In My Boots: Dressing the part

Baker plaid, Joules jerseys, polo shirt popped collars… this week our in-house cowgirl Kristen Kovatch admits to having some serious English fashion envy.

From Kristen:

Appearances aren’t everything. There’s more to life than just looking good. Don’t judge a book by its cover. The list of adages goes on and on and on, and for the most part it’s easy to agree: We train our horses to be brilliant, not just be cranked into a frame; we can hang expensive show clothes on ourselves but they’re not going to hide a lack of hard work and practice. The way we look really doesn’t matter as long, right?

Then someone please tell me why I am so jealous of English riding fashion. Popped polo collars. Fake logos for teams that don’t exist. Numbers on the back of a shirt. Shiny boots and pastels and stripes! Little embroidered doo-dads! Joules! Need I say more?

I ride western. Western fashion can commonly be replaced with redneck fashion: lots of plaid. Pearl snaps. Long sleeves. Jeans, dirty boots, tacky amounts of bling on everything from purses to belts to sunglasses to dog collars.

Plaid and pearl snaps and dirty tack. MUST BE A WESTERN RIDER.

I love it all. I love fancy-stitched bridles, coordinating square pads and polo wraps, Baker plaid. I loved Baker plaid so much that I bought a Baker plaid polo shirt… for my hunt-seat best friend and coworker.

Baker plaid. Popped collar. Hello, jealousy

From what I can gather, however, a little bit of a fashion revolution might be on the rise. Bling is becoming more appropriate for the English arenas (in tastefully small amounts, of course.) In the schooling ring all bets are off—a number of our university English students will rock a sparkly belt and maybe even a pair of cowboy boots when they’re not in the saddle. And then, of course, there’s my coworker:

Did I mention she likes zebra?

I guess there’s no reason I can’t just acquire a million super-cute polos and outfit my reined cowhorse in a pony-sized Baker sheet and fancy-stitch halter with her barn name embroidered and engraved in cursive. I finally treated myself to this all-out symbol of all things English riding, emblazoned in Newmarket stripes:

Horsewear Ireland. A thoroughbred eating out of my hand. I AM SO ENGLISH.

In the end, realistically, I guess what we are wearing truly fools no one, of course. Because all of us horse people know that in reality, dressage queen or hunter princess, cowboy, cowgirl or recreational rider, we all go to the barn looking exactly like this:

Special thanks to Rebecca Jacobson, hunt seat fashion model and trainer extraordinaire, and Caroline Falcone, innocent bystander turned photographer.

About Kristen: Kristen was an English major at Alfred University and was then hired on after graduation as the western teacher and trainer at the university’s Bromeley-Daggett Equestrian Center. She would joke on that irony but her students don’t find it very funny any more. Kristen coaches the varsity western team, teaches classes in western riding and draft horse driving, and keeps several of her own horses in training on the side. She shows reined cow horse and also shows western pleasure and horsemanship for fun. Between her horses and her students, Kristen is never short on stories to tell. Some of these stories can be read at her blog at She has also been published in Today’s Equestrian and Take the Reins.

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