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What Makes A Great Horseback Riding Outfit

When you’ve spent months training for an event, and you finally enter that show ring, you want both you and your horse to look and feel your absolute best.

Western Express Women's Cotton Retro Cow Shirt

Western Express Women’s Cotton Retro Cow Shirt

You will be needing to put together some very western looking horseback riding outfits to wear when entering shows.

Your confidence will translate to your horse, and the judges, and therefore, wearing the proper horseback riding attire is rather important. Look good, feel good!

The culmination of all your practice and training will be evident in the show ring by the ease-of-control you have over your horse.

The show outfit you choose, from your selection of horseback riding outfits, should reflect your personality, while giving you the confidence and comfort you’ll need to pull off even the trickiest of maneuvers.

Western apparel for showing differs greatly from English apparel, and in this article, we’ll be focusing on western wear. Let’s talk about the parts in putting together awesome horseback riding outfits.

 What Should You Wear Horseback Riding

Riding Boots
While you figure out what to wear horseback riding, probably the first bit of proper attire you’ll require will be horseback riding shoes or boots. Western riding boots (or cowboy boots as they are commonly called) come in such a variety of colors, textures, animal hides, heel heights and toe styles that it boggles the mind.

Whatever your personal style and budget, you’ll be able to find a pair of horseback riding shoes to fit. Walk in to any western wear shop, and you’ll find at least one entire wall devoted just to boots.

Many times, the heel height on your horseback riding shoes will depend on what type of riding you’re doing, and you certainly wouldn’t want to wear expensive snakeskin boots while you’re mucking out stalls.

Cowboy Boots for perfect horseback riding outfits

Cowboy Boots for perfect horseback riding outfits

So the type of boots you buy depends on where you’ll be wearing them, and what you’ll be doing in them.

For showing western pleasure, either basic cowboy boots or “ropers” are appropriate. (“Roper” is the brand name, but also a nickname for low-heeled riding boots that sometimes lace up the front.)

When you’re trying on boots, make sure you wear socks similar to those you’ll be wearing when you wear those boots to ensure a proper fit.

Spurs are frequently worn on riding boots when showing, but only for decoration, not for practice. Spurs can add a bit of shine and visual interest to the boot area when on the horse.

Are Shirts A Big Part Of Horseback Riding Attire

In recent years, equestrian shirts have morphed from simple, solid-colored button-down shirts with collars, into incredibly fancy shirts embellished with rhinestones, faux gems, cutouts, cording, embroidery, and fringe. The “blingier” the better, so it seems if you attend western show events.


Western Express Women's Cotton Retro Cow Shirt, LargeWestern Express Women’s Cotton Retro Cow Shirt, LargeScully Women's Horseshoe Embroidered Retro Western Shirt Turquoise LargeScully Women’s Horseshoe Embroidered Retro Western Shirt Turquoise Large

Show shirts come in unlimited colors and embellishments, but the style itself is generally similar overall. These button-down, long-sleeved, collared shirts are usually tailored with princess seams to give a pleasing aesthetic as you sit on your steed. You can also color-coordinate your shirt to your tack, if you wish!

You will need to remember that in your horseback riding outfit the shirt is where you are you. Your shirt is where you can really let your personality shine, so choose carefully, and choose a shirt that reflects who you are inside!

Jeans are the most common of the horseback riding attire on the trail and while training, and that’s no different when you are showing and competing.

You want to choose jeans that are color-coordinated to your shirt, and have a bit of elasticity in them for comfort. Also make certain the length is sufficient to cover the entire shaft of your boot when you’re sitting on your horse.


Cinch Men's Grant Relaxed Fit Jean, Medium Sanded StonewashCinch Men’s Grant Relaxed Fit Jean, Medium Sanded StonewashCinch Men's Sawyer Loose Fit Jean, Medium Sanded StonewashCinch Men’s Sawyer Loose Fit Jean, Medium Sanded Stonewash

These aren’t your everyday blue jeans, either. These are jeans specifically tailored to fit just right when you’re in the saddle, and are usually a solid dark color.

What Do You Need To Know About Cowboy Hats & Horseback Riding Outfits

The traditional-looking cowboy hat is what will “top off” your horseback riding apparel. Historically worn to keep the sun, rain and dust out of the eyes, in the western show ring, the most common choice is a felt hat in black, white or grey, with a hatband of leather and silver.

Several different styles of hats exist and before you purchase, you should try on several to be sure of your size, and what style looks the best for your particular profile.

Once you have been fitted properly for a hat in a western wear shop, you can feel free to order online without worrying that your new hat will need to be returned due to a bad fit.


Kangaroo Pink Studded Felt Cowboy Hat, Pink Cowgirl HatKangaroo Pink Studded Felt Cowboy Hat, Pink Cowgirl HatMen's & Women's Western Style Cowboy / Cowgirl Straw HatMen’s & Women’s Western Style Cowboy / Cowgirl Straw HatStetson Men's Hawk Crushable Wool Gambler Hat Black LargeStetson Men’s Hawk Crushable Wool Gambler Hat Black Large

If your hat ever loses shape, you can generally go to any quality western wear shop and have your hat “re-blocked”. They will use hot steam to dampen the wool felt that makes up the hat, and re-shape it to your specifications.

You can also get your hat cleaned by either a western wear shop that offers that service, or a dry-cleaner familiar with felt hats. And make sure to store your hat on its crown – not the brim – in its original hat box, in order to keep it in tip top shape.

The clothing you wear in the show ring while on your horse will make a huge difference in your performance. Impressing the judges with your performance will be easy when you wear western show attire that enables you to exude confidence and control. Great riding enjoyment to you!