Riddle Me This: DQ version

While I was getting all caught up on the Shelley Browning controversy over the weekend, I totally got sucked into the live feed from Del Mar. I am not a DQ, I don’t go to dressage shows, I don’t often watch much of it (love y’all but I’m an eventer, you cannot thrill me), and I definitely don’t know what’s “fashionable” in that world. Every discipline has it’s things, and I’m pretty familiar with the h/j world, very familiar with the eventing world, but admittedly 100% out of touch with DQ’s. Except for the stuff I see on Instagram and now what I saw during the less than an hour that I spent watching the Del Mar live feed. But that little bit of exposure has left me with some questions.

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First off: patent. Explain. Surely that stuff gets scratched easily, right? Yet there’s patent on bridles, patent on boots, patent on saddles… I know I’ve even seen it on horse boots and saddle pads before too. Does it just stay shiny forever? Do you have to care for it with kid gloves? What does it look like as it ages? BURNING QUESTIONS. Prior to this trend I thought patent was always something that looked super cheap, like a pair of platform Sketchers from 1998. Is it the shininess factor that we’re going for here or am I missing something important? I need to know these things.

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Kind of related to patent but not necessarily – those stiff, fat-ankle tall boots that makes it look like everybody’s got cankles. Can you walk in those? Does it feel like your leg is in a cast? Why the cankle look, don’t we spend the rest of our lives trying to prove to the world that we don’t have cankles (ie skinny jeans)? H/J people go the extreme opposite direction and cover their lower legs with the tightest-fitting, thinnest calfskin possible, so everyone knows exactly how skinny their legs are. I personally lean that direction too, because my legs are thick enough without putting a big ol’ cankle boot at the bottom. Are dressage boots less fitted for a reason? Explain.

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Fly Hat Capulet Green

According to Instagram, matchy sets are The Thing. Especially Le Mieux and PS of Sweden. The bonnet, the saddle pad, the polos… all the cool kids (I think?) are doing it. Usually with exercise bandages underneath and some skeepskin lined bell boots. I can barely manage the one schooling pad and one half pad per saddle situation that I’ve got going on, and they’re all white. Same with my one set of polos – white. Because white goes with everything and I don’t have to worry about it matching. I can match for shows, but that’s about the extent of my devotion. These are all schooling outfits that y’all are doing though. By my count there are well over a dozen different color sets just from Le Mieux alone, so do you just pick one and stick with it or do you have multiple color coordinated outfits? Where do you store all this stuff? Do you have to always plan your own outfit so that it doesn’t clash with the horse’s? What happens if you mis-match things, are you automatically DQ-d from DQ-land? Y’all realize that extreme matchiness is tip-toeing dangerously close to eventer territory right? Just checking.

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Ok, dressage folk, educate me! Tell me the reasons behind your ways. What’s cool, what’s trendy? Clearly I will never be, but I still want to know.

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49 thoughts on “Riddle Me This: DQ version

  1. So I am not a fan of the patent leather stuff or matching sets so I am no help there. As for the boots I was told you want them stiff from top to toe to keep the leg quiet and solid. They are stiff as hell and do just that but once they break in they don’t feel as stiff as they look.

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  2. Hahaha… have these same questions, actually. I am decidedly NOT on the patent leather bus, because it reminds me of the mary-janes I was forced to wear at all 16 of my aunt and uncle’s weddings growing up (super large Italian family + oldest niece= everyone’s flower girl, for like 10 years straight). It’s definitely about the shine, though. DQs love sparkle and shine, fo sho. Personally I’m down with some subtle sparkle here or there. Using it to highlight a feature that you’re proud of is a nice way to use it tastefully. Like, if you have really steady hands, go with white gloves. If you have really steady legs, go with shiny patent boots. If your horse’s neck is amazing, maybe stick some bling-y braid bands on them braids. Etc. But some people go waaaay to far down the glitter and bling road with glittery helmets and all that. Are you trying to blind the damn judges?? Maybe then they won’t notice you can’t sit the trot…

    The stiff stovepipe boots are an old-school thing at this point. You’re seeing slimmer, softer dressage boots these days. Dressage boots do typically have more support than jumping boots, however, hence the stiffer panels. Little by little the industry is catching on that it’s mostly females riding horses these days, so equipment is finally being designed for women’s bodies instead of literally military men.

    Matching sets for schooling….I don’t know who these massively rich teenage riders are, apparently all over Europe, but boy do their parents sure spend a lot on outfits for their ponies!!! 😛 I am literally one of two people at my barn who ever even rides my horse so the idea of having all these schooling outfits is ridiculous to me. No one would ever see them! It does look sharp when you travel for clinics to have one set that matches, so that you look put together. And I will day, I have white Le Meiux bell boots and sport boots for Clay and they are really high quality. I use them almost every ride and they wash up really easy and look almost new a year later. I also have a PS of Sweden browband I break out for shows and it is gorgeous. So I can see why those brands have gained popularity–their stuff is definitely high quality.

