Horse Showing Tip: Matching Your Outfit to Your Horse

Your show-ring apparel gives a professional appearance, and one way to do that is complementing your horse.

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

Choosing a color that matches your horse is essential to looking and feeling show ready. Journal photo.

Whether consciously or subconsciously, judges are influenced by your "whole image" - a professional look that says, “My horse and I are here and we’re a team, ready to compete.”

The fashionistas of the show pen have found that an overall pleasing look includes your color, fabric and design choices. The main ideas is this: If your show outfit clashes with your horse, you're likely putting your total image at a big disadvantage.

While no outfit or color combination will compensate for a lack of preparation and practice, a perfectly planned outfit gives riders the extra edge they need in difficult competition.

Now that you have the clothes, are you ready to take on a horse show? Are you prepared for a showmanship class? Learn the fundamentals of showmanship in the AQHA Showmanship Basics e-book so your next pattern is as perfect as your outfit.

Consider what you want your outfit to convey to the judge. The more bold a color, the more aggressive you will look. Consider also the color's intensity. Intense or strong colors look best on people with a darker complexion, while those with a fair complexion tend to look better in less intense colors.

Here are guidelines for colors to wear based on the color of your horse:


Go with: Blue, blue-green, deep purple with blue undertones, light sand, dark green, black or white. Rust can work if it has a significantly red undertone and matches closely with your horse's red undertones.


Go with: Black, dark green, teal green and some rusts.

Red and Blue Roan

Go with: Rust red for red roans and blues for blue roans. Be careful to meticulously match your horse's undertone or your outfit will clash.

Dun and Brown

Go with: Deep blue, purple, blue-green, black or bone on most duns.


Go with: Royal blue, dark green, emerald green and black.


Go with: Dusty rose, mint green, green, cornflower blue or pale purple with light gray horses. Choose red, royal blue and purple with dark gray horses.

Bay and Black

Go with: Red, royal blue and purple.


Go with: Sage green, royal blue, chocolate, rust, most pastels and cream.

Though outfits are important to your overall show look, showmanship is not judged on who has the nicest or most expensive outfit. Learn how to wow the judges by learning how to properly execute a pattern and gain a competitive edge with the AQHA Showmanship Basics e-book.

Once you know your own ideal colors, choose one you have in common with your horse, and voila! You've got your perfect outfit color. Can't find a color that looks fantastic on both you and your horse? Go with blue. Blue looks good with many different horse colors, and you can create a great match when you choose just the right shade.

More Tips:

  • Amateurs and professionals usually choose more conservative colors than youth riders.

  • The brightest and most contrasting areas of your outfit will draw the greatest attention.

  • Darker colors hide or diminish; lighter colors attract or emphasize.

  • Using the same color top and chaps makes you appear taller and thinner, as well as more noticeable from a distance.

  • Select an attractive color to wear near your face, to bring out your face from beneath your hat. Wear makeup tailored toward your personal coloring.

  • Use your hat color somewhere within the outfit so it appears to be part of the outfit, not just an afterthought.

  • Boots should match or blend with your outfit. Never draw attention to your feet, so stick with plain boots whenever possible.