what to wear to a horse show

What Do You Wear to a Horse Show as a Spectator?

If you have never been to a horse show and are planning to go, you are in for a treat. There are beautiful horses and ponies to watch in a variety of riding disciplines. There are incredible athlete riders who will amaze you when you see them up close and in person. But what do you wear to a horse show as a spectator? 

Let’s take a look at some common horse show fashion items so that you fit right in and look good while you enjoy the festivities.

The Dress Code When Attending A Horse Show as a Spectator

While other big horse events, such as the Kentucky Derby, have very specific fashion traditions, the dress code when going to watch a horse show is a bit more open to variety. You don’t have to ride horses to sport some fun, equestrian styles. Think of a crisp button down shirt and stylish pair of jeans with a pair of horseshoe earrings and a snaffle bit statement necklace, for example. 

When going to a horse show as a spectator, keep in mind that you will be doing a fair amount of walking between the rings and retail tents. A day at a horse show can be long, so you’ll want to keep comfort in mind along with style. Very often it is hot, sandy or muddy, and the weather can change quickly, especially in summer when storms may roll in. Dressing in layers is a great way to deal with varying weather conditions. 

Let’s take a look at some fashion possibilities to have you looking your horse show best. You will fit right in as a horse show spectator. 

What do Women Wear to a Horse Show 

When thinking about what to wear to go watch a horse show, there are a lot of options depending on the time of year and the weather. Here are some options for women  when choosing your horse show outfit. 

Tops for Women

Blouse– A blouse is a great option for women to wear to a horse show, especially when the weather is hot. A traditional, collared button-down or more lightweight flowy top would be great choices. 

In hot weather, a breathable cotton material is a great option when selecting a blouse. Think comfortable, cute, and cool when wanting to look your horse show best in the summer months. 

Quarter zip pullover– Another great top option when deciding what to wear a horse show is a quarter zip pullover. A quarter zip provides a slightly sportier look and is a great option when the weather is cooler. 

Choose a quarter zip with a more fitted look and maybe a pocket in the front to warm your hands if the air is chilly. A quarter zip is great as an extra layer if you will be spectating at the horse show into the evening hours. Many equestrian companies make quarter zip tops as well so you can really look the part in an equine brand such as this quarter zip from Ariat

Sweater–  On a chilly fall day, choose a sweater as a great top option. There are many sweater choices with an equestrian flare, such as this fun horse sweater

A sweater made from merino wool is a good option to keep warmth in and regulate body temperature on chilly days or nights. A sweater is also ideal for layering over a button down blouse. 

Vest– A vest is another great layering option when going to watch a horse show. In chilly weather you may see riders themselves warming up their horses in equestrian-style vests such as this warm puffer vest

The great thing about a puffer vest is that you can store it easily in your purse or handbag during warmer times of day, but it’s readily available when things cool down in the evening. 

Bottoms for Women

Pair your blouse or sweater with any of the following complimentary bottoms for the perfect horse show look: 

Khaki pants– Fitted, tapered leg, or straight leg khakis are always a classic, lightweight option that go with almost any top. Look for a relaxed, breathable fabric if you are planning to attend a show in the warmer months

Skinny jeans– A nice pair of skinny jeans are perfectly appropriate for going to a horse show as a spectator. A stylish pair with some stretch or give is a great choice for a day of walking, standing, and sitting. 

Dressy shorts– When the weather heats up, go for a pair of dressy shorts. Dressy shorts can look chic and offer more comfort on hot days. When selecting a pair to wear, go with a mid-thigh or Bermuda length. Save your short shorts for the beach. 

Classic black pants– In cooler weather, classic black trousers are always a great choice. 

Shoes and Accessories for Women

When going to watch a horse show, having the right shoes is paramount. Choose close-toed, relatively flat comfortable shoes that go with the rest of your outfit. You may find yourself in a variety of footings including sand, grass, cement, or even mud. 

The following types of shoes are great options:

Knee-high boots– They aren’t just for the riders, and they look great with your skinny jeans. Choose a lower heel or flat boot for comfort. 

Stylish walking shoes– There are many cute options for walking shoes these days and they are a perfect choice for a day on your feet. 

Waterproof boots– When the weather is cold or wet, a pair of insulated waterproof boots is a great horse show option. 

Consider adding these fun accessories when planning your day–

Equestrian-themed jewelry– You don’t have to be a horseback rider to sport some equestrian-themed jewelry. Horse shoe earrings, a horse necklace, or snaffle bit bracelet are great choices to complete your look. 

Scarf– On chilly days, consider a scarf as a practical accessory. You can even use one with a horse print like this cute, lightweight scarf

Equestrian-themed handbag or purse– A lot of handbag designers have created cute leather or fabric handbags that sport a horse theme. Check out this tapestry shoulder bag that is stylish and large enough to hold your personal items all day. 

Hats– While hats are famous at horse races, they are also perfectly acceptable at a horse show. Look for a cute straw sun hat or fedora to compliment your outfit. 

What Do Men Wear to a Horse Show

Tops for Men

Button down shirt– A short sleeve or long sleeve button down shirt is a great option for men to wear to a horse show. Select a solid color or be more adventurous with a plaid, gingham, or print design. Plan to wear a button down tucked in with a belt for a put-together look. 

Sweater– On cooler days, opt for a sweater. Layer a sweater over a button down shirt in case the temperature heats up and you need to shed a layer. A polo style sweater  can really complete your horse show look and is a great addition to any wardrobe. 

Quarter zip or half zip pullover– A zip pullover made from a moisture-wicking fabric is a great choice to wear for men and provides comfort and style in spring or fall. 

Polo Shirt– Always a classic choice for warm days, a colorful polo shirt is a great option for men who are wondering what to wear to a horse show. 

Bottoms for Men

Khaki pants–Lightweight and comfortable, khakis are a great horse show option and most men already have a pair or two in their closet. 

Golf shorts– In hot weather, golf shorts such as these anchor-printed shorts are a good way to keep cool and enjoy the show. 

Jeans– A pair of nice jeans are always an option for men to wear and will go with any shirt. 

Shoes and Accessories for Men

When men are selecting shoes to wear to a horse show, keep comfort in mind. Walking shoes, loafers, or sneakers are all fine choices. Remember that shoes should always be closed-toed. Avoid flip flops or sandals for safety reasons when you are walking around horses. 

Some accessories men may want to bring with them to a horse show include:


A hat or visor

A backpack or shoulder bag 

What to Expect at the Show

The grounds

Once you arrive at the showgrounds looking your horse show best, depending on the size and type of the event, you can expect to find competitions taking place in multiple rings. Some of the rings may be covered and provide shade, but most will be outdoors. Most horse shows will go on rain or shine unless there is lightning, so you will want to plan accordingly. 

Larger shows may have vendors selling all kinds of horse items, from tack to accessories and decor. Strolling the tents and looking at all of the equestrian apparel is part of the fun at these shows. There is likely to be food vendors and drink vendors as well. Smaller shows may not have the retail options, but they are still an enjoyable day outside watching beautiful and exciting equestrian competitions. 

The people

At horse shows you will find all types of people. Of course there will be riders, their trainers, grooms, and event staff. But spectators of all types can also be found. 

Horse shows draw people from all walks of life. You will find those who have grown up in horse country and those who have grown up with horse dreams. 

Spectating at a horse show is often free, unless it’s an international type competition.  Because of this many people will come for a relatively inexpensive day of entertainment even if they don’t have a lot of horse knowledge. 

As you can see, horse shows are for everyone and allow for a wide variety of style options. You can be as dressy or as casual as you like. Dress for comfort, plan for the weather, and enjoy the show!