Competition Riding Jackets Buyer's Guide

Woman in a riding jacket with horse

The Ultimate Guide to Competiton Riding Jackets

Looking for the right competition riding jacket for the upcoming show season? Do you want to wear the right type of riding jacket for your equestrian sport that is fashionable as well as functional?

Whether you compete regularly or are just starting out, entering the competition ring can be a nerve-wracking experience without worrying about whether or not you are dressed with the correct competition riding jacket. 

With the large assortment of brands, styles and price points available on the market, knowing which jacket you should have can be confusing.

This guide includes:

Fashion and Function

Riding jackets are available to suit a variety of equestrian sports and to cater to the different needs of riders during all seasons and environments – whether you are riding indoors or outside.

The technologically advanced fabrics are used to make modern competition riding jackets stretch with you. So, you have all the freedom of movement you need when riding. You can ride comfortably without being distracted, irritated or constricted by too tight clothing.

These technical fabrics make modern competition riding jackets both functional and flattering because they use materials that also:

  • resist dirt and water
  • wick moisture
  • have breathability
  • are machine washable

And, because riding jackets are designed with the correct length for different equestrian sports and features like single or double vents in the back, you won’t need to worry about getting caught on your saddle.  

Whichever equestrian sport and whatever level you compete in, you will look and feel smart and sophisticated in a well fitted riding jacket. And, that will boost your confidence.

Selecting The Right Type of Competition Riding Jacket

Riding jackets fall into 3 main categories:

For horse riders taking part in competitions, you need to select the appropriate type of competitive riding jacket for the discipline and season in which you will be competing.

When selecting a riding jacket, particularly for competition, it must meet the current dress code set by the governing organization. Check the most recent rule book for your respective equestrian discipline, the Pony Club or British Riding Clubs to ensure your new jacket will comply with its standards. 

  • If you're competing in dressage competitions then you can find guidance here
  • If you're competing in show jumping competitions then you can find guidance here
  • If you're competing in XC competitions then you can find guidance here

Tweed Riding Jackets

Tweed show jackets are also known as hacking or hunt jackets and were traditionally worn by both men and women when hunting. In competition, they are mainly worn for lower levels of eventing and showing as well as by children. 

Tweed jackets can be made of either pure wool, like the iconic Caldene jacket, or a wool blend. They are lined with either wool, silk or satin.

Pure wool jackets with a wool liner help you keep warm during colder months of autumn and winter.  For the warmer months of spring and summer, wool blends with a silk or satin liner will prevent you from overheating.

This classic country style of jacket has a neat cut that gives a flattering tailored fit. This style of show coat has double vents in the back with three buttons down the front. It should fit so that the hem just grazes the saddle.

With flap pockets, a velvet collar and a choice of earthy colours such as light brown, green or blue, these practical and stylish jackets transition easily from riding to everyday wear.

To be technically correct when competing or hunting, team up this style of jacket with buff or cream jodhpurs or breeches  and a coloured stock or tie.

Show Jumping Jackets

With a slim, body hugging cut, the show jumping jacket is slightly shorter than traditional tweed hunt jackets with the hem sitting above the saddle. It may have three or four buttons down the front.

They are typically made of breathable, lightweight, stretchy fabrics like Jersey, gabardine or nylon with spandex (with or without a lining), allowing for the great range of movement needed for competitive show jumping.

Other features in show jumping jackets include:

  • front zipper closure hidden behind the traditional buttons
  • mesh panels for more breathability
  • dirt and water repellence

The standard colours worn in higher levels of competitions are either black, blue or red. But, subtle patterns like check or tweed are also acceptable. Always check with the governing body for your sport for the appropriate dress code before buying your riding jacket.

This shorter style of competition jacket is also acceptable riding attire in some dressage competitions with black or dark blue being the standard colours.

Add elegance and a polished look to even a simple, dark coloured jacket like the Pikeur Sarissa Competition Jacket with details like:

  • contrast stitching
  • pocket details
  • jewellery buttons
  • piping
  • contrasting collar

Dressage Riding Jackets

Dressage jackets are typically longer than hunt or jumper jackets, have a single vent in the back and four buttons on the front.

The hem of the dressage jacket should just reach the seat of the saddle when sitting with your back straight.

Tailcoats, jackets with long tails, are typically only worn in the highest level of competition.

Competition attire for dressage at all levels is generally quite conservative and elegant. A black or dark blue jacket along with a white riding shirt and white, buff or faun breeches are the accepted standard.

In terms of style and value for money, the Pikeur Epsom, with it’s long flattering cut, is a great option.

How To Choose The Best Competition Riding Jacket For You

There are four points to bear in mind as you make your choice.

Let’s take a look at those questions.

How Often Will You Be Competing?

The wear and tear on jackets for a rider who competes at a high level every week-end is much greater than for someone who is just staring out in low level horse shows. The more often you show, the better quality and more durable your competition jacket needs to be.

Buying the best quality you can afford is more cost effective in the long run because your riding jacket will look better and last longer.

If you are just starting out showing or are competing in lower level competitions, consider buying an entry level riding jacket .

Look for a mid-range or premium style  jacket if you will be competing frequently or at a high level. They will be more durable and hold their shape better than less expensive choices.

What Type Of Riding Competition Will You Be Doing?

Whether your personal preference is elegant, traditional or modern, there are many options for colours, fabrics and features. So, you can find a riding jacket that makes a statement and shows off your taste and style perfectly.

