Eight Secrets to Horse-Show Hair

Depending on the event, a rider’s hairstyle provides comfort, security and polish.

The American Quarter Horse Journal

Horsemanship and showmanship competitors generally opt for hair buns, so as to minimize movements that distract the judge’s eye. Scroll down for a Journal how-to on building hair buns. (Credit: Journal)

Form to function isn’t a phrase that only applies to horse conformation; the idiom easily sums up horse-show hairstyles, too. Horsemanship and showmanship competitors generally opt to corral their luscious locks in buns, so as to minimize movements that distract the judge’s eye. Exhibitors in hunt-seat classes, and even dressage, usually stick with hair nets to hide their mop under helmets. Reiners and cow horse competitors often choose ponytails for keeping strands out of their face, yet adding a certain flair during rollbacks, spins and high-speed runs.  

We asked the @officialaqha followers on Instagram to share their tricks to horse-show hair, plus their go-to styles when it comes to certain events. Here’s what they had to say. 

I like to French braid my hair so that it can be easily tucked up in my helmet! And I use braiding bands instead of hair types so that the end of the braid is small and easy to tuck away.  – @ohno_emily

Bun, hairspray all over (even the inside of my hat), bobby pins all over, and light makeup with bright lipstick! Oh how I miss showing! – @mercedes_507 


  • Bun on the base of my neck so it doesn't interfere with my hat and my ponytail doesn't bounce around showing extra movement from the horse. – @brittanyrheaph
  • Tight bun for showmanship and English. Ponytail for western pleasure. – @hollyjohnsonnn_

Hunter Events 
Hair net and helmet. Don't really have a choice though haha #hunterlife. – @catie_fike

A braid down my back and a lot of hair spray and bobby pins!!! – @cattincowgirl_77

Up vs. Down
Braid when it's hot; down when it's cold. – @stop_like_you_mean_it

How to Pin a Hat On 
Put your hat on, then slide the pin into your hair with one side going through the hat liner. I like to put the ridge side against my head and the straight side though the hat liner. Two will hold it on for most classes. – @dreams518

Journal Bonus Tip
Want to know how to make a bun for classes like horsemanship and showmanship? Carey Nowacek, 2010 AQHA youth horsemanship world champion, shows you how in this article that originally appeared in the December 2011 issue of The American Quarter Horse Journal.

how to make a hair bun for horsemanship and showmanship classes