UPDATED w/2019 Rule Changes: Hunter/Jumper Attire Rules Clarified

There’s no doubt that style and fashion within the equestrian world has been booming as of late. With innovative brands, high-tech fabrics, and beautiful design, equestrian fashion is in a league of its own. But what exactly are the rules? Are burgundy coats allowed in hunters or are they just frowned upon by some? Can you really wear whatever you want in the jumper ring? What color can my stirrup irons be? Working at The Tried Equestrian, we get asked these questions all the time – so owner/founder Taylor had me crack open the USEF rulebook and do some research to get some clarity on the subject.

JUMPERS

Hannah Selleck always shows beautiful style in the Jumper Ring. Photo: Jump Media LLC

Believe it or not, there are 3 different categories of jumper attire, each with their own rules – Formal, Proper, and Standard. You can find which one your class requires in the show’s prize list.

JP 111 8a. Formal Jumper Attire. Dark, muted or similar colored, or red (scarlet) coats are required; team or sponsored coats of different colors are also permitted; white or fawn breeches; a white tie, choker (unless the shirt, by design, has the choker built in for its intended use) or hunting stock, and a white or lightly colored shirt must be worn. Shirts must have a white collar and white cuffs. Shirts must be fastened at the neck and tucked into breeches. Boots are required. Half chaps are permitted as long as the color matches the paddock boots being worn. Members of the Armed Services or the police may wear the service dress uniform with protective headgear.

What you need to know: Pretty much any colored jacket, because your team or sponsored jacket can be a different color than “dark” or red, but keep it classy. White or tan breeches, a show shirt with a white collar and cuffs, and tall boots or half chaps w/matching paddock boots.

JP 111 8b. Proper Jumper Attire. Coats of any color are required. Breeches must be light color (white, fawn or canary). Pastel and dark colored breeches are not allowed. Shirts, light in color, must be tucked into breeches and fastened at the top of the neck. Ties or chokers of any color must be worn (unless the shirt, by design, has the choker built in for its intended use). Boots are required. Half chaps are permitted as long as the color matches the paddock boots being worn.

What you need to know: Any color show jacket, but breeches have to be white, tan, or canary…sidenote – has anyone ever seen canary breeches for sale? Dark and pastel breeches are a no-no. Pick a light colored show shirt. Tall boots or half chaps w/matching paddock boots.

JP 111 8c. Standard Jumper Attire. Coats are not required. Breeches of any color are permitted. Shirts (polo shirts are permitted) must have collars and sleeves (sleeves may be either long or short), and must be tucked into breeches. Sleeveless shirts and shirts with exposed hoods are prohibited. Boots are required. Half chaps are permitted as long as the color matches the paddock boots being worn.

What you need to know: Almost a free for all. Shirts still must have collars and some sort of sleeve, and have to be tucked into your breeches. No hoodies allowed. Tall boots or half chaps w/matching paddock boots.

And what happens if you accidentally break one of these rules? JP111 8e states: “The penalty for a first or minor offense will be a warning and for repeated violations by the same exhibitor at the same event, the penalty may be elimination.” So be safe and always check your class’ attire requirements.

Helmets: The Jumper rulebook does not state anything regarding what the helmet looks like. The General Rulebook states in GR801 2. It is compulsory for all persons at Federation licensed hunter, jumper or hunter/jumper competitions when mounted anywhere on the competition grounds, to wear properly fastened protective headgear which meets or exceeds ASTM/SEI standards for equestrian use and carries the SEI tag. This is the ring to rock that custom crystal-top Samshield!

You can read the entire USEF Jumper Division Rulebook here.


HUNTERS

Kylee Arbuckle lets her horse shine in classic Hunter attire. Photo: Alden Corrigan Media

The attire for Hunters is obviously much more limited. Hunters are rooted in tradition and a lot of the clothing used today once had a purpose – for instance, the stock tie was worn on hunts as it doubled as a bandage in case of injury. The stock pin held it all together. Smart, right?

HU107 2. Attire. Riders are required to wear conservatively colored coats (black, blue, green, grey or brown) which are free from adornment which in the judge’s opinion is overly distracting. Shirts must have a choker, similar collar or tie. Breeches may be buff, canary, tan, rust or white.

What you need to know: You can wear a coat in the colors black, blue, green, grey, or brown. NOT burgundy, unfortunately (although it is a proposed rule change to add burgundy to that list of colors). It’s all up to the judge’s opinion on what classifies as “overly distracting” but best not to wear coats with bling or tons of contrast stitching. After all in hunters, it’s your horse who should be the stand-out. No apparent color restrictions on shirts, but white always looks sharp. You can wear breeches in tan, white, rust, or canary, but most choose tan. ***UPDATE***: The proposed rule change regarding hunt coats has been approved as of 1/12/2019, but does NOT GO INTO EFFECT until 12/1/2019.

HU107 3. Formal Attire. Riders are required to wear scarlet or dark coats; white shirts with white stock; white, buff or canary breeches. Members of the Armed Services or the Police may wear the Service Dress Uniform.

