To Bing or not to Bling?
Have you ever wondered about the western riders and those fancy outfits the girls wear into the show pen? Well I show reiners, western performance and english horses. We haul horses and students to shows ranging from the local Open show on up to Futurities and World breed shows. So yes, we have several different outfits for each occasion. I have to say though, it is so much easier for a guy to go show than for us girls and a heck of a lot cheaper too.
For english riders it is not so bad as we all, including the guys, wear basically the same looking outfits, for jumping, hunt seat, dressage, and all on the flat classing. Helmet, shirt, riding jacket, breeches and long riding boots or jodphur boots. Depending on your level sometimes there is a slight change however, such as a jacket with tails and waist coat for the dressage rider.
Now for the reining horse rider, again guys and gals are similar, but we are now seeing some bling sported by the ladies. Basic outfit is long sleeved collared shirt, jeans, chapps, cowboy hat or helmet, belt, cowboy boots and optional waist coat by the ladies. Some ladies are now adding some bling to their shirts and waist coats in the ring especially going into the finals. Their shirt colors will normally blend with the horses coat colors, so they do not clash. For example, ( this applies to all western classes), some bright colors that look good on you may not go well if you are on a light colored horse.Palominos can look the best in blue, white, black and red. A yellow, pale green or tan shirt can make the horses coat look rather dull. Your shirt color should help make your horse richer in color not the other way around. While bling is nice to see, if your horse however is not a very good mover, and you move a lot while loping or galloping, it can make him look much rougher than he really is while running your circles. And remember it is strictly the horses performance in reining that is being judged and not that of the rider.
In the Western show pen, at your local open shows, you may see some, but not a lot of bling, on youth, non pro, or open riders as they may be there to train, or there are not the entry numbers attending these smaller shows to warrant that type of shirt. Basic look, collared long sleeved shirt, chapps, jeans or dress pants, cowboy hat, cowboy boots, waist coat or jacket and belt. When you hit the major horse shows, now that is a whole different story, as that is when the bling will come out in full force.
Take horsemanship for example, you had better be able to ride pretty darn well if you dress yourself in an all over bling shirt, as both the rider and horse is being judged. While bling looks awesome on the great riders, if you however, your upper body moves alot, or that free arm of yours is not as still as it should be then, all that bling may only make you look far worse. The judge may spot it and mark you accordingly. What you are wearing can sometimes make or break you in the western show pen. It is still perfectly OK to ride at a World show in plain colored shirts. Or in shirts with just a little bling across both shoulders, across the diagonal or even on just one shoulder. Sometimes this type of design will make you look more correct if you drop a shoulder to the inside of your circles. I watch a lot of Champions win in very elegant plain outfits.
The worst thing about all the bling is it now seems to be getting a little out of hand and over done on some outfits. As well as the prices are getting just as outrageous. Sorry, but $ 5000.00 for a shirt with bling just to out class Jesse Blog over there, is really going too far these days. Also the riders that can not afford such shirts feel that they can not compete against those others at the major shows without one, but boy, they are so wrong thinking that way, as they certainly can. It is after all the horse and rider as a team, and how well they perform the pattern that matters in the end , not the bling you have on your jacket or shirt.
Now do not get me wrong, because I do think they are beautiful myself, as my students sport bling at the major shows and I wish them too, and they are worth every penny spent on them, because I do know the amount of time and work they take to produce one shirt, but it seems to be turning into more of a contest between riders as to who has the most crystals on their shirts, rather than which of those talented riders, can show their horse with the greatest of ease.