How has showing attire changed over the years? H&H takes a look back…

  • As with fashions and trends on the cat walk, the styles of dress seen in the show ring have evolved over the years.

    While judges are focusing on the horses and ponies presented in the ring, a smart and tidy rider who does not detract attention from the animal but stands out from the crowd is a paramount component of a winning combination.

    With so many products on the market, showing competitors are often spoilt for choice when it comes to picking out a statement tweed, flashy tie and or show hat.

    But how has show ring attire changed over the years? And what do you think of these kit adaptations?

    Here are six ways showing fashion has developed…

    1. Shorter jackets

    A smart line up of ridden show ponies at Ponies UK in 2012. Children should wear tidy, fitted jackets and not something they can perhaps ‘grow in to’

    Most commonly in children’s classes, the jackets of our younger riders have got increasingly shorter as time has gone on. A short jacket which cuts off at the bottom of the saddle is now preferred as oppose to something that the child can ‘grow in to’. While a tidy, fitted jacket is preferable today, many judges think jackets which are too short at the back or in the arm can look messy.

    Older jockeys who ride in pony classes — perhaps in larger hunter pony and native classes — are also seen to sport shorter jackets, which has led to the development of the ‘maids fit’; a jacket which fits somewhere in between child and adult sizes and are more fitted/shorter in the waist than a ladies jacket.

    2. Bolder tweeds

    With classes bigger than ever, sporting a different tweed can help a combination stand out from the crowd

    It has very much become a normal desire in 2019 to have a tweed which ‘no one else will have.’ Gone are the days of simple tweeds with minimal patterning. Today, skilled tailors who make made-to measure jackets in a whole host of tweeds have made it possible to have any jacket in any colour or print. A statement tweed can go a long way in helping a rider stand out from their competitors.

    3. Development of hats

    Stuart Hollings rides Cusop Emery to win the 153cm working hunter pony class and championship at the Royal Lancashire Show in 1973. He wears a hat without a chin strap which was permitted at the time.

    As hat regulations have tightened up, so have the styles. Navy or black hats have always been the fashion but today, children cannot ride without a chin strap and top hats are not permitted at many shows. Hats — especially the chin straps — have generally got neater and less prominent. In-hand competitors have always been, and are still, required to wear a smart hat in the ring.

    4. Brighter jodhpurs

    Show ponies at HOYS in 1993; riders have lighter jodhpurs that what is seen today.

    Children also wear yellow or canary jodhpurs in the show ring today, as opposed to white.

    5. Blingy brow bands

    Brow bands with large rosettes and added sparkle are commonly seen in the show ring today.

    While not a rider trend, an increase in decorative brow bands sported by show ponies and riding horses is certainly a style development the show ring has witnessed. Plaited brow bands are now made in bold, bright colours and boast large statement rosettes on either side, some even made with diamantes and crystals. It appears that today, a bold brow band is better.

    6. Championship changes

    One of the most successful riding pony sires of all time, Lechlade Quince, is shown by his smart handler who wears a dinner suit.

    One aspect of show dress which has not witnessed as much change is the attire worn in an evening performance or championship finale. It has always been customary for rider or handler to wear a black or navy jacket and a stock or a dinner dress-style outfit when contending an evening performance. Still today, tweed is usually not permitted at night-time. It certainly adds to the occasion.

    For all the latest equestrian news and reports, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday

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