your hair back in a ponytail or braid, but it always looks nice to have it tucked under your helmet.

For classics and Grands Prix (yes, that is the plural form), it is customary to wear a show-shirt and show jacket. But, have a little fun! You can have any color coat you want!

Your Horse: Walk into that ring in style, if you’d like! For the upper classes, you want always wear a white square pad (so you can pin your number on one side). I would also do that for if showing at an A rated show in jumpers. But, if you really wanted to add some color to your set look, you can put a fly bonnet on your horse’s ears. You can also wear protective boots in here, as well. In the jumper ring, keep it sassy!

**Wear a belt and gloves when you horse show!

I hope this good way to put a guide to look good at horse shows.

Catch you later my Preppy Equestrians!

– Anna Catherine



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