Along with music, costumes and props help reinforce the style and tone of your ride.
Equestrian drill is not limited to any one discipline of riding, and this is reflected in the creative freedom teams have for their costuming. Costumes don’t have to be elaborate. Many teams start with matching t-shirts and pants (breeches or jeans) and work from there. The keys to a successful costume is that your team looks like they belong together and they are able to ride comfortably in what they’re wearing.
Teams that choose to showcase a breed or style of riding may decide to go back to traditional show ring attire to emphasize this. Show clothes can also be an easy option if everyone already has them. Some teams go the other way, and use drill as an opportunity to ride in bright colours with lots of sparkle. Making a statement (conservative or otherwise) is part of the fun!
Don’t forget: the horses’ tack is an important part of your team’s costume! While you don’t need everything to be exactly the same, do make an effort to look cohesive. Simple things like using the same colour of saddle pad on each horse, matching boots or wraps, and the same style of saddle all create a unified look.
Something to think about: The only time perfectly matching tack really matters is during a competition’s Colour Guard class, where a unit of four riders are judged on how identical they are, along with horsemanship and flag etiquette. Otherwise, you can probably get away with an all-purpose saddle on a dressage team, or a trail saddle in with barrel racing tack.
If you’re short a few items, consider borrowing or buying second hand. Many teams do fund raisers throughout the year to purchase costumes and tack without straining their members’ budgets.
Props are not a necessary piece to your drill routine, but they can add that something extra to help show off what your team can do. The most popular prop used by drill teams is flags or pennants. Riding with flags increases the level of difficulty since riders are now working with only one hand. Teams have incorporated jumps into their routines. Remember, if you’re working towards a performance, you’re only limited by your creativity. However, drill competitions may limit the types of props allowed in the ring so be sure to check the rules for whatever venue you’re riding at.


by Christine O'Reilly
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