Splashes of Color

Yesterday we talked about a change with USEA that reformulates how points are tabulated… now lets talk a little about rule changes! Specifically – the ones regarding dress.

The changes to the eventing rules were announced a few weeks ago, and their dressage dress code updates look like this:

    a. Horse Trials (Beginner Novice through Preliminary)—protective headgear—any color helmet will be allowed; tasteful and discreet accents such as a different color or modest piping or crystal decorations, are acceptable, including National Flags; Coat—any single color jacket will be allowed, including tweeds and pinstripes, tasteful and discreet accents, such as a collar, cuff, lapel, piping, of any color, or crystal decorations, are acceptable. Tail coats are not permitted; Shirt— of any color and design, tasteful and discreet accents, such as a collar, cuff, piping, are acceptable with stock and pin, or choker, or tie; Gloves (if worn)—dark color, tan, beige or white; Jodhpurs, Breeches—light color or white; Boots— black, brown, or other dark hue, modest piping of a different color is permitted, field, jodhpur or a black or brown full grain smooth leather leg piece and matching leather boots. Chaps and/or half-chaps are not allowed. Members of armed and police forces, service dress, regulation headgear and spurs in accordance with EV114.
    b. Competitors at Beginner Novice through Modified may compete without a jacket. In such cases, shirt – long or short sleeved with collar and without neckwear, any color and design; tasteful and discreet accents, such as a collar, cuff, piping, is acceptable, neatly tucked into riding breeches.
    c. Horse Trials (Intermediate and Advanced) As above, with the exception gloves and coats required. Tail Coats permitted. Members of armed and police forces, service dress with gloves, regulation headgear and spurs in accordance with EV114. Members of armed and police forces, service dress with gloves, regulation headgear and spurs in accordance with EV114.

Basically it made any color coat or helmet acceptable, rather than specifying colors or tones, and gave you more options all around for colors and whether or not you have to wear a jacket. It didn’t really get a lot of chatter amongst the eventing crowd that I saw, mostly just some “oh cool”s in passing.

And then this week USDF announced some rule change proposals that would be similar – any color coat, and also the possibility of dark colored breeches.

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And omg. I think I’ve seen people discussing and/or arguing about this on every social media platform by now.

Most people seem to be in favor of it, especially the coats. But there’s also a lot of pearl-clutching from some of the self-proclaimed “traditionalists” (I’m starting to hate that word). Some of them are a little spun up with visions of how everyone will be wearing yellow and lime green and hot pink coats and it’ll be SO DISTRACTING. But um, let’s be honest, 1) nobody is really gonna wear that, 2) some of them are already so covered in bling and/or patent that they’re basically a mirrored surface – colored jackets aren’t worse than that. Ok, maybe two people will roll out a crazy color coat or something. Most folks will just keep on keeping on with what they’ve got thought or maybe there will be a splash of boldness here and there. No one will die from it, I promise. Just avert your eyes. We’re all used to doing that anyway.

The breeches seem to be getting more of a mixed reception. I personally think allowing dark breeches would be great, but then again despite the fact that I am a lover of navy and white, I am not a traditionalist. Despite how much I prefer my whites to tan, if it was widely accepted to wear dark breeches you’d never see my cellulite ass stuffed into white breeches again. And if it were really up to me I’d get equestrians into some actual modern athletic apparel like every other sport in the world. Maybe we’d look less like butlers.

But anyway – some dark gray or navy or black breeches don’t seem like the end of the world to me either. There IS some precedent for the look, after all, with military uniforms.

Début de saison victorieuse en dressage pour deux Écuyers du Cadre Noir |  Conseil des équidés Pays de Loire

Not to say that a lot of people would go with a monotone, but dark breeches in the show ring aren’t completely unheard of. There’s certainly nothing more traditional than military dress.

I think the great thing about these rule changes it that it gives people more options. More options to buy what they actually like, more options to feel comfortable and happy with what they’re wearing, and more options on what to buy and how to spend their money. Want to keep wearing your black and white? Great, no problem. Want to go get that coat you’ve always wanted but couldn’t wear? Do it, girl, YOLO. Want to burn your white breeches in a fire pit and never have to wear them in public again? Well… maybe wait to see what rules actually pass first.

