Lisi Edwards is a fuddy-dud when it comes to equestrian attire, and she’ll tell you so herself. But even snobs have their weaknesses.
I am a traditionalist. An old-school, buff-breeches-wearing, tie-my-own-stock-tie, traditionalist snob. I cringe when I see women wearing scarlet coats or junior riders (12 and under) wearing tall boots and breeches and not jods and garters. I shake my head when I see someone ride stadium with a tee-shirt and stock tie under their coat. Yup, a snob.
I remember back when I was young (okay, WAY back), the attire at events during dressage and stadium was homogeneous. We were given some leeway when it came to cross-country attire, with colorful shirts and helmet covers, but the black coat, white shirt, buff or white breeches were the standard uniform. Our horses were also decked out in standardized accoutrements (plain bridles, plain saddle pads, plain saddles) for all phases of the event.
Then, something happened. I’m pretty sure it was started by a creative marketing genius who was subsequently cursed by all tack shop managers. Color crept into our world. Gone were the days where stable accessories were only available in the standard red, blue, and green. Pitchforks, buckets, stall guards, polo wraps, halters, and leadropes were suddenly appearing in every color of the rainbow. Tack shops found their inventories overflowing with the added color.
The colors began to bleed into our tack and into our clothing. I first noticed it in the junior divisions. Ponies heading off to the start box with color-coordinated saddle pads, gallop boots, bell boots, and sparkling paint on their rumps; their riders decked out in matching shirts, gloves, and helmet covers. An explosion of neon color guaranteed to melt the eyeballs of anyone daring to look at them for more than a few seconds. The colors then wormed their way into our dressage and stadium rings. Colorful quilted saddle pads. Bridles with white (or worse, colored!) padding and reins. Helmets with logos on them. Browbands with (**gasp**) brass inlay.
As an OSTS (old-school, traditionalist snob), for years I was able to easily resist this affront to our sport’s august heritage. I wear a velvet-covered safety helmet in dressage and stadium. My bridle remains plain, its leather the rich dark brown that God had intended. My jumping saddle sits on a contoured fleece pad. When Mr. Morris expresses his disapproval of square quilt pads under saddles, I say Amen, Brother George! But…
I find myself straying from the OSTS flock. It started with the purchase of a colorful leadrope which led to my discovery that many horse-related items were becoming available in purple. That dastardly marketing genius had discovered my weak spot. I found myself color-coordinating my cross-country attire: a royal purple safety vest and matching gloves. The shame I feel is overwhelming. Fortunately, my OSTS ways forbid me from subjecting my horse to the demeaning act of wearing purple bell boots or gallop boots. My saddle pads are still white (and contoured); I will never paint purple designs on an equine butt.
Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned against my OSTS principles. A few months ago I purchased a browband adorned with an interchangeable string of beads (purple beads) for my dressage bridle…just a tiny bit of class and color to add to the overall picture of grace and beauty that I hope to present to the judges as we (attempt) to halt at X (or thereabouts)… right? Since the browband is above his eyes, my horse won’t be able to see (and therefore be embarrassed by) the bling… right? And then I sinned again this week. I purchased another browband for my jumping bridle. But this is it. No more. I do not want to lose my OSTS card. I will not buy anything else with color or beads on it. I promise…
…unless Devoucoux comes out with a new line of saddles to match my browbands.
Top photo: Wikimedia Commons
Bottom photo: Lisi Edwards