The Fashion of Riding

It is now officially Show Season. Everyone and their District Riding Club are now hosting a big event which will visited by everyone who is the proud owner of an Equine Friend. Shows are great fun and the excitement of the competition along with the all the shopping and food….  And who says equestrians don’t have parties?!

I host small home shows.  Some day that may be more than that but right now I’m happy.  The most common question I get from the New Competitor Parent is, “What does she have to wear?”  They look very concerned because they know deep down this is going to cost a bomb.  I try to explain that for us, having a clean simple uniform is fine for the lower levels, but when you are jumping at 60+cm or doing the harder Preliminary Dressage Tests, then you must have the proper outfit. What composes the proper outfit? Here’s your basic list:

Home Shows:  Jodhpurs or dark leggings but no jeans, white shirt,
plain tie, plain coloured jumper, boots, and hat

Local Shows:  White, tan, buff or yellow jodhpurs, white shirt, plain tie, black, navy or tweed fitted jacket, long boots or boots with chaps, black or white gloves, and hat

Major Competitions, Affiliated Shows or Venues: White, tan, buff or yellow jodhpurs, white shirt, cravat or plain tie both with pin, black, navy or red jacket with velvet collar, long boots or boots with gaiters, white gloves, and a hairnet if your hair is long enough to touch your collar. If you are in the military, then you wear your dress uniform with coordinating jodhpurs and long boots. Your hat should be velvet or a top grade Champion type.  If you have questions, please contact the relevant adjudicating authority.

Hunter Type Competitions:  Tan, buff or yellow jodhpurs, white or plain coloured shirt, coordinating tie, a tweed jacket with or without a velvet trim, field boots, buff leather gloves, a coloured velvet or Champion type hat, and a hairnet.

Cross Country: Coloured jodhpurs are fine, a polo type shirt, a skull cap hat with no fixed peak, a number bib, gloves, a stopwatch wristwatch, short boots and gaiters (sometimes chaps are allowed). Coordinating Hat Silk is optional but a hairnet is not and your hair must be secured above your collar.

My eldest son has more in his equine wardrobe than in his normal wardrobe!  Yes, having it all is expensive.  So try to get what you can as you can afford it. Think carefully about what is the most important part to get first: hats and boots are a bit obvious, but then perhaps the jodhpurs and let the jacket(s) be last. Tan jodhpurs can be worn in showjumping and hunter events, but you must wear white or cream in dressage.

Don’t even get me started about what is required for in-hand showing, but take a quick look at the picture and you’ll get the idea!



Recently however I’ve been faced with a new challenge. My riding school is located in an area with a large Muslim population. The girls who ride here are just as passionate about their horses as they are about their religion. The thing that must be remembered and respected is that Islam has very strict modesty rules. How can girls who wear a jilbab be expected to suddenly wear jodhpurs?

It did not seem fair to me that these girls could not compete and show their skills. Some of these girls are amazing. I started researching on the net to see what was done in the UAE, Dubai, Saudi Arabia. Actually, it was only men who rode and competed according to the pictures. It didn’t make sense as the former president of the FEI was HRH Princess Haya Al Hussein of Jordan. I checked with the British Horse Society, British Showjumping, and British Dressage. There was nothing. Nada. So I called the local mosque.

I am sure the Islamic Cultural Society and Central Mosque of Luton thought I was being a prankster when I called them about this. We went round and round and all I got out of it was that the girls were to wear something loose that didn’t show their body shape.  The kind man on the end of the phone told me their clothes should be modest and not tight. So after I hung up I began to think. If the Imam can’t create something, well maybe I can because I don’t think the girls should have to chose between their religion and their love of horses.

I ran my idea past one of my Muslim parents whose daughter is planning on doing our June show and she thought what I proposed would work fine.  So if your Islamic, this is YOUR SHOW GEAR:

Instead of jodhpurs: appropriate coloured trousers of the salwar kameez, or split and stitch the jilbab up the centre to create an all-in-one type jumpsuit (her words not mine) which you can put the shirt and jacket over. White Shirt and tie is fine.

As you will probably be wearing a body protector-jump vest, get an oversized jacket that can button up over the top.  This combination will mask any body shape.

Wear a hijab that is the same colour as the jacket. It should be thin enough to tuck into the collar of the shirt and be comfortable under the hat. Tucking in is necessary for health and safety because we don’t want fabric blinding the rider over a 70cm jump!

The Islamic Cultural Society agreed with me about the gloves, boots and hat. This should make a smart looking outfit that will be both modest and meet the basic requirements of the various governing authorities as listed above. If anybody out there knows of a better set of suggestions or knows of the approved guidelines (which were seriously hidden), then please let me know.

Now that this all cleared up and we have something for everyone to wear, I look forward to seeing all our riders and riders around the world having a great summer of friendship and competition.

And please remember, you and your horse aren’t competing against another pair in your class, you are competing against yourself and the ideal of perfection.

Keep riding,