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Choosing the Right Riding Jacket

Posted on 11 July 2018

The most important aspect  of your horse show attire is your jacket.

A well-fitting jacket can help hide flaws and enhance your appearance in the saddle.

It can do more to give you a polished look than any other aspect of your show ensemble. (After that, clean and shiny boots are imperative.)

The desired fit of hunt and dressage coats are essentially similar with the exception of hem length. No matter what type of coat you are fitting, you must try it on while wearing your show shirt (and sports bra if you're female) and breeches.

The fabric of the coat will fall differently if you are wearing a jersey than if you are wearing a show shirt.

Keep in mind that jackets are available in regular, short and long/tall torso lengths. Cuts differ  between  manufacturers, with some boxier in cut than others that are more fitted.

The coat that is most appropriate for you will depend on your own body shape.

Fit a show coat to your shoulders and torso first. Sleeve lengths can be altered, and waists can be taken in, but the length of a coat and the hemline are difficult to change for even the most talented tailors.


The seams at the shoulders of the coat should line up with the edges of your shoulders. If the seams are too narrow, then you will have an unsightly pull over the tops of your biceps (which will be uncomfortable when you ride). Shoulders that are too wide can give you a boxy appearance. However, in some instances if all other aspects of the fit are correct, shoulders can usually be taken in successfully by a skilled tailor. This situation is sometimes the case with wom- en who have broad shoulders or full chest sizes but who are narrow at the waist and hips.

You should be able to move your arms into riding positions without feeling constrained across your upper back.


The fabric of the coat should lie flat across your back with no gathers, wrinkles or bulges. The lapels should lie flat against your chest, and fabric should not  pucker  at  the  buttons. The waistline should appear to sit on your natural waist to provide you with a crisp outline. For a hunt coat, which has three buttons, you can use the bottom button as a guide. It should sit just over your belly button. If the button is at a point far above your belly button, the coat is probably too short.


Dressage coats have four buttons and hems that are supposed to fall to the thigh when you're sitting in a saddle. To check the length of a dressage coat, let your arms and hands hang at your sides, allowing your fingers to curve naturally. The hem of the dressage coat will sit just inside this natural curve of your fingers.

Viewed from behind, the hem of the hunt coat should in general fall at a point where two to three fingers' width of your bottom is visible. However, some people prefer the hem to fall at a slightly lower point.  If the hem appears to  be correct, but there is a horizontal bulge of fabric running from hip to hip across your back, then the jacket is probably too long. Try a jacket in a short length or one from another manufacturer. Conversely, if the jacket is too short (you can see most of your bottom) try a jacket with a long or tall length.


The colour of your jacket is really important when trying to achieve a traditional and classic look.

For show classes you will have to assess which classes you want to enter, for show pony and hack classes a navy jacket is ideal but for hunter and mountain and moorland classes tweed jackets are required. The colour of your tweed should suit the colour of your horse or pony to really catch the judges’ eye.



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