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Show Clothing & Your Appearance

Susan Shindle
Wild Rose Creations 

December 2002

Let’s face it, we all feel good about our show appearance when friends and family compliment us. Some of us have even become addicted to keeping up with the latest fads and color combinations. With each garment purchase, our heart quickens a beat or two and we can almost hear the positive comments of our colleagues ringing in our ears. Life is good. Showing is good. We feel great and our attitudes reflect this new found power in looking awesome! 

Most people choose their show clothes with the help of friends and family. They want to know the “in” colors and the “latest” designs. They don’t want to look like anyone else. They want to express themselves in the creativity of design, and are looking for the latest ideas to look different. They base their final decisions on the comments of their trusted associates. 

When designing garments for Horsemanship classes, I prefer clients to bring an evaluation from the trainer on the client’s strengths and weaknesses. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate report, just a list dictated by the trainer to Mom or Hubby. Some of the things that I look for are: an evaluation of posture, hand position, leg position and how busy the hands and legs are. The more input I get from the trainer’s perspective, the easier it is to design a perfect garment for a client. Major design considerations are also made on the classes the garment will be shown in. Western Horsemanship and all-around garments are made much differently than something used strictly for Western Pleasure. 

When choosing a garment for Horsemanship the thing to remember is to keep decoration away from your weaknesses and decorate where your strengths lie. For example: 

If you have busy hands – stay away from decorated cuffs. Match the glove color to the garment sleeve. 

If you have still hands – Advertise it and decorate away! 

If you use a lot of inside leg to cue your horse – try to match your chaps to the body color of the horse, going a shade darker if necessary rather than lighter. 

If you never use your inside leg - feel free to choose a contrasting color for your chaps. 

If you tend to lean to one side – Stay away from fancy conchos on your chaps. Use a concho covered in the same fabric as the chaps. Also stay away from bodysuit and vest designs that point down in the center back. There is no need to give the judge a center point to focus on. 

In Horsemanship, it is better to have a design that is balanced and not asymmetrical. Asymmetrical designs tend to make you look as though you are leaning to the side that is most decorated. 

To give the illusion of a “deep seat” match the body fabric of the bodysuit or the side panels of a princess seamed vest to your chaps. ALWAYS match your pants, belt and boots to the chaps. 

In 2003, bodysuits and horsemanship shirts will be the rage. They give a cleaner overall line and help accent perfect horsemanship posture better than vests do. There are also more areas to decorate with the larger continuous surface of a bodysuit. 

This year lots of different colors will be used so choose colors and decorating mediums while remembering to consider your show environment. Crayon box bright colors, foils and metallics work great in indoor arenas. Subtle tans and pastels look wonderful in natural sunlight where there are trees and woods around the arena. Where the backdrop will be dirt, dirt and more dirt go with darker, brighter colors like purples, reds, bright greens and royal blue. Use crystals for sparkle, either outdoors or under lights and keep the retro sequins for indoor arenas only. 

Above all, have fun and enjoy your horse showing experience! 

By Susan Shindle 
Wild Rose Creations 

January, 2003 

For most of us, Showmanship Class starts our show day. Momentum and confidence is gained or lost in this early class and the pace is set for the rest of the day. It’s the only class to put forth your best first impression with an individual judge, and it’s much easier to be considered an All-Around contender when you nail Showmanship. This is the class where the judge gets to makes his personal assessment of you and your horse. It’s the only class where both of you are being judged up close and personal, so PAY ATTENTION to the details. 

First and foremost make certain that your attire for Showmanship is as perfect as you can make it. Show Season will begin shortly, so NOW is the time to pull everything out and check for proper fit and send everything to the cleaners. Don’t wait until a week before that first show, just in case you need to make unexpected changes. 

When investing in new Showmanship Attire consider the following: 

  1. Does the color compliment your horse? While looking in the mirror at colors, remember the judge will see you and your horse as one unit. Your overall color scheme must also accent your mount. Check the color chart on this site if you are not certain. 

  2. Does your jacket fit? Check for stress wrinkles indicating the jacket is too tight and relaxed wrinkles indicating the jacket is too big. 

  3. Do you want to go the extra mile and have your jacket tailored to achieve your best possible showmanship posture? 

  4. Take care when decorating the sleeves. Cuff details can accent every bad move and correction you make! 

  5. If you are confident in your showmanship skills, consider having a jacket and vest or bodysuit made to match. It will help the judge remember how wonderful you are when the riding classes begin.

One of the biggest mistakes I see continuously in Showmanship is neglect. Dirt specks on shoulders and a few extra wrinkles DO make the difference between placing and not. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that the judge won’t see it or “it’s not that bad.” Everything affects your overall look, with the judge two feet away, little things do make a difference. 

Some of the things to look at: 

Starch your pants. For dark pants turn them inside out and spray several light coats of starch. Wipe gently with your hand, turn right side out and press. This prevents white residue from showing. Make sure your press marks are clean lines and are straight up the leg. This line will assist you in achieving the illusion of perfect posture. 

Check your garments carefully for dirt. Remember, any tiny, little specks will be noticed by the judge during inspection. Send anything that doesn’t look polished and sparkling to the cleaner. 

Wash your gloves. The fabric ones always have tiny horse hairs on them! 

Check the shape of your hat for correctness… steam and reshape if necessary. Brush it off, or wipe with a cloth to remove every little hair and dust particle. 

If your Showmanship Jacket is not decorated, place a pin or necklace at the base of your neck. DO NOT put a pin on your lapel; this will give the illusion of standing slightly to one side. 

Remember, Showmanship sets the pace for the rest of your day. Get the best fitting garment you can and invest whatever time is necessary to prepare properly. A little work ahead of time does mean the difference between winning and not. 

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