Disciplines Lifestyle

What to Wear for Your First Dressage Schooling Show

What to Wear for Your First Dressage Schooling Show

Entering your first dressage competition is an exhilarating experience filled with anticipation and excitement. Whether you’re gearing up for your very first schooling show or dipping your toes into the realm of official dressage competitions, one of the key elements to consider is your attire. Dressing appropriately isn’t just a simple dress code requirement–it showcases your professionalism and also contributes to your confidence and performance in the arena.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the essentials of what to wear for your debut in the dressage arena. From understanding the differences between schooling shows and official competitions to selecting the perfect attire, we’ll cover everything you need to know to make a stylish and successful impression.

What’s the Difference Between a Dressage Competition and a Schooling Show?

The main differences between an official dressage competition and a schooling show lie in their levels of formality, regulations, and affiliations. Here’s a general breakdown of both competitions.

Official Dressage Competition

Dressage competitions are organized by recognized equestrian governing bodies like the United States Dressage Federation (USDF) in the USA or the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) internationally. They adhere to strict rules and regulations regarding attire, horse eligibility, judging standards, and facility requirements. Official competitions are often larger in scale than schooling shows, attracting participants from around the country and even spanning several days.

Schooling Show

Schooling shows are typically more informal and are often hosted by local equestrian facilities, riding clubs, or training centers. They provide a lower-pressure environment for riders and horses to gain experience and practice their skills without the strict adherence to official competition rules. Schooling shows may occur more frequently and are usually smaller in scale, catering to riders within the local community. They’re a great way to get accustomed to the equestrian competition scene before participating in an official show.

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Schooling Show Attire Essentials

Though schooling shows are less formal than dressage competitions, you are still expected to adhere to a certain dress code. Here are the essentials you’ll need for your first schooling show.

Show Shirt

A long-sleeved, collared show shirt in a solid, neutral color is typically preferred for schooling shows. Choose a shirt made of moisture-wicking material to keep you cool and comfortable during your rides.

The Tori Show Shirt is our pick for first-time schooling show riders! This shirt helps you maintain the optimum body temperature for premium performance. The Tori also has multiple collar trim options so you can personalize your style.

Learn more: How to Buy Equestrian Show Shirts: Size, Fit, Style Guide

Breeches or Jodhpurs

Proper riding breeches or jodhpurs in a light color such as beige, tan, or white are standard for both schooling and dressage, though some organizations permit other solid colors. Adult riders typically wear breeches, while junior riders wear jodhpurs during competitions. Full-seat grip is best, as it allows for proper contact between seat and saddle. Pants should fit snugly and provide freedom of movement without excess bunching or sagging.

We recommend the Kaia Silicone Full Seat Breech for schooling shows. The full-seat silicone grip provides maximum saddle contact, and the quick dry fabric keeps you cool and dry throughout your ride.

Kaia Silicone Full Seat Breech

Learn more: How to Buy Breeches: Size, Fit, Style Guide


Adult riders wear tall dressage boots in brown or black with their breeches, while juniors wear black or brown paddock boots and half chaps with their jodhpurs. All boots should have a distinguishable heel for rider safety. Boots should always be clean to maintain a professional appearance.

Learn more: How to Choose the Right Riding Boots (+ 8 of our favorites)


Riding gloves help maintain a good grip on the reins and protect your hands from blisters. Choose gloves that fit well and allow for dexterity. Riders typically match their glove color to the rest of their tack or outfit.


Wear an ASTM/SEI certified helmet that fits properly and securely. While black or navy helmets are traditional, other dark colors are generally acceptable.

Dressage Attire Essentials for Beginners

Dressage attire is similar to schooling attire in many ways, though there are several key differences between the two. Dressage attire tends to be more formal as it adheres to a stricter dress code. Here are the key differences.

Show Coat

A well-fitted, 3 or 4-button show coat in a solid color like black, navy, dark green, or gray is required for all levels of competition. Modern dressage show coats feature breathable athletic fabrics with ample stretch to keep you comfortable while you ride.

We recommend the Melody Mesh Show Coat for your first dressage competition. This coat is extremely flattering, and the lightweight mesh fabric will keep you cool even when the competition heats up.

Melody Mesh Show Coat

Learn more: How to Buy Equestrian Show Coats: Size, Fit, and Style Guide

Show Shirt

Like schooling shows, riders are expected to wear show shirts underneath their show coats during a formal dressage competition. Though most dressage riders opt for plain white show shirts, you can wear any solid color show shirt during a dressage competition. Keep in mind that your shirt should have sleeves in case jackets are waived due to extreme heat.

We recommend the Sofia Blue Label Show Shirt for your first dressage competition. With modern seamlines, a gorgeous silhouette, and UPF 30 sun protection, this classic show shirt will quickly become a staple in your competition wardrobe.

Sofia Blue Label Show Shirt

Stock Tie

A white stock tie is also required for dressage competitions. First-time dressage competitors find that pre-tied stock ties make things a little easier. If you buy a traditional stock tie, make sure it is neatly tied and secured with a stock pin. Learning to tie a stock tie can be tricky, so check out our step-by-step stock-tie guide with video to get you started.

Breeches or Jodhpurs

Proper riding breeches or jodhpurs with a full-seat grip in a light color such as beige, tan, or white are standard for dressage competitions. Make sure they fit properly and provide freedom of movement while also allowing for optimum contact with the saddle.


Tall dressage boots or jodhpurs with half chaps are acceptable to wear in dressage competitions, similar to schooling shows.


Riding gloves are required in dressage competitions. White or light-colored gloves are common–riders usually coordinate their glove color with their breeches or stock tie color.


As with all equestrian disciplines, it’s required to wear an ASTM/SEI certified helmet for safety. The helmet must be mounted, fitted, and secured. A dark colored helmet is standard.

Your Dressage Debut in Style

With these tips, you’ll be ready for your first schooling and dressage shows in no time! Once you’ve got a few dressage competitions under your belt and reached higher levels, check out our more comprehensive guide on Dressage Show Attire, Dress Code, and Style Tips for Riders →

No matter your competition level, R.J. Classics has the right attire! From your first dressage show to a Grand Prix, we’ve got the equestrian apparel to help you look and perform your best in the saddle.

Shop the R.J. Classics collection now →


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