Dear Jessica, like everyone else I am so grateful to you for HORSE-SENSE. It's awesome. I've been riding hunt-seat for a long time but I have to admit that I am getting bored with the routine, and I've been to a couple of small events in our area and just loved them. I want to start eventing, maybe next summer, of course at the lower levels!!! But I have some questions. I have dress boots that I like but they're getting sort of old. Should I replace them with field boots? Are those "legal" for eventing?
Also, my friend has some brown field boots that don't fit her but they fit me well and she'll let me have them for cheap. They are nice boots. Can I show in them at events? I know I couldn't do that for hunter shows, but I'm pretty sure I saw some brown boots at one event. Of course I don't know if that rider got disqualified!!!
Next question: the dressage test part of the events I will go in is like a Training level dressage test. Could I wear my regular hunt coat (it's navy) or do I have to have a black dressage coat? Do I have to buy one of those long coats that look like hunting tail-coats? Also do I have to wear a top hat? I think I would look silly and anyway I feel secure in my safety helmet, so if I put a black velvet cover on that could I wear it for the dressage or is that a no-no? And do I need a whole different outfit for the stadium jumping?
Next question: in the events I watched, it seemed like most riders were wearing polo shirts to go cross-country. Is that a requirement? And it seemed like most of them had those protect-the-back vests on. Are those required?
Thanks a bunch! You're the best. Danielle
Now for your questions. Field boots are perfectly legal, and many riders find them more comfortable than dress boots. There's nothing wrong with brown boots for cross-country, and you can save your old dress boots and wear those for dressage and stadium. They'll last longer that way, too.
Your hunt coat will be just fine; if you have a lot of money sitting around with nothing to do and you want to spend it on a dressage coat, go ahead, but you don't need it. The top hat and shadbelly won't be an issue until you're riding at (and above) Fourth Level, so don't be in a hurry. ;-) You'll look good, and you'll be entirely legal, if you're wearing your hunt coat, your approved helmet with a black cover, a white shirt with a choker or a stock tie, and light-coloured breeches -- grey, tan, buff, even white if you have them (but don't run out and buy them just to be legal, the other colours are legal too!). For the show-jumping phase, just wear the same outfit you wore for dressage.
Most riders do wear polo shirts on cross-country, that's true. My personal preference is for a long-sleeved shirt (polo or rugby) that will provide a little skin-protection in case of a fall, but short sleeves are very popular. The protective vests ARE required, and it's a good idea.
One more thing: you'll find this out from your rulebook, but I'll tell you anyway. ;-)
You're going to need to wear a medical armband for both jumping phases, cross-country AND stadium. Get the details from your rulebook. And while you're reading it, be sure you know about other matters like legal bits, numbered jumps, run-outs and refusals. Eventing is much more fun when you don't get eliminated for NOT knowing a rule.
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