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Tips for the Rider: A-Circuit Trends on a Budget
A-Circuit Looks Without Breaking the Bank!
So you’ve done your time at clinics, are winning regularly at the local shows, and your trainer says it’s time to move up. Congratulations! But where to begin, and what do you need to buy?!
First of all, if you have not already done so, try to go to a few shows at the level you are planning to ride and just watch. Knowing how things work, what people are wearing, and the general tempo of the day will go a long way in making your transition up the levels smoother. In particular, breed shows vs open shows can be very different in terms of clothing and turnout style. You’ll want to make sure you fit in.
I’ve heard I need the “right” show clothes. True?
Well, yes and no. It is true that appearance and turnout will matter more as you move up the levels. Judges (and show stewards!) have a certain expectation of standards. You’ll need to meet those expectations. It is NOT true however, that you must have a certain brand of breeches, or a particular helmet in order to show. We’ve yet to see a judge ask riders to remove their jackets so brand labels can be checked! And remember, no amount of expensive show clothing is ever going make up for a poor performance.
Will it cost a lot of money to be properly turned out?
It may not cost as much as you imagine. Years ago, there were only a limited number of manufacturers of off the rack show clothing. Your only options were very cheap or very, very expensive. Everyone wore the same exact items, even down to the particular shade of breech color. Thankfully, this is no longer the case. Many manufacturers have realized that riders want options. Plus, new fabrics and high tech innovations mean that there are less expensive items that not only look fantastic, but are also a great pleasure to ride in.
The trick is to purchase good quality items that fit you well; stick to somewhat conservative colors, especially in your jacket; and then add a few touches of trendy “style” to make sure you fit in. For example, your show boots should last for years. Buy the best quality and fit you can afford. Show shirts, however, can be more reasonably swapped out year to year, so you came be a bit bolder in your style choices there.
What are the A-Circuit Trends I should pay attention to?
Euro is in: European styling in both breeches and jackets are the most popular styles, and appear to have some staying power. Many hunter and jumper riders are wearing “Euroseat” breeches. These are breeches cut on a full seat pattern, but with knee patches rather than full seat. This actually has a practical aspect. These breeches are really comfortable to sit in, and have a very flattering silhouette. Similarly, Euro style jackets with contrast collars are increasingly popular. Initially seen in the jumper ring, now we are seeing them in the hunter ring.
Bye-bye chokers: The old choker with pin is just about completely gone, with wrap and angled collars taking their place. You no longer have to keep track of a choker, and usually these shirts have pretty contrast patterns inside the collar and cuffs so you get a great casual look ringside. Fabrics have changed as well. There are stretch fabrics, and knit fabrics, and all kinds of technical fabrics to make your day cooler and more comfortable.
Helmets aren’t just velvet anymore: Of course your helmet needs to be ASTM/SEI certified, but beyond that show helmets are starting to include features such as venting, or even built in visors. Remember though, especially in the hunter arena, always err on the side of conservative!
Bottom line, check out what your competition is wearing; then shop for the best you can reasonably afford and make sure that the fit is good. Fit and overall “look” is far more important than brand name and price tag. Good luck, and congratulations and making it this far!
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