question that can be a little difficult to answer. If you look around
any horse show you will find a huge variety of rider styles.
When you pick out your show clothes for the
season it is best to pick
colors and patterns that are flattering to both you and your horse.
Remember to have fun and be creative with what you put together. You
can buy used
show clothes, brand new or even discounted
in the western discipline varies in what is most appropriate for
apparel. The rules and fashion statements for each class are always
changing. What was common and popular 5-10 years ago may not work this
coming year. Below we break down what exhibitors usually wear by each
Many of the rules you run into when choosing clothes are dictated in
part by popularity and trends. You may not have realized that many
horse shows can also double as exhibitor fashion shows.
Western Showmanship &
is an in-hand class where you execute a specific pattern, and are
judged on how well you complete the pattern. Your appearance in this
class must be clean and well presented, which also goes for your horse.
The in-hand classes allow the judges a closer inspection of both you
and your horse.
Make sure your horse is properly groomed
for show. Ears, muzzle, and bridle path should all be clipped
Your appearance is also equally important as it contributes to the
overall picture as you perform your pattern. The western show clothing
you select to wear in this class has a huge impact on the picture you
present of you and your horse. Since the class itself is about
precision and presentation, you are best off finding something that
suits you well, compliments your horse, and is nicely fitted.
Believe it or not, your western show clothing can actually cause a
distraction in your pattern. If you choose something that doesn't fit
properly or is not the most flattering color or pattern, it can
subtract from your presentation.
You want to present a clean line in your western show clothing through
a unified color between the pants, jacket,
Choosing two different colors for the jacket and pants is typically a
poor choice because it cuts you off at the waist and may draw the
judges eye more to your top or bottom. You do not want any outfit that
will draw the eye to one part or another, it makes smaller movements of
your hands or legs much more obvious.
You can choose a showmanship
outfit with your choice of color. Just make sure that color
compliments both you and your horse. You may want to rethink a red
outfit if you have a chestnut or sorrel horse. Make sure the colors you
choose coordinate well with your horse's coat color.
Many exhibitors choose darker based colors such as blacks or blues as
these darker colors tend to minimize smaller movements. If you choose
lighter colors keep in mind they may not serve to reduce excess
movements of your legs or hands during the pattern and they may be more
difficult to clean between shows.
There are also trends in colors from year to year. You can choose to
follow such trends, just keep it real and choose what western show
clothing works best for you.
is another in-hand class you have the option of showing in. The rules
are much different than those in showmanship. In halter, the judges
focus 100% on horse conformation. Basically you have it or you don't.
Many exhibitors choose to use their showmanship outfit in a halter
class as well.
We have seen people wear jeans and a western style top or jacket. Some
choose to wear a specific halter jacket with black pants, the jacket
not necessarily matching the pants. The larger the show the better you
want to present yourself, but from what we have seen at some smaller
shows the rules for western show cothing in halter are a little more
relaxed for the exhibitor.
You still want a nice and clean overall picture to present to the
Choose a color and pattern
that compliment both horse and
Base color of pants and jacket
should be the same for
Outfit should be well fitted
for comfortable movement
during the pattern
should compliment your outfit and be properly shaped
Present yourself and your horse
with tall, confident
posture and movement
Please sign up for your FREE copy of "The
All-Arounder" newsletter, the official monthly newsletter for
Stock Horse Show Source! It's packed full of helpful horse show news,
information, tips and horse keeping advice. Our newsletter contains
information exclusive to readers only! Sign up NOW and you'll also
receive a FREE
printable Horse Show Checklist!
Western Horsemanship Western
horsemanship is another pattern class, only this time you are
riding your horse. In this class the judge focuses more on the rider
and the rider's equitation in the saddle.
You want to choose your western show clothing for this class very
carefully. Just like showmanship, you want to present yourself neat and
clean. It is in your best interest to select an outfit where the bottom
colors flow into your horse show shirt.
You want clean, lengthening lines in your appearance. So again black
chaps combined with a bright pink top will cut you in half and again
draw the judges eye more to one point of your body. Also, make sure that the horse riding pants you wear under your chaps also match your chaps.
Darker based colors will minimize your
movement while on the horse. You
want to execute your pattern with little distraction by your hands or
legs. If your horse presents a sharp pattern, but the judge is
distracted by excessive legs or hands, you may place lower than someone
with an equal pattern performance and no distractions.
This is more important at larger breed shows. At smaller open shows you
will likely see exhibitors wearing a pleasure blouse in both
horsemanship and pleasure. This is ok, but at a larger show you may
want to coordinate your colors a little better.
You also may not always have to complete a pattern. Typically at breed
circuit shows and larger open shows you will see a pattern combined
with some rail work or riding out on the rail. At smaller open shows
you may only complete rail work.
Western Pleasure Western
pleasure is one of the most popular classes you will find at
a horse show. It is also well known for the bright and shiny western
show clothing. The rules are continuously changing for this class.
Several years ago it was common to see riders in slinky's, which are
form fitting shirts made out of a stretchy material.
Then the trend shifted to blouses
with larger cuffs, collars, and crystals. Now the trend seems to be
shifting towards jackets in the pleasure arena. Crystals and
rhinestones are still everywhere you look, but the popular colors and
patterns change each year.
This is truly a class you can have some fun with. A western pleasure
class judges 100% on the horse and its movement through all three
gaits. In this class it is acceptable to have a brightly colored top
with a solid base color on your chaps.
You still want to choose a color or pattern in your top that
compliments both you and your horse. We would recommend keeping a
darker color for your pants and chaps. Lighter colored western show
clothing on the bottom can once again draw the judge’s eye to your
legs. In a western pleasure class you want to give the appearance that
horse is truly a pleasure to ride. The less motion in your legs the
judge notices, the better.
class is a class where you and your horse complete a pattern through
and over obstacles. Patterns are typically more precise and technical
and require a bit more preparation beforehand.
Attire for this class does vary. Some use a general western outfit for
the western classes. A solid horsemanship outfit with coordinating
chaps and top are a good choice of western show clothing and can be
used in this class. Others
present in their western pleasure blouses.
When choosing an your western show clothing for this class keep in mind
you are being judged on your equitation in this class and your horse is
judged on how smoothly the pattern is completed.
Western Riding Western
riding can be thought of as a western pleasure class with a
ton of lead changes. Your horse is judged on smoothness through the
pattern during each transition.
We have seen both horsemanship and western pleasure type outfits during
Keep in mind you need to choose what will
best suit you and
your horse. Colors and fit are still important.
Under Saddle Checklist
Western show clothing needs
to be clean and fitted to the
should compliment outfit colors and be neatly shaped
In horsemanship, matching
pants and top create a clean line
for your pattern
In western pleasure you are
able to have a little more fun
with the colors and patterns of the top of the outfit
Riders have a few optins with
belts, though a simple leather belt matched to the chaps is
always a safe bet
Trail class and western
riding outfits vary between shows