Rider and Horse Turnout for Showing

Tips about side saddle turnout

Side Saddle Riding has a long history on what to wear and how to wear it, below are a few guidelines for how to show both rider and horse.


Bowler hats are usually back and can be worn with any colour of habit. The only other colour, which is acceptable, is brown and then only with a brown or tweed habit and only if worn with brown boots.

In the show-ring in the UK, whatever the class, if a bowler hat is worn, it must be with collar and tie, and hair in a bun, even if this means using a false bun. Silk hats (always referred to as a ‘silk hat’ never a ‘top hat’) are for formal occasions only, and this means that the whole turnout of you and your horse must be formal. Your habit should be back or navy, you should wear a white or cream stock and a spur, and your horse should be plaited and in a double bridle. Although, the old rule that silk hats would only be worn at Royal Shows has been relaxed, they are still only worn after lunch. If you are showing, do check the rules as many shows now insist that competitors in all classes must wear British Standard safety hats with a harness.

Traditionally minded judges do not approve of short dressage toppers for side-saddle. Silk hats should be no shorter than 4.75 inches or taller than 5.25 inches, depending on the height of the rider and overall picture on the horse. The hat should sit just above eyebrows and be straight and level to the ground when mounted.

A plain cream four-fold silk stock and plain white stock shirt should be worn with a silk hat, which should be tied tight enough to stay in place, but still be comfortable, and secured by a plain stock pin placed just under the knot when tied. Cream or yellow gloves should be worn with a silk hat although brown is also acceptable.

When wearing a bowler hat, a black bowler is always considered correct with a black or navy habit and long black boots, a brown bowler can also be worn with a tweed habit and long brown boots. A plain-collared shirt of a muted colour, preferably white or light cream should be worn with a dark tie, tied neatly and tight up to the collar.

Brown gloves should be worn with a bowler hat, well fitted and clean. Black gloves are a major faux pas because traditionally, black gloves signified that you were in mourning and therefore shouldn’t be riding.

Hair should be tied back into a tight, very neat, small doughnut-sized bun, just touching the bottom of the hat. A fine hair net should cover both bun and hair. Riders with short hair should wear a false bun to create the illusion of long hair. There should be absolutely no hair whatsoever escaping from under the hat.

A black veil should be worn with a top hat or black bowler. It is worn crossed over the bun at the back and held in place with hairgrips either side. There should be no creases or wrinkles in the veil. A traditional habit is made up of a waistcoat, jacket and apron.

Habits can be of navy, black or tweed in colour. A light- coloured waistcoat, plain or with light check, should be worn under the habit with the lowest button left undone. The jacket should sit just above the saddle when mounted. It should be straight and have sleeves of a correct length so that when the rider’s arms are stretched, they are not too short.

The apron, which gives the impression of a skirt but in fact only wraps around the front of the rider, should sit straight and level with the ground when mounted. The back of the apron should sit just above the seat of the saddle all around. The length of the apron should sit around one hand on its side above the ankle of the boot.

Underneath the habit, breeches should match the colour of your habit.

Long, well-polished black boots, with a spur on the left boot only, should be worn. It is crucial to clean the underside of your boots, as these are very visible when riding side saddle. A cane is carried in the right hand to act instead of the right leg.

The rider is expected to wear make up under the veil. This should be subtle but enough to define the features of the face. No jewellery whatsoever should be worn.

Traditionally in the hunting field, unmarried ladies wore a navy habit with a bowler hat, while married ladies wore a black habit with silk hat if they were a subscriber, or a black habit and black bowler for less significant/important meets or while visiting another pack. This rule has now fallen by the way side although some judges still prefer to see a silk hat worn only with a black habit. All of the showing rules originated in turnout for the hunting field.


Your mount should be immaculate with no marks or stains. The horse should be trimmed and plaited and, if needs be, chalked up to brighten white markings. Make up, baby oil and hoof oil can all be used to enhance the appearance of your horse. Tails should be pulled or neatly plaited. Quarter markers can be used and will be different, depending on the size and shape of your horse.
In side saddle classes, horses are generally ridden in a double bridle, although pelhams are acceptable with double reins. All leatherwork should be well-cleaned and oiled, with the bit and visible buckles polished. If you are wearing a silk hat, you should have a double bridle/Pelham with double reins.
However if you a wearing a bowler, double or single reins are acceptable.

A special thank you for Ciara O’Connell, Kalindi Lawrence & Emma Richardson-Steele for providing us with this information. These general comments have been collated with the help of side saddle riding customers; but it is important to note some classes may have specific requirements that vary from the ones listed above. 

Dublin Horse Show Ladies/ Intermediate side saddle qualifiers

Armagh County Agricultural Show,
Co. Armagh
Saturday 10 June Flo McCall +44 (0)79 7727 5160
Gorey Agricultural Show,
Co. Wexford
Saturday 17 June Melissa Blake +353 (0)87 7098565
Athlone Agricultural Show,
Co. Westmeath
Sunday 18 June P.J. Glynn +353 (0)86 6623185
Charleville Show,
Co. Cork
Sunday 25 June Elaine Goold +353 (0)87 9662741
Flavours of Fingal County Show,
Swords, Co. Dublin
Saturday 1 July John Lyons +353(0)86 2604008

Upcoming affiliated shows

The following shows have affiliated their classes to Side Saddle Ireland: Please keep checking back as shows will be added to the list as affiliations come in:

Sceilig Showing Festival- 5th June 2022

Gorey Agricultural Show, 18th June

Cork Summer Show, 19th June

Dungarvan Agricultural Show 10th July

Iverk Show 27th August

Oughterard Show Galway 28th August

Royal Meath Show Trim, 4th September.