What you need to know: For formal classes like derbies, classics, etc, wear a dark coat or a shadbelly for an even more elegant look. Scarlet jackets are for those who have earned their colors in a recognized hunt. White show shirts and white stock ties are a must. Tan or white breeches (or canary if you desire) round out the look.

HU107 4. Inappropriate attire. When management permits Hunter or Hunter Seat Equitation riders to ride without jackets, riders must wear traditional, short, or long-sleeved riding shirts with chokers or ties. Polo shirts and full chaps are not permitted except in unjudged warm-up classes. Management or Judge may eliminate an exhibitor who is inappropriately attired.

What you need to know: Hunters are more strict in this area as well – you may get eliminated, and there’s no “first time warning” like there is in the jumper ring. I haven’t personally known anyone who shows in a burgundy jacket in hunters to be disqualified for it, but a judge CAN excuse you due to improper attire if they choose. ***UPDATE***: The newly approved rule regarding coats states that a judge cannot eliminate you based on inappropriate attire (except safety gear), but this rule does not go into effect until 12/1/2019.

Helmets: The Hunter rulebook does not state anything regarding what the helmet looks like. The General Rulebook states in GR801 2. It is compulsory for all persons at Federation licensed hunter, jumper or hunter/jumper competitions when mounted anywhere on the competition grounds, to wear properly fastened protective headgear which meets or exceeds ASTM/SEI standards for equestrian use and carries the SEI tag. I still advise that you follow the same guidelines as for coats though, and pick a helmet that’s free from adornment that could be considered “overly distracting” to a judge.

You can read the entire USEF Hunter Division Rulebook here.


EQUITATION

Kaitlyn Lovingfoss’ attire in the Equitation ring is always impeccably tailored. Photo: Shawn McMillan

Equitation attire rules are the same as Hunters, but I think fit is of the utmost importance in this ring. The fit of a coat can either do you a great disservice or make you look your best. As this is a discipline judged on the rider, you want your attire to maximize your performance.

EQ105 2. Attire. Riders are required to wear conservatively colored coats (black, blue, green, grey or brown) which are free from adornment which in the judge’s opinion is overly distracting. Shirts must have a choker, similar collar or tie. Breeches may be buff, canary, tan, rust or white.

What you need to know: Once again, no burgundy coats. Don’t sport bling, wear tan breeches. Simple and classic is best.

Regarding stirrup irons in the equitation ring, here is the current rule:

EQ105 6. When showing in the Hunter/Jumping Seat Equitation section it is recommended that riders use traditional stainless steel stirrup irons that promote proper position of the foot in the iron as well as a correct leg position. It is further recommended that riders use stirrup irons that allow judges a clear and unobstructed view of the position of the foot in the stirrup. Judges may not eliminate a rider for using a particular style of stirrup iron.

What you need to know: You can’t get eliminated for using black composite stirrups in the eq ring, but they might do you a disservice as they tend to blend with your boot and generally have a thicker branch than fillis irons. Stick to traditional stainless steel in this ring.

Helmets: The Equitation rulebook is the only one in the H/J rulebooks that states something about the appearance of the helmet: EQ105 1. Headgear must be free from non-traditional adornment. Stick to the classics here! The General Rule also applies, GR801 2. It is compulsory for all persons at Federation licensed hunter, jumper or hunter/jumper competitions when mounted anywhere on the competition grounds, to wear properly fastened protective headgear which meets or exceeds ASTM/SEI standards for equestrian use and carries the SEI tag.

You can read the entire USEF Equitation Division Rulebook here.


So there you have it, the basic rules on attire for Hunter/Jumper competitions, but I’ll add one more unwritten but very important rule: ASK YOUR TRAINER!!! Trainers have preferences and opinions. Ask them. You might love that beautiful hunter green Equiline, but your trainer might hate green jackets, so always confer before making show purchases.

Though I compete in the jumper ring, I hold turnout to the highest standard. I prefer a classic look in tan breeches and a navy or black show jacket with a clean white or black saddle pad. Being well turned out and polished has only ever turned out well for me (see what I did there?) – plus, you’ll always be happy you dressed well when you get those show photos back to post to the ‘gram. ✌️

My usual Jumper look. RJ Classics Jacket, Cavalleria Toscana Shirt, Ovation Aqua-X Breeches. Photo: McCool Photography

All excerpts are from the USEF Rulebook as of January 3, 2019.

Leave a Reply

3 Comments

  1. 1.7.19
    Lauren Reese said:

    I know Mastermind makes a canary! But maybe only in fullseat…..

  2. 1.8.19
    Margie Gayford said:

    “You can wear breeches in tan, white, rust, or canary.” Pretty ancient rule with canary or rust colours allowed, but not grey or brown, that is funny. Canary might be a new trend for tack shops to start. Not sure rust will make a comeback, so ugly compared to todays colours.

  3. 1.9.19
    Gail Brandt said:

    Canary was standard when I grew up, along with tan. Later rust was popular. White only for special classics, finals, etc. Because coats were made of woven fabrics, there were many subtle plaids, stripes and shades. Stretch was added just before the current trend of technical fabrics. The embellishments increases because the new fabrics are single tone,