Battle of the Burgundy: What Coat Colors Belong In The Hunter Ring?

Photo by Lauren Mauldin


There’s a lot going on in our sport right now. Indoors just wrapped up, and people are looking forward to winter circuits. SafeSport is a hot topic, with everyone going through their required coursework in order to show next year. We’re all sharing pictures of our freshly body clipped horses, but don’t neglect the most important issue we’re facing for 2019 – the “burgundy coat” proposed rule change.

For those new to the topic, buried in the USHJA active rule change proposals are EQ105.2 and HU107.2

2. Attire. Riders are required to wear conservatively colored black, blue, green, grey, or brown coats which are free from adornment which in the judge’s opinion is overly distracting. Shirts must have a choker, similar collar or tie. Breeches may be buff, canary, tan, rust or white.

Notice what’s not on that list? Burgundy, which has increased in popularity a lot this year since its appearance in the AA Motionlite Jacket collection

I’ve got mixed feelings on this burgundy debacle. On one hand, I’m an extreme traditionalist. My first foray into the hunter/jumper world wasn’t in the show ring, it was in the field. I fox hunted as a junior, and that’s a place where colors are super important. You had to be an upstanding member of the hunt to earn your “colors” which are set by individual clubs. For mine, colors meant a gray collar. All the newbies had to wear plain black, but once you proved yourself on the field you got the privilege of sewing that charcoal fabric to the collar of your wool hunt coat. 

And by hunt coat, I mean black coat. Only black. Red was reserved for staff, and shadbellies were only allowed on formal meets. It wasn’t until my college IHSA team that I dabbled into the super trendy patterns of the show world. For 2003, that meant navy plaid. We would have died before we put on anything burgundy, unless it was a dark colored show shirt underneath a taupe plaid coat. 

But time moves forward, and things change. Is a burgundy coat, or any other “fun” color, really that bad? Does having flashy buttons or a different colored collar distract from a perfect round? 

I’m not sure. 

Photo by Lauren Mauldin

There’s a fine line between respecting tradition, and having fun with attire when horse showing. As a hard working adult amateur, maybe my show coat should be allowed to match the beverage I sip immediately after I finish for the day… a decent pinot noir of course.

What do you think?

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