Your show coat is the crowning jewel of your competition attire, and it’s what brings the whole outfit together. That’s why finding the perfect show coat is so important. In this guide, we’ll share exactly what you should look for in an equestrian show coat, including the fit, style, and color per discipline. We’ll even share how to measure yourself so you can pick the perfect size show coat for your body type.
What is an Equestrian Show Coat?
An equestrian show coat, also known as a riding jacket or competition jacket, is a type of jacket worn by riders during equestrian events and competitions. These jackets are designed to be elegant and practical while also meeting the dress code of each respective discipline.
Equestrian show coats are typically made from high-quality fabrics that are durable, breathable, and comfortable. They often have a tailored fit with features such as a double vent in the back for ease of movement while riding. Show coats may also have decorative elements such as contrast piping, fancy buttons, or patterned lining so riders can customize their look.
Equestrian Show Coats by Discipline
Each equestrian discipline has a specific dress code that riders should adhere to. Here are the show coats riders are expected to wear during each respective equestrian discipline.
Hunter Jumper and Show Jumping Coats
Hunter jumpers and show jumpers traditionally wear hunt coats when competing. Hunt coats typically feature a three-button or four-button front closure, notch lapels, and a single vent at the back for ease of movement. Shadbelly coats may also be worn at specific levels.
Modern show coats are made from a more lightweight fabric that is breathable and stretchy for better freedom of movement. While these jackets use the latest technology to help keep riders cool and comfortable while riding, the silhouettes still adhere to the traditional hunt coat standards.
Learn more: The Ultimate Guide to Show Jumping
Dressage Show Coat
Dressage events are a testament to equestrian pageantry and tradition. Standard show coats are required for most dressage events when coats are not waived due to weather. Show coats for dressage events are typically black or navy, though most solid colors like maroon or emerald are also accepted.
Fitted silhouettes are not required for dressage show coats, though some riders prefer a more tailored fit for both the look and the additional range of motion it provides. Other riders may enjoy a looser fit, depending on their body type.
Shadbelly coats are considered the most formal and traditional attire for dressage riders and are required in more advanced levels of competition. These double-breasted coats feature long tails that are intended to extend over the back of the horse during events. The color and materials used for shadbelly coats are typically the same as standard show coats.
Compared to dressage show coats, hunting coats are typically made from heavier, more durable fabrics such as wool or tweed, as they are designed to keep the rider warm and protected while riding through fields and forests during colder months. Foxhunting coats are typically longer than show coats in order to provide additional coverage, and may have features such as reinforced elbows and shoulders to withstand the wear and tear of the hunt.
Hunting coats typically come in earthy tones such as browns and greens to blend in with the environment, though black and navy hunting coats are also common. Red or pinque foxhunting coats might be the most recognizable coat color but are specifically reserved for distinguished hunters, officials, and staff members.
Hunting coats tend to be thicker and more durable than show coats, as your coat can experience more wear and tear in this discipline. Hunting coats are typically made of tweed or wool to help keep riders warm during the colder months when hunts are held, but also to help protect against branches or debris while on the course.
Equestrian Show Coat Materials and Features
Show coats come in a wide variety of styles and can include all sorts of features to make your ride the best it can be. Keep on the lookout for these common features when looking for your new show coat.
Riding is physically intensive so riders need to stay cool and dry, especially in the hot summer months. Show coats with mesh panels are the best lightweight option for riders of every discipline. These coats maximize ventilation and airflow while maintaining a traditional silhouette, allowing riders to stay cool and comfortable while competing.
Premium materials like Italian jersey give show coats a highly sophisticated look and hand-feel while staying stretchy and breathable for maximum comfort. These high-quality materials also rarely need padding, allowing for an unstructured fit that still looks tailored and sophisticated. Many of these premium materials are wrinkle-free and pill-resistant, making them incredibly easy to take care of in between shows and competitions.
With so many hours spent riding outdoors, equestrians need to stay on top of their sun protection game. Show coats can include built-in UV sun protection to help protect riders from sun damage while competing outside–though that doesn’t mean they should skip the sunscreen!
Equestrians experience a wide variety of extreme weather, from the scorching sun of the hot summer months to bitter cold during the hunting season. Material technology has come a long way over the past few decades to provide a show coat material that keeps your body at an optimum temperature no matter the season. We recognize how important this feature is, which is why some of our show coats feature our patented 37.5® thermoregulation technology to help you maintain an optimum body temperature while riding in any weather.
How Should a Show Coat Fit?
Regardless of discipline, your show coat should fit your body in a specific way for a polished look.
The shoulder seams of your show coat should line up with the edges of your shoulders. Narrow seams will make the coat fit too tight, restrict your range of motion, and impact the rest of the fit. Seams that are too wide will give you a boxy appearance and will likely bunch up while riding.
Though sleeve length does matter regarding the fit, this feature can be easily tailored so long as the shoulders and length of the coat are on point. The hem of your coat sleeves should reach about one inch past your wrist when your arms are hanging at your sides. Though that might seem long, once you lift your arms into riding position, the sleeve length looks and feels more appropriate.
Your coat length should fall slightly past your hips without bunching up around or beneath you while riding. If the hem bunches around your hips while seated, the coat is likely too long–try a “short” length if available. Likewise, if most of your seat or even your belt is visible while riding, your coat is likely too short–try a “long” length instead.
For hunt coats, you can use the bottom button as a length guide. The bottom button of a hunt coat should sit just around your belly button. If the coat button is higher than your belly button, the coat will be too short, and vice versa if the button is lower.
The lapels of the coat should lie flat against your chest without any bunching or pulling at the buttons. Likewise, the fabric across your back should lie flat without wrinkling or bunching. The front should button easily without pulling or stretching. Try on your coat with a vest if you wear one for your equestrian discipline to make sure everything fits comfortably.
How to Measure for an Equestrian Show Coat
To ensure a proper fit for an equestrian show coat, it’s important to take accurate measurements of your body. Though you may not find a show coat that fits you perfectly right off the rack, you can consult a tailor and provide these measurements to get the perfect fit.
Here are the steps to follow for a thorough measurement.
- Measure your shoulders. Measure across your shoulders, from the end of one shoulder bone to the other.
- Measure your chest/bust. Using a tape measure, measure around the fullest part of your chest while wearing your show shirt and anything else that you plan to wear with the show coat. Make sure that the tape measure is snug but not tight.
- Measure your waist. Measure around the narrowest part of your waist. When you bend to the side, the deepest wrinkle is your natural waistline.
- Measure your hips. Measure around the fullest part of your hips, typically around your hip bone.
- Measure your sleeve length. Start at the shoulder seam and measure down to the end of your wrist, passing over the point of your elbow. This will give you your sleeve length.
- Measure your back. Measure from the base of your neck, down to the point where you would like the jacket to end, typically around your tailbone.
Equestrian Show Coat Size Charts
Reference the size charts below when shopping for an equestrian show coat.
|24 ½ – 25 ½
|5’4” to 5’7”
|5’7” and above
|20 – 20 ½
|21 – 21 ½
|24 ½ – 25 ½
At R.J. Classics, we understand that finding a great show coat can bring your competition look together like nothing else. That’s why we’ve crafted beautiful show coats with modern, high-quality fabrics that keep you cool, dry, and protected against the sun while you ride–all while maintaining a sophisticated silhouette. We’re proud to offer a wide variety of styles and fits for female equestrians of all disciplines. Check out our selection today!
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