There is a lot of storied tradition in our sport, and I have great respect for that. I prefer a traditional look in the show ring. In my opinion, if it catches my eye, it’s distracting from the ride. I don’t like something that draws attention; it takes away from the horse and rider.
At Heritage, we are very particular about the details. I don’t like when a bit looks odd. If white shows on a bit, we darken it. If a saddle pad is the wrong color or doesn’t fit right, it takes away from a pair’s overall turnout and impression. We have a phrase called a “walking tack shop”—meaning, the horse I’m seeing is wearing far too much tack. I stay away from nontraditional boots or tack, flash attachments on the bridle, and odd bits.
I like conventional tack that fits well. The same applies to clothing. I like traditional colors. I like a clean black helmet; I am not a fan of helmets adorned with crystals and other embellishments. I prefer a white show shirt and a navy or hunter green show coat. I also like dark shades of brown. I like neutral breeches without excessive branding.
For me, the look is the same whether you are in the hunter or the equitation ring. The jumper ring is different, but I still have a preference for the same kind of look. Clothing designs and the makeup of clothes have changed dramatically over the years, and it’s all gone to synthetic materials versus wool, but fit is very important. Some brands are better than others, and it depends on the individual.
When I think of very well attired, I would use Baylee McKeever as an example. Baylee is a stylist in her riding and turnout. Her clothes have a structured fit. Baylee also wore a show coat designed by former Heritage Farm student Lillie Keenan in some of her equitation classes this winter in Wellington, which really brought things full circle.
In the hunters and equitation, if you’re noticing bright clothes or colorful equipment before the horse or the rider, then to me, it’s wrong. Of course, our way is certainly not the only way, but it is what has worked most successfully for us.