Western Horse Show Fashion Clinic 1: Introduction

This introduction begins a series designed to help you create a winning wardrobe for western show events. We’ll evaluate the main elements head-to-toe that make up your western show wardrobe, and discuss hints and visual tricks to help create the look you need in today’s tough show competition. With these ideas in mind, you can assess both your horse and yourself to decide what elements in your present wardrobe to keep and what to update. No one knows better than yourself what you like, so remember that my suggestions are just that–nothing is written in stone, except in the rule book!

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It’s important to understand the rules, both written and unwritten, of what I call the horse show game. You’re being judged on your impression in the show arena, and it’s vitally important that you overlook no detail in either your performance or your turnout. You must not only have your horse schooled and groomed to perfection, but you must also look like a winner–coordinating your attire and your horse’s tack to flatter your strong points and minimize your weaknesses, with your presentation being both legal and appropriate for both the class and level of competition. Remember:

  1. Your equipment must satisfy the rules of the association or club you show with- become familiar with your rule book and don’t lose a prize because you ‘didn’t know.’
  2. Since you’re being judged on how you look as well as how you perform, there’s no sense in not looking your best. Wisely planning a good show wardrobe will not only help you make a good impression, but will also give you an extra bit of confidence each time you enter the arena, and save you time and aggravation in the long run.

How Much?
Not a million-dollar question, fortunately. Putting together a good western show wardrobe shouldn’t cost a mint if you plan carefully and always buy the best quality that you can afford. Spend your money where it shows–in the show ring–and consider economizing somewhere less visible: perhaps a less opulent hotel at the horse show, or a truck that merely pulls your horse trailer rather than creating a sensation as it barrels down the road–you’re being judged in the show pen, not the parking lot.

For a new rider with no wardrobe, plan on investing close to $1,000 initially for chaps, hat, show blanket, and assorted clothes for a quality western wardrobe suitable for showing competitively at local and regional level shows. Remember that quality basics will last for years and also have excellent resale value. Good show clothing is not an expense, it’s an investment in your success.

Consider this: if you show once a month for 4 years, the difference between a terrific $1,000 wardrobe and an average-at-best $500 bunch of clothes is about $10 per show. Isn’t it worth the extra 10 bucks to look like a winner?

Next part > Color & Style > Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Writing or riding, Suzanne Drnec enjoys horses and their people. Drnec is president of Hobby Horse Clothing Company, a show apparel manufacturer, and also the caretaker of an assortment of lawn ornaments including a Paint, a Quarter Horse, and an antique Arabian.

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