Tradition plays an important role in the English riding disciplines. One of the most important traditions centers on appearance. From helmet to boots, equestrians in English-riding disciplines are expected to look neat and put-together in the saddle during competition. This tradition impacts what’s appropriate for horse-riding hairstyles. In this guide, we share what you need to know about women’s equestrian hairstyles for the English disciplines.
The requirements related to hairstyle for competition depends on the event, the age of the rider, and the riding discipline.
Young girls in paddock boots wear two long braids with ribbons matching their show outfit. No hair nets are required at this age, but once they outgrow paddock boots and move into tall boots, it is expected that their hair will be worn up inside the helmet. (The ribbons will no longer be worn at that point.)
Hunter and jumper events require riders to have their hair neatly concealed under their helmet, although there’s currently much conversation around the safety of putting the hair up into the helmet. As of today, however, hunters will need to wear their hair up using an equestrian hair net that closely matches the hair color. There are a variety of hair net styles to choose from, including some with a heavier weight for very thick hair. Colored horse-riding hair nets, show bows, and buns are not appropriate for hunter-jumper competitions. One-knot hair nets are often used for hunter and jumper competitions, sometimes with a hair band to ensure your hair is smooth under the helmet.
The dressage ring also requires riders to have their hair neat and tucked-away, although buns are common with this discipline. Buns should be tucked away under the rear brim of the helmet at the back of the head. Long and short hair alike should be contained in a hair net to ensure there are no flyaway strands that may distract from your appearance. Long hair may be completely tucked under the helmet. Equestrians with long hair will often add a show bow.
Since eventing competitions include multiple riding disciplines, your hairstyle may change based on the phase of the event you are riding.
It may be easiest to consider a single hairstyle that you can wear for all phases of eventing, but the choice is yours.
Believe it or not, there are also recommended ways to use a hair net — and they can be a challenge to use. There are two primary hair net styles: one-knot hair nets and no-knot hair nets. These videos will show you exactly how to use horse-riding hair nets. The decision on which type to use is based on the fit of the hair in the helmet. No-knot hair nets can be more comfortable for some riders and won’t leave as much of a mark in the skin.
A one-knot hair net is often used for hunters and jumpers. It completely surrounds your hair much like a shower cap does. If you have long hair, you can put a ponytail around it at the back and lift it smoothly up over your head when you put your helmet on. The knot is placed at the back of the center of the neck for a one-knot hair net. (For a two-knot hair net, one knot is at the back center of the neck and the other at the center of the forehead.) There are options to use a built-in scrunchie for a ponytail. Not sure how to use one? Check out our "How To Video"!
The no-knot hair net has openings at the front and back of the net. It’s placed around the neck then up and over the head, with one end spanning the forehead and over the ears and the other end to the length of the hair. You have the option to either wear a ponytail or to simply pull the hair net with your hair smoothly over your head. There are also options for a heavy-weight one-knot hair net for those with very long and/or thick hair. Don't forget to check out our "How To Video" as well!
Maintaining a neat appearance is especially important for show days, so it’s a good idea to practice first. A great way to do this is to keep your hair neatly tucked away whenever you ride to make sure you are adept at it when preparing for a competition. You don’t want to add any nervous tension trying to figure out how to keep your hair tucked away when you’re about to compete!
Also, if you have really long or thick hair, you may want to consider fitting your helmet to accommodate your hair. Keep in mind that if you do this, you’ll want to be consistent with how you always wear your hair while riding to ensure your helmet fits properly and is not too loose.
Appropriate horse-riding hairstyles for female equestrians is an important part of competing in English-riding disciplines. Being confident in your hairstyle, knowing that it won’t come loose or cause problems during a competition, will allow you to stay focused on riding.
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