In which we share what not to wear on a horse (endurance edition)

This is me, on my horse.
From bottom to top:  Ariat boots.  Synthetic half-chaps with accordian pleats.
Kerrits tights.  A cotton t-shirt. (Very sturdy bra, not visible in picture).
Fanny pack. Cooling vest.  Cooling scarf.  Helmet.
And lots and lots of sunscreen!

I wear the same basic outfit for every endurance ride.  In fact, there are some years that it's difficult to say for certain that I own more than 2 t-shirts, because those are the only shirts that show up in photos.

(I have a variation on the basic outfit to wear on cold/wet rides)

The reasoning is simple:  

When you ride long distance, you figure out what works.  
And you don't wear anything that doesn't work.

My #1 criteria for ride day apparel is:  it doesn't rub, chafe, or scrape...and I know this because I've worn every piece of the outfit many times prior to the event.  

(#2 criteria is purple, because I am very, very vain!)

So, imagine my surprise when, while tracking down something completely unrelated for work, I found a reference to this book:

What Not to Wear on a Horse
by Ginny Oakley and Stephanie Soskin

"What not to wear?" thought I.  "Like...sandpaper?  Jellyfish?  White plastic shopping bags?"

Caption:  "Does my bum look big in these?"


This 2005 book, published for the British horse show crowd, is all about being correct and looking svelte while on (and around) horses.

This book is not intended for me and my crowd.  (Obviously.)

So, while the book's authors want to be sure you notice what is not correct and/or not flattering in this picture:

Caption: "nearly, but not quite.  Hairnet is too long,
and obvious mistake with ribbons."
I could only think: "There's no way that headgear is ASTM/SEI certified!"

(and also:  how can you make a mistake with ribbons, unless they are wrapped tightly around your neck or something?!?!???)

Then there's this:

Caption: "warm waistcoat but we suggest long sleeves may be sensible for warmth
and for covering larger biceps"

Aside from the vocabulary issue with the page above (waistcoat = vest, and don't I recall from the Bridget Jones novels that "vest" is slang for "bra"?), I stumbled on:

1.  A need to cover biceps?  Hey, I work hard to build up my guns, I'm not gonna cover 'em up if the weather is warm enough to uncover 'em!


2.  THE WHIP.  Because Indiana Jones doesn't ride at my barn!  

This book had something to say about attire for crew:

Caption:  1. would you accept a light, let alone a leg-up from this man?
2. nice colour coordination, but not quite smart enough.
3.  easy wear, at home or away, for the showring mother.

I might be stereotyping, but the fellow in the red vest (waistcoat?) would be my first stop if I need help hoisting a water tank or toting a bucket-ton of gear to the vet check.  The guy in the straw hat looks like a vet to me (except that he doesn't have a stethoscope around his neck), and the lady is gonna mess up that nice jacket in camp, but I'll bet she's got a flask of something lovely in that basket!

Here's my crew:

shovels and rakes and implements of destruction
(including chainsaws and off-leash floofs)

Towards the back of the book, the fashion authority did include some apparel that I consider useful:

Caption: fun, funky clothes for the smaller people in your life

Fun, funky and small?

Well, if you say so.

Okay, Gentle Readers:  what are your guidelines and go-to clothing choices?  

What do you seek out and what do you avoid?  The comment box is open!


  1. If you are wearing jeans:

    Wear them extra high on the waist (preferably over the belly button). Otherwise, with a curvy (read: Big bottomed) shape, you have two choices:

    1. Wear them too loose, and chafe
    2. Wear them comfortable and swing up on the horse..... and have them gape horribly at the small of your back.. While that gap can be useful (if you're not planning on posting you can fit two water bottles back there, comfortably!), the downsides are you show everyone your undies, and then the dust from the trail (err, if you still live south, where it's dry and dusty) rises up and collects in your butt crack, and ain't that sexy?

    Also, wear a ridiculously long shirt, too baggy shirt, because otherwise it rides up the entire time.

  2. Out of all the things in the world, I love socks with small seams. Nothing is worse than sore piggies. :)

  3. I sure wish I knew how to post a photo of me in my equine "signature outfit" for you to enjoy! I hear it is quite something, I wouldn't know though, because I don't have a mirror in my barn :)

  4. Hilarious! My rules for what to wear- or not- are rather unrefined and simple: if it's comfortable, wear it; if it's not, DON'T.

  5. I find those new 'cooling' synthetic materials to be hot and sticky in the Idaho summer heat. They look cute but are sweaty (and stinky). I stick with cotton or a cotton blend. I love those Columbia shirts that have a collar and built in venting. Long sleeves are hard to wear when it's 100º but sometimes they are cooler if they protect you from the scorching Idaho summer sun. I like light colored tights...again for the heat. You are a mess after a ride but your legs won't have heat bumps/heat rash. I try to find dirt colored tights. Find some nice 'Mormon' underwear, you know, the long type. No ugly panty lines and for those that aren't vain you get the added benefit of no creeepy-crawlies. NEVER wear a thong. If you do, you'll only do it once on a 50. I had a friend that made that mistake and she almost asked the guy she was riding with he if had a pocket knife so she could cut her thong off. She was too embarrassed to ask and suffered in painful, bloody silence. And my last rule is to wear comfortable hiking shoes that are safe to ride in and hike in. Cute little boots or whatever won't get you back to ride camp without a blister if you have to walk your horse in. Make sure you can hike long distances in your foot wear.

  6. Hahahahaha I love this. I, too, saw that book circulating somewhere on social media but stayed away. I am glad you reviewed it here though! I am all about comfort, but for showing I do tend to be conservative and classic. Though I have never wondered if my breeches make my butt look big; it is more like, "Did I manage to avoid green horse slime on my white breeches before I enter the dressage ring?" LMAO

  7. I love this! Your first photo is perfect, the book ideas...well, not so practical on the trail let's say! For me the rule is always wear orange: see me from a distance...even if I end up on the ground! And not too many layers: finding places to attach them when you inevitably have to take them off gets annoying, and your horse will look like a bag lady.

  8. I'm exposed to so many new things at a big German barn, and you know it's been sub zero, so most of us are bundled up so much I doubt I'd recognize these people if I saw them somewhere else. But there is one lady who always looks like she is modelling for an equestrian catalog. She is bundled up too, but so fashionably, and every single day. A pinstripe on her half chaps matched the stripe of her breeches, and the coloring also matched her hiking boots. She has a lovely fitted riding jacket, also matching, and a very feminine knit hat. And her hair is blond and curly, never frizzy. She's the one I mentioned who always has a dog attached to her by a leash around her chest. She is so fashionable it almost makes you doubt she's a horse person. I don't know her name but I always think of her as a Brenda.

    Brenda patted the arena footing off my back today.

    My what to wear - helmet! I've got a super cool helmet, but the rest of me looks like a slob in puffy polarfleece.

  9. Oh that is GOLD!!! Hahahaha! Thanks for sharing! :)

    I'm in an amusing situation as a endurance(ish) rider amongst dressage riders, but I found something recently that works: Black denim fullseat breeches - they are comfy and breathable, but look smart enough amongst all the Pikeur in the arena!

    The only other contribution I have is that cotton clothes and wet weather should never be together.


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