Too Much Bling? Dos & Don’ts of Western Show Clothes

The Western world is notorious for bling–watch any Western pleasure class and you’ll see silver-encrusted saddles and crystal-laden shirts and jackets. Some think they have to spend more money on show clothes than some do for school wardrobes. But is that always the case? had me talk to some AQHA/APHA judges to get their opinion on how they feel about Western show clothes and how you can dress for success in the show pen.


Here are some quick tips:

  • Invest in a well-shaped, quality hat.
  • Choose an outfit that best compliments your horse and your body type–don’t just follow fads and trends.
  • Make sure you have your showmanship pants hemmed while wearing your show boots so they don’t end up too short in the show ring.
  • You don’t have to get a super fancy outfit for showmanship–women can rock a well-tailored business suit found in a department store.
  • More outfits is not always better–invest in one quality outfit if that’s all your budget allows.
  • Moving parts of your outfit is not always best when it comes to classes like horsemanship and showmanship, so stay away from fringe, chains, etc. Save that for Western pleasure, riding, or trail.

Want more? Check out the article on Judges Discuss the Dos and Don’ts of Western Fashion.


Teaching a Soft Touch to Your Horse

I’ve been lucky to be able to talk with some great trainers and learned a lot about how they work with their horses. In this article for the Paint Horse Journal, I learned from Heather Thompson how to teach “guide” to your horse for silent communication.

A Soft Touch

You’ve seen it in the show ring: a horse-and-rider team moving flawlessly through the motions, making square corners and round circles, changing direction with what looks to be no real effort at all. You can barely see the guidance the rider gives the horse through her hands, and yet he responds effortlessly.

That silent communication is the basis of what American Paint Horse Association Professional Horseman Heather Thompson calls “guide,” and it’s something she teaches all of her horses and clients.

“When I work with my horses, I don’t like to pull them. I like to push them,” she explained. “If I’m going left, I put that right rein into the horse’s neck and they know that means to ten left. I’m using rein pressure first.”




“Guide” refers to a horse’s willingness to respond to slight pressure fro his rider. The better your horse guides, the easier he’ll be to ride.




Download the entire article here: A Soft Touch