Help With Trail/ Ranch Show Outfit

Hi all! I’m normally a H/J + part time Dressage rider, but am expanding my experience to local level western pleasure, nonstock halter, ranch riding, and trail with a goal of taking my young horse to the Thoroughbred Incentive Program Championships in KY in Oct for said events. I have a headstall, working on getting some split reins for it (currently using bright blue barrel reins), a trail saddle with a round skirt, grey square pad, but am missing just about everything I need to look the part. I don’t have riding jeans, a nice button down, cowboy boots, or a “western” belt (my belts are the elastic ones that are in style with the English world, and boy are they comfy). So I’m looking for recommendations!

  • Cowboy boots: I’d like it if they were comfortable enough to walk around in, pointy or at least a narrow square toe (round toes are a hard no), and regular height as I don’t like the look of the fat baby type boots. I’ve tried on some at Rural King and TSC but the options are extremely limited and none were real winners. I’m hesitant to order something online for fear of them being too stiff/ uncomfortable. A nice distressed brown with minimal “bling” or color would be a bonus.
  • A nice button down shirt: Do they make these in a dry-fit type fabric? I’m in the midwest and it is HOT so a cooling type fabric would be best. Not sure what color I want, likely something neutral.
  • Belt: Are there any new things to see with belts? Or just whichever leather belt suits my fancy will do?
  • Jeans: Oh boy. I love my breeches and leggings that I ride in in my English gear as they are breathable and STRETCH. Any riding (or even regular?? I don’t wear regular jeans really either) jeans that stretch and aren’t miserably hot/ thick? Preferably a mid or higher rise.
  • I ride in my Tipperary helmet due to young horse antics and wanting to be safe - will that be okay? Or do I need to get a hat? Or a hat helmet? I’d prefer not to spend too, too much since it isn’t my main discipline.
  • Gloves: I almost always wear gloves, are gloves okay for trail and ranch? Do I need to get a different color than black?

Are there any faux pas I should know about?

Welcome to the Dark Side. :cowboy_hat_face:

I did hunters for decades and now I’m doing Paints both western and hunters under saddle. So I know what you’re feeling. But hey, at least you don’t need custom chaps, Swarovski crystals and a tub of silver polish!

Anyway… for a shirt you might try the shirts from Cinch made of tencel fabric. I got mine off Amazon and wore it in trail and ranch riding classes. Just a simple, basic, pinstripe in pretty neutral colors (I got the coral) and the fabric was nice for Arizona. They run true to size and the sleeves are plenty long.

I actually show in black breeches under my black show chaps, so I understand your reluctance to wearing jeans. Ugh. But for my performance halter classes I wear Kimes Ranch jeans. They’re a modified mid-rise and the boot cut isn’t huge, like bell bottoms. If I had to ride in jeans, those would be what I would wear.

While I wear tall Lucchese boots for everyday, my western show boots are Ferrini. They’re made with croc (caiman?) and have a squarish toe. Ironically they cost about half of what my Lucchese cost, but they’re very comfortable for both riding and jogging in the halter classes.

As for belts, I don’t get too carried away. Just a nice leather belt with a decent buckle. Fortunately, years ago I won a couple of huntseat medals that gave 3-piece silver buckles to first place, so I use those. So far, no one’s not given me a ribbon because I’m not wearing a big, rectangular trophy buckle.

A helmet is fine. It’s better for competition, IMHO, to just wear a helmet vs. one with a western brim attached or one of those “western” safety helmets.

No gloves. None. This was hard for me because I felt like my hands were naked. However, in the past, I did wear tan ranch gloves for AQHA trail challenges. So…?

Hope this helps! I know there are several very experienced western competitors on COTH who may have different advice or another perspective. This is just what I’ve learned as I’ve transitioned from hunters to Another World with Fringe. :laughing:


Another thing: you don’t have to wear chaps or chinks. Plenty just show in jeans. This includes at a regional show. The world show is another thing entirely, but you’ll still see riders in just jeans and a long-sleeve shirt. Some will get “ranchy” and go whole hog with a wild rag and crazy chinks. But I found I was cooler with my shirt unbuttoned. I just wear a solid cotton shirt, but usually in a bright color, a straw hat (well-shaped) in the summer and a cream colored felt in the fall and winter, square-toe Lucchese boots, a plain belt and a trophy buckle. If it’s chilly I add a plain black vest and will wear brown leather chinks, super-cute ones, btw with curly fringe.

The really great thing about the ranch classes is I’ve never had anyone care what I wear. Suit yourself, wear what’s comfortable, avoid anything that says bling! I even show in one of my everyday saddle pads. Avoid matchy-matchy, too. But my tack is immaculately clean, boots polished, killer crease in those jeans!

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We also came from the Hunter world and my daughter likes Ariat boots, jeans, and shirts. They also make nice belts. We chose it becuse it was familiar and sizing seems the same from breeches and show shirts/coats to western wear. The Fat Baby boots are incredibly comfortable for all day wear.


Speaking of fringe :sweat_smile: - I was looking at Lucchese boots on eBay (also where I buy my tall boots and even my muck boots occasionally because retail is too dang much) and found a pair I like well enough, but they have some fringe on the outer edge. Is that a no go for showing? Also, how does the fit compare to Ariat? Or even regular shoe sizing?

I’ve been browsing through Ariat since I have 3 pairs of their boots in rotation right now, but couldn’t find anything with the toe style I like.

You have to be careful with Lucchese boots because they make a whole lot of fashion boots, which is what those look like. If you go to their website, or get them through a dealer (even on ebay) the listing will usually note if they’re for riding. So fringe on boots: Nope.

