Tack Shop Dressing Riders & Their Horses Since 1982.

How to Dress The Rider

Dressing The Rider

Tips for fitting and selection Riding Apparel.

To get started riding safely, A good-fitting ASTM/SEI Helmet along with a short paddock boot with a heel are required by most stables.  As a rider progresses, they may want to add half-chaps to protect their legs and riding pants to enhance grip and eliminate rubbing.

If a rider wants to get started with horse shows, a timeless, traditional look can be achieved with:  Black Helmet, Tan Breeches, A Navy or Black Show Jacket, White Choker Collar Shirt, and Black Boots.

For riders who have decided to specialize in just one type of competition and are showing at a National-Recognized Level, each 

type of riding will have it's own "dress code".

Check with your riding instructor/trainer to see if they have any preferences in selection of Show Apparel.

Equestrian Show Attire

Equestrian Show Attire


Helmet Fit


All Helmets Passing ASTM/SEI F1163-15 Certification provide the same level of protection regardless of brand or price.  Try on multiple brands to find the one that fits your head the best and is comfortable.  Not every brand will fit every rider.  Buy the actual helmet that fits the best as fit and sizes can vary.

Fit is important

The Shell should come down to just above the eyebrows and ears and be snug enough to stay in place.  Wiggle the brim of the helmet up and down and look to see your eyebrows are moving with the helmet.  Fasten the chin strap snug enough to hold the helmet on the head in a fall.  

Helmets have an expiration date

In our extreme Arizona Heat, helmets stored in a hot tack room, trailer, or car, should be replaced every 2 - 3 years.  The materials used to make your helmet degrade from the heat, and older helmets may not provide the protection they did when new.  Look inside your current helmet for a manufacturer date on the Certification Label to give you an idea of your helmet's age.

Hunter Show Hair

The tradition of the sport requires the hair to be contained in a net up in the helmet.  Avoid the "old school" pony-tail with the hair piled up on top of the head - this undermines the fit and safety of your helmet.  Use one of the newer RWR hair nets which allows the hair to be spread out lower on the back of the head for improved helmet fit and safety.

If you have a fall

Inspect your helmet shell and inner liner, if you see cracking, dents, or damage of any kine, replace your helmet.

Show Ring Helmets

For any competition, a conservative matte black helmet will be acceptable.

Dressage Riders & Jumpers - can have a little more fun with colors and your will see Black, Navy, Brown, & Grey Helmets.

Hunter/Equitation - Only wear a conservative Black Helmet

Eventing - Black or Navy Helmets for Dressage & Show Jumping, Many Eventers wear a jockey skull helmet for Cross Country Jumping.

Breed Shows/Hunters - Conservative Black Helmet - some pleasure events will still allow "old school" non-certified, apparel Black Velvet Hunt Caps.

Riding Boots

Riding Boot Fitting

Daily Riding

Most Riders will choose a short zip or laced paddock boot for comfort.  They will add a half chap over their short boots to protect their legs and add some grip.  These will offer all-day comfort walking around the barn and riding. 

Tall Dress or Field Boots

These boots should fit snug around the leg and should feel a little too tall when new.  As the boot breaks in, the height will drop and be more comfortable.  These boots are fairly soft to allow the rider to achieve that "heels down" position.  Save your tall boots for riding only, as they won't be comfortable for walking around all day.

Dressage Specialty Boots

These dress style boots are triple thick lined to make a very stiff boot which will limit any ankle movement.  These boots will assist the Dressage Rider to use their leg aids correctly with no lifting or twisting of the foot.  These boots are too stiff for the Hunter/Jumper Rider.

Fit is important

Tall Riding Boots can be a challenge to fit correctly.  They come in choices of foot size, calf sizes, and leg heights.  Try-on and compare brands and styles to find the one that will be the best fit for you.

Boots for Showing

For Riders just getting starting showing at schooling shows and Lower Level Dressage Shows, many riders wear a good fitted pair of half-chaps with their short paddock boots.  Small Children can wear their paddock boots with show jod pants even at the Nationally Recognized Shows.

For Adults and Teens, A Black Tall Field or Dress Boot will be worn for all Nationally Recognized Shows.  Make sure your boots fit tall and snug and are polished.

Riding Pants/Breeches/Jods

Riding Breeches Fitting

Daily Riding

Riding Pants will provide comfort (no seams to rub), and grip with a knee patch or full seat.  Many of today's softer calfskin saddles will be damaged with the rough seams on blue jeans, which is another reason to ride in Breeches or Riding Tights everyday.

Breeches and Tights have a slim fitting lower leg which ends above the ankle and are worn with lightweight knee high socks.  They are worn with 1/2 chaps or tall boots.

Jods are longer and come in a boot cut or cuff jod style to fit over paddock boots.

