Wednesday, March 2, 2011

That's why they call it a Horse SHOW

I've been day dreaming about showing aside, and thinking what I would wear. My horse is a Saddlebred Country Pleasure hunter. Basically, a hack horse, no jumps. He could also be a nice lower level saddle seat pleasure horse if shod a little longer and if I get him into a double bridle (not his favorite). We've only gone to a show once in the 6 years we've owned him, since I'm just not that competetive anymore. But, the country fair in the next county over is a very nice show. When I can be bothered to show, it will be that one. It's lovely with lots of big shade trees, and tons of country atmosphere. It is part of a tri-state circuit for Saddlebreds and Morgans, and last year it was voted people's choice best show for that circuit.

This show has a lot of "open" pleasure classes, so rather than show aside in the breed hunt seat division, I would probably target the Open Ladies Pleasure class. Open Road Hack would also be an option, but I'm not going to assume at this point that either an extended trot or a hand gallop will be in my repetoire, especially in a ring full of horses since Road Hack is a pretty popular class. What could be more appropriate than Ladies Pleasure aside? The best part is that I wouldn't have to look the part of either a modern hunter or a saddle seat horse. I could go a little vintage and stick to the broader style of "english" show hack or what we would have called a "bridle path hack" 30 years ago.

Whether I am showing under hunt seat rules or saddle seat rules, I have the choice of either a pelham bit or a double bridle. I can also use a derby (bowler) under either division. So I was thinking a nice cutaway habit in dark grey with a grey derby and a canary vest and a men's tie. I'd use a flat leather bridle with a pelham, and then add a little bling with a retro ribbon browband in a conservative color, maybe something like this in charcoal and creamy yellow to match my habit and vest.

So as not to offend officianados of hunt seat style by adding "bling", I would probably lean a little towards saddle seat style and not braid his mane or trim his tail, turning him out instead, like a country pleasure Saddlebred. A ribbon browband might be a little out of date in saddle seat, but still acceptable by traditional standards. You buy one, or get a kit to make your own at the linked website.

But if I am feeling very stylish, I can also shoot for a costume class, and go completely vintaage. I loved Michelle's linen habit seen here . Which is very similar to one of my very favorite linen habits.

I mean, why dress up like everyone else? That's why they call it a Horse Show!

Although I am a big fan of the discipline, I've never been a big fan of Saddle Seat attire. I do love formal 3 gaited with the top hats and ribboned pants, but unless you spend more money on your habit than I usually do on my horse, you usually look like you're wearing your Daddy's hand me down Sunday suit.

Above I am showing a Walk Trot horse for a friend in a suit Mom made for me. I loved that chestnut top hat, and recently sold it to Julie from Riding Aside for her outfit.

I've always said if I had a really nice horse, so I wouldn't look like a dork, I'd go retro and show in flared johdpurs and a straw hat. Now that looks elegant....


  1. For some reason we seem to associate showing aside with hunter turnout, even though that's a minority. I love to see a nice saddle seat turnout, as well as a country hacking turnout. Your ideas sound very elegant to me.

  2. I like your ideas as well! I think it'll give you a little bit of flair and separate you from the other riders.

    The photo of the linen habit is the one that inspired mine, although mine didn't turn out exactly like it. It's still nice, just needs a few alterations to make it fit a little better.

    Half the fun of riding sidesaddle is most definitely the outfits!

  3. I love that vintage linen habit with the pith helmet - its my all time favourite! I have already found an online store that sells pith helmets, but I need somebody to make that habit... hmmm... wonder if Cindy at Wildhorse would be able to make one...?

  4. That habit now belongs to Amy Manning on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. You need to be size nothing to fit in it!
    But I bet Cindy could reproduce it; it looks like a day coat with apron. You can't tell from the picture, but the apron has those blasted individual pommel pockets that make settling into your saddle a bit of a pain. Why would anyone want such an arrangement?

  5. I'd like to see an apron with the individual pockets, it's hard to imagine how it works exactly. Interesting but I agree, I wouldn't want to ride in one!

  6. Can't wait to see what you decide on. It will look beautiful and I do hope you show. Even though I would take last or next to last in my classes .. I always received a lot of positive feed back and questions. My antique saddle was a big hit too.

    Also - in the photo of me before riding in the SASHA show, wearing your brown top hat, I used a favorite saddleseat jacket (with no matching pants) - I shortened it all over - but more in the front so it had a tapered shape and matched it with the silk skirt. That was as close to saddleseat attire I ever showed in.

  7. Here is the link to the SASHA story with the pic I referenced:

  8. Brita,
    Sue Tobin of Sidesaddle Heaven would like to contact you. She asked for your email but I don't have it. Can you get in touch with her?

  9. County fairs are one of the best things about fall, IMO ! I believe I might have a blog post in me about that concept, for sure ! :)

    Not that it makes a hill of beans worth of difference, but I concur with your opinion about women in suits and ties. I'm a BIG fan of FEMININE elegance and in my book that usually equates to skirts, blouses, jackets and hats.

  10. Email sent Robin. Thank you.

    Yes, Jason, Fair season is my favorite time of year. But I still equate it with the end of summer and having to go back to school. Some of my fondest memories are of camping out in a horse barn or cow barn.