Show Clothing: Coordinating Your Complete Look

The key to success when coordinating show clothing

In the show pen, it is important to look your best and accent your strengths. Coordinating clothing to accent your coloring, your horse’s coloring and your tack is a huge piece of the puzzle.


Look your best

A clean, polished look will impress any judge. That includes fitting your horse as well as your own appearance.


Make an impression from far away

Style plays an essential role in your show presentation. Select solids or big patterns.

Show clothes should be bolder and less concerned with detail compared to street clothes. Judges will view the color and design from 50 to 100 feet away. Small details will be lost; the judges, instead, will glean and gain an overall impression. Judges will mostly notice silhouette and color coordination between you and your horse. Ultimately, choosing the style and color that makes you confident is key. Judges can read that confidence in your presentation.


Fashion research

While fashion might not be what you had in mind when you started riding horses, coordinating show clothing is an important detail that cannot be ignored. There are trends and styles that come and go in the horse show world. Find resources that can keep you apprised of color and design trends – we recommend visiting our shop and one of our friendly staff members will be happy to give you the 411. We love sharing our knowledge and coordinating show outfits!


Black isn’t back – it never left!

Black is always appropriate, but you can expect about 75 percent of your competition to be wearing it. In order to stand out, yet still look sophisticated, choose an interesting silhouette and/or a pop of color.


Brighten up!

Bright colors are appropriate for youth riders. Not to say that adults can’t wear them too!

Note: Light colors emphasize; dark colors minimize.


What’s color got to do with it?

Color plays a vital role in your show. Select something that complements your horse, coordinates with your clothing, and nods to tradition, all the while trying to put a spin on things to stand out. Not an easy feat!


Go for the overall effect

Before you choose colors, consider the color of your horse. While a shade of tan might be your favorite color, if your horse is mostly white, the saddle and blanket are going to blend in. Same goes for black on black. The judges will be watching from a distance and you want your color palette to pop.

A horse of a different color

Generally, horses fit into the categories of redheads, Neutrals, or Dun Factor


Red horses include: (If you see red tones in your horse’s coat, he belongs in this group)

  • Sorrel

  • Chestnut

  • Red roan

  • Red dun

  • Blood bay

  • Bay with strong red tones


Red horses look best in:

  • Sand

  • Rust

  • Brown

  • Peach

  • Greens


Neutral horses include:

  • Black bay

  • White

  • Gray

  • Brown

  • Black


Neutral horses look best in: (Jewel tones often work well)

  • Red

  • Blue

  • Purple

  • Greens


Dun Factor horses include:

  • Palomino

  • Buckskin

  • Grullas

Neutral horses look best in:

  • Sand

  • Rust

  • Brown

  • Peach

  • Greens

  • Red

  • Blue

  • Purple

  • Greens

Appaloosas, Pintos, and Paints don’t fit neatly into the above categories. However, if your horse has more than 50 percent white hair, employ jewel-toned colors to contrast your horse’s coat. If your horse has less than 50 percent white hair, use your horse’s primary coat color as a guide.

If you ride several horses, do you have to buy separate outfits for each?

If you’re shopping for multiple horses, blues and greens are the most versatile colors. They look great on almost any horse and look great from the vantage point of the judges.


The choice is actually quite simple. Well, except for selecting from the many shades of greens and blues!

The right colors for your horse

To help you make your decision, drape a blanket or towel over your horse and stand back to gauge what the judges will see and the likely impression you and your horse will make.


Look for horses similar in color to your own at horse shows and in magazine articles. Take note of the outfits the horses and riders are wearing and see how that applies to your horse.


It is often helpful to choose your saddle pad first, then find the show clothing that works with it. Take the saddle pad with you when selecting clothing to make sure the tones are complimentary. Or, if you have selected your outfit first, take it when buying the saddle pad.


In the end, coordinating show clothing all comes down to what looks good and what gives you confidence.


Happy training and happy matching!


Contact us

Still not sure which color combos are right for you and your horse?


At the Wire Horse we live and breathe fashion. Our knowledgeable staff is more than happy to consult with you in store or even over the phone. It’s what we do and we love doing it! We look forward to having a conversation with you about coordinating show clothing!

  • Aug 05, 2020
  • Category: News
  • Comments: 0
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