Me though, I’m all for it. Even if I’m sitting over here in my corner clutching my navy and being boring.

What are your thoughts on the rule changes or rule change proposals? Would you buy a “wild” colored coat or wear dark breeches if you could?

27 thoughts on “Splashes of Color

  1. I’m always curious what “modern athletic apparel” people would envision riders wearing. Sure, ditch the coat. But we gotta wear a shirt and pants, and the boots and helmet are a necessity. So other than the buttons on the shirt, I’m not sure what else can go? Or what it would be replaced with. Perhaps I’m just not creative enough, though.


    1. Jersey tops, different pant designs and materials, boots with more of a sneaker feel and different materials (we’ve seen some but they look so different that they haven’t taken off), etc… like imagine if some of the top sports apparel companies developed riding stuff that looked and performed more like typical sports uniforms. Even safety equipment – they have the money to throw behind the research and development that most equestrian companies do not. It’s interesting the contrast between my cycling apparel and safety equipment vs my riding apparel. Some of it doesn’t transfer between industries but a lot of it does. I can’t really see the equestrian world embracing that anytime soon though.


      1. I definitely agree that more research can and should go in to making optimum sports fabrics and designs for riding. And sneaker/higher performance boots would be amazing. I’m only opposed to jersey tops because I would be cold and hate flapping – but I guess I could wear an underlayer.

        Even though it makes me do a double take to think of some of those outfits, I’m philosophically opposed to sticking to tradition for mere tradition’s sake (ornery bitch over here) so if for no other reason, breaking tradition is a good enough reason to change for me.


        1. Jerseys don’t have to be loose fitting 😉 … cycling jerseys for instance. They also come in really awesome wind and waterproof materials that are very lightweight and comfy.


  2. I am here for the dark colored breeches. I have a navy OneK and a black coat now but i despise white breeches and dont even own a pair (If you are large like me white is NOT your color). I wear light beige breeches at any semi-respectable shows I attend but otherwise I have navy, chocolate and other dark breeches I wear instead if I can. But since i never show recognized this change doesnt really effect me. Good to know though!


  3. Love the coat rule change. The tone stuff was just ridiculous. But I also don’t think that people are just going to be flying out to buy ridiculously colored coats.


  4. I would *love* to wear charcoal or navy breeches at a show. Easier to keep clean and more slimming, sign me up please! Just not sure what color jacket I would wear? I’m very used to the idea of dark jacket/light breeches.


  5. I would absolutely love to have the option to wear my charcoal breeches with my navy coat at shows, I think that would be gorgeous. I already routinely wear a gray show shirt when coats are waived or for schooling shows, and I wish that gray was more acceptable. Some of these traditionalists would definitely pearl clutch if they saw the attire common at my favorite Christmas schooling HT in Louisiana–I usually would wear a gray show shirt and burgundy breeches and fit right in.


  6. The amount of people saying they hate the rule because they think everybody is going to be rolling out the canary yellow coats is insane. For one thing most of us are AAs on a budget and aren’t going to pay somebody to custom make us some hot pastel color. Also, because most of us are AAs on a budget, we aren’t going to replace the conservative coats we already own for a while. I think the world is going to be generally safe from wild colors.

    I’m excited about more options with breeches. I hate trying to keep white breeches white, and by the end of the show season even with my “day after the show bleaching routine,” my breeches looks stained and dingy. I’m probably going to rock some tan breeches this year because I can wear them more than once without them looking ruined.


  7. I loathe white breeches and white shirts. They took one of the dirtiest sports and decided to make it worse by requiring light colors in most competitions. Who thought that would be a good idea???


    1. I dunno because at the end of the show day I always look like I rolled down the middle of a city street after it rained, and then kept rolling through the muddy median onto the other side. I have no idea how some of these magic people stay clean.


