Helpful Tips for Dressage Riders

Tips to be Show Ring Ready!

by Michele Hundt

Top 5 helmet fit tips

How do I measure my head?
Use a soft measuring tape with centimeter increments to get the most accurate measurement. Start an inch above your eyebrows, just above the top of your ears, and around the bump at the back of your head, measuring the widest part of your head.

Is my head oval or round?
If the helmet presses against your forehead but rocks from side to side it’s too round for your head shape. If it presses against the sides of your head but rocks forward and backward, it’s too oval.

What if my helmet is too big?
If it shifts when you shake your head or sits low on the eyebrows, it’s too big. It will be a distraction while you ride and will not protect you well during a fall.

...Or too small?
Your helmet is too small if it pops up and sits on the top of your head or causes a head ache soon after you put it on.

Your Helmet Fits Correctly When…
• The brim rests 2 fingers (about 1 inch) above your eye brows.
• The skin on your forehead and eyebrows moves with the helmet when you try to move it up and down from the brim.
• The chin strap should be snug but not tight.
• Side straps should meet just below and in front of your ear lobes.

Did You Know?
• Equestrian helmets are designed to protect the riders head from one impact only. The foam materials inside the helmet will crush on impact so while there may be no visible damage, the helmet no longer offers the same degree of protection.
• Due to evolving helmet standards, technologies and the potential for unseen material deterioration, it is recommended that you replace your helmet every five years - more often if you ride daily or ride multiple horses.
• Most competitions and equestrian events require you to wear a helmet that meets approved standards such as ASTM/SEI certification. Always check for the certification label when shopping for a helmet.
• A concussion is a brain injury caused by a bump or blow to the head that can change the way the brain normally works. Even what seems to be a mild bump to the head can be serious. Go to USEF.org for more information on concussions and how to prevent and treat them.
• 1 in 5 people who are seriously injured around horses weren’t even riding.
• Follow manufacturer recommendations on cleaning your helmet. NEVER wash it in the dishwasher and do not store it in a hot car or trailer.
• Wash helmet liner monthly and replace liner once a year or sooner depending on use


SHOW HELMET

  • Prior to the show check condition of your show helmet.
  • Follow manufactures instructions as how to clean your helmet.
  • Check your helmet liner. Clean or replace as needed.
  • Check chin clips.

HAIRBUN HOLDERS

  • Wash by hand and air dry. Check clips.
  • Have a spare!
  • Unless you are very blonde the hairbun holder should match your jacket and show coat.
  • Keep extra bobby pins, hair spray, and hair elastics in your show bag for emergencies.

SHOW COATS TIPS

  • Prior to the show, try on your show coat and check the fit. A proper fitting show coat should be comfortable and make an impression on the judges.
  • Check all buttons, match and replace as needed.
  • Give your show coat a face lift just by replacing all the buttons and adding a new matching stock tie.
  • Don’t forget your pocket square.
  • If you have USDF Medals or other buttons, they are placed on the right lapel. 
  • Check with your local tack store for the replacement buttons. OR for a custom look, visit your local fabric store. Remember to purchase enough to replace all buttons.
  • When putting on the replacement buttons make sure to sew the buttons on tight. This helps keep them from pointing downward.
  • Pack an extra complete set of buttons for the show.
  • Pack and use a microfiber dusting cloth on your jacket between classes to remove show ring dust. It can also be used to dust off your helmet.
  • Spray Scotch Guard on your show coat to help keep it clean during the show.

SHOW SHIRTS

  • Prior to show check the condition of your show shirts.
  • Make certain show shirts have all the buttons or still zip. Replace as needed.
  • Pack enough show shirts for 2 a day. If you are riding in several classes a day, keep your look fresh by changing your show shirt.
  • If you are showing in the hot summer months, make sure to pack a light solid colored show shirt for if jackets are waved.
  • Check for stains. Spot wash with your handy Tide To Go stick.

STOCK TIES

  • Pack a minimum of 2. You may only need 1, but it is always good idea to have at least 1 spare.
  • Check to make certain Velcro still works or buttons are still in place.
  • Check to make certain it fits the show shirt you are planning to wear.
  • Check for stains. Spot wash with your handy Tide To Go stick.

STOCK TIE PINS

  • It’s a nice touch to match your stock tie pin to the color stones in your horse’s browband.
  • Stock tie pins can be easily lost or forgotten, pack extras.
  • Check condition of pin. After every show, wash with mild soap and towel dry to keep the luster.

BREECHES

  • Check condition of your white show breeches.
  • Check the zipper and waist closure. Try on to ensure proper fit. Replace as needed.
  • Pack belts and socks. Remember socks are not just worn under your boots.
  • Washing Tips - Spot wash with Tidy Pantz or Simple Green.
  • Turn your breech inside out and launder in gentle detergent with like colors.
  • Remove promptly and roll up in a towel to remove excess water. Hang to dry.
  • DO NOT BLEACH!
  • Prior to show spray your breeches with Scotch Guard to help them stay clean and white. Do not spray your seat
  • At the show, spot wash with your handy Tide To Go stick.
  • Pack 1 pair per show day along with an additional pair for a spare.
  • If you are wearing a tail coat, make sure to pack high waisted breeches, or for a lower waist breech, a very nice belt. 

BOOTS

  • A quick and easy tip on how to break in your new boots.  Put your new boots on with your favorite socks and breeches.  Heat the boots up with a hairdryer. Do not remove them till they have completely cooled.

OVERALL LOOK

  • Beautiful earrings can be another piece of jewelry that can match your stock tie pin or brow band.
  • A little lip gloss before entering the ring not only polishes your look, but keeps your lips from getting dry during your ride. 
  • Make sure that your gloves are still sticky and in good condition. 
  • Spur straps should match the color of your boots and be clean.