The ‘do’s and ‘don’ts’ of what to wear for riding competitions

Confusion is rife in the riding industry about what riders should and shouldn’t wear for specific riding competitions and events.  In an attempt to help, here are a few do’s and don’ts in terms of what you can definitely wear. 

What to wear - and when

Any rider will tell you that turning up in the wrong attire to a riding event, can mean you don’t get to compete.  There are more rules and guidelines about dress code in British eventing than any other sport, so it’s important that you understand what you can and can’t wear.  For example, the dress code for show jumping is much more relaxed than for dressage.  The type of clothing you are expected to wear also varies depending on the level you are competing at (amateur, professional, unaffiliated, etc).  Generally speaking, for local horse shows, the rules are less onerous on dress than for professional events.

In all events it’s compulsory that riders wear a safety helmet, manufactured to the required standard.

The ‘do’s and ‘don’ts’ of what to wear for riding competitions

To clarify things, this is our understanding of what is expected when competing in some of the major disciplines:

Show jumping

Breeches and jodhpurs should be white, pale yellow or fawn and fit the styling of your overall outfit.

Traditionally tailored jackets are worn, in darker colours (black, navy, green, brown, burgundy, grey or red), but there is a modern trend towards the use of lighter colours.

Only white or pastel coloured shirts with white collars and ties or hunting stocks are allowed. Most riders opt for plain long black leather boots or gaiters with jodhpur boots.


Dress requirements for dressage are extremely formal.

In advanced dressage events, a formal uniform or tailcoat, with top hat, is the preferred choice.  A tailored black or navy coat is also permitted. Whatever the colour of your jacket, riders must wear a correctly tied white or cream stock with hunting cap, bowler or crash cap. 

If you are competing in preliminary or advanced categories, riders are allowed to wear a uniform of plain black or navy jacket with plain white or cream stock.  Many riders opt for pure white breeches, but cream or beige are often permitted.

Often competitors match the colour of their stock and breeches to their saddlecloth, as this creates a professional look and unifies horse with rider. 

Gloves must be worn at all times with the most popular colours being white or cream.

Long leather black boots are required, but brown boots with gaiters and identical jodhpurs are also popular. 

Check the rulebook before you arrive, to ensure you can compete without issue.


Boots can be long, short, or worn short with plain gaiters.  As with show jumping jodhpurs need to be beige, white or cream.  A cross- country shirt is advised and skull cap (or riding hat without a fixed peak).  Given the physical nature of cross-country many riders often wear back protection.  Many carry a short crop.

Saddle Fitting Guide

See advice before you enter

If you’re still unsure about what to wear, check with the relevant association/governing body for your event, as there will be official guidance available for competitors.  There may also be information on their website. 

Our top tip is to not guess what you should wear, but always do your research so that you arrive prepared, in the right correct attire!

Horbury Competition Breeches

Horbury breeches

Many riders prefer Horbury Competition Breeches for competitions by Whitaker featuring stretchy lycra ankles and reinforced knee patches.  They are made from a mix of cotton, micro-fibre and elastane for great comfort and a perfect fit.

John Whitaker and the Whitaker family are well known in the equine industry, particularly within the show jumping circuit.  The exclusive Whitaker brand of equestrian clothing and products, including Brogini riding boots, are available through John Whitaker International (JWI).  Combining superior quality with exceptional performance,  the Whitaker brand has earned the respect of both amateur and professional riders across the globe.

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