Tie It Right

When horse showing, top off the button-down look with a scarf.

Who says you can’t wear a button-down shirt and win an AQHA horsemanship world championship? From weekend shows to AQHA regional championships, competitors are proving that they’ve got the mettle to lay down a winning pattern without all the bling.

Proving that you don’t have to be blinged-out to win big, Carey Nowacek sported a plain, button-down shirt when she won the horsemanship world championship with Certify This Chex at the 2010 Built Ford Tough AQHYA World Championship Show.

Aside from her sharp-creased hat, tight bun and tailored button-down shirt, the San Antonio competitor says that it is her scarf that puts the icing on her look. Since she won her world championship, Carey has continued sporting a scarf when she competes for the Texas A&M University women’s equestrian team, including her winning performance in the inaugural AQHA Collegiate Horsemanship Challenge at the 2012 AQHA World Championship Show.

Why the Scarf?

On a button-down shirt, the back of the collar sits higher than the front. When the shirt is buttoned up to the top, creating a crisp and clean look, the slope from back to front is highlighted, and that’s something that traditional horsemanship shirts try to disguise. To create that even, seamless look, riders don scarves.

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“I have a really long neck,” Carey admits with a laugh. “Just wearing a button-down (shirt) looks funny because there is so much neck (showing). I have to wear a scarf to make it look a little straighter across and make my neck not look so long.”

Even if you happen to have a short neck, a scarf can still be the look for you, Carey says. And you don’t have to limit your scarf to the horsemanship pen – many a rider has been spotted with a scarf in showmanship, trail, western riding and even western pleasure classes.

Do It Yourself

They call it superstition, and that’s why the Texas A&M horsemanship riders always help one another tie their scarves. But at the 2010 Ford Youth World, Carey tied her own scarf and says it’s easy to do.

Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Smooth your scarf out and fold it: Fold two opposing corners to the center of the scarf so that the corners meet, then make 1-inch folds, folding toward the center.
  2. Start the scarf centered and flat against the back of your neck. Be sure to place the scarf lower on your neck (the next wrap will lay above this, so you don’t want to start the wraps too high).
  3. Cross the tails in the front, making sure that you haven’t wrapped the scarf too tightly. You want the scarf snug enough to be tidy, but you also want it loose enough to be comfortable.
  4. Bring the tails to the back and tie them. Two knots will do the trick.
  5. To finish the scarf, tuck the ends into a fold or under the knot.

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Although some riders leave the tails of their scarf untucked, Carey prefers to tuck them in.

“We always tuck the tails in and tie them in the back,” Carey says of her teammates. “Some people let the ends flop around in front, but it looks cleaner if the tails are tucked in in the back.”

The Scarf for You

If you’re ready to purchase your next scarf, Carey says that you don’t have to look too far.

“You can pretty much get them anywhere now because they’re so (popular),” she says.

Because her Texas A&M uniform is black, Carey also wears a black scarf. However, if you look closely you will notice that there is a floral pattern woven into the silk.

“(It) is still solid, but it has a pattern in it, so it gives a little different vibe,” she explains. “Definitely for horsemanship, try to stay a little more conservative, but for trail and western riding, go fun – you can have a fun color.”

One of the great things about scarves, Carey says, is that they’re easy to fold and they stay relatively clean.

“We’ve never tried washing them, but they dust off pretty easily because they’re silk.”

Carey keeps her scarf in her hat can and says it’s part of her secret to keeping her scarf clean.