Fit for English Riding: What to Wear in the Show Ring

Fit for English Riding: What to Wear in the Show Ring

With these English attire and style tips, look polished and professional next time you're in the show ring.

English rider sits on gray hunt seat horse (Credit: Kirstie Marie Photography for AQHA)

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The American Quarter Horse Journal logo

English apparel is not as flashy as the rhinestones and sequins you might see in western pleasure or showmanship classes. The hunt seat look is elegant and refined, but it doesn’t have to be boring.

While AQHA rules aren’t too strict, Cheryllee Sargent, former owner of Cheryllee’s English Tack & Apparel, points out some helpful tips to make your English dress a success.

Hunt Coat

  • Colors: stick to navy, browns or gray. Wear a lighter color for outdoor/summer events.
  • Sleeves should be able to bend at the elbow.
  • The coat length shouldn’t be so long that you sit on the tail in the saddle.
  • The correct sleeve length should be measured with your elbow bent, just like it is when you ride.
  • Hunt coats come in a lot of different fabrics and designs. Stick to what feels comfortable. It’s OK to try something a little different with patterns, like a subtle windowpane, but just remember this is a traditional event. Conservative is the name of the game.


  • Colors: Shirts do not always have to be white, but think basic. Just make sure it’s not an iridescent color.
  • Give your white shirt a little pizzazz by selecting one with an interesting pattern or texture. Some even have fun extra touches like colored trim inside the cuffs and collar.
  • Shirts can have piped collars.
  • The final touch to the shirt should be a monogram on the front of the collar. Monograms can range quite a bit in detail. Within reason, monograms are a fun way to personalize your look.


  • Boots should be field boots, not dress boots. Field boots have laces.
  • When you buy new boots, buy them about an inch too tall, because they settle.
  • Boots should fit snugly around your legs so they do not slouch down.
  • Young children show in short paddock boots, jodhpurs and garter straps. Though the age varies, it is traditional in the hunter-jumper world for children 12 and under to wear jodhpurs, and for 13 and over to wear tall boots.
  • Garter straps go just below the knee and should match the boot color: brown with brown and black with black.


  • Colors: should always be tan or khaki.
  • English pant styles vary a little. Find something that you’re comfortable in.
  • Side-zip breeches are a popular style and tend to be the most flattering.


  • You need to wear black gloves.
  • Makeup should be a finished look within reason. Make sure it is age-appropriate.
  • Jewelry should be moderate. Keep earrings subtle. Dangling jewelry of any kind is not only distracting, but poses a serious safety risk.
  • Hair should be tucked under the helmet and well-groomed. You don’t want fly-aways.
  • All youth are required and all amateurs are recommended to wear an ASTM/SEI-approved helmet.
  • Don’t forget a belt.

AQHA offers English classes from hunt seat equitation to working hunter, jumping to working hunter under saddle, and everything in between. Learn more about AQHA English classes.