Dressing my mare

Last spring i began a new discipline for me, dressage. Now that i’m far enough along to have watched tons of videos, have a great coach and a great equine training partner, (she is very feminine and very pretty) now i get to dress her!! :slight_smile: I have a cheap dressage saddle that fits her, and to dress her up, got a new bridle/breast collar and another set for christmas, and just ordered a couple saddle pads and girths. I’m looking forward to dressing her up in all the new things. I wonder if this is how mom’s feel dressing up their little girls?

She’s a 16h grade mare, (american curly) …pale palomino with gray hooves and gray nose and big soft eyes. So far, she has two looks: Biothane…navy (actually, it is an lapis blue) with blue camo overlay bridle, reins and thin breast collar. beautiful stainless steel hardware all the way around. Navy blue saddle pad.

And, a gray set: gray bridle with white deerskin padding. Same with breast collar (gray with white deerskin padding) and gray reins. brushed stainless steel hardware all the way around. And gray saddlepad. Just ordered her a new eggbutt because i think it’s time she graduated from the full-cheek.

She’s not worn either yet…lesson on the 30th was cancelled due to weather.
:slightly_frowning_face: I’m just bursting with excitement to see her all dressed up!

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soooo…the problem with her is mutton withers. I always ride her with a breast collar, i have a feeling it will count against us in the ring…but maybe by the time we get past first level her body will have changed enough that she won’t need a breast collar to keep her saddle …that just a girth will be sufficient.

Do any of you guys EVER see breast collars (english style…nice and plain and thin) in the ring?

I don’t think that they are legal equipment for English dressage. But if you’re not showing, who cares? Dress her however you need to and have fun.


Breastplates are legal in regular dressage classes at all levels. They aren’t allowed in High Performance qualifying classes or championships. No one will care - if you need one, use it.


however if the saddle is well fitted and you still need a breastcollar, you should probably get another opinion on the fit. If the saddle is sliding then the fit is not 100%. There may be a different billet or girth format that is needed.


I did use my (flat leather) breastplate a few times when showing dressage aside, since it’s something of a default with a sidesaddle, and it raised no issues (then again, people were busy looking at the saddle :laughing:). But even there, I stopped bothering with the breastplate after a while, since we didn’t need it.

Dressing up can be part of the fun, but it’s rare that someone has entire sets of tack to swap out–its usually just pads, polos, and bonnets!


My horse can be funny to get on in new places and his mane is roached, so I always use a hunting type breastplate to have something to grab. It won’t count against you and no one will care. Plus I find it a handy place to put my number.

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you put your number right in the middle of his chest or on a wither ring?


Also please note that my saddle is two-tone black and brown and my girth, bridle and breastplate are brown, lol. One of the best things about dressage is that as long as your stuff is legal there’s nowhere on the score sheet for the judge to comment on your fashion choices, so do whatever makes you and your horse happy!


Your boy is very handsome! i like the number there. i’m gonna do that!

No dig at you, Hunter_Mom, but if there is any question about tack, attire, or really anything in dressage, it’s best to consult the USEF rule book. Well-meaning folks sometimes have wrong information. If it’s a schooling show, find out whether they are following USEF rules, as many do.

As others have said, OP will have no issues with any legal tack.


Hence the reason I said “I don’t think”. No, I didn’t look it up. But then I also went on to say “if you’re not showing”. If I’m at home schooling and want to do so in a glorious mis-mash of tack, bits, saddles, etc. no one can tell me otherwise.


Hence the reason I said “No dig at you.” However, now I will say this about giving advice re: dressage rules when you are too lazy to look it up. When that advice turns out to be bad advice, it can have serious consequences. The OP specifically asked about breastcollars in the ring.


i’ve looked at the USEF rules…and looked and looked ad nauseam. They are really not very specific about breastcollars, nor do then endorse nor oppose biothane. Colors are also subject to interpretation. FEI uses a color spectrum guide, and i’ve gone there. Navy and gray both are within their parameters. I am uncertain about the camo-overlay i used on the navy bridle. It may, or may-not fly. But i’m going to take a chance. I’m guessing no judge will be able to outright eliminate me, as i’ve scrutinized the rules and consulted actual judges. BUT…i do think that a judge who did not approve of my tack might…just MIGHT be inclined toward a lower score on a cusp sort of score given the chance. And, actually, i don’t really care. I’m going to start with walk-trot. And i’ll stay in there a while until i get my sea-legs with competition setting. THen i’ll move up to TL, and will stay there until my scores are awesome. Only then will i go into first…and by then i’ll probably be wanting a new look for her again. So… The thing of it is… i do not see any breast collars in all the videos i’ve looked at. So, just the mere fact that she’ll have one on will be kinda ‘weird’, but i know it’s legal. Unfashionable maybe, odd forsure, but perfectly legal.

fwiw, i like the LOOK of breast collars and fashion-wise, i think it adds. On the other hand, i find bonnets weird looking! and will not be doing that look. It’s a fashion that is unappealing to me.

I suppose it could happen, but it shouldn’t. No judge I’ve ever scribed for has commented on legal tack.


well sure it shouldn’t happen. But real-world experiences tell me it sure can! And, frankly, i’ll learn soon enough who the decent judges are and who the snooty-bitches are.

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Not a great attitude to take with you as you step into the dressage world.

What is your “camo overlay” made of?


All comments about appearance aside, the only part of the bridle that can have an overlay with any sort of pattern on it is the nose and browband DR121.4

I’m guessing that Camo also falls afoul of the descriptor “plain.” A TD would have to decide.


i’m thinking that camo is more plain that crystals though. But you sure DO have a point…i have the overlay on the cheekstraps of the bridle and also on the shoulder straps on that breast collar. I’ll make sure i take along both.

On the saddle issue, you might eventually want to look into a hoop tree saddle, possibly with serge panels. There are options out there to prevent rolling. I would be concerned with the breastcollar restricting movement over time (even if it’s not tight enough to impinge on muscles/scapula, its presence might make the horse feel constrained and reduce shoulder freedom).