It’s internationals season again and with all the mental and physical preparation that goes into gearing up for a three day event – whether it’s your first ever or just your first this year, that little thing called the trot-up always manages to sneak up on you. Just when you think you’ve thought of everything, you remember: “AH! The bloody trot-up.” Rushing to your wardrobe, screaming “OH GOD THERE’S TWO OF THEM”, you inevitably find you’ve got nothing to wear.
To save you from this fate we’ve put together a guide on how to stay sane and stylish while being dragged alongside your horse in front of a trio of stern dressage judges.
There are several things you can take for granted when you’re prepping your trot-up outfit:
1. Your horse will probably be pretty fresh, especially at trot-up one. If s/he’s not, bonus, but keep a picture of wild prancing horse in your mind while considering what to wear, just in case.
2. You will be running on grit: wear shoes that fit well, unless you want agonising grit filled shoes.
3. You WILL be running: there’s no getting away from it. So make sure you can actually run in the shoes you plan to wear.
At pretty much every riders briefing at the start of a three day event you’ll hear the same thing, especially if there are junior riders competing: dress appropriately and don’t wear high heels. It’s probably the best piece of advice you’ll get all week. If you were planning to go out for a run alongside your horse under ordinary circumstances (like you do) would a pair of heels and a tight skirt be what you’d reach for? Unlikely, unless running like a duck and risking spraining an ankle are what you’re aiming for. So stay away from the heels, short or tight skirts and sandals (Horses! Hooves! Studs! What are you thinking?!).
They say “the shorter the skirt, the lamer the horse” – but, if you end up in the holding box you’re going to have to do an awful lot of running. A short skirt and heels won’t save you then.
The trot-up is an elegant affair with a backdrop of a beautiful country house and all the horses polished to perfection. It’s a chance to express some personal style that can often remain hidden during competition, so enjoy it. If you have a looming trot-up and need some styling advice, let us know. We’d be delighted to help. In the meantime, here are our three takes on trot-up styling.
This is all about the equestrian chic. It’s Charlotte Casiraghi, Elizabeth Taylor, Jackie Onassis. A simple Oxford shirt or silk blouse and slim white or stone trousers paired with a tailored navy blazer and tan or black loafers. Add a silk scarf around your neck or in your hair for a dash of colour, and an elegant watch so you don’t have to worry about missing your slot, and you’re ready to go. Bonus points for having someone who’ll walk your horse while you’re waiting, just to be sure that your gleaming trousers don’t get dirty.
Culottes are everywhere at the moment, and for trot-up purposes they make a perfect alternative to a skirt or a dress. The right pair will swing and flow like a skirt, but you can run like Usain Bolt and they’ll stay with you. Mix up a sleek pair of culottes with a boxy pastel top or floaty blouse and you have a winning combination. For your shoes, go for a loafer or a brogue, or even a streamlined trainer in a metallic or soft shade. Again, make sure you’re wearing your watch. Sometimes with all the clip-clopping you might not hear your number being called.
This one is simple. Find one incredible jacket – we like military style for its nod to eventing’s roots, throw it over a crisp white shirt with a good pair of biker style jeans and a pair of excellent Chelsea boots (or your jodhpur boots, well polished) and you’re ready to rock this trot-up. (And you’ll stand out so much you won’t need a watch.)
Some final words of advice: Listen to your farrier. If he tells you to run fast or run slowly, do it, they usually know what they’re talking about. And don’t let go of your horse!