There’s no doubt that style and fashion within the equestrian world has been booming as of late. With innovative brands, high-tech fabrics, and beautiful design, equestrian fashion is in a league of its own. But what exactly are the rules? Are burgundy coats allowed in hunters or are they just frowned upon by some? Can you wear whatever you want in the jumper ring? What color can stirrup irons be? We had Karina Harris, our Operations Manager and the face behind @thehunt_eq, crack open the USEF rulebook and do some research to get clarity on the subject.
Believe it or not, there are 3 different categories of jumper attire, each with their own rules – Formal, Proper, and Standard. You can find which one your class requires in the show’s prize list.
JP 111 8a. Formal Jumper Attire. Dark, muted or similar colored, or red (scarlet) coats are required; team or sponsored coats of different colors are also permitted; white or fawn breeches; a white tie, choker (unless the shirt, by design, has the choker built in for its intended use) or hunting stock, and a white or lightly colored shirt must be worn. Shirts must have a white collar and white cuffs. Shirts must be fastened at the neck and tucked into breeches. Boots are required. Half chaps are permitted as long as the color matches the paddock boots being worn. Members of the Armed Services or the police may wear the service dress uniform with protective headgear.
What you need to know: Almost any color jacket is accepted, because team or sponsored jackets can be a different color than “dark” or red. White or tan breeches, a show shirt with a white collar and cuffs, and tall boots or half chaps w/matching paddock boots.
JP 111 8b. Proper Jumper Attire. Coats of any color are required. Breeches must be light color (white, fawn or canary). Pastel and dark colored breeches are not allowed. Shirts, light in color, must be tucked into breeches and fastened at the top of the neck. Ties or chokers of any color must be worn (unless the shirt, by design, has the choker built in for its intended use). Boots are required. Half chaps are permitted as long as the color matches the paddock boots being worn.
What you need to know: Any color show jacket is permissible, but breeches have to be white, tan, or canary. Dark and pastel breeches are not permitted. Pick a light colored show shirt. Tall boots or half chaps w/matching paddock boots.
JP 111 8c. Standard Jumper Attire. Coats are not required. Breeches of any color are permitted. Shirts (polo shirts are permitted) must have collars and sleeves (sleeves may be either long or short), and must be tucked into breeches. Sleeveless shirts and shirts with exposed hoods are prohibited. Boots are required. Half chaps are permitted as long as the color matches the paddock boots being worn.
What you need to know: This is the most broad section for apparel options. Shirts still must have a collar, some sort of sleeve, and has to be tucked into your breeches. No hoodies allowed. Tall boots or half chaps w/matching paddock boots.
And what happens if you accidentally break one of these rules? JP111 8e states: “The penalty for a first or minor offense will be a warning and for repeated violations by the same exhibitor at the same event, the penalty may be elimination.” So be safe and always check your class’ attire requirements.
You can read the entire USEF Jumper Division Rulebook here.
The attire for Hunters is much more limited. Hunters are rooted in tradition and a lot of the clothing used today once had a purpose – for instance, the stock tie was worn on hunts as it doubled as a bandage in case of injury. The stock pin held it all together. Smart, right?
HU107 2. Attire. Riders are required to wear conservatively colored coats (black, blue, green, grey or brown) which are free from adornment which in the judge’s opinion is overly distracting. Shirts must have a choker, similar collar or tie. Breeches may be buff, canary, tan, rust or white.
What you need to know: You can wear a coat in the colors black, blue, green, grey, or brown. It’s all up to the judge’s opinion on what classifies as “overly distracting”. We do not recommend wearing coats with bling or tons of contrast stitching. After all, in hunters, it’s your horse who should be the stand-out. No color restrictions on shirts. You can wear breeches in tan, white, rust, or canary, but most choose tan. We typically recommend a white shirt and tan breeches to keep it classy and tidy looking, but we do have show shirts in pretty, light colors that can look lovely when paired with a complementary coat.
HU107 3. Formal Attire. Riders are required to wear scarlet or dark coats; white shirts with white stock; white, buff or canary breeches. Members of the Armed Services or the Police may wear the Service Dress Uniform.
What you need to know: For formal classes like derbies, classics, etc, wear a dark coat or a shadbelly for an even more elegant look. Scarlet jackets are for those who have earned their colors in a recognized hunt. White show shirts and white stock ties are a must. Tan or white breeches (or canary if you desire) round out the look.
HU107 4. Inappropriate attire. When management permits Hunter or Hunter Seat Equitation riders to ride without jackets, riders must wear traditional, short, or long-sleeved riding shirts with chokers or ties. Polo shirts and full chaps are not permitted except in unjudged warm-up classes. Management or Judge may eliminate an exhibitor who is inappropriately attired.
What you need to know: Hunters are more strict in this area as well – you may get eliminated, and there is not “first time warning” like there is in the jumper ring. We do not typically see riders disqualified for improper attire, even if it does not fall into these parameters, but we always recommend playing it safe. Most notably, burgundy coats are not a permitted color. With that said, we have not seen someone eliminated for wearing it.
You can read the entire USEF Hunter Division Rulebook here.
Equitation attire rules are the same as Hunters, but fit is of the utmost importance in this ring. The fit of a coat can either do you a great disservice or make you stand out. As this is a discipline judged on the rider, you want your attire to maximize your performance.
EQ105 2. Attire. Riders are required to wear conservatively colored coats (black, blue, green, grey or brown) which are free from adornment which in the judge’s opinion is overly distracting. Shirts must have a choker, similar collar or tie. Breeches may be buff, canary, tan, rust or white.
What you need to know: Simple and classic is best. We recommend a black or navy coat, a white shirt and tan breeches with very little embellishment.
Regarding stirrup irons in the equitation ring, here is the current rule:
EQ105 6. When showing in the Hunter/Jumping Seat Equitation section it is recommended that riders use traditional stainless steel stirrup irons that promote proper position of the foot in the iron as well as a correct leg position. It is further recommended that riders use stirrup irons that allow judges a clear and unobstructed view of the position of the foot in the stirrup. Judges may not eliminate a rider for using a particular style of stirrup iron.
What you need to know: You can’t get eliminated for using black composite stirrups in the eq ring, but they might do you a disservice as they tend to blend with your boot and generally have a thicker branch than fillis irons. Stick to traditional stainless steel in this ring.
You can read the entire USEF Equitation Division Rulebook here.
So there you have it, the basic rules on attire for Hunter/Jumper competitions.
Some parting advice: Being well turned out and polished has only ever helped and you’ll always be happy you dressed well when you get those show photos back! Reach out to us for complimentary fittings and advice, we want you to stand out in the ring for all the RIGHT reasons!
All excerpts are from the USEF Rulebook as of January 3, 2019.
Photocredit: McCool Photography
Pictured: Karina Harris and Beaulieu's Cool Game