Turn Out Tips for the First Horse Inspection at Your Next Three-Day

Tate Reynolds was an Advanced rider in the mid-1990s, making it to Rolex twice when it was an Advanced horse trials and CCI3*, as well as training with Kelli Temple and grooming for Carl Bouckaert. He has worked in the fashion industry for the past 15 years, including serving as a fashion designer for Ralph Lauren. We're delighted to have him guest blogging for EN this weekend at Fair Hill. Read on for Tate's top tips for turn out.

Lauren Balcomb and Guido Hatzis. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Lauren Balcomb was voted Best Dressed Lady thanks to this stylish look. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Congratulations to the winners of the Best Dressed and Fair Hill and to everyone who made it through the first horse inspection on Wednesday. While it’s a great way to kick things off, I also know it can be nerve-racking, and there is nothing better than hearing the words “accepted” after you jog.

Wednesday was a beautiful day and a perfect setting for the first horse inspection here at Fair Hill. I’m sure, as with anything subjective, there are plenty of people out there that might have disagreed with my selections, or felt I left someone off the list that they thought should have been on there.

After grooming at the Olympics and in England, competing at Rolex myself, and working in the fashion industry for the past 15 years, I’d like to offer a few more tips and guidelines for the first horse inspection. In doing so, I hope it helps you understand my picks, as well as gives you some pointers for future jogs.

Even the most seasoned eventers can sometimes use a few styling tips, and for people who have never presented but plan on doing so, I hope this gives you some helpful suggestions to follow.

Randy Ward and Grando. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Randy Ward looked sharp with his tailored suit and pocket square. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Like I said in my post on the Best Dressed list, dressing for the occasion makes all the difference in the world as far as presentation goes. I’m a huge believer in “dressing the part.” Fair Hill is an equestrian sporting event in the countryside, and the horses were presented to the ground jury on a beautiful fall afternoon.

There are so many cues right there that one should pay attention to. You have a great natural color palette to work with in fall colors: brown, taupe, olive, navy, hunter green, orange and purple. Tweeds look great, as do suedes, brown or saddle leather, knits, vests, scarves and jackets.

At the spring three-days, follow the same idea, with bright colors, creams, navy and fun prints. Your outfit doesn’t have to be over the top or cost a ton of money. It just has to look appropriate for the occasion and fit you well. For the ladies, taking a little time to do something different with your hair really makes a big difference.

Leather was a big trend on the jog strip this year, as demonstrated by Marilyn Little and Chris Talley. Photos by Jenni Autry.

Leather was a big trend on the jog strip this year, as demonstrated by Marilyn Little and Chris Talley, who EN readers nominated for Best Dressed Man. Photos by Jenni Autry.

As Jenni mentioned in her opening post about the jog, black leather was a big trend. That begs the question: Does black leather fit the occasion here? I really commend being fashion-forward. At the same time, keep in mind whether leather is something you would typically wear to a sporting event in the country.

One conundrum I find on the jog strip is when ladies or men wear black or dark grey suits. You are’t interviewing for a job; you’re presenting your horse. If you’re most comfortable in jeans, I get it, but make sure you wear good fitting, dark denim jeans. Ladies can pair it with tall brown boots or flats, a colorful blouse or scarf, and a fitted jacket. Men can also pull this off with a crisp shirt, a nice blazer and brown leather or suede shoes.

Ariel Grald and Leamore Master Plan. Photo by Jenni  Autry.

Ariel Grald demonstrates that a bold print goes a long way. Photo by Jenni Autry.

I saw some colorful pants on the jog strip, and they are also a nice way to give a pop to a conservative look. Just make sure they are fitted well. The pop of color will really draw your eye to the pants, which makes a good fit all the more important. You also can’t go wrong with a cute dress, a good print, a fitted skirt or a colorful scarf. Try to work within the setting and season for color, style and sensibility.

For the guys, I know there is some debate about wearing a tie or not. I personally think it looks nice to wear a tie, and it’s a good way to get a little color into your outfit. However, I also think a good shirt that is open works, too. Just make sure the shirt is a button-down collar and not a spread collar.

Woods Baughman and Montesquieu. Photo by Jenni Autry.

A pocket square really helped Woods Baughman pull his look together. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Gentleman, try wearing a pocket square. It’s an easy way to make a very classic combination of khakis and a navy blazer look really stylish. The fall is also a perfect time to bust out your tweed sport coat, corduroy blazer or suede jacket. I tend to prefer a sport coat over a suit, as I think it looks more sporty and appropriate; but if the right suit is worn, it can definitely look sharp.

For both men and women, on a sunny day like Wednesday, throw on a pair of sunglasses. It can make anyone look one notch better, and you won’t be squinting in the pictures.

Lauren Kieffer and Landmark's Monte Carlo. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Lauren Kieffer looked fierce in her signature sunglasses. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Once you get yourself pulled together and turned out to the nines, you have to make sure your equine partner is looking just as good. Grooms are the unsung heroes of the horse world, but for those that don’t have a groom and are turning their horses out themselves, here are a few tips to make sure they look their best:

  1. Put a tail wrap on before the jog. A well pulled tail that is banged is the best look for an event horse.
  2. When it comes to the bridle, the most appropriate way of presenting your horse is in a plain noseband without a flash. That looks the best. Refrain from using a figure-eight noseband or a white-padded dressage noseband.
  3. Polish your browband if it’s brass or silver.
  4. Give the horse a little swipe of baby oil on the muzzle, face and ears.
  5. Give the horse a last minute hoof dressing application.
  6. Put quarter marks on the hindquarters before you leave the stable. If you don’t know how, just ask a professional groom. I’m sure they’d be happy to show you.

The horse inspections should not be a big stress for you. There are more important things for you to worry about over the weekend. It does, however, take a little thought and effort to find a good outfit, and it takes a little planning and extra packing for both you and your horse.

But it’s an opportunity for you to show off all of your hard work in getting there. It let’s people take notice of you and your horse before you start the competition. So take the extra time to pull yourself and your horse together. It will be well worth it!

Best of luck to all the riders here at Fair Hill. Now that the first horse inspection is behind you, it’s really time for the competition to begin. See you next time on the jog strip.