Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Proper Turnout

I am fresh off of a horse show and want to address something near and dear to my heart: proper turnout. George Morris once stated that "Every rider possesses, to his advantage or disadvantage, whichever the case, a figure for riding".  George goes on to note that weight does matter, but one must be strong and well turned out.  He explains that in equitation classes, "the total picture is being judged".

When it comes to apparel, George Morris explains that "anybody can be clean and neat and dress well regardless of his financial position".  Coming from a family with a limited budget, I really like this quote.  Not everyone can afford all the new, trendy items, one can always dress well.
Jackets are the fundamental part of any show outfit.  I have struggled to find a perfect jacket that fits me.  Luckily, I finally have a few well-fitting jackets suitable for the Hunters or equitation classes.  George has noted that "there is nothing more detrimental to a rider's posture than a loose, baggy coat."  and notes that a plain black coat may present a stiff picture in equitation classes. For the OCEA shows, I have been showing in a dark grey RJ Classics jacket. I had longed for a beautiful hunter green jacket to show in, but the grey stands out in a sea of green and matched the shade of my GPA perfectly.

Gracie and I at a show circa 2014 in
the Low Children's hunters

Little things can make a big difference with how you look in the show ring.  Eliminate the sloppy look by using a hairnet or braids for pony riders.  When it comes to makeup and jewelry, less is more!  Remember that dark leather gloves are functional, but can also hide bad hands!  For helmets, black or navy is suitable and preferably matches your gloves (I have broken this rule with my GPA Little Lady which is in between blue and black and my black gloves).

Never forget that turnout can be made or broken by artificial aids. Whenever artificial aids are noticed, riding or horse problems may be suspected by the judge.  Turnout is to be elegant, understated and conventional and under no circumstances by flashy... I guess that means no bedazzling! Luckily in OCEA, all of the owners donate the aids!


However, you always want your horse to look as good as you (sometimes better)!  Cleanliness is key anytime you ride I think.  However, on show day, you want your horse sparkling.  OCEA eliminates this prep needed, but I would still like to comment on its importance for regular shows. This may mean giving your horse a full bath either the night before or the day of your show.   Riding a grey for a few years has been quite fun, however, everything must be bright white... not green or dingy grey.  For socks or grey legs, clipping the hair short makes them easier to keep clean and add cornstarch on the day of the show.   Finally, and I know that George Morris would agree, always use hoof oil before heading into the ring.  Such a small detail can really finish off the look.


A well-braided horse is essential.  We had a wonderful braider at our last show who made Jon look wonderful.  You can hire a professional braider or do them yourself (as long as you have patience, strong fingers and have lots of practice!

Your tack should be clean, matching and well-fitted.  The saddle, girth, and bridle that I show in are not made by the same manufacturer, but the colours are VERY similar.  Hunter saddle pads should be as white as your horse's socks.  Ideally, the saddle pad extends evenly on all sides of your saddle.


Jon and I circa 2015 in the Childrens Hunters


Bear and I circa 2015 in the Schooling Hunters
Jon and I circa 2016 in the Medal
Jon and I just last August in the 3'3 Hunters

When it comes to properly turning out your horse, what do you do to stand out?  Let me know by leaving a comment.