Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Region 9 Dressage Championships - a spectator perspective

Our Saturday foxhunt got rained out (yay rain!), so I ended up driving to Houston to go to the Region 9 dressage championships to watch a few rides and try on formal coats.

Showgrounds at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center. It was so dark this was the only pic I took that turned out. Boo.

Because normal people drive 3 hours to try on dressage coats, right? This is the first USDF rated show I’ve been to in a million years, so I was very curious as to how people and horses were turned out. A few interesting notes:

  • Everyone wore black coats. I didn’t see a single grey or brown coat anywhere.
  • The upper-level riders all wore helmets (no top hats!), and the ladies all had bling on their helmets. The men did not. I didn’t see any bling on helmets for lower-level riders, although there were some SUPER blingy belts being sported!
  • There were an even number of plain browbands and browbands with bling.
  • Everyone had a white saddle pad (no piping) with a white fleece half-pad.
  • I saw two horses with running braids (instead of button braids).
  • The scores were surprisingly low, especially compared to the scores that Karen at Bakersfield Dressage reported at her regional championships. Intro, Training, and First level divisions were all won with a 65%. There were a lot of scores in the upper 50s, which surprised me for a championship.
  • White gloves are the norm, even at the lower levels. I’ve never worn white gloves – never felt like my hands were good enough.
  • The horses and riders were nice, but the arenas weren’t full of imported warmbloods (which I sort of expected). If Paddy and I ever qualify for the championships, I don’t feel like we would be outclassed. 

And now, on to my coat-trying-on extravaganza.

Nearly all the coats available were technical, washable fabric. While I can see this would be easier to care for, stretchier, and cooler, I also thought they really didn’t look that good. They aren’t lined (except for Pikeur and Cavallo) and they just look rumpled when they are on. Riders who were wearing technical coats sort of look like they had just slept in their coats. They didn’t have that sleek, tidy appearance that the lined lightweight wool coats (i.e. most of the shads, and the Pikeur coats) have.

I tried on the FITS coat (mesh panels under the arms, which I didn’t love), Pikeur Skarlett and another short, technical Pikeur, RJ Classics, a Cavallo (waaay too big all around, and not a good length for me) and two brands I didn’t recognize. Every coat I tried on that fit in the shoulders was too big everywhere else, including the sleeves. The long version of one of the coats fit much better on the waistline, but the tails were far too long and would need to be shortened (and it also looked really rumpled on me – another technical coat). So the upshot of all this coat-trying-on is… as everyone suggested in my coat post, I need to buy a coat that fits in the shoulders, and simply get the rest of the coat (including the sleeves) tailored. And I don’t love the look of the unlined technical fabric coats, no matter how cool they may be.

I almost – ALMOST – bought a gorgeous brown Kingsland coat, 100% Italian wool, on sale for over 50% off. The size 40 (US size 12) fit well in the shoulders (maybe a smidge big?) but was huge everywhere else – major tailoring would have been required. And while I think Paddy would look smashing in a brown coat (and brown is a great color on me too), I do not NEED a brown coat right now and cannot justify spending the money on one, even if it IS a Kingsland. Besides, I’d need a brown helmet to go with it, and I can’t justify buying one of those either. Alas.

Oh you beautiful thing... how I covet you! Image courtesy of Classic Equine.


So, I’m back to the Pikeur Diana. Now I just need to figure out what size in the shoulders, and in a Long or regular. I can’t go off the sizing of the coats that DID fit me this weekend, because every coat manufacturer makes a slightly different size for the same “size”. Gah! Of course, the Diana is a “traditional” style (i.e. longer) and somewhat hard to find, so this means ordering a bunch of different sizes (from a bunch of different tack stores) and trying them all on to find the best fit.  The search continues!

Despite not being able to find The Perfect Coat, it was a great trip and well worth the time. Plus I had sushi on the way home… can’t beat that!

25 comments:

  1. Things about this that are interesting to me --> No piping on saddle pads, and white gloves! White gloves?!? That is so weird to me.

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    1. I love my white gloves! They say "horse show" to me. They also remind me not to screw around with my hands too much...

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    2. @ Lauren, yeah, white gloves are a dressage "thing". Austen, maybe I should try riding in them to practice just to remind myself to keep my hands still!

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    3. Oh yes! White gloves are something you have to "earn" in dressage - they showcase your hands BIG TIME so you don't get to wear them until your hands are something you want to show off. The day I was told I should switch from black to white gloves was a highlight of my riding career!

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    4. I bought a pair 15 years ago when I was moving Cash up to 2nd level and never wore them. I still have them in their original packaging. Maybe someday!

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  2. Super fun! I love going to big shows! I'm also still actively watching your coat hunt (drooooool ... that Kingsland).

    Those test scores are super low! Do you know who the judges are? I wonder if that's normal for those riders ....

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    1. I know, I cry a little bit every time I look at that Kingsland picture. It's by far the prettiest coat I've ever seen. If it had been in black, I think I would have just said "screw it" and bought the damn thing. Pout.

      The judges are listed here: http://www.showsecretary.com/2014gaig_Reg9.asp. Mostly S judges and one R judge.

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  3. That coat is bea-u-ti-ful.

    Pockets and collar velvet? Is the lining satin? Looks satiny. Why is it you can't go brown again - because you would need black as well?

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    1. Yep, velvet pockets and collar. Satin lining. It's a very high-quality coat, and retails for somewhere between $500-600 US... IF you can find one. They're last year's model and now it's all about washable technical fabric. Pout.

      I could go brown (USDF rules allow it) but it just isn't really being done yet. And I'd need a brown helmet. For now I'd prefer a classic black outfit, and then later (when funds allow) maybe have a brown option.

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  4. Replies
    1. Me too! It was a good experience!

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  5. Very interesting! I still don't see any bling in the local dressage comps around here (Boo.) I want bling to become a dressage thing.
    And white gloves! One day I'll be confident enough to buy white gloves!

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    1. A little bling is nice, I agree! And yes, maybe one day I too will be confident enough to wear white gloves.

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  6. So cool! That Kingsland is SO fancy, too bad it isn't black :/

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    1. Isn't it just gorgeous? I SO covet that jacket...

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  7. The Kingsland is beautiful! I just bought a new Pikeur and am going to sell my Diana. It's a 12L, but I had the waist taken down to fit more like a ten. You're welcome to try it :)

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    1. Jodi, I will definitely contact you privately about that! Tori's got an 8L, but I'm not sure if it will fit in the shoulders... still trying to figure out what the "best" fit for a Diana is in the shoulders. I will let you know!

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  8. Replies
    1. I do too, but it is not to be. *cries*

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  9. sounds like a fun and productive outing, even if you didn't come home with the kingsland. good luck with the diana tho!! tailoring really can work miracles :)

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    1. I sure hope that tailoring can work miracles, because at this point it looks like it will take a miracle to fit me!!!

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  10. What a fab way to spend a Saturday. As you prefer euro coats, if it's cheaper to order & ship to a euro address; i will happily provide you with one and send the coat on to you after a stopover here.
    Happy shopping!

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    1. It's possible to find euro coats here, but they're definitely harder to find. I've got a few things in the works and we'll see if they work out, but if not I will definitely let you know!

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