    I don’t get the trend of putting bandages on the horse’s legs and then wrapping over them for schooling. Aren’t the legs getting super hot under all that? Can the horse even move?? I only wrap like that for shipping. Seems super bulky for riding in.

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  3. I think the patent doesn’t matter cause people aren’t buying this shit to last. Basically.

    Boots. Stiff is lyfe. It legit helps your leg be quieter and more precise. I was skeptical. I am no more. It’s hard to have a stiff boot that fits like a leg warmer. Also the goal of dressage is to make your aids invisible. This helps. No one wants to see your feet making little circles while you sit the trot poorly. 😉

    Matching. Ah. We all look alike in the ring. So we like flash when schooling. I joke it distracts from my horse not being a flashy mover. I stick to a few color schemes. That cuts down on storage bulk and makes matching my own clothes thoughtless. Boom. Looking pulled together helps me feel pulled together, which actually helps my ride.

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    1. Austen, I blame you for my need for matching LeMieux polos and saddle pads. I mean, at least I’ve kept it to white, navy, and black? Oh, and the bandage liners. And I’ve infected my barn with LeMieux pads and polos and bandages.

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  4. I don’t do dressage and I’m not a patent expert, but it is tradition for female fox hunt members who have their buttons and colors to have patent tops on their boots and it is SO elegant! My horsey bestie has a pair that is at least 10 years old and they look amazing. I have no idea how she cares for them (and I don’t think she does much) but the patent seems to be timeless. Hers are custom Dehners.

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    1. Patent tops seem much easier to care for than an entire patent boot. Or maybe I’m the only hooligan that constantly finds ways to scrape and scratch the toes of her boots.

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      1. Most definitely. And there is a tiny bit of a purpose with hunting at least. I mean, it is important that there are as many visual cues as possible so you know who NOT to ride in front of. 😉 Haha!

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  5. I’m curious about this, too. I’m not a fan of the patent. As Tonia said – I remember the patent mary-janes that I had to wear. No thanks. And I cringe at those boots. I desperately wonder how those are comfortable at all. I am not a DQ by any means, but I love matchy-matchy things. It’s just me, and I love having fun things to dress myself (and my horse) in – it’s probably from my model horse days. I don’t show often, and since in the hunters you all pretty much look the same, I enjoy having fun, colorful things for schooling. To me, it’s like dressing up for errands because you want to, and I match because I want to and it makes me happy lol. Although now that I want to event, I only have to be similar to everyone else for dressage and stadium haha!

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  6. i do not get the patent love either. I never really noticed the boots but I do like the matchy match look but am not spending that much to match. I barely take time to put my boots on Remus to jump let alone wrap his legs for flat work 🙂 HA wash and wear baby 🙂

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    1. Clearly I am the most boring person ever, because while clicking through all the different color sets, the only ones I could even imagine buying were the navy or the white. Maaaaaaybe the dark green on a wild day. Maybe. I’m a fan of colors as accents, not in large doses. One of the long list of reasons why I fail at being a DQ.

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  7. I like patent trim on bridles…. *shame face*. But I’d never spend good money on it bc i can’t pick up my saddle without the bridle smashing to the floor.

    I have a really easy way to coordinate – i only have purple all the things. And black polos. Bc fuck white and it’s stained alter ego off white

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      1. I don’t seem to care it looks like. I tend to mash a ton of shades all st once. The only thing that ruins the aesthetic is the OTTB identity pads.

        I think the trick is if some of your purples aren’t gonna match… then NONE of them should match.

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          1. Yes, I too have the purples going on. I have ordered a few custom baby pads from Ogilvy and one custom half pad cover (black, green, and purple) So all my pads have that same purple in either the piping or binding. And I had a custom bonnet made up to match the half pad… and I may have another bonnet on the way to match up with one of my new pads.

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  8. “Where do you store all this stuff?”
    Easy, make your husband build you a shed for all your tack 😂😂😂
    This post had me in stitches. Although I will admit to not really being on the patent leather train either, haha.

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  9. Not a patent person, but… I might have a running Excel spreadsheet of all my breeches, what athletic tops match well, and which saddle pads go with them. And a wish list of Ogilvy baby pad color combos I want next. To match the breeches that don’t have saddle pad buddies yet.
    But seriously, you’re talking about someone who named her blog after mascara and has three closets, this should really surprise nobody.

