Dressage Clothing

Dressage Riding and Clothing: What You Need to Know

Dressage riding is one of the most amazing events in the equestrian world. Seeing a rider and their horse come together to demonstrate skill and athleticism both impressive and entertaining. If you are new to the world of dressage riding, we’re here to give you the basics—what is dressage, how do you participate, and what horse-riding clothes you need to wear.

What is Dressage?

Dressage comes from a derivative of the French verb “to train” and refers to a way of training and riding your horse. There are a variety of disciplines that fall under this category and Dressage itself is even in the Olympics.

While dressage differs from classical to western riding to jumping events, there are a few things that remain consistent:

  • The horse and rider are judged on how they perform a series of movements
  • There are different levels to compete in, based on the skill levels outline by Federal Equestrian International
  • Dressage tests are completed in a 20 X 60-meter arena
  • Movements are scored on a 10-point scale

Some dressage movements include different levels of walking, trotting, cantering, and jumping. The way each one is done depends on the skill level of the rider and horse.

How to Participate in Dressage?

Dressage helps develop foundational skills for any other horse-riding disciplines. Many consider it to be basic training that helps both the horse and rider. For that reason, many people who are serious about becoming better riders will participate in dressage events.

There are two main types of events you can participate in:

  • Affiliated events through British Eventing (BE), the national authorization body of horse eventing. It’s a membership organization where you will have access to events around the UK.
  • Unaffiliated events, or those that are not governed by BE. Both British Dressage and Dressage UK have event calendars of what’s happening around the country.

A good way to learn more about dressage and horse eventing in general is through a horse-riding school. They can help you or your children not only learn to ride but will provide valuable information about how to participate in events like dressage. Check out our guide about how to choose a horse riding school to learn more.

Equestrian Clothing for Dressage

Equestrian clothing for dressage is very specific. It combines the classic horse riding clothes with function and safety. The rules on what to wear are strict, so don’t try and bend them! Some unaffiliated events are less strict, and you may be able to wear something different.

In general horse riding clothes for dressage are conservative, sharp, and clean. Colours are always muted—you can’t go wrong with black, navy, or beige! You can have some subtle embellishments and additions to your outfit, but we don’t recommend straying too far from the standard dress code rules.

The equestrian clothing for dressage is different then what you may wear for practice and training. Our Equicoat, for example, is designed to keep you warm and dry whilst riding outdoors. It doesn’t, however, meet the standards of dressage, so should just be used during your training times.

What not to wear for dressage:

  • Bold or bright patterns
  • Loose hair that is not tied back
  • Jewellery that could be a hazard

What to wear for dressage:

  • Short show jacket in conservative, muted colours (black, navy, grey); subtle details like pinstripes are permitted
  • Collared show shirt with a stock or tie
  • Breeches or jodhpurs in plain, muted colours (white, beige, or champagne)
  • Long riding boots in brown or black
  • Spurs made of coated metal
  • Gloves; any colour is permitted, but navy, black, or white is the most common.
  • Jockey skull or peaked helmet that meets the PAS015 safety standards; the colour of your helmet should match your jacket, ideally
  • Body protectors or air jackets can be worn in a conservative, muted colour

If you’re not sure whether your current horse riding clothes meet the standards, check in with your instructor, friend, or even read through the British Dressage competition rules.

Dressage is a great way for horse riders of all levels to show their skill and expertise. Through careful training and practice, it allows you to become a better rider and connect with your horse.

Getting started with dressage can be tricky, though. There are many rules and regulations to consider, especially when it comes to appropriate horse riding clothes for dressage. This guide is the basics of what you need to know for dressage at all levels. Just remember to keep your outfit simple, conservative, and muted. After you’ve picked out your outfit, you can get out and have some fun, test your skill, and become a better rider.

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