Saddle Color

Hey all,

This might be a dumb question but I can’t seem to find an answer anywhere… At lower levels of eventing/jumpers, is there a specific color your saddle has to be? I had a trainer once with a black dressage and cross country saddle but the stadium jumping saddle was brown. I’ve always favored black because you don’t have to make it match anything else. Admittedly, I’m liking the brown CWD saddle over their black one but I’m neurotic about having stuff match. At what point do you have to have a certain color for a certain jumping phase? Or does it even matter?


No rule about saddle color for eventing.


Traditionally black tack is for dressage, and brown or black tack for the jumping phases. Saddle color really doesn’t matter in any of the phases though. The black tack in the dressage phase is probably due to 99% (not a real statistic) of dressage saddles being black. I have seen some brown tack combinations in dressage lately that are gorgeous.

Again, all that to say, tack color doesn’t matter in any of the phases.

Actually the black dressage saddle thing is within the past 40 years, all the very old dressage saddles are plain brown.

Also I think there was a moment for black jump saddles as I’ve had two that were maybe 25 years old.


Way back when, and talking waaaaay back, black was used only for carriage harness. I suspect brown was generally preferred because the quality of the vegetable tanning process was more apparent in brown leather whilst black dye could cover poor quality. Black tack came along in dressage about 30-35 years ago, along with white breeches. In the past, fox hunting in England set equestrian fashion, even in America and the rest of Europe, and white breeches were worn by men, only with top boots, not plain black ones. Think Regency hero in a Georgette Heyer novel. All of which fails to answer the question OP asked.

At one event in the summer, as my companion fence judge was writing up the score sheet, I asked her (testing the COTH obsession with correct appearance) “What colour was the tack on that last horse?”. To which she replied, shortly, “Who knows?” This small sample confirmed my opinion that in eventing, safety and effectiveness far outweighs fashionable colour in the choice of tack.


Tack color doesn’t matter at any level of eventing. It’s much more critical that your cross country shirt, your helmet cover, and your horses’ galloping boots match.


Don’t forget your saddle pad and ear bonnet must coordinate as well. If you can figure out how to add a splash of glitter tastefully you are super cool. (Yes I am an adult. Yes I ride a gelding. I like glitter ok?)


Of course this is the most important but also remember, loud/neon type colors are only for children and adults must be in more subdued colors. Never use pink on a sorrel type horse and mares should never have blue…

Thanks to all who replied! I just never understood why it seemed like you HAD to use browns for jumpers, especially because you never see any top pros using a black saddle unless doing dressage.

Well drat! My barn bestie and I are commiting some pretty serious fashion faux pas :joy: woops


My mare SWEARS she is still the most feminine pony around all decked out in blue (my favorite color and bright, royal blue looks so good on her).

But yeah, you need to seriously sit down and reassess your horse management skillz…are you even qualified to own, let alone compete a horse?


I don’t know how I left out saddle pads! :laughing:

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Oh and never put a chestnut in orange.

Let’s just ignore that my horse is being registered with orange in his name AND looks lovely in every shade of orange I have dressed him in

Wait: why should mares never have blue? I have a gray mare and blue looks really nice on her. Am I committing some kind of heinous crime?

That was sarcasm…all items I listed as something one should never do with their horse are derived from comments on this forum where posters have clutched their pearls in horror at witnessing or knowing that someone has made such horrid faux pas.

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Yes, I knew it was sarcasm :smile:

I’m not terribly concerned with offending the rules of what color goes on what horse. (But that doesn’t mean I’m above asking what colors do people think look the best on a gray horse, specifically a gray mare!)

Oh, and I have a black jumping saddle, as well as a black dressage saddle.

HA, ok, quite often the written word makes it harder to assess nuances like sarcasm or rhetorical questions meant in jest.

I think black jump saddle would be fun, though I like the lighter chestnut I have for jumping on my my dark mare. My trainer does not like lighter chestnut and keeps making comments about “don’t worry, leather conditioner will darken it”. Not if I use the correct conditioner! (Neatsfoot, for example, makes one that does not darken leather).

If you like black because you don’t have to try to match tack, ridiculously dark brown has the same effect. “Super dark brown? Yep, that’ll do.” instead of screwing about with oakbark leather.

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Amateur riders are the back bone of the sport, and everyone enjoys xc and has fun, but sometimes the extreme matching of absolutely everything that can be matched, in bright colours, does make me grin - particularly as no one asks the horse if they like the colour and some look rather embarrassed or just resigned.

I was bass-ackward for a long time, using brown tack for dressage and black for XC and jumping. Forward to a new horse, and I had black strapgoods with a Newmarket tan jump saddle.

Just use what works and fits.

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