Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Riding Coat Dilemma - To Tweed or Not?

The riding coat dilemma recently popped up - what coats are appropriate for the show ring?  Can you wear the lovely tweed coats you often see in fox hunting photos from England?  The answer really depends on where you show and at what level.  Also, most horse shows are not held in cold weather and it would be uncomfortable to wear heavy wool during warm weather. 

Those lovely tweed coats are worn during "cubbing season" - the "pre fox hunting season" that falls typically between Labor Day and Thanksgiving here in the US.  This is the informal fox hunting season when you and your mount are getting in shape and preparing for the more formal fox hunting season.  You won't see the pink coats (the red ones) until the winter.

Here in the US, in our horse shows, you don't see tweed coats much in the show ring unless you are showing at a very "informal" show, maybe a local show.  We have a show in Virginia locally run by a Ruritan Club and it would be appropriate to wear a tweed coat there but it's also held in August so it would be dreadfully warm to wear tweed.

But riding coats have come a long way in the last ten years.  There are so many options, price points, materials, that it has become mind boggling to me.  I wear only one brand, Grand Prix, mostly due to fit and sizing.  I have older wool Grand Prix coats that I wear when I show in cold weather.  In warm weather the newer techno-fabrics coats come out.

 Here are some options for horse shows:

RJ Classics is a good brand, a basic show coat that can be worn for years.  This is a "hunter" coat to be worn in the hunter or jumper ring.  Classic styling, good for equitation classes.  

Another good option, well-priced, basic coat from Ariat.  Hunter, jumper or equitation ring.

A fancier, more expensive, maybe more trendy model, this one is suited for the jumper ring due to color and extra bling that is not a welcome sight in the staid world of hunters.

Another coat for the jumper world (due to color).  You would not see a stock tie in the hunter ring either.

Another value-priced hunter coat for the show or equitation ring:

So this great old photo of Jackie Kennedy riding in her tweed at a horse show in Virginia, likely would not happen today with one exception.

This photo of Ellie Wood Baxter riding at Upperville in her tweed is recent (in the last 10-15 years).  There is an invitational class there (you have to be invited to ride in it) and tweed is accepted!  I believe Ellie was in her early 90's when this photo was taken.   She is an amazing woman and sadly no longer rides (due to her eyesight).

It's lovely to see tweed on a horse.  But it's for fox hunting.  Hope you have tweedy day!  Stay warm and safe out there.  We have snow in Virginia.


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