Show Attire – What Exactly Do We Need?!?!

As we get ready to kick off the 2020 Show Season, you may find yourself wondering what exactly your rider needs in order to be show-ready.  At Canterbury Manor Stables, we tend to keep it casual, but there are a few basic rules about attire that you should definitely know.


All riders must wear an ASTM/SEI certified riding helmet.  Some riders will have a special helmet that they use for shows, and a different helmet that they use for lessons.  Show helmets are usually solid black and either a matte plastic or a velvet finish.  If you only have one helmet, that’s fine!  If you want, there are helmet covers that you can buy to make a “lesson” helmet look nicer…but it is not required.

Groundpoles and Crosspoles

Many riders who compete in these divisions are new to riding and showing.  While formal attire described below for Hunters and Equitation is recommended, the minimum requirements are a shirt with a collar, tan riding pants, and paddock boots.  Many of these items, including the formal attire, can be found fairly cheaply either second-hand from an older rider, in the Canterbury Tack Shoppe, or online.  There are also a couple of local tack shops that Sandy or some of the other riders can recommend.


Anything goes! Horses and riders can often be seen in flashy, color-coordinated outfits, saddle pad, and leg wraps. Riders may wear their hair down for these classes.

Hunters and Equitation

Horses in hunter divisions should use the shaped fleece white pads that fit directly underneath the saddle.  Square pads should not be used.

Any rider competing in 2′ hunter and equitation classes should be dressed in formal show attire.  What is considered “formal” depends on the rider’s age.  All riders should have tan riding pants (style will vary with age, see below), a white show shirt, black gloves, a belt, and a fitted coat that is dark in color.  Navy and black coats are common, but dark greens, browns, and coats with discrete patterns are also acceptable.  The rest of the attire depends on the rider’s age as of December 1 of the previous year (i.e. for shows in 2020, the age that they were on December 1 of 2019).  Riders who are under 11 should pick either the combination of boots/pants/hair combination for riders under 11 or over 11.  You really shouldn’t mix the two (i.e. if your rider is wearing tall boots, they should not have show braids).

  • Riders who are 11 and under:
    • Paddock Boots.  Make sure that they are wiped clean for the show!
    • There are two options for pants:
      • Jodhpur pants with garter straps.  These pants have a cuffed ankle and an elastic strap that wraps around the heel of the boot.  The garter straps are worn below the knee and were originally intended to keep the pants in place.  While that is not necessary any more, they are still considered traditional.
      • Breeches and half-chaps.  This would not be OK at larger or more formal shows, but they are perfectly OK for shows at Canterbury.
    • Hair: Two “show braids” with pretty bows are the tradition for riders in this age group, however riders with short hair may opt for a hair net.
  • Riders who are 12 and over:
    • Tall black field boots.
    • Tan breeches.
    • Hair in a hairnet and secured under the helmet.

Example of a rider who is 11 or younger, wearing paddock boots and garter straps. This rider does not have show braids because she has short hair.

Example of a rider who is 12 or over, wearing tall boots and hair secured by a hairnet.

Show coats may be waived at the judge’s discretion if the temperature is 85F or above.