Lucchese fit my feet pretty much just like Ariats. They’re just a tidge big, just enough for some “ahhh” room. I also like that Lucchese aren’t huge through the calf or ankle, which fits me well.

When it comes to knowing what’s appropriate for specific classes or shows, I’d look at photos from the ones you want to attend, or inquire directly with show organizers or other competitors so you can get a firsthand feel for what’s expected so you don’t end up over or under-dressed.

I’ve discovered that what’s appropriate to wear for trail and ranch classes may be different from what’s standard for western pleasure and halter. Pleasure usually includes a little more of the “matchy match” thing, with a nod toward looking pretty vs. a more workmanlike appearance for ranch and trail. Yes, at big shows I’m changing clothes far, far too often! :roll_eyes:

HOWEVER, that won’t usually be the case with the local shows you’re attending. And probably not for the Thoroughbred Incentive Program show. One outfit might do it all, especially if all your classes are on one day. Or you might just make a simple change, like add a color coordinated saddle blanket for pleasure. Again, seek out photos or direct info from past participants and see what how they and their horses were turned out.

:heavy_check_mark:Oh! I thought of another place to get shirts, especially if they’re on sale: Hobby Horse (just buy off their website). I have several of their Hobby Sport blouses. They’re very comfortable, zip up the front, and come in solids and cute prints. While not appropriate for horsemanship or pleasure at the big shows, they’re fine for regional breed shows, local shows on the greenies and in trail classes. They fit a little snug, so I go up a size just so they’re not too clingy.

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What size boots do you wear? I’ve got a pair of brown square toed cowboy boots, Ariats, that I could let go. They’ve been sitting in my closet for years. Very lightly worn.

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I don’t know about the fringe. My daughter likes the Ariat Round Up for showing and riding. Not too pricey and they come in a lot of colors. They’re a square toe but a feminine boot imo.

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I’m a 7.5-8 in Ariat (my VSports are 7.5 but my muck boots by them - I forget the model name - are 8s). I would love to take a look if they are the right size!

Figured I should share a photo of the current set up. I’ve been looking at shirts off and on all day and my head is spinning. I know I want/ need a more workman like appearance but if that could include a dry fit type fabric I’d be much happier :hot_face:


I show at local shows in the ranch division, previously on my Paint and now on a Quarter Horse. I wear Ariat western style paddock boots when I show. I have two button down solid color shirts from Rod’s Western Wear that were relatively inexpensive; I also have a couple of shirts with patterns that I just found in a consignment shop. I’d like to find a couple cooler ones for those really hot show days, so I might look for one of the Cinch shirts Paint_Party recommended. I tried Wrangler Q-Baby riding jeans, because that’s what I was told to get; I did not find them comfortable at all! I just bought a pair of darker Lee jeans in a style I knew fit me well and got them a little longer than I’d usually wear. I actually have. a custom made helmet cover that looks very nice in the show ring. It’s made of heavy felt and has a shapeable brim. When I need to purchase a new helmet, I might just buy a more “western” looking helmet (brown or tan) and go without the cover. I do wear tan ranching gloves. I just can’t stand not wearing them. And I figure if I really was working on a ranch, I’d probably have gloves on. :slightly_smiling_face:

Most of all, just have fun!

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My daughter in a ranch trail class last week. Ariat boots and shirt, wrangler jeans. And her OneK because young, green horse and previous concussions. Custom ch*nks from eBay.


What a nice photo. Both the horse and your daughter look relaxed and confident. The chinks look great, too!

Hey @kaya842 if you want to look at even more shirts-- in various fabrics and trendy ranch and trail prints-- go to CR Ranchwear’s site.

Yes, they’re pricey but they’re beautifully made, hold their value, and can do double duty with a cute skirt or nice jeans for a date night. (See? The Dark Side has its allure. And I’m an evil enabler). :sunglasses:


I thiiiiink they’re 8s, let me dig them out and I’ll post pictures.

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They’re 8s, regular width. A warm brown (I gave one a quick wipe with a wet paper towel), supposed to be a baby blue inner but since you can’t see that who cares. Not crepe soled. They’re comfy, very lightly used. Square toe. If you’re interested PM me and we will work something out.


Here’s a tip I learned in case the shaft/top portion of the boots seem a little wide when worn under your jeans (or chaps), creating a flare or bulge: Get a roll of vet wrap, bend the boot top leather a little so it conforms more to your lower leg, and wrap around it a couple of times to hold in place. Voila!

I had no idea until I was down at Westworld at my first show, trying to zip up my chaps over my boots, and got stuck. :grin:

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@Paint_Party I love an enabler! I will check out those shirts and thanks for the tip! I am so used to the very fitted look of tall boots that I find most cowboy boots a bit clunky in the ankles.

@endlessclimb Sent you a PM!

I feels ya’. :grin:

(Pssst… Don’t tell anyone but I still ride most of the time at home and on schooling days at shows in breeches and Ariat field boots. In my western tack. Old habits die hard).


Oh that’s 100% what I plan on doing :grin:

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I’m enjoying this thread because I hope to start my TB in some western events, too! OP, I hope you keep posting your progress. I’d love to read about it. One day I’d love to hit the TIP championship show as well.

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The boots from @endlessclimb came and they are perfect! The blue stitching is so pretty and they fit great. Thank you a million times! I got them all conditioned but am wanting to wait to get photos until the rest of the things I ordered come so we can get a full outfit going - I swear this is what is so fun about riding different disciplines (besides ya know riding different disciplines :sweat_smile:) you get to have matchy things for each! I’m not even a matchy matchy person but man I love how a well put together western horse and rider look. Gives me Yellowstone vibes.