Formal Dress Code for Equestrian Eventing

Red Hills Horse Trials

Originally Published on March 15, 2016
Updated on March 4, 2018

This weekend, Tallahassee, Florida will once again host the Red Hills International Horse Trials and celebrate its 20th Anniversary of serving as host to Equestrian Eventing.  While I did not cover the event as press, it did get me nostalgic for the two years that I did report on the event.  These amazing photos were taken by my husband, Ian Anderson.  I decided to republish this post because it was a popular post in its explanation of the sport of Eventing and contains some beautiful photographs!

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For two years (2014-2015), I covered the Red Hills International Horse Trials in Tallahassee, Florida as part of my previous blog and former radio show “The Success Design” which I am planning to resume soon.  It was fascinating to learn about the sport which is called “Eventing” in the equestrian competition world.

What is Eventing?  It is an equestrian sport in which competitors must take part in each of several contests, usually dressage, cross country, and show jumping.  If you would like to learn more about eventing, please visit here.  This post is going to focus on the traditional dress for the dressage, show jumping and cross country phases of competition.

Day One:  Dressage

The United States Eventing Association describes Dressage as follows:

The dressage phase begins every eventing competition. In French, dressage means “training.” Originally designed to show the horse’s ability to perform intricate movements on the parade involved with reviewing troops, today the dressage test comprises a set series of movements performed in an enclosed arena. Precision, smoothness, suppleness and complete obedience show off the horse’s obedience. Ideally the horse appears to perform the test moments of its own accord, working in harmony with its rider.

The purpose of the dressage test is to demonstrate the level of communication between the horse and rider to and display the power and grace required to perform each movement with balance, rhythm, and suppleness. Due to the demands of the sport, the three-day event horse is extremely fit, and only strong and tactful riders possess the skills needed to harness and direct that energy into a both polished and powerful performance.

Dressage Dress Requirements

  • Protective headwear, dark blue or black in color
  • Black or dark blue coat with white stock or tweed coat with color stock or collar and tie
  • Gloves
  • Buff/fawn breeches
  • Plain black or brown boots, leather gaiters with matching boots (not half chaps)
  • Service Uniform

Day Two:  Cross Country

The United States Eventing Association describes Cross Country as follows:

The object of Cross Country is to prove the speed, endurance, and jumping ability of the horse over varied terrain and obstacles.  In order to accomplish this task, the horse and rider must be at peak condition. The horse must be brave and obedient, and the rider must use knowledge of pace in order to expend only as much of the horse’s energy as necessary, if they expect to finish well.

The Cross Country course covers approximately 2.75 to 4 miles, along which sit 24-36 fixed and solid obstacles.  This phase is ridden at a gallop, with exact speed requirements depending on the level of competition. Cross Country courses require horses and riders to be bold and smart, while testing their physical stamina.

Cross Country

Cross County Dress Requirements

  • Protective headwear with cover
  • Cross country colors
  • White, buff, or fawn breeches
  • Plain black or brown boots, leather gaiters with matching boots (not half chaps)
  • Level 3 Body Protector
  • Gloves

Here’s some photos from the 2015 Red Hills International Horse Trials’ Cross Country Competition

Cross Country

Cross Country

Day Three:  Show Jumping

The United States Eventing Association describes Show Jumping as follows:

A show jumping course comprises a series of colored fences usually made up of lightweight rails that are easily knocked down.  The test takes place in an enclosed ring and the course must be negotiated in order for the horse and rider to successfully complete the event.  This final phase tests the stamina and recovery of the horse after the endurance phase and shows that it is fit enough to continue work.

The courses are designed to test the horse’s and rider’s ability to negotiate a variety of fences of differing heights, widths, and technicality. This requires the horse be balanced and supple for tight turns and short distances between fences. He must be able to lengthen or shorten his stride in an instant. Therefore, the rider must know exactly where he is on the approach to a fence, with an obedient horse that will respond to his commands.

Show Jumping

 Show Jumping Dress Requirements

  • Protective headwear, dark blue or black in color
  • Black or dark blue coat with white stock or tweed coat with color stock or collar and tie
  • Gloves
  • Buff/fawn breeches
  • Plain black or brown boots, leather gaiters with matching boots (not half chaps)
  • Service Uniform

Here’s some photos from the 2015 Red Hills International Horse Trials’ Show Jumping Competition

Show Jumping

Show Jumping


All Photographs are Copyrighted to Ian Anderson

Additional Resources

United States Eventing Association

Boyd Martin Eventing

Alexandra Knowles Eventing

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Eventing - Pinterest


  1. This is such an interning post because I’m not familiar with this sport, so it was nice to gain a bit more insight. I love horses, so this really must be the perfect sport for any horse lover! Thanks so much for sharing, beauty, and I hope you’re having a great start to your week so far!



  2. These photos are fantastic! I never knew the subtle differences in the dress code (not familiar with the sport.) But I would love to use this as inspiration for equestrian inspired street wear! It’s so elegant.

    Next Garden

  3. This was so informational! I am not familiar with riding competitions or with their dress codes. As a fashionista, I do own some “riding boots” that I wear casually. The action photos are stunning!

  4. I didn’t know anything about Equestrian competitions or Eventing – its a fascinating sport and I love the formality of the dress. The photos are absolutely stunning – especially the horses jumping.

  5. This looks like a wonderful event to attend. I’ve never been to an Equestrian before. I’ve seen it on TV, though.

  6. Thank you for sharing us these tips. I once invited as a media influencer for a Polo Match and I did made cramming study what Polo is all about 🙂 But it was a great experience! And I like it 🙂

  7. I have always been fascinated with riding. I, unfortunately, was not interested in it at a young age. My mom used to ride and did all of the competitions. I remember seeing pictures of her all dressed up and it was always so neat.

  8. Your husband took some amazing shots, Beth! I loved reading your previous article where you described the competition in detail, and I loved having this thorough recap. I would love to attend the event and see these beautiful horses in action!

    Style Tomes ||ST on IG

  9. I used to beg my mom to let me do English riding. It’s the only activity she didn’t let me do. I love to see them dressed to ride.

  10. These are great pictures of some amazing animals here. And it’s a lot of great information about competing in these competitions.

  11. Been seeing this sport but I never knew some facts about it. Glad I came over this post. I learned something new again.

  12. I didn’t know that Tallahassee hosts this sport every year! Maybe I’d love to visit next year. I also loved your pictures. All the running shots are amazing!

  13. This is such an interesting post. I had a vague idea about riding and was absolutely clueless about the outfit looks. Thanks for sharing!

  14. This is so informative!! I used to ride and jump when I was younger and I always loved the dress code. I just love how classy the show jumping & Dressage dress codes are! I kinda wish my old uniforms still fit, because I’d totally wear them again!

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