For entry and lower level horse shows, dress code rules are generally less stringent and more casual attire may be permitted. Choose the fit, style and features that make you feel the most comfortable and confident. A traditionally classic tweed, black or blue jacket is generally acceptable at these levels of competition.

However, be sure to check with the organization governing the competition before purchasing your riding jacket. Even local events offered by pony clubs, riding clubs and horse shows will have guidelines or rules for riding attire.

Specific disciplines (e.g. dressage, eventing, hunting, or jumping), have a preferred style of riding attire. Competitions governed by organizations like the Pony Club, British Horse Society and the FEI have very specific rules for rider turn out.

 As you achieve higher levels or become a more competitive rider, the type, style and colour of riding attire becomes more specialized. Check with your riding instructor, the British Horse Society or your riding club for their rules regarding acceptable standards.

What Is Your Body Shape?

No matter what your size or body shape, there are riding jackets designed to give you a flattering fit.

Find a jacket that best suits your body shape giving you the most appealing silhouette

  • Avoid shorter jackets for pear shaped bodies.
  • Jackets with a waistline balance out the appearance of bigger busts or inverted triangle shapes.
  • Smaller over-checks or plainer tweeds give apple shapes a slimmer outline

Riding jackets are available in regular, short and long torso lengths and cuts differ between manufacturers so there is a jacket to fit every body shape

A tailored, well constructed jacket can be altered by a seamstress or tailor to give you an almost custom fit.

What Is Your Budget?

With a wide range of styles, makes and prices, there are competition riding jackets to fit every budget.

If you are just starting out or will be competing in lower levels of different equestrian sports, a tweed jacket is a versatile choice. This classic style is always a winning look for hunting, showing or riding club activities.

Another practical option is the Pikeur Sarissa. This great fitting jacket works for most body shapes and is equally at home in the dressage ring as the show jumping ring.

Correctly Fitting A Competition Riding Jacket

Whether you are competing in eventing, dressage or show jumping, getting the correct size of riding jacket is crucial for your comfort, performance and overall appearance.

It is always best to measure yourself before buying a new jacket and compare your measurements with the manufacturer’s size guide.

Also, keep in mind the shape of your body as well as its size. Because there are different body shapes, not every model of riding jacket will fit every body shape well.

To get the best fit in your riding jacket, it is important to accurately measure your chest and waist. For the most accurate measurements, get the assistance of another person.

Taking measurements:

  • Wear the same clothing (including bras for women) you will have on under your show jacket when taking your measurements. Different fabrics can affect the fit.
  • Use a tape measure that will stay flat and even around your body. Another option is to use a length of string and measure it against a ruler afterwards.
  • To measure your chest, stand with your arms relaxed at your sides. Take the tape measure or string under your arms and around the fullest part of your chest.
  • Measure your natural waistline which is the smallest part of your waist.
  • Note the measurement in either inches or centimetres then compare it to the manufacturer’s size guide.

When Trying On Riding Jackets

A well fitting riding jacket is flattering as well as functional. It gives a polished and finished look to your show attire.

It should fit comfortably, giving a stream-lined silhouette – hiding flaws and enhancing your appearance -  without limiting movement, so you look and ride your best confidently.

Test the fit by moving as you would do when in the saddle and extending your arms as if hugging a tree. Sleeves should reach just below the bump of the wrist to show no more than a half-inch of shirt cuff – or none at all if wearing a short sleeved competition shirt.

The waist of the jacket should fall at your natural waist line (the area where you “break over” when you bend your torso to one side).

Consider the general shape of the jacket and the way the fabric hangs. Even a light weight fabric should appear to have substance giving a crisp, elegant look.

Follow these steps to find the correct size for you:

  • Shoulder seams should line up with the edges of the shoulders to prevent pulling over the tops of the biceps. Shoulders that are too wide give a boxy appearance
  • Check that the arms can be moved into riding positions without feeling constrained across the upper arms, shoulders and upper back
  • Ensure the jacket lies flat across your back without gathers, wrinkles or bulges
  • Lapels should lie flat across the chest and with no puckering at the buttons
  • The waistline should sit on the natural waist to give a tidy outline
  • On short jackets with three buttons, the bottom button should sit just over the belly button. If it sits higher, the jacket is most likely too short
  • The back hem of a show jumping jacket should fall just above the hip or to the point where no more than two to three fingers’ width of the bottom is visible
  • The hem of traditional longer dressage jackets should sit inside the natural curve of the fingers when the arms hang relaxed at the sides


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How To Care For Your Competition Riding Jacket

As with other equestrian attire, always read the manufacturer’s care label instructions before washing your competition jacket. Some fabrics, like pure wool, are not machine washable.

Wool needs special care if it gets wet when being worn. Lay the jacket flat and allow it to air dry so as not to affect the shape of the garment.

Many synthetic fabrics, and some wool blends, can be machine washed with care. If your jacket is machine washable follow these five steps for best results:

  1. Turn the jacket inside out.
  2. Place in a lingerie (mesh) bag
  3. Wash on gentle cycle with a mild soap.
  4. Remove from the washer as soon as the cycle finishes
  5. Hang on a wooden or padded hanger to air dry

To keep your jacket in pristine condition between competitions and when travelling, hang it in a jacket bag in a cool, dark place.

Shop women's competition jackets

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Caldene Southwold Tweed

Pikeur Epsom

Pikeur Sarrisa


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Still Not Sure? Just Ask – We’re Here To Help

If you require any more help on choosing the right equestrian attire for your needs, one of our expertly trained members of staff will be more than happy to assist. For online enquiries, please contact our customer service team on 01702 597833





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