One of the current favorite trends in horse show fashion is bolero vests. Pictured here is one by Paula's Place. Photo © Brooke Ingstad

We Ask The Industry: What are Your Favorite Show Ring Fashion Trends?

Horse show fashion trends are constantly evolving in the show pen. Bolero vests, two tone saddles, classic button-up shirts, the list goes on and on. There are often sentimental attachments to show clothing, whether it be a hunt coat, a pair of chaps, or even just a well-made hat.

Show clothes give an exhibitor confidence to perform to the best of their ability while also highlighting self-expression. American fashion designer, Rachel Zoe says, “Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak.”

An exquisite first impression sets the stage for the entire class. Judges notice an exhibitor who is confident in themselves and their unique style. This is of utmost importance whether showing at a local open show or the World Show. We asked exhibitors and trainers to tell us about their current favorite fashion trends in the industry.

Jessica Wolf Hart – My favorite horse show trends are the simple looks in the show pen. I am a huge fan of the fitted show shirts. I think they are versatile for any event; trail, horsemanship, western riding and western pleasure. I truly love the back stitch designs. It gives the simple look with just a bit of flair. You can really spice up your look by coordinating it with a colorful saddle blanket.






Samantha Armbruster – My favorite current fashion trend is having the magnetic collars on the hunt shirts. I recently purchased a new shirt for hunt seat to replace the shirt that I have been wearing for about ten years. My old shirt had buttons around the cuffs and collar that were such a pain to constantly be messing with. The new style of magnetic collars just makes life so much easier and makes getting ready that much faster.




Julie Hoefling – That is an easy one…FRINGE. I love it. I wear it as much as I can in my personal life and on my show clothes. I love watching the movement of it. I think it can be really beautiful in the western riding or trail when there is a rhythm with the horse and rider. It can be really versatile too. You can vary the color or length for a different look. I have fringe on my show vest that is removable for those days that you don’t want anything flying around. Our show clothes have really evolved, but I love that fringe is a classic western trend that has really become timeless.



Cori Cansdale – I’m really into vests right now. I’ve noticed that a lot of Selects have bright colored shirts with their vests so that is interesting. But, I wear boleros and regular vests, and I love them.








Kathy Tobin – My favorite are colorful outfits with some bling or shirts with beautiful collars and cuffs with matching peek out trim running along buttons.










Erin Bradshaw – Tailored shirts and fringe, fringe, fringe!










Linda Coakley – I really like the simple fitted blouses, they are crisp and sharp looking. I have a plain white that I had trimmed in the color of my chaps and hat.









Kaleena Katz Weakly – I’d have to say the trends going on with the cowboy hats. I just love having studs and buck stitch on some of mine, all by Shorty’s.









  Laska Anderson – I’m not sure how current, but I like seeing the loud, western belts that people are wearing to show halter, pleasure, western riding and of course, ranch riding. I feel like lately I’ve seen quite a few cool beaded belts or belts with conchos or extensive tooling in the show pen.








Missy Thyfault – This is more a pre and post horse show trend, but I love my Twisted Xs. They are so comfortable. I have them on anytime I am not riding a horse and I am at the horse show. If you haven’t tried them you really should. They are comfy shoes that feel like tennis shoes but kind of look like boots.






Katie Van Slyke –  My favorite trend now is the bolero vest. I just recently started wearing one and I’m in love with it.











Erin Mask– My favorite current fashion trend is a simple look with a button-up. They are nice at the smaller shows to wear and a lot cooler to wear in the summer when it’s hot. Lately, I’ve been seeing more and more of button-up shirts which I think are very nice. You can customize those so you can create your own unique style.








Dakota Diamond Griffith – My favorite horse show trends outside of the arena are Hooey Hats – You can almost always catch me at the beach with my snap back. They have so many fun colors and I am obsessed. Inside of the show arena, I would say chinks. I love the new ranch horse classes and their solid cowboy style. I am dying to get a pair – but first I will need a horse. Wink wink, dad!





Carrie Geldner – I am such a fashion freak so I am always looking for change in my show clothes as well as my everyday wear. For my all around horse, Stewie, and our western pattern classes, I am loving the newer “sets”. Last year before World Show, I got this piece that has the three uses and pieces – it has the horsemanship top, and the bolero vest and with lots of bling that can layer over it for western riding or even a pleasure class. You can also use the vest with a clean white or black shirt for smaller shows or western riding. It is an investment, but it does have so many ways to use it which is great.

I am also really loving the more geometric styles with bold lines and shapes in them for the western classes. I think they are flattering and depending on the look or what you want to accentuate, you can with the way they are designed and it’s super fun.

For my English classes, showing Stewie or Hank, I just love a well-made jacket and hunt shirt. Again, I really change, I am not one to have a “show look”, or one style or color that defines me, so I like to have a navy, black and brown coat and lots of different tops and collars to mix it up. You never know how you will feel that day or what you think will look best in the ring you are competing in. For the hunt seat, I love the velvet collars and piping on the coat and I am really liking the full coordinating fabric on the collar or a bold piping on top and bottom. And of course a fun lining! What stands out is clean, crisp presentation from head to toe.

Jodi Finkenbinder – Personally, I think pants that are the proper length, are much more appealing to most judges versus the high-water look. We do notice when they are not.

I personally don’t have to have all the bling that some are adorning. I have an appreciation for unique design and color. Too much bling can be distracting and ruin an otherwise quiet picture.