High-Performance Fabrics

Today's Tights and Breeches are made of High-Tech performance fabrics that keep you cool, dry quickly, machine wash with no shrinking or fading.  For Daily Riding colors are optional - so many brands come in Fun Season Colors.   

Fit Options - Low, Mid, & High Rise Styles are available.

Knee Patch Styles are preferred by Jumping and Hunter Riders

Full Seat Grip Styles are preferred by Dressage Riders and Eventers.

Competition Breeches

Tan Breeches with a belt loop are traditional in the Show Ring for Hunters/Jumpers/ & Equitation.

Small Kids can wear Tan Jods for Hunter/Equitation. 

White is the standard for Dressage and Formal Attire Jumper Classes.

Fit is Important

Compare and try-on several different styles and brands to find the best fit.

You want a smooth tailored look - Too Loose will cause wrinkles that can rub.  Too Tight will show your shirt and underwear lines thru your breeches.  Always wear a belt when showing to prevent sagging and gaping at the rear.

Show Jackets



Traditional Show Jackets are tailored and lined to lie smoothly.  Today's jackets are all machine washable and lightweight

Stretch Show Jackets offer more freedom of movement and feature a hidden zipper under the front buttons to smooth out the fit.

New in the past 3 years are jackets made entirely of a stretch mesh fabric for maximum air-flow in hot weather, these have become our Best Seller.

Fit is important

Look for a slim, fitted look with the body length coming just above where the leg meets the fanny.  Too long and you will sit on your jacket when riding.      Sleeves should be just past the wrist.  Jackets are offered in sizes and lengths, so try-on and compare to find the best fit.

Show Jacket Selection

A Dark Navy or Black ore timeless, classic, and always correct.

Dressage Riders/ Eventers,  and Jumpers can have some fun and also choose from Grey, Green, & Dark Brown Colors.

Hunter/Equitation Riders should stick to Navy, Black, or Dark Hunter Green

Shadbelly Tail Coats

Tail Coats are the ultimate in formal attire.  Worn by Upper Level (FEI) Dressage Riders, Hunter Classic/Derby Riders, & Arabian Show Hack Riders.

Black and Navy are timeless and traditional, but today you will see some fashion-forward riders in Grey, Dark Green, & Dark Brown.

Always try-on your Shadbelly with the Breeches you will be wearing.  Look for High-Rise Breeches to avoid a gap between the breeches and coat.

Show Shirts

Show Shirts

Choker Collar Show Shirts

Ladies & Girls are always correct with a White Shirt.

For Hunters/Equitation a Choker Collar Shirt with Long Sleeves

For Dressage, a Choker Collar or Zip-Front Shirt with separate stock tie.

A Separate Stock Tie is always worn with a Shadbelly Coat.

Men will wear a regular collared dress shirt with a tie - the same as they would wear with a suit.

Today's Show Shirts feature Vented Cooling Fabrics with a snap up choker collar.

Show Trends in Shirts

For the A Circuit Hunter/Equitation and for Dressage, White is THE Color.

For those who do breed show hunters, colored shirts are a way to stand out in the Hunter Pleasure Flat Classes, but they usually have to be made custom.

Riding Gloves

Equestrian Gloves

For Daily Use

Most serious riders wear gloves everyday to protect their hands from the reins and to prevent sun damage.  Today's gloves are mostly synthetic to avoid the dye bleeding from leather gloves on your hands.  These breathable Technical Gloves look and feel like leather and many have stretch inserts for improved comfort.

Sizes 3, 4, 5 for Kids  Sizes 6 thru 8 for Ladies   Sizes 9 - 12 for Men.

Horse Show Styles in Gloves

For almost all competition, a classic black color glove is preferred.

In the Dressage World - White is considered the most traditional.

Some Dressage Riders and Hunter Pleasure Riders are matching their gloves to their show jacket.


Spur Choices

Not every rider needs spurs

Until a rider has a secure lower leg position, most riding instructors recommend no spurs.  For the experienced rider spurs can be a more subtle aid than using a whip.

Spurs for showing

Check your rule book for rules regarding spur types and lengths.

Hunter/Jumper Riders use slightly shorter spurs to avoid having the spur hit the horse while jumping if their leg slips back.

Dressage spurs tend to be longer and blunt or rowled.  The longer length allows the rider to use the spur without lifting their heel or turning their toe out.  

Eventing Spurs may not exceed 1 1/4" and can't be sharp.

Breed Show Trend popular now is the use of black spurs to minimize any leg movement.

How to Dress the Horse - Saddles

Saddle Fitting

Fit is Important

Look for a full hand's width from the rider's tailbone to the back of the cantle on the saddle.  Check to see the rider's knee is on the flap, not sticking out in front.  Check to see the flap length is not so long as to interfere with the rider's ability to use their leg aids.

