Saturday, February 18, 2012

What Not to Wear, Part 1: Western

When thinking about all the ways I can compete on my horses, I debate all the options with a sense of excitement and a sense of dread.  

The dread doesn’t have anything to do with what I actually would be doing on the horse.  It could be barrel racing or jumping or dressage or cow chasing or trail obstacles, all of those are certainly in the realm of possibility.  I’m cocky enough to not have any concerns about showing myself and my horses in public attempting just about anything, at the right level (read: low level). 

Love it? Yup. Pull it off? Nope.
But there is one major issue that trips me up every time I start thinking about it: What to wear? 

When it comes to assembling all the various bits and pieces for a proper presentation in just about any traditional riding competition, I get scared.

As much as I adore the blingy outfits the Western chicks get to wear in shows, I can’t see myself pulling it together.  Slinky top, special slippery pants, exactly the right length, the belt buckle, the right boots, chaps that match the saddle pad and all in a color that flatters the horse’s coat.   And the hat!  I just read in a magazine that Western judges highly disapprove of Western hats not being properly shaped to flatter the face. 

Whaaaaat????  Anybody know any hat steamers around these parts?
Lots of pink.  And something missing?

And when it comes to western tack, well, ugh.  Love the look of it, hate the feel of it, have one Simco barrel racing saddle that likely fits none of my horses and a couple of mysterious looking one-ear “head stalls,” dangling truly frightening shanked curb bits that I cannot imagine putting in a horse’s mouth. 

I just don’t have the energy or patience to attempt to put together all these details into one look for a show.  
SO, I could simplify things by doing reined cow horse competitions, as the outfit is much simpler and workmanlike, but even they have rules about which bits to use that I really don’t appreciate and just won’t follow.

And frankly, I’m not going to ride a horse in a Western hat, no matter what.  I love them, adore them, think they are totally cool.  But I’m not risking my noggin, so it’s a safety helmet for me. Always.  
Yes, I bought it.  Tried it on.  Laughed really hard.  Returned it.

That said, if it’s Western competition I’m heading for, it has got to be a competition that isn’t as particular about the look, as long as it’s safe.   And that narrows it down considerably, which is good.  I need to be narrowed down.  

I think I have narrowed it to team penning and sorting.  OK.  Good enough.  I can go with that.  I think both of these activities could be tons of fun.  I tried penning once upon a time and it was a blast, even though my horse and I were definitely the class clowns.

More workmanlike duds.
And the Way-Ont Saddle Club (see the links, right) offers both of these activities, I believe.  I’m waiting for them to post their 2012 calendar so I can plug in a couple dates on mine.
So, that takes care of the Western side of things for me.   

Next, we look at the English style events.  I’m basically an English gal, brought up that way, and it’s where I’m most comfortable.  However, I do have similar anxiety about preparing for a proper English competition and must voice my curmudgeonly concerns about top hats, shadbellies and hunter braids.  But that’s another story, for next time.


  1. I love the hat. LOL I will never ride w/o a helmet. Have hit my "noggin" a few times and don't even want to know what my head would have done without it. But, we do have a really cute western hat that my daughter wore in the western halter class. Hmm, maybe that would make a good halloween costume prop.

  2. Ah...the Troxel "Western" helmet lol. Gotta love it.
    (I use a Troxel Cheyenne, which I had to import from the US, and everyone who's seen it...wants one. Don't blame them. It's the most comfortable helmet I've ever worn -- and it's SMALL enough for me.)
    I don't compete. And if you think Western and English competition attire is tricky -- try doing Paso Fino classes. :)
    And the tack... yikes. Let's not even go there. I have a horse. Therefore I have no money. End of. :)

  3. Yeah, I like the Troxel Cheyennes. They do seem to be the helmet brand of choice for Western riders who use a helmet.