In My Boots: Dressing the part II

Last week, Kristen Kovatch admitted to having some serious English fashion envy. This week, she turns the tables, pointing out a thing or three that English riders could learn from Horse Nation’s cowboys and cowgirls.

From Kristen:

In last week’s column, I publicly professed my no-longer-secret jealousy of adorable “English rider” fashions—the polo shirts, the Baker plaid, everything that Joules has ever produced, etc. Lest you think I’m about to jump ship on the western world, however, I’d like to make a few fashion suggestions to the English riding world, courtesy of the cowboys and cowgirls of Horse Nation.

Six-row embroidery

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We understand the black leather boot thing—they look pretty sharp when they’re all shined up, and nothing says “professional” like clean leather. But imagine how sick your tall boots would look with just a little embroidery going up the calf. Nothing too drastic, just some wings and scrolls like this beautiful number featuring the traditional western look. Imagine the possibilities—get a little pattern going on in your barn colors, or just stick to some conservative white, silver and black. Either way, you could really be doing a lot with all of that leather on your lower leg.

If you decide to just get a pair of western boots for kicking around the barn or show grounds, take it from a western rider—get square or round toe. They offer much more room in the toe for your tired feet, from a practical standpoint. From a style standpoint, they’re much higher on the professional scale than those pointy-toed high-heeled things that should only ever be worn when you’re going linedancing.

Tooled leather

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On a similar theme, consider adding a little flair to your tack. We end up sitting on a lot of this lovely tooling, but we do have a lot of places where it’s uncovered by our leg and visible. All you need is a little acorn-and-oak on the edge of your saddle flap, or maybe the scroll-and-leaf you can see on this beautiful saddle, or a little traditional and conservative basketweave… the possibilities are endless. You could even add some tooling to your bridles, breastplates, halters… cut loose a little and let your leather be beautiful!


Photo from

Well, you knew this one was coming. Away from the barn I know we can all rock some blingy purses, sunglasses, belts, whatever. I have to admit that the English world is doing an excellent job embracing a little bling in the arena as well: I’ve seen sparkling dressage browbands, rhinestones on spurs, a peek of a blingy belt under that hunt coat, rhinestones on jumpers’ show helmets. For the traditionalists, Rodeo Drive now makes pearl conchos—so you can embrace a little conservative style with some western flair. Just add a little bling to your schooling bridle, a little engraved silver to your halters.

Come on, Horse Nation. Adopt a little western style and find your inner cowgirl.

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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