Begin in Black

Your first showing wardrobe should revolve around the most versatile color.

No woman's closet is complete without the essential black cocktail dress. It's easy to accessorize, matches everything and is appropriate for any occasion.

Think of that cocktail dress when shopping for your first horse show ensemble, say Kay Mortensen and Penny Young, owners of Showtime Show Clothing in Purcell, Oklahoma. The core of the outfit should match anything you throw on top of it.
Kay suggests basic black for a beginner's staple items - it's flattering on any person or horse.

"A basic black front zip jacket dotted with crystals will take you from the showmanship class to the riding classes," she says. "The jacket should be hip length to pair with black showmanship pants, and to wear out over your chaps for riding classes. The crystals on the jacket will add sparkle and shine, which will keep you from being too "dark" in the arena. An "invisibella" stretchy undergarment will smooth our the bra lines and make you look sleek and smooth."

Add black boots and a black professionally shaped hat, and you'll be ready to hit the arena.

Sound boring? It's actually very smart. "People get in trouble when they want to buy a funny color for their first outfit," Penny warned. "Then they can't find anything else to match the chaps. That's poor planning." Not to mention a waste of money.

Get more great showing advice. Check out AQHA's FREE report: The Ultimate Guide to Showing!

Splash of Color

Once you've established a core black outfit, the fun comes in spicing it up - with flashy, colorful jackets.

"A pop of color in a jacket is nice second addition," Kay says. "White ottoman fabric that is decorated with accents of black leather, gold and silver with crystals is a top-notch item to own. The base of white shows up in crowded arenas and, with the black accents, pairs nicely with black chaps and hat. Red is also a wonderful show ring color. It shows confidence and that you are entered to win first place."

Top off your outfit with simple crystal stud earrings. For an added accent, attach silver conchos to the corners of your black saddle pad, outlining each concho with a circle of ultrasuede that matches your vest.

As your horse show experience grows, so can your wardrobe. Maintaining your core items, save up for a new jacket that's different from your first, giving you a completely new outfit choice. Gradually throw in new options such as a beige hat and different colored saddle pads. Little changes that further accent the jackets will liven up the outfit and give any rider a welcomed change.

Don't forget - take great care of your show clothes, hanging and protecting them between shows and dry cleaning when necessary. If chosen wisely, your black outfit with accenting vests can last through years and years of changing horse show styles.

Show Clothes Don'ts:

Follow this advice for a stylish look.

    • Don't wear ill-fitting, baggy clothes. You want to look sharp and flawless in tailor-fit clothes.
    • Don't let your hat lose its shape. Keep up on reshaping.
    • Don't wear colored hatbands. Stick with the band that comes with the hat.
    • Don't wear colored boots with your black chaps. Only black boots will do.
    • Don't wear crepe soles or lace-up boots. Roper-style, low-heeled, well-shined boots are your best bet. Crepe soles can be OK for men, but they down-dress women's outfits and make their feet look big.
    • Don't wear dangly jewelry. Small crystal studs do the trick.
    • Don't wear a hair net. Keep your hair neatly tucked into your hat, in a ponytail or in a neat bun, with no bangs or flyaways.

Take the next step toward horse show stardom. Get AQHA's The Ultimate Guide to Showing report to learn everything you know about beginning your horse show adventures. Share this FREE report with your friends!

With the 48th Annual Florida Gold Coast Circuit having wrapped up on December 28, the 28th Annual Florida Quarter Horse Association Gulf Coast Circuit begins on January 4 at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa, Florida.

Other shows in the area include special event ropings at the Triple J in Sarasota, Florida, which began December 28 and conclude January 6, as well as the 25th Annual Fox Lea Four Seasons Circuit January 10-18 in Venice, Florida.

The Journal will be at these shows to capture stories for the March issue. Check January 5-12 for stories and photos from the Florida circuit shows.

Have a story idea? Look for field editor Tonya Ratliff-Garrison at the shows. She'll be wearing her Journal jacket and would love to meet and chat with you.