Dressage: Competition Gear Must-Haves

Dressage: Competition Gear Must-Haves

Dressage, often referred to as "horse ballet," is a discipline that requires precision, elegance, and a strong partnership between horse and rider. To excel in the world of dressage, it's not just about skill and training; having the right gear is essential. 

In this guide, we'll explore the must-have competition gear that will help you and your equine partner shine in the dressage arena.

Essential Apparel

Dressage Coat

The dressage coat is the hallmark of a dressage rider's attire. It's typically a tailored, dark-coloured coat that exudes professionalism and elegance. While black is the traditional choice, dark blues and greys are also acceptable. Your coat should fit snugly but allow for freedom of movement.

White Breeches

White breeches are a dressage staple. They create a clean, polished look and are essential for competition. Look for breeches made from breathable, stretchy fabric to ensure comfort during your rides.

Tall Riding Boots

Tall riding boots not only provide excellent leg support but also contribute to the overall classic appearance required in dressage. They should fit your legs perfectly, without any wrinkles, and offer ample ankle support.


Gloves offer a better grip on the reins and help maintain a polished appearance. Opt for gloves that fit snugly but allow for flexibility. White or black gloves are the standard choices for dressage.

Top Hat or Helmet

While top hats were traditionally worn in dressage, safety considerations have led many riders to switch to helmets. In New Zealand, safety regulations often require the use of helmets during competitions. Ensure your helmet is certified for riding and fits securely.

Tack and Equipment

Dressage Saddle

Investing in a good dressage saddle is crucial for both you and your horse's comfort and performance. These saddles are designed to allow for a deep seat and long leg position, essential for proper dressage riding.

Bridle with Snaffle Bit

A snaffle bit bridle is commonly used in dressage. It provides precise communication with your horse and allows for subtle cues. Ensure the bridle fits well, and the bit is comfortable for your horse.

Girth and Girth Cover

A well-fitting girth is essential to keep your saddle in place during movements. A girth cover made of soft, breathable material can enhance your horse's comfort.

Stirrups and Stirrup Leathers

Stirrups with a wider footbed provide more stability. Ensure your stirrup leathers are of high quality and properly adjusted to your leg length.

Saddle Pad

Choose a saddle pad designed for dressage saddles. It should provide adequate cushioning without altering the saddle's fit. White or black is the preferred colour for competition.

Accessories and Extras

Stock Tie or Pre-Tied Stock

A stock tie adds a touch of elegance to your attire. You can opt for a traditional tie that you tie yourself or a pre-tied stock for convenience.

Spur Straps and Spurs

Spur straps should match your boots, and spurs should be chosen with care. They are used to provide subtle aids to your horse.

Whips and Crops

A dressage whip or crop can be a valuable aid during training and competition. It should be an appropriate length and used sparingly.

Hair Nets and Bun Nets

Neat and tidy hair is part of the dressage tradition. Hair nets and bun nets help keep your hair in place under your helmet or top hat.

Number Holder

A number holder attaches to your saddle pad and displays your competition number clearly. It's a small but important detail for judges and organisers.


A properly groomed horse

Grooming Supplies

Brushes and Curry Combs

Regular grooming is essential for your horse's health and appearance. Invest in a set of high-quality brushes and curry combs to keep your horse looking his best. 

Hoof Picks and Brushes

Clean hooves are crucial for your horse's well-being. A hoof pick and brush are standard tools in any grooming kit. 

Mane and Tail Brush

Maintaining a well-groomed mane and tail is part of the overall presentation in dressage. A good brush can help detangle and keep them looking sleek. 

Shampoo and Conditioner

Occasional baths keep your horse's coat in top condition. Choose a horse-friendly shampoo and conditioner to maintain a healthy shine. 


Keep a stack of clean, absorbent towels for grooming and cleaning tack. 

First Aid Kit

Basic First Aid Supplies

A compact first aid kit should include essentials like bandages, antiseptic wipes, scissors, and adhesive tape. 

Vet Contact Information

Always have your vet's contact information on hand, along with any necessary health records for your horse. 

Emergency Blanket

An emergency blanket can be a lifesaver in case your horse gets chilled or injured during transportation. 

Horse Health Records

Maintain a record of your horse's vaccinations, deworming schedule, and any medical history. 

Your Medications (if needed)

If you have any personal medications or medical supplies, ensure they are included in your first aid kit. 

Travel and Storage

Dressage Garment Bag

A garment bag is perfect for keeping your competition attire clean and protected during travel. 

Saddle Carrier

Invest in a saddle carrier to safeguard your valuable dressage saddle when on the move. 

Bridle Bag

A bridle bag keeps your bridle clean and well-organised during transportation. 

Equipment Trunk or Tack Box

For storing all your grooming supplies and equipment, consider an equipment trunk or tack box. It keeps everything organised and readily accessible. 

Trailer Safety Gear

If you transport your horse, ensure your trailer is equipped with safety gear, including proper ventilation, secure ties, and emergency exit provisions. 

Final Thoughts 

In the world of dressage, presentation and precision matter. The right gear not only ensures your comfort but also contributes to your overall performance. Whether you're a seasoned competitor or just starting your dressage journey, investing in these essential items will set you on the path to success.  

Remember, it's not just about looking the part, it's about creating a harmonious partnership with your equine companion in the pursuit of excellence in dressage. So, gear up, ride on, and enjoy the world of competitive dressage in New Zealand! 

If you’re looking for high-quality dressage equipment and horse supplements, consider exploring the range of products offered by us here at Equine America NZ. Our extensive selection of products along with performance-enhancing supplements provide you with suitable options to support your horse’s overall health and performance.

Please give us a call at Equine America NZ today at 0800 440 888 to learn more or leave an enquiry.