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How Much Is Too Much?
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How Much Is Too Much?

As I sat judging at a dressage competition last weekend, I was almost blinded by the sunlight sparkling off the array of bling worn by riders - and their horses!.  Gone are the days when the traditional and approved clothing for competition permitted nothing more glitzy than a small gemstone in your stock.  Earrings were not allowed, gloves had to be white or cream, colored stocks were not allowed and there was certainly not a single rhinestone in sight!

How things change!  The dress code is now much more relaxed and spangles are everywhere.  Of course, Western riders have long enjoyed the luxury of a little - or a lot - of bling; chaps, spurs, hats, tops and belts all now come with stonework as standard.  It seems that dressage is fast catching up.  Riders can choose jackets with pretty pastel-colored silk linings with matching rhinestone trim around the collar and pocket tops.  Even hats now have diamante bands or sparkling bow details.  You can coordinate this with breeches featuring crystal-enhanced pockets, complete with a bejeweled belt.

Tack manufacturers have also jumped on the blinged-up bandwagon.  Diamante browbands are now commonplace, together with saddle cloths, breastplates, headcollars, rugs and even exercise boots.  I even saw a saddle with diamantes studded around the back of the cantle.  One lucky horse tied up to his trailer was positively resplendent in his lovely show rug, complete with his name picked out in multi-colored rhinestones!

British dressage are still however somewhat resistant to the idea of horses actually wearing bling.  Equine body bling can be purchased so that you can create a lovely unique design for your horse to display on his backside!  The crystals used are self-adhesive, leaving no sticky residue and are non-toxic.  Designs come attached to backing paper; you simply peel off the crystals and stick them onto your horse.  To remove the sparkles, just peel them off in the direction of the horse’s coat.  Whilst you can get away with a little sparkly spray in your horse’s tail if you want to cut a dash under lights indoors in the wintertime, I think it will be long time before horse jewellery is allowed.

In Conclusion

I have to admit that I’m something of a traditionalist when it comes to dress for the conservative sport of dressage.  Too much razzle-dazzle can distract from the horse’s performance – although in some cases I think that might be a rider tactic!  I personally prefer to see a happy horse in good condition with a gleaming coat, clean tack and a smartly turned out rider.  A little bit of discreet spangle can add a nice finishing touch but please don’t go over the top!


Image source:   barnmice.com

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  1. PonyGirl
    We were taught that dressage was all about the horse- not what he was wearing. I tend to feel the same way now. We didn't used to wear bling in western either. We did use colors, which was fairly traditional from the cowboys who were the original western riders. But the purpose of the color was to compliment and set off your horse's color, not overshadow it completely. I think bling is out of place in western classes but I think it goes totally against the original spirit of dressage. It should still be all about the horse.
    1. autumnap
      I agree. I prefer to see something turned out well with neat plaits, clean tack and in great condition. Heaven forbid they should allow stick on rhinestones in dressage classes!
  2. RescueArabs4Me
    I love this post! I've always been a minimalist as far as attire goes. Neat and professional, without taking away from the horse is, and always will be, my preference.
  3. Dressage junky
    I agree, rather wholeheartedly!

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