  8. I’m firmly in the BRING ON ALL THE COLOR camp!!! Cracking up that the dressage people are all up in arms about their possible rule change- weren’t they one of the first to buck tradition by adding crystals and various colors and trim to their shadbellies and coats? Oh and having different colors like navy and brown shadbellies and coats??? It’s not all black and white at the Dressage shows currently so why not bring on some more fun and individualism?

    Also I definitely did a happy dance when i read about Eventing’s dress code rule change- even if I’ll still be rocking a navy coat 🙂 Maybe one day a green one???


  9. I, too, have always been one for wanting the attire to be more like sports apparal. It just makes sense if you are participating in an athletic endeavor! And bring on the dark colored breeches-much more flattering!


  10. I’d love to be able to wear dark colored breeches! I used to wear charcoal breeches with my navy coat for local flat shows and always felt so much more confident than I do in white for dressage (never mind events with the added thought of wearing them xc and stadium!)


    1. Yes !!! 😀
      I rode h/j during the era where ALL of the cool kids wore rust breeches and a pin-striped navy coat. The combo looked fantastic, especially on a bay / dark-bay horse. Wouldn’t mind seeing those again.

      Lots of nice conservative colors for breeches that will look outstanding with a navy coat.


  11. I do competitive trail (they’re as colorful as endurance riders) and dressage. I LOVE my colored tack (yes, my saddle itself has a teal seat) for the trail. But I’d never bring any of it into the dressage ring (though as most of it is biothane, it’s not legal anyway). For dressage I usually school in a purple pad, sometimes my navy WEG pad because it’s a WEG pad. I have a navy helmet and show coat because, well, I’ve always wanted a navy helmet and I didn’t feel right pairing that with a black coat! I picked up a navy show pad (Smartpak Special, for like $12) to match: entirely because my horse is grey! I learned LONG ago that if you show in a white pad and white breeches, no matter how clean your grey horse is, they’ll look dirty. And if you go to a dressage show, you’ll likely notice that there really aren’t that many grey horses there…and quite a few that are there are sporting a black saddle pad!

    I show in tan breeches, regardless of recognition level of the show. And I don’t care that it’s not “correct”. I would LOVE to show in grey (I actually found a light grey pair of Romfh breeches that I kinda want to get to see if I could show in them or if it would also make my horse look dirty…but they’re like $170 and I don’t want to drop that kind of cash on them). But a slightly darker grey, that would be fantastic.

    I’m a firm believer in the idea that if you’re going to cover yourself and your horse with sparkles and patent leather, you’d better be an EXCELLENT rider since everyone’s going to be looking at you. But since I’m nowhere near that good, I’ll stick to my non-sparkley navy coat and pad.


  12. My forever question – are half-chaps allowed at the lower levels (the type that look like boots), or not??? LOL

    “Boots— black, brown, or other dark hue, modest piping of a different color is permitted, field, jodhpur or a black or brown full grain smooth leather leg piece and matching leather boots. Chaps and/or half-chaps are not allowed. ”

    First sentence – talk about a ramble over hill & dale – describes half-chaps as ok. Second sentence forbids them.

    But people who know more about the rulebook than me say that YES the half-chaps that look like boots are allowed.

    The boot rule is so poorly worded …


      1. Thank you for that answer. 😀 Now all is clear!

        So I just have to stop calling them half-chaps and call them leg-peices instead. LOL

        I have never heard “leg pieces “ in common usage re half-chaps. No wonder there is so much confusion! They really need to define what they mean. Too funny!


  13. As someone who only just bought a navy coat this year and who is still unsure about wearing it, the rule changes won’t affect me 😂 but I’m 110% for being more inclusive and allowing for more flexibility in our sports. I wonder how many people weren’t sure about showing and then found out they had to wear white breeches and were like “nope, I’m out,” or people who feel uncomfortable in them and don’t ride their best because it’s in the back of their mind? If it’s not hurting anyone, let it be. I feel similarly about allowing side pulls/bitless bridles in dressage. Down with tradition!


  14. If these rule changes ever come to South Africa, you better believe I’m cantering down centerline in hot pink breeches and a lime green coat with “This is for you, traditionalists!” on the back!


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