Sometimes the sea of black coats and gloomy faces at a dressage show makes one wonder: Is this a horse show or are we at a funeral?
A few of us bold souls in the past few years have taken advantage of the easing of the rules to branch out into other colors, but there remains confusion over what is allowed and what isn’t. Recently someone admired my lovely green show coat, asking, “is it really o.k.? I thought we all had to wear black at dressage shows.” Nope. Thank God. Black is not my best color and isn’t it more fun to have the wide world of color to choose from?
O.k., we don’t really have the whole wide world of color. We’re still limited to: “a short coat of conservative color” (for fourth level and below). THE RULES: USEF Rulebook, DR120 Dress
3. At all test levels, riders may wear jackets in other colors within the international HSV color scale, as described in FEI Dressage Regulations, Art. 427.1. Contrast coloring and piping is allowed. Protective headgear, stocks, ties, gloves and riding boots maybe the same color as the coat. For Grand Prix Freestyle only: any single color tailcoat will be allowed; striped or multi-colored coats are not permitted, and tasteful and discreet accents, such as a collar of a different hue or modest piping or crystal decorations, are acceptable. FEI Rule 427.1 states: “a black or dark blue tail coat or other dark colours may be worn within in the international HSV colour scale. Colours having a value for“V” smaller than thirty two percent (32%) according to the HSV model may be approved.”
Here’s the color tracker so you can plug in color values and get an idea of the range of colors that can work: http://color.yafla.com/?RGB=443253&Colors
THE REALITY Who has time for playing with color values online? Besides, computer monitors may not be accurate. Oh well, truth be told, I’ve been know to waste an hour (or two) online playing with color and looking at dressage coats. Yeah, well.
So let me cut to the chase: as long as it’s not too light and bright, no show official will hassle you about the color of your dressage coat.
People who don’t know (e.g. other competitors) may say, in an overly helpful voice, “you should be wearing black or navy!” Your trainer may wish wistfully that you wore a traditional black coat. But you may wear what looks good, feels good, and makes you feel confident and beautiful. You can even carry in your pocket (as I do) a copy of the DR 120 rule in case you get an uneducated Technical Delegate. I have never had anyone yet question my green coat and I’ve worn it at many 3*** shows and will until I get to the FEI levels, when I plan to graduate to this lovely grey shadbelly with crystal embellishments and matching helmet:
Oh, the possibilities!