Saddle Seat Sizes - Kids 14", 15" 15 3/4"

                                  Ladies 16 1/2" thru 18"

                                 A few saddles do come in 19" 

Fitting the Horse -    Fixed Tree Saddles come in A

Regular or Medium Tree to fit the higher-withered breeds such as thoroughbreds.

Wide Trees to fit the Arabs, Quarter Horses, Paints, and Many Warmbloods with a muscular back and smaller withers.

Many of today's saddles come with an adjustable tree or the ability to change the tree width by exchanging the metal gullet plates.  These are a great choice as they can fit any horse.

To check for saddle fit - Ride the horse for at least 15 minutes to allow the saddle to settle on the back.  With the rider mounted up, look for a clearance under  the pommel to the top of the horse's withers of about 2 fingers to a maximum of 3 fingers.  If the saddle touches the top of the withers, look for a narrower tree or use a wither lift half pad.  If there is too much clearance under the pommel, a wider tree is needed - this can't be fixed with a half pad.  

Quality and Price

The best quality leather goods are still coming from France, Italy, England, & Germany but can be priced from $3,000 up to $7000.  Many of these "high end" saddles are custom-made.

Most Riders today are riding is saddles where the leather comes from France, Italy, & England, but the saddles are assembled in factories in Argentina & India.  This gives the rider luxury leather and quality at a more affordable price range between $700 and $2900.

Showing Trends

Hunter/Jumper Riders look for soft grippy leather saddles with a medium to shallow seat depth, padded flaps with a knee block and calf block.  Colors range from Chestnut to Dark Brown.

Dressage Riders look for soft seats with a medium to deep seat, a supportive front thigh block.  Colors range from Black to Very Dark Brown.


Bridle Fit

Fit is important

Sizes for bridles:

Pony - Fits small to medium poinies

Cob - British Size Cob will fit large ponies

          German Size Cob has a larger browband and will fit   

           Arabs, and Refined Headed Horses.

Full/Horse - Fits the Average Horse

Warmblood/Oversize - Fits the Big Warmbloods and many Draft crosses.


The very best bridles today are made of British, German, Italian, & French Leather.  They feature quality hardware and more "stitches per inch" than less expensive brands

Bridles in this quality with reins can range from $400 to $900.

Most of the bridles sold today, use top quality European Leather and do the assembly and stitching in India.  This creates a high quality bridle at prices everyone can afford $99.95 to $395.00

Beware of complete bridles selling for less than $90.00 as they tend to be made of inferior leather that can crack or break without warning.

Show Trends in Bridles

Hunter/Equiitation Riders look for Fancy Stitched Bridles, with Laced Reins in Chestnut to Brown Colors.  Slightly wider styles in bridles are trendy now.

Jumper Riders looking for more control look for Figure 8, or Flash/Drop Noseband Bridles with Rubber Grip Reins.

Dressage Riders want wider padded bridles for maximum comfort.  Padded Flash Drop or Padded Crank Drop Nosebands are used with Snaffle Bridles.  Reins in leather, web, or rubber, with hand-stops are most popular.  Double Bridles with padded crowns and padded crank nosebands are popular.   

Sadddle Pads

Saddle Pad Selection

Daily Use

For every-day use, most riders acquire a collection of lightweight, square, quilted pads.  These are easy to wash and keep the sweat off your fine leather saddle.

They come in Pony Size for Kids Saddles

                         All Purpose Size to Fit Adult Jump Saddles

                          Dressage Size to fit Adult Dress Saddles

Show Trends

For the Show Ring - 

Hunters & Equitation Riders will use a shaped saddle pad, sized to their saddle, where only an outline of the pad shows around the saddle.

Breed Show Rules may require the use of a competition pad where the competitor number can be displayed on both sides of the pad.

Jumpers/Dressage/Eventing Riders - Use a square quilted pad for competition in White or a conservative color.

Horse Blankets

Winter Horse Blankets

Does your horse need a blanket ?

If you are showing and your horse has been clipped or stabled under lights to discourage any winter coat from growing, you will need to blanket.  

In Arizona, look for breathable sheets and breathable Winter Stable Blankets.  The waterproof turn-out blankets are difficult to use in our mild winter weather and cause sweating.

Use a sheet when temperatures cool off in the fall in temperature ranges from the 70's to upper 50's.

When temperatures fall below 55, switch to a lightweight to mid-weight quilted Blanket.

Blankets need to come off when temperatures warm up during the day.

For horses allowed to grow a full winter coat

As long as your horse is well fed and has shelter from the rain and wind, he probably doesn't need a blanket.

Measure your horse to determine size

Take a measurement from the center of the chest around the side of the horse to the middle of the tail - This number in inches will be close to the size of the blanket needed.   Some brands will vary in size, and the European Turn-Out Blankets run big.