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      1. I have a very real dilemma when I want to ride in navy breeches and my brown boots but only have black helmets. Also known as the most first world of first world problems. I accept my psychosis.

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  10. The only way patent seems to gets scuffed is when your horse takes a nosedive in the dirt…ask me how I know….

    I like it on BLACK bridles and ONLY BLACK, its terrible in brown. And full patent boots are also terrible looking in my opnion.

    The matchy-matchy shit is weird…how do you afford so many outfits for your horse?! Some people like to go to extremes and coordinate themselves with the horse and I find that really strange…it reminds me of the pony club kids that have to match EVERYTHING.

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  11. The only thing I can speak to here is the stiff boots, since I don’t do patent and cannot match anything to save my life (this is why everything I own is black and white… gotta keep the options limited so I can’t screw up too badly). I too was a skeptic but man, I will not trade my Cavallos for anything. They have a super stiff leg and foot but the ankle is made of more flexible leather, so I had no problem breaking them in. They’re incredibly comfortable to ride in (and walk in, for that matter) and they fit my leg quite tightly, at least from mid-calf on up. Plus they wear like iron, which is more than I can say for any other pair of boots I’ve ever owned. It’s one of those things you gotta try to believe… kind of like shoulder in 😉

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  12. I watched the Robert Dover clinics on USEF – and he addressed the stiff boots, saying that they helped with rider leg stability, especially keeping the ankle quiet…one of the young riders had a beautiful pair of soft stylish fitted boots, and he highly recommended she go get a pair of stiff Petries.

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  13. I definitely chuckled to myself throughout this post… I have the same questions, and the thought about matchy-matchiness treading into eventing territory. Though I consider myself a DQ/eventing hybrid, I don’t accept half the things that are considered ‘in’ when it comes to DQ attire.

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  14. I’ve pretty fully devoted my equestrian life to dressage, but I don’t know if I can claim the DQ title seeing as I ride training/first level on a grade horse at a backwater barrel racing barn lol. However, here’s my take:

    Patent – gross. I hate how trendy this is because I am not a fan at all. I own nothing patent.
    Bling – also not a fan, I try to avoid all sparkles, but then again I do have a loudly coloured pinto
    Stiff boots – not honestly sure, the only non-custom tall boots that fit my fat calves are Ariat Heritage Contour field boots so that’s what I ride and show in
    Matchy Matchy – this is a trend that I admit I love! I do have the matching set from LeMieux in Benetton Blue and also saddle pads in multiple other colours. Saddle pads are definitely my weakness! Part of it is that both white and black saddle pads look bad on my black and white pinto horse, especially when she is not spotlessly clean. I use grey pads for showing but I ride in colourful pads for almost every other ride, both at home and at clinics. The saddle pad is something I see a lot of and it makes me happy when it’s a bright pretty colour (also you can get away with washing less frequently than white).
    Storage – my SO made me a fantastic massive tack locker where the whole door is hanging storage for saddle pads
    Coordination – Coordination is relatively easy as my horse doesn’t wear boots/polos or a fly hood every ride, only occasionally when needed, so the saddle pad is the main colour. I would be a better DQ if I made sure my own clothes matched, and I do make sure to avoid clashing for lessons and clinics but at home on my own it sometimes doesn’t look pretty.

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  15. Stiff boots are amazing. It’s basically like your leg is in a cast so you can’t move it unless you really mean to. It makes your aids really precise and avoid accidental poking and bumping. When you get to the upper levels, you have so many aids happening so quickly, you really need them to be clear. Plus having a still leg looks so much nicer than one that’s bouncing all over the place.

    Patent and bling? I can’t answer for my fellow DQ’s lack of taste but you won’t find them in my tack trunk.

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  16. I’m way too “backyard horse” to care about any of that patent leather, stiff boots, matching accoutrements, etc. Hate patent leather. Looks cheap to me too. I like to be able to move my ankles, so boots loose fitting in that area is good for me, but the ramrod stiff Petries, Konigs, etc can go find another owner. Due to the fact that my horse is built like a bunker and we never win any classes where a victory gallop is required, I have no use for polos or bell boots. I like black and white. So my schooling pads are black and my show pads are white. Occasionally for quadrille we use polos as part of the costume in our “anything goes” class. They’re white too. That’s it. I guess I will never be a DQ, but then again in the circles I travel in it’s quite unlikely that I will even meet one.

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  17. Once upon a time, I was driving very early in the morning through rural Vermont to get to an event, and I looked out the window and there was a private horse farm. And in the immaculately groomed ring was a woman riding dressage on a tall bay horse, wearing white breeches, a colored top, and a vest, with a blonde ponytail. Horse was in immaculate white polos, white saddle pad, white half pad. All to school. By themselves. In the middle of nowhere. At 6am. That remains my litmus test for just how far DQs are willing to go to look good.

