Now let’s turn our attention what you, the rider, needs to wear. You may already have most of the acceptable items in your wardrobe, so there is no need to splash out on a complete new wardrobe.

What do I wear under it?

That is at your discretion(!) but see note below. You may wear a shirt and tie that co-ordinates conservatively with the rest of your attire. A white American Collar is also acceptable and the traditional correctly tied stock is still very much in evidence.

In excessively hot weather, show organisers may permit you to ride without a coat providing you are wearing a suitable shirt that fastens at the neck (not bright or multi-coloured) with a tie, America Collar or correctly fastened stock. A fitted, plain, conservative coloured waistcoat may be worn when permission has been granted not to wear coats. Plain dark coloured waterproof coats may be worn in wet weather. Body protectors or inflatable air jackets may be worn at any time.

Can I wear my hacking jacket, or do I need to buy a black or navy showing jacket?

The rules state that you don’t have to wear a solid colour jacket until you reach Advanced level. However, there is nothing prohibiting you from wearing one at the lower levels either. So, if you have one, by all means wear it, but you are equally allowed to wear a conservative tweed hacking jacket (i.e. no ‘loud’ patterns). Tailcoats or short jackets may beany conservative dark colour such as; black navy, bottle green, brown, charcoal grey and they may coloured collars and contrast piping to collars and lapels. Subtle pinstripes are also permitted.

What type of riding hat should I wear?

Protective hats must be worn at all times when mounted at a BD (and in my experience every other) competition. Top hats and uniform caps are the exception for Advanced to Grand Prix classes (but only when warming up for these classes), however it is recommended that even those to whom this exception applies wear protective headgear at all times when mounted.

Hats and hat covers should be predominantly black, navy blue or a conservative colour that matches the rider’s jacket.

When you get to Advanced level you may wear switch your short jacket for a tail coat and a top hat.

What colour jodhpurs / breeches?

These may be white, cream or beige. If wearing an official uniform, they may be of the uniform colour.

Should I wear gloves?

Gloves are mandatory and white, beige or cream gloves are preferred. But light colours draw attention to the hands, so unless you have very quiet hands—and want the judge to notice—you might prefer a darker colour.

I don’t have a pair of long leather boots, do I need to buy some?

No, whilst long leather, dressage-cut boots are a wonderful, flattering luxury, they are not a necessity. A simple pair of long leather boots won’t cost the earth, should you prefer long boots and you may ride in long rubber ones, too.

You are also permitted to ride in jodhpur / paddock boots with gaiters made from the same leather. You cannot ride in suede half chaps.

Boots must be black, brown or the same colour as the coat and may be top boots (long black boots with a brown top).

Am I allowed to wear spurs in Preliminary classes?

Spurs do not become mandatory until Advanced level upwards, but you may wear them at every level below that.

They must be made of metal, though spurs that have a smooth rotating rubber, metal or plastic ball on the shank are permitted. The band around the heel must be smooth and there must be a shank on the back of the heel pointing towards the rear. (‘Comb’ spurs are not permitted).

Spurs may not be worn upside down.

There is no restriction on the type of shank, and rowels are permitted provided they are fitted vertically and are free to rotate. Rowels which have points must have rounded ends.

Spurs that have a smooth rotating rubber or plastic ball on the shank are permitted.

Dummy spurs and swan neck spurs are permitted subject to the above rules.

Only blunt spurs without rowels may be worn for Young Horse classes.

Do I have to carry a whip?

No, they are at the rider’s discretion.

There is no maximum length (and yes, they can be a ‘jumping’ whip), but they must not be of a length that disturbs other riders, or  be used or carried in a manner which affects other horses.

If you use one for warming up and then discard before your test, it is worth getting into the habit of dropping it prior to entering the test area, not prior to entering the arena itself. There is no penalty for this at lower levels, but at championships it will cost you 4 penalty points per judge!

What to Wear

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Classical Dressage Notebook


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