Show Ring Beautiful (for the RIDER!)

There are so many things out there to tell you how to get your horse ready for a horse show.  There are products upon products that people recommend and there are books and blogs and reviews covering every single angle of how you should groom your horse.  However, there isn’t that much out there telling you how to present yourself at a horse show.  Here, I will cover a few things from makeup to clothing for the show ring for a saddleseat show.  Please defer to the rule book on ASHA’s site for a complete list of appropriate attire, as it varies from class to class. Some require day suits and derbies, some formals and top hats.  I have always shown pleasure, so day suits have always been appropriate for me.

I will start with makeup and share some of the tricks I use.  First, if you have never shown before, you should be warned that it gets REALLY hot in those long sleeve wool habits (suits) in the summer.  You WILL sweat.  You will feel gross.  It’s going to happen.  Get over it!   That said, how are we women supposed to keep our makeup on and our faces looking as perfect as our horses when it’s 100+ degrees out and we’re wearing wool long sleeved suits and sweating like pigs?  Well let me tell you my secrets.


Start with a bare face, and apply a face primer all over, like a lotion.  I use Avon’s “primed for perfection” from their Mark collection, and it has worked wonders for me.  Actually I use all Avon products in my make-up regime, with the exception of one, which I will talk about in a minute.  I get Avon from my Mom (

After applying the face primer to your entire face, you are ready to apply the foundation/powder of your choice.  I use Avon’s BB cream, and/or Mineral Powder.  Then I apply a little bit of blush.

After you have your foundation/powder/blush looking perfect, you can start on your eyes.  Here is where I stray from Avon, simply because they do not make a product like this.  I use Mary Kay’s Eye Primer.  It is essentially a thick version of the face primer, but it works better on eyes than just the face primer.  Smear this all over your eyelids, and wherever you will be applying eye makeup.  Let it dry, or don’t let it dry, it works about the same either way.  Apply your preferred eyeshadow, eyeliner, and mascara as normal.

Last comes lips.  I’ll share another secret weapon with you here… Avon’s Lip Marker.  This stuff is one of the most awesome makeup inventions ever!  It doesn’t smudge, smear, or wipe off.  It’s a stain, so it stains your lips to be that color.  I use this as a base, and apply Avon’s Glossblossom lipgloss and my lips are perfect for the entire show, if I choose for them to be!

Now, if you’re like me, you don’t wear this much makeup on the daily.  When I come out of my last class in the show ring, I don’t want to have all that makeup on anymore.  No worries, because I use Avon’s makeup remover wipes to remove it all!!




If you are an AOT (like we are) and you are just starting out on your own (like we are) and you have no one to do your hair, you will bow down to this wonderful lady who posted a video on Youtube on how to do your own horse show bun.  I have tried this, sitting in front of my computer by myself, and my hair turned out pretty good!  I think I am prepared to try again and do it for a show!!  So, check this out on how to get your hair into that perfect show bun all by yourself!!



You want to wear classy, attractive jewelry,  and nothing super gawdy.

Earrings: Generally, you should not wear anything dangly.  I like a nice size CZ or Swarovski Crystal Stud-nothing expensive that may fall out of my ears and get lost on the show ring-made that mistake once with some real diamonds, never again!!!

Lapel Pin: I wear a simple small magnetic horse shoe.  You can find plenty of these online, in consignment stores or specialty stores.  I have seen people wear a letter pin with an initial or something significant to them, or something else “horsey” looking.  As long as it’s not too huge and gawdy, it’s OK to wear.  It is usually worn on the left side of the lapel on your coat.

Tie Bar:  Usually saddleseat shirts will have holes in the collar for the tie bar to go.  There are so many options here from plain to sparkly, silver, gold, etc.  I have both plain and sparkly swarovski crystal ones.  There are clip on tie bars available for shirts that do not have tie bar holes.  I also own one of these with little saddlebred horses on it, even though I don’t own a shirt that doesn’t have tie bar holes!

Number Magnets: You NEED these.  No one likes a number flopping around, and lets all be honest here pinning the number usually ends up looking like crap.  Plus, poking holes all in expensive clothes makes me cringe!  I got a set of 4 swarovski crystal adorned ones from a consignment shop for $20.

Button Covers: I use 2 swarovski crystal clip on button covers on each sleeve of my show shirt buttons for a finished look.



I don’t even know where to begin here, as there are so so many options to put together a good looking habit, so I will just share with you what I’ve got, and what I paid for it.  You can go spend 2-6 grand on a custom made suit, sure, if you have that much money. You can also hit up consignment stores and still spend anywhere from $500 on up on a 2 piece suit with only a coat and pants.  I however, do not have that kind of money… so I pieced together separates, and still manage to make myself look presentable.  If I, the fashionably challenged, can do it, so can you.  So here goes:

Day Coat:  I got a “Snooty Fox” daycoat (Made by Carl Meyers-it’s their “economy” line, but SUPER nice in my opinion) on markdown from Hartmeyer.  I paid $250 for the coat brand new.

Vest:  I actually have 2 vests.  One I got for $50 from a consignment store, and the other I had custom made by the Lady in Yellow, and it is reversible.  I paid $90 shipped, and essentially got two vests and the quality is lovely.

Shirt: I have 2 shirts, one purchased new from Hartmeyer’s for $45 and one from a consignment store for $30.

Jodphurs:  I have a brown pair and a black pair of Hartmeyer’s “Lucky” Jods, paid $100 each on special at their KY State Fair booth.

Derby Hat:  I have 2 derbies, one brown, one black, so that I have one for each pair of pants.  One I bought used for $25, and the other I got new from Hartmeyer’s for $60.

Boots and Gloves: I got my black patent boots, and long leather show gloves for Christmas, but those both came from Hartmeyer’s also.  The gloves were $40 and the boots were $70.

Ties:  Ok, so I have to admit I have somewhat of a weird obsession with neck ties.  My Mom gets them at consignment stores and I fix them up by applying my own “bling” to them.  I have regular ones and bling ones, depending on my moods or the show.  I’m more inclined to bling it up if it’s a night show, or a championship.  The qualifiers and day shows I go a little less blingy.  I’d say all of my ties all together have cost less than $100 and I have about 50 of them.

Cost to piece together a suit with one daycoat, 3 vests, 2 shirts, 2 pairs of jods, 2 derbies, show gloves, and patent boots:  $660. Which is a LOT less than I would have spent on a custom suit, custom shirts, vests, and all that jazz.  I am ready to show for under a grand-given the cost of jewelry/accessories.  This considering all of my things were purchased on sale or special, or from consignment stores, and they were all purchased several years ago.  Good thing these habits don’t really go “out of style” very often!!!  Also consider that if I just got one vest, one shirt, one pair of jods, and one derby, it would cost even less!!! So you CAN show and look nice for a reasonable amount of money. That said, this habit would probably not be quality enough to go to the world championships, but it has been faithful to me through shows like the prestigious Rock Creek Horse Show more than once!

These are all pictures taken of me while showing, or before showing:

Please visit our LINKS page to find a list of Clothing and Accessory stores for new apparel and consignment apparel.  

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