Breaking All The Rules With Style

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Riding Habit Revised a column where the best and worst of equestrian fashion and decor is reviewed with a modern edge.


Conservative. That is the word that comes up over and over again in equestrian dress codes. Whether you are competing or simply attending a race or competition, the word of the day always seems to be conservative.

Think Pink Dressage

Monica Houweling and Rifradin Think Pink!

And dressing conservatively is not a polite suggestion. It’s the rule. Wear anything other than conservative white or light-colored breeches – eliminated. Wear anything other than a conservative color riding coat – eliminated. Men wearing anything other than black or grey morning dress can even be evicted from the Royal Enclosure at Ascot!

This conservative dress is serious business! So today let’s salute those who are leading the charge to change this conservative culture. First up, Monica Houweling and Rifradin. I spotted this pair at the Spirit Equestrian Dressage Show last weekend, sporting a lot of pink flair, I expect in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The look was an audience favorite, and not shockingly, the ride was impeccable despite this break with decorum. Well done!

Next up is international show jumper, Karl Cook. Horse & Style Magazine reports that he had to apply to the FEI to wear his trademark bowties in rated Grand Prix classes. Congratulations to Mr. Cook for showing equal commitment to equestrian sport and your own personal style.   Check out his unique look over on the Horse & Style Magazine Instagram page here: horseandstylemag.

And finally, here’s to the city of Liverpool for causing an uproar over the proposed Ladies’ Day dress code for next year’s Grand National at the famous Aintree Racecourse. This may be the world’s biggest horse race, offering a £1,000,000 in prize money and generating a global audience running into hundreds of millions, but that’s no reason to rein in the fashion. Unlike Ascot, the Grand National in northern England is known for a bolder sense of fashion, which most feel should be preserved. Official skirt lengths and shoulder straps widths? Liverpool says no thank you!

Best Foot Forward at Ladies Day at Aintree from the Liverpool Echo

Read more from the Liverpool Echo here: Liverpool style expert hits out ‘snobbish’ Aintree Ladies Day style rules.

In conclusion, style renegades, Monica Houweling, Karl Cook and the ladies of Liverpool, our hats off to you (unless of course we are currently competing in FEI regulated competition requiring conservatively colored helmets to be worn at all times or are in the Royal Enclosure at Ascot)! It really is a game of inches.

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