RDS Side Saddle Qualifier Dates

Sunday 5th June: Raheenadaw Show, Rathvilly, Co. Carlow.                                Contact Emily Corrigan 0868484552

Saturday 11th June. Armagh County Agricultural Show, Co. Armagh.                        Contact Flo McCall  +44 (0) 79 7727 5160

Sunday 19th June. Athlone Agricultural Show, Co. Westmeath .                                      Contact David Fenton 0876992394

Sunday 26 June. Charleville Show, Co. Cork.                                                        Contact Eleanor Fleming 086 4000325

Saturday 2 July. Flavours of Fingal County Show, Swords, Co. Dublin.                        Contact John Lyons 086 2604008

Please support Side Saddle Ireland by paying your membership in advance of competing this summer and don’t forget to keep a record of your shows for our points awards.

Affiliated Shows 2021

All members can gain double points for the following affiliated shows. You can claim normal points for classes at shows that are not affiliated for this showing season 2021.

Skeilig Show 27th June 2021

Kilbride Show 4th July 2021

Tattersalls Show July 24th/25th ***CANCELLED***

Affiliated Classes 2020

Affiliation form has been sent to show secretaries, this list will be updated as the affilations come in to the secretary. Please do keep checking back! The points race was excellent last year so it is well worth your while to get out competing at affiliated shows.

Sunday 24th May 2020, Midleton Agricultural Show

Thursday 9th July 2020 Bannow Rathangan Show

Dublin Horse Show side saddle qualifiers

Ladies’ Side-Saddle
Northern Ireland Festival
Cavan Equestrian Centre, Latt, Co. Cavan
26 April
Paul Smith 0044 7971471267
Newmarket-on-Fergus Agricultural Show
Old Dromoland Road, Newmarket-on-Fergus, Co. Clare
3 May
Fiona Duggan 087 6039779 / 087 2858699
Midleton Agricultural Show
Ballinvinny, Glanmire, Co. Cork
24 May
Phyllis Lynch 086 8800103
Lurgan Show
Lurgan Park, Avenue Road, Lurgan, Co. Armagh
BT66 7BD
6 June
Roslyn Ewing 0044 7736 118965

Affiliated classes 2019

Show affiliations are starting to trickle in, please keep checking back as it will be updated each time a new form is returned.

4th May, IPS Spring Show, Raheen na Gun, Kilkenny. Junior and Intermediate classes. DOUBLE POINTS.

6th May, Western Area IPS, Claremorris School of Equitation:  junior and intermediate classes

12th May, Kingdom County Fair, Ballybeggan Park, Tralee. Junior and Ladies classes

19th May, Bandon Show, Junior and Ladies Classes

26th May Midleton Show, Junior and Ladies classes

02/06/19 Limerick/Clare IPS show, Junior and Intermediate classes

9th June, Waterford Country Fair RDS qualifiers, Intermediate and Ladies

9th June, Ballinalee Connemara Pony Show, Juniors and Versatility

15th June, Gorey Agricultural Show, RDS qualifiers, Intermediate and Ladies

16th and 17th June, Cork Summer Show

23rd June, Athlone Agricultural Show RDS qualifiers, Intermediate and Ladies

23rd June, Flavours of Fingal County Show, Ladies class

29th/30th June Charleville Agricultural show, Junior, Intermediate and Ladies

6th July Killusty Pony Show, Junior and versatility class

7th July, Dunmanway Agricultural Show, side saddle versatility

7th July, Clonmel Show

11th July, Bannow and Rathangan Show, Junior and Ladies Classes

14th July Mullingar Agricultural Show (Intermediate and Ladies)

20th July, Tipperary Area IPS annual show (Juniors and Intermediates)

21st July Tattersalls July Show, Ladies Side saddle

25th July, Dungarvan Show

28th July, Ossory Agricultural Show, Ladies and Junior

28th July, South east Clare Show Bridgetown

28th July, Midlands COnnemara Pony Show

5th August, Tinahely Agricultural Show, 3 classes

17th August, Irish Pony Society Championship Show

18th August, Tullow Show, SIde Saddle Versatility Class

25th August, Iverk Show, Junior and Side saddle versatility class

25th August , Oughterard Show, Galway

31st August National Irish Draught Show (Irish Draught horses only)

1st September, Royal Meath Show, Trim

RDS Ladies and Intermediate Side Saddle Qualifying Shows 2019

Venue Date Contact Name Contact No.
Armagh County Agricultural Show,
Co. Armagh
8 June
Maud Black 028 37522333
Waterford Country Fair,
Co. Waterford
9 June
Faith Ponsonby 087 2929449
Gorey Agricultural Show,
Co. Wexford
15 June
Stella Jones 087 9082670
Athlone Agricultural Show,
Co. Westmeath
23 June
Gillian Kinahan 086 8521575
Charleville Show,
Co. Cork
30 June
Eleanor Fleming 087 4000325