Remember that the organisers of the show itself are the main source of accurate information for your chosen class. Before you pay your fee, acquire and read the schedule carefully, taking particular note of any guidance on eligibility e.g. if the class specifies it is for horses of a minimum height. If you go ahead make sure you plan your travel arrangements well in advance, you know the time of your class and will be there early- entering the ring rushed and flustered will not do you or your horse any favours. Also plan how you will turn your partnership out and make sure you have everything to hand for the day.
What to Wear to Show Your Horse
There is no great mystery or anything unusual about the correct rider dress for a coloured class. The simple rule to bear in mind is that the rider’s attire will be dependent on the type of horse.
For a traditional coloured horse with full feather and untrimmed and/or un-plaited mane and tail, the rider should wear a tweed jacket over a white shirt with a tie. The hat should be velvet, or at least, a velvet cover over a jockey skull cap, and navy or black. To avoid any unexpected problems wear a hat that can be fastened and is up to the current safety standard; at many show grounds you will not be allowed to ride without this. Jodhpurs or breeches should be canary or beige and the rider should wear long boots. Gloves should be plain and unobtrusive in colour - black or brown. A show cane finishes the smart appearance though it is not essential, and if one is carried it should match the gloves and tack, so be black or brown. A waistcoat is an optional addition.
For other coloured types, the rider simply needs to investigate what dress is appropriate for their type of horse. For cobs the rider wears a tweed jacket. Riders of light horse types can wear a black or navy jacket.
How to Present the Horse
If the horse is a traditional type it should have a long mane and tail left loose and untrimmed- in fact, the longer the better. Feathers should also be full and unclipped. Use tack that will set off the horse’s pattern and colour; a white girth if the area around the horse’s belly is white, a leather girth if it is dark. If you can afford one, a working hunter or straight cut saddle will show off the horse’s shoulder and movement, but if not, a general purpose will do. The bridle should be plain and simple- no fussy detailing, just flat, wide nose and brow bands. Tack must be clean! The bit used can depend on the type of class, horses in open classes are often ridden in double bridles or Pelham bits, while novices will wear a snaffle.
For other horses the turn out will depend on type. Hog the mane if your horse is a cob, unless you show it as the traditional type just described. The lighter framed horse; hunter, hack or sports type, should be trimmed and plaited. Always consider how your horse would be presented in a class if it were a plain colour- this is how it should appear in the ring for a coloured horse class.
What Happens in a Showing Class
Class procedure depends on the type of class, and again, whatever the standard process would be for a solid coloured horse, so it will be for a coloured class.
Ridden classes generally start with all competitors riding around the judge in a pace she dictates by asking one rider to lead the trot, canter etc., then all are either pulled in in provisional order, or the class as a whole line up. At this point each horse and rider partnership usually perform an individual show for the judge, and, depending on the exact class description, a judge may also ride the horse, or the horses may be stripped of the saddle and briefly shown in hand. Finally the competitors all ride around again before the placed horses are pulled in for the final line-up, when winners are confirmed.
In an In-hand class, the horses are first walked around the judge, then each is trotted in turn before lining up, either in a provisional order or to wait to do their individual show. The horses are brought forward in turn for the judge to examine, then walked away and trotted back to her. Finally when all have shown individually the horses walk around again, and placed horses are called to come in. This is the final selection of the winner.
This is only the briefest summary- to ensure you know what to expect make sure you have read all available information on your class and read more about about, or observed, a few showing classes.