If you’re reading this, chances are you’re worried about an upcoming dressage event. Maybe you’re about to compete in your first competition! Or maybe you’re going up a level? Either way, I’m so excited for you – and you should be excited too. And today, I’m going to help you work out what to wear to a dressage competition.
I know it can be nerve wracking for sure but at least now that you’ve got this guide, you won’t have to worry about what to wear because I’ve got you covered!
The feel of dressage clothing
When deciding what to wear to a dressage competition, you want to think formal and conservative. Dressage is an extremely old sport dating back to when it was done as entertainment for royalty. Like many such sports, it has plenty of tradition that’s fiercely upheld.
So you don’t want anything flashy. If your helmet is bright purple, you need a new one. If you’re thinking half-chaps, think again (although this does depend on what age category you are in).
Colors need to be neutrals like whites, greys and beiges. Blacks also work, but only for accessories such as boots, gloves and helmets. In addition, everything that you wear should be clean, wrinkle-free and polished! How you look is very important.
Dressage Clothing: What to Wear to a Dressage Competition…
Basic dressage clothing
The first part of what to wear to a dressage competition is the basics. You need a white competition shirt or show shirt with a standup collar. Women need a stock tie or choker, while men need a tie. Make sure these are conservative in color such as white or cream. Here are some examples.
For ladies who are in Training and First Levels, you can just wear regular stock ties but for upper levels, you should have ruffled stock ties.
All competitors should wear riding breeches that are either white or light beige. Only in the case of young children are jodhpurs allowed as well as breeches. If your breeches have belt loops, then you should wear a belt; however, it needs to be a conservative color.
The next part of what to wear to a dressage competition is the outer layers and accessories. You should wear a dressage coat in either black or navy. If it is extremely hot, sometimes you will be permitted to take these off, but you should have one with you just in case.
Riders need to have tall dressage boots, field boots or jodhpur boots for competition. The boots should be black, polished and clean. If you want some ideas, have a look at my tall riding boots gallery!
Only riders up to First Level are allowed to wear half chaps, gaiters and/or leggings. These riders may wear half-chaps, gaiters or leggings in solid black or brown, with no fringe, matching the color of their boots and made of smooth leather or leather-like material.
In these cases, if breeches and paddock boots are worn together then simple half chaps should also be worn that match the color of the boots and resemble the look of a field boot. Similarly, if jodhpurs and paddock boots are worn together – usually only by young children – then matching garters or jodhpur knee straps are often also worn.
Riders have the option of wearing a riding helmet or a Top Hat. Top Hats are usually exclusively worn at the upper levels; however, even in these cases more and more riders are opting for helmets due to safety reasons.
The helmet you wear should be black, clean and ASTM / SEI certified. And finally, in the upper levels, it is required that you wear spurs that are clean and shiny.
Riders may choose to wear riding gloves that are either white or black. Generally riders competing in the upper levels choose to wear white gloves whereas lover lever riders wear black ones. This is because your hand movements are more apparent in white gloves, which can be a problem for riders with less experience.
A standard black riding whip may be used in certain situations. If you are competing in the dressage portion of an eventing competition then whips are not permitted. Make sure the whip is black and plain. Don’t bring in one that’s hot pink with fringes!
Always double check & good luck!
Always double check with the FEI and / or whoever is running your particular competition for unique modifications or specifications. What to wear to a dressage competition can deviate from the norm for whatever reason.
You should be informed of any such modifications but it’s always good to double check. It’s never fun to show up the day of the competition and realize there’s something you don’t have or something you have that you shouldn’t.
You’re already being proactive by reading this post so I know that you’re going to do great! I want to wish you the best of luck. I would also love it if you would comment below and let me know if this was helpful for you, or if you have any additional questions.
Happy riding 🙂
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