    (stiff boots are the shit, though, I agree with what everyone else has said about them)

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  18. Haha. I think you’ve pegged a lot of what is “trendy.” Personally I keep my one training level pony at home and dressing in a matching outfit every day is way too much work for us. We try to pull it together a little bit for lessons but that’s about it.

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  19. You are asking all the questions I have thought myself! I really don’t get the patent trend… not a fan!

    A follow up trend I see sometimes in Dressage Land is the rolled bridles. Another trend I don’t understand.

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  20. Dying at all the comments on patent bridles. Well I have one and I LOVE it. It’s stunning and I do Eventing dressage in it. Compliments every time we go out. It doesn’t look Patent on the Horse really, and it is super durable. Doesn’t scratch.

    As for boots as previously said – they are designed to keep your leg in the correct position :). They are really quite nice to wear.

    For matching, don’t forget the Andy sets too 🙂

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  21. Can’t answer as a DQ, but I love matching stuff to school at home. But interesting thing… While I will blog about my matchy outfits, and MAYBE even instagram them, I wouldn’t wear them even to school at a horse show. And not at Trainer’s barn either. It’s like my dirty little secret or something… Though my green boots may make a public schooling appearance at some point. Maybe.
    I have some patent stuff too, but haven’t used it much yet, so can’t say how it holds up. Happy to report back though.

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  22. I event and 100% am with you on the patent. I don’t get it and I don’t think I want to.

    Not for me!

    I am ALL about the matchy sets though, but usually minus the bonnet. I have somewhere in the realm of 15 sets with their matching apparel for both horse and occasionally rider too. I rotate through them as I feel necessary 🙂

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  23. I have a patent chocolate brown double bridle. It doesn’t scratch super easily honestly, BUT it wrinkles and then cracks (sort of) if you aren’t careful. But from anyone that isn’t feeding the horse cookies, you cannot tell it’s cracked.

    I am a matchy freak. Pad and polos typically. I don’t often use bonnets, but when I do it is a dark color to match my tack (brown or black).

    Fat cankle boots are hideous. I have been riding in Ariat V Sport boots through Prix St. George. The “semi custom” boots come that way I think. To get skinny ankle, you have to dish out more money for custom, or contact a brand not as readily available in the US! I just ordered my first set of custom skinny ankle boots LOL.

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  24. I like some patent. I think the entire boot is too much, but I love just the top or something like that. We don’t have a lot of freedom in our clothes choices so I think we get exciting where we can.

    Matchy matchy definitely depends on the person. I stick with pretty boring color schemes so that I can match a lot of outfits. I’m too poor to buy a million saddle pads and polos and fly bonnets.

    My boots aren’t as stiff as the stovepipe style but they’re still stiffer than h/j land. I think they just give more support/make the leg look quieter. They are very uncomfortable at first.

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  25. As a backyard DQ I am 100% on the patent leather bus over here. The used saddle I bought had a patent cantle, so when I found a great deal on a patent bridle I jumped on it. I ride a big, very plain bay horse with a course head, he looks silly in ‘bling’ so patent is our only flashy thing. I actually like the wide nosebands – it distributes any pressure over a wider area, and it looks good on his huge roman nose. I also found patent to be pretty durable, plus no need to condition it!

    I love the matchy-matchy. Black and white is too boring for me, so I usually opt for navy, but maybe some mint or teal accent.

    I CAN NOT STAND the whole bandage wrap sticking out from beneath the polos. Its so pointless and looks sloppy. I also am not a fan of rolled bridles, but I guess if you have a horse with a very refined head it could look nice.

    I’m still undecided on the stiff boots vs soft boots thing. I have a pair of Treadstep Donatellos that I ride in daily and honestly for the lower levels I think they are fine. A good stiff boot that looks super elegant and non-canklely is De Niro, they seem to be a medium stiff boot with a very slim, elegant look. I’d opt for just plain black though – not a fan of bling on boots.

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  26. I ride Arabs. Rolled bridles are the bomb – they really suit fine heads. I have regular battle swith my inner DQ even though I NEVER compete in actual dressage. Currently I’m resisting the urge to buy another saddle pad cos the one that suited my palomino DOES NOT suit the new chestnut! But if you want to see matchy matchy taken to THE EXTREME (although no patent cos we don’t even do leather) come to endurance. Some of it is truly hideous… Lime green everywhere, anyone? My horses have matchy matchy endurance gear, but in my defence that’s so that when I tell my OH or one of the kids to go and grab “Joe’s bridle” or “Savannah’s HAF pad” they just have to look at the rest of the horse and go “OK, that must be the Hunter green/red/blue one”…

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