Equine elegance: challenging the established dressage outfit
Picture from http://www.britishdressage.co.uk
Picture from http://www.britishdressage.co.uk

A recently published article on the website of Horse and Hound made me reflect about the clothing riders wear at dressage shows.

So, as far as I understand, there are specific clothes and colours that you have to wear when you participate in a dressage event, with black and white dominating. And, of course, ladies are expected to do something about their hair on the day. And spurs are compulsory on the top levels. And shirts must be white. And gloves as well.

I also see that there are specific norms about the appearance of dressage horses as well. I haven’t watched any dressage performance where the horse’s mane is free, so I guess this is the rule that FEI has imposed (please correct me if I’m wrong).

I understand that the implementations of specific norms on the appearance of horses and riders helps establish the uniformity and equality on a sport that does not distinguish between males and females. And this helps the judges to be fair and focus on the horses’ movement and the riders’ skills.

On the other hand, I cannot understand how these norms have been implemented. Who decided that breeches must be white and not black, or jackets must be black and not green, or shirts must be white and not, let’s say pink? What’s the problem with black gloves? And why everything has to have a specific shape? And also, why such proud animals should appear like ballerinas?

I think that riders should be allowed to wear colours they like and also groom and tack their horses as they wish. This is the norm in other sports that include dancing, such as ice skating. Why are those athletes free to choose how their outfits must look on the show ring?

By the way, here are the British Dressage Rule Book, which I have found on www.britishdressage.co.uk

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