Tweed was back in a big way in 2020, although some argue it never went away. This classic and currently trendy fabric is known to provide excellent insulation, is thick, and generally pretty durable. If you are show jumping in a cooler or downright cold, part of the world, tweed might look pretty appealing. But can you show jump in tweed?
Yes, you can show jump in tweed for most levels of USEF and FEI, including Pony Club. Levels above 3* and, of course, Grand Prix have different dress codes and do not include tweed for show jumping. The tweed jacket should not be in bright colors or “loud” patterns. The tweed jacket must be worn with fawn or beige pants.
Love them or hate them, jackets are required for a lot of show jumping events. To be jacket free, you typically need to be jumping at unaffiliated competitions. Tweed jackets can be a nice alternative to the standard black and blues, so let’s look at some options. Also, why are we wearing coats in a sport? Should we still be wearing them?
Tweed Show Jumping Jackets
Tweed was born in Scotland during the 18th Century and is said to have got its name after a merchant misspelled the word “tweel.” Tweed was not noticed until the 19th Century by the British aristocracy. Lady Dunmore was looking for a type of fabric suitable for outdoor sports, such as hunting. The material is now a classic that even becomes a fashion trend from time to time.
Thus it is hardly surprising that out of all the horse riding disciplines, the tweed jacket is most associated with is hunting.
Difference Between Tweed Show Jacket and Tweed Hunting Jacket
The tweed jacket began in hunting, which means they are typically a bit longer than a showjumping jacket. Showjumping jackets have their hem above the saddle. A hunter’s jacket traditionally had three buttons (you can now find them with four), flap pockets, and usually have two vents in the back. A show jumping jacket has three to four buttons.
Do remember, however, that while the options for jackets are expanding in the lower levels, you are still not going to be matching your numnah with your tweed. White numnahs are the most common competition color. Even Pony Club limits numnah colors to white, cream, navy, brown, or black.
5 Tweed Jackets
When looking for tweed jackets, you will be considering price, style, how easy it is to clean, breathability, and fit, including how well you can move in it. Also, consider how well dirt and debris will show on your jacket. Horses do have that unfortunate tendency to wipe their faces on you just before you get on. In this, tweed is excellent for hiding minor marks.
Here are some popular tweed choices.
The Pikeur Epsom Tweed Jacket is a sophisticated jacket with an understated pattern. It has four buttons, has rear riding vents, and is 95% wool.
The Shires Aubrio Saratoga Jacket is 60% wool, comes in a flattering cut, and a more affordable option.
The Cavallo Fint 2 show jacket is machine washable, comes in navy, and isn’t as long as some other tweed jackets.
The Equetech Ladies Launton Deluxe is a three-button green tweed with a navy velvet collar.
The Men’s Foxbury Tweed is a four-button option with concealed zips.
If you are seeking out additional advice on what else to look for when buying a jacket for competing, click here.
What You Must Wear for Show Jumping
Aside from the jacket, there are a few more things a rider must wear for show jumping.
- Pants. Affiliated show jumping requires that pants be white, pale yellow, or beige/fawn colored. Remember, if you wear a tweed jacket, the pants must be beige or fawn.
- Gaiters or long boots. The gaiters or long boots must be black or brown, and it is generally preferred if they match the saddle and girth. During a show jumping competition, you cannot wear half chaps.
- Shirts. Shirts must have a white collar and, if long-sleeved, white cuffs. It doesn’t matter what color the rest of the shirt looks like, so long as it can’t be seen when the jacket is on.
- Helmet. Generally, these are black or navy. (Sorry, no tweed.) However, USEF has approved brown helmets, as does Pony Club. In addition, FEI has finally insisted in 2021 on all disciplines wearing a helmet. If your helmet is not of a standard color, you can get a helmet cover to put over it during the competition.
History of Show Jumping Wear
Competition wear for horse riders hasn’t changed much since the 1880s when women riders were allowed to liberate themselves from side-saddle skirts. Since then, aside from advances in fabrics (thank you stretchy materials, sticky bums, and fabrics that wick away sweat), the only other significant change was the FEI finally saying goodbye to the top hat in 2021.
Showjumping only became a sport around the 1860s. Before then, jumping was a necessary part of hunting when chasing a fox over a fence or when in battle. Showjumping began to feature in the Olympics in 1900 and began to gain notice in the 1912 games. But it wasn’t until 1920 when riders began to get their bum off the saddle, thanks to Federico Caprilli inventing the “forward seat.”
During this, showjumping clothing seemed to borrow from what people wore in the past: hunting, cavalry, and formal wear. Tradition has kept the aesthetic going, with the rules on competition wear typically being strict.
There have been attempts to ditch the jackets. After all, competitive athletes and coats are rarely paired together, even in cold weather sports such as skiing. However, leaving the jackets behind is often met with resistance. In 2008, British Masters forged the traditional jacket and tie for polo shirts. They were met with headlines such as “Showjumping gets sexy.”
Should Riders Still Have to Wear Jackets?
Despite traditionalists finding polo shirts sexy (which was probably a new concept to most women’s fashion brands), many in the riding world would like to see the jackets go. For starters, even with the added stretch, they are restricting to wear and can be a hot, stuffy layer when competing in the heat.
With riding becoming so expensive, many look for sponsorship. However, with the restricting rules, there isn’t a lot of room for the sponsor’s logos. Although to be fair, this matter is not so much due to lack of space on jackets, but the rules surrounding the jackets. Nor do I think anyone in the equestrian world is eager for riders to be plastered like NASCAR drivers.
Tweed in show jumping is here, but only at certain levels. The dress codes in equestrian sports are slow to change due to its long history and tradition. But at least modern riders have helmets, although not in tweed.