In this second installment we are going to get into proper equipment, tack, and attire. Saddles, bridles and tack are the next thing we notice when an exhibitor walks into the ring. I am not one who likes tons of silver and who bought the most expensive saddle.
Clean tack that is properly adjusted and well fitted is what I notice. I would invest in a quality hand-made saddle with no silver over a more expensive factory saddle loaded down with silver. Make sure that the saddle size fits you and your horse. Sometimes a plain tooled or basket stamp saddle works the best for me.
Remember you are showing off yourself, not your saddle. Make sure the cinch straps, leathers and all keepers are tucked in and not flopping all around. Make sure that everything is tucked down and nothing moves.
That also goes for hair on women. Tuck your hair up in a bun and make sure it is tucked up in the back. No hair sticking down from under the front or side of your hat. Hairspray it down and no ponytails, anything that moves will distract and make the rider look loose.
For the girls, put on makeup. You are showing yourself off, so always look the best you can. Remember to put it on a little heavier than normal as you are being viewed from far away and it needs to show up. If you have excessive jewelry such as too many earrings, eye piercing or nose rings take them out. Put them back after the class is over, I am a traditionalist and there are places for everything. I mention this because I see it from time to time.
As far as outfits go, any clean-looking and well-fitting equitation blouse will work just fine. If you have the expensive, thousand-dollar tops then go ahead and wear them. It is not necessary to have all that, and you can purchase a well-fitted blouse with a neck scarf for under $100.
Make sure that your colors match and your chaps and blouse are the same color, black blouse, black chaps, etc. It is important to create the nice straight line from top to bottom. Dont break up that line.
Your hat should also match your outfit. Gals wear felt hats but the guys can get away with a nice well-shaped straw hat except for the big shows. Guys have a little more flexibility and can get away with a nice white or solid-colored, heavy-starched shirt and starched jeans under their chaps. Girls need to have slacks that match their chaps. Sorry, but that is just the way it is, the guys always seem to have it easier in attire.
In Part III, we will get into more specific riding issues and riding the patterns correctly.
You can go back and read Part I here
Mark Sheridan has spent a lifetime producing winning show horses and judging at the championship level. He conducts clinics, has written numerous articles and produced a DVD series on Perfect Lead Changes. Learn more at www.marksheridanqh.com