I guess one of the things I do not care for is the designs and the bling on the hats. I may be old school but many seasoned judges are. I think many of us appreciate a workmanlike, professional look when it comes to the hat. That is one of the single most important pieces for me. A hat speaks volumes about where you are in the industry and where you are going. A quality hat that is well shaped is the best investment one could make in my opinion.

In the hunter under saddle classes, I notice a change in the style of boot and like it very much. Many of the ladies, (and gentlemen) are very well turned out and it is a pleasure to see them all taking such pride in the details. I have also enjoyed just seeing the plain leather tack that is required in the ranch horse classes. Without silver, you can truly appreciate a well-made and well-tooled saddle that is clean and workmanlike as well. It is a nice change from a lot of silver.

Cory Mathia – Fashion trends for men typically are less dynamic than that of women as men’s fashion tends to stay in line with the “traditional cowboy” in mind. Men do express more trends through different and sometimes bold color choices in shirts, ties, and saddle blankets. In the showmanship, a black suit with a subtle pinstripe, or even a dark gray or navy suit can also give a bolder look.






Carly Baker –  I absolutely love seeing a well-fitted button up collared shirt for the all around events. Although I’m not quite doing the all around yet, I know that I don’t have to spend thousands to look like a champion. I also enjoy seeing the different ways people can bring their personality out with the hunt coats and shirts. For example, the jackets with the pipe lined collar and piping on top of the pockets. And I also like seeing jackets that are well fitted. My mom always tells me, “It has to fit like a glove.”



Sara Koster – My favorite show ring fashion trend right now is probably the navy based outfits. Everyone wears black because it is classy and original, but navy changes it up a bit while keeping the classy look.








Ellen Schrotenboer – I like the timeless trend of a detailed button up, they’re so easy to throw on and can look so classy in a variety of classes. Not only this, but they’re a super affordable option that can match well with a wide range of horses.

 

 

 

 

 

Jenn Compton – I absolutely love how much personality is showing up in the show ring right now. There are several incredible designers (as well as some up-and-comers) that are finding ways to incorporate something unique into each piece. I have always loved to stand out from the crowd, and with the addition of fringe, color, and texture, the ability to wear something that is almost an extension of the exhibitor’s expression is easier than ever.

 



Sydney Burdick – My favorite show ring trends right now are the boleros for western pleasure and minimalistic saddles for horsemanship.






 

 

 

Tori Summers – I love to see a well-fitting, clean suit in the halter pen. It is very appealing. To me, crystals, beads, and sequins are very distracting and can sometimes take away from the horse’s presentation. The jacket doesn’t necessarily have to be plain, just no embellishments.

For the riding events, my favorite show ring fashion would have to be all the vest sets people are wearing. They are so versatile. You can have a jacket that is suitable for the horsemanship, put the vest on over it and it looks like a completely different outfit for the pleasure, trail, and western riding.

 

 

 

Kimberly Bisson – I really like the new show sets that are horsemanship shirts with the coordinating bolero vests. It allows riders to have multiple options with one outfit and allows them to stay in the same color scheme for multiple classes. I find that when a horse and rider combination has an ideal color scheme, I like to stick with it throughout all classes to develop a “signature” look. I also admire the fitted button down shirts that have contrast collars. A well-fitting classic shirt never goes out of style, but some little details can make you stand out.

 

 

 

Shannon Wacker – One of my favorite trends in the show world right now are the custom western hats with the whipstitch sides, colored straws and cowhide on the hats. They are super classy and I love when they coordinate with an outfit. Just a cool different way to stand out in the crowd.






Catie Donahue – I really love the show jackets that have a geometrical base. All the symmetry and the straight lines add to the overall look and presentation of the rider. I also like the simple look for exhibitors. Some riders have very blingy and flashy outfits, which are gorgeous, but I also admire when riders go back to the simplistic look of a button-down shirt and a scarf. I think well fitted simple shirts can look as polished as a jacket with thousands of crystals.

 

 

 


 Riley Dunn
– Often we see a huge emphasis on spending as much money as possible on a show saddle or outfit. What should be the focus of trainers and exhibitors alike is the horse that is under that saddle and the rider that is under that show jacket.

For women in the horsemanship, a new style that is truly eye-catching, but won’t break the bank is a simple button down with a neck tie. It attracts the judge’s eye on the rider’s body position rather than the glamorous show jacket. This clean look will truly highlight the rider’s abilities as an equestrian and set them aside from the others.

Bringing out bright, fresh colors also is something that ties the show look together and allows the exhibitor to express themselves. As a male equestrian, this is one of my favorite transitions in the show pen as there is not much wiggle room on what is acceptable to wear. It is important for exhibitors to bring out their own personality in every outfit as it shows everyone who they are and allows them to have fun. Confidence makes a genuine style. When an exhibitor exemplifies confidence and trust in themselves and their horses, it is hard to take an eye off them.

Colby Ringer – Personally, I love the button-down styles that are being created. They are clean cut, relatively inexpensive compared to normal show jackets, and add more personality to someone’s outfit. It can also help suit the class more. A shirt with a bound or piped collar and cuffs or even a double collar is going to be great for a horsemanship class. One with stitching is going to fit in a trail arena or ranch riding pen very well.

I also like seeing more guys branch out with their showmanship outfits. For a while, it seemed that everyone wore only black or brown, where now I’ve been seeing much more color variation to best suit the horse. For myself, I chose a bright blue suit, as well as bow ties instead of straight ties.

Another trend I have liked seeing are bolero vests. On the right person, they just look very classy and set the individual apart from the crowd.

 

What are your favorite current horse show fashion trends? Let us know!

 

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