Saddle seat suit history?

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Apr 27, 2006
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Blairstown NJ
Hi guys,

I wanted to know if anyone knew anything abou the historical origin of the saddleseat suit and derby. I'm going for an interview monday (and I know they'll ask me this), and I just can't find anything about it! I'll be in an equitation suit.

This is what I've found so far, but almost none if it is relevant:

Saddle seat riding as a distinct English riding discipline developed in the United States from two sources. The first was the Plantation tradition of the American south, where smooth-moving, high-stepping horses were used by plantation owners and overseers to travel across their fields. These horses had to be smooth riding and comfortable enough to spend hours on while overseeing the plantation, but their rider also wanted a showy animal for riding in town. A second influence was European: a flatter English show saddle was developed from the tradition of riders who would often show off their flashiest, highest-stepping horses by riding them in city parks on Sundays. Hence, the term "park" or "park action" is still used today to describe competitions where the action of the horse is of paramount importance.

Correct Saddle Seat attire differs from that of Western or Hunt Seat disciplines. For both men and women, it is closely modeled on men's business suits and/or the tuxedo, with variations in styling designed to improve the rider's appearance on horseback. Fashion in Saddle Seat disciplines changes with changes in menswear fashions, reflected in collar styles, shirt and tie designs, and sometimes in length of coat and color of linings.

According to the United States Equestrian Federation, conservative solid colors must be worn, such as black, navy blue, brown, dark green or gray. Pinstriped fabrics and other fabric textures that appear solid at a distance are also acceptable. However, in some classes, it is also legal to wear a "Day Coat," which is a coat that is of a contrasting color from the rider's pants.

In all classes, Riders wear Kentucky jodhpurs (jods), which are close-fitting pants with knee patches and bell-bottoms that go over the boots, usually with a strap that goes under the boot to keep them from riding up. A long, fitted coat is also required. For men, the coat length usually stops just above the knee. For women, depending on height, the coat may be below the knee, though exact length varies from year to year as show ring fashions change. The outfit is complete with the addition of jodhpur boots that come just over the ankle (similar to "paddock boots" sometimes worn in other disciplines), a hat (usually a derby for women and a fedora for men), a vest, tie, and dark gloves. In some breeds, riders have coat linings made in a contrasting color to add extra flash, though colored linings go in and out of style on a regular basis.

In equitation classes, where the rider is judged, the coat and jods must match. In performance classes, where the horse is judged, a matching equitation-style suit is appropriate, or riders, particularly women, may wear a day coat. Riders usually carry a longish whip, usually black, that is similar to that used by dressage riders. English-style spurs are optional. Technically a white-handled whip is only carried after 6:00 pm, but that particular tradition is widely ignored.

After 6:00p.m., some classes allow a rider to wear formal attire, with usually consists of a black or dark navy blue long coat with matching satin lapels, top hat, vest or cummerbund, bow tie, white gloves and matching jodhpur pants with matching satin strip on outside of pant leg. No formal attire can be worn in pleasure or pleasure equitation classes, but it is commonly seen in evening equitation championships, and in "park" style classes for American Saddlebreds, Morgans and Arabians. In a few breed disciplines, though never in equitation, wearing flashy, brocaded coats in a formal class in lieu of a matching suit is occasionally fashionable, usually depending on parallel styles in the world of men's fashions.




Apr 12, 2022
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PO Box 2365 Glenview, IL 60025
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