How To Spot a Horse Hubby: Three Horse Show Fashion Faux Pas

In Fashion

Going pantless always seems like a great idea.  Don't do it.
Going pantless always seems like a great idea. Don’t do it.
In the most recent episode of the Horse Husband edition of Horses in the Morning, Glenn the Geek and I were joined by Rick Wallace and Briggs Surratt for a conversation about horse husband fashion. When asked about what it is about horse husbands that makes them so easy to spot, Rick said

I think there are a lot of things wrong when you see a horse husband coming, but you have to let it go, because they are there doing their part. But what they don’t realize is that you can be dirty with nice things on and look better, or you can be dirty with bad things on and look worse.

Why should horse husbands be more careful when considering their horse show wardrobe? In the first place, we need to admit to ourselves that there is a sense in which we are ‘arm candy’ for our wives. Even as they pay us little attention, they are delighted to have us there, and are proud of us for everything we do. They like to be able to point to us and to praise us for our support, and would prefer to do so without the slightest hint of embarrassment.

Beyond mere appearance, however, the fashion choices we tend to make are poor for other reasons. The decisions we make for convenience are, in many cases, anything but. By following Rick’s simple advice, we horse husbands can keep it classy without sacrificing either comfort or our pocket books.

1. Fishing Shirts

Elisa Wallace & Timothy Harfield at Chattahoochee Hills. Photograph courtesy of Rebecca Bowman.
Elisa Wallace & Timothy Harfield at Chattahoochee Hills. Photograph courtesy of Rebecca Bowman.

On those hot summer days, a fishing shirt seems like the best idea in the world. Loose-fitting and well-ventilated, easy to pack and to wash, What’s not to love? The fact that they are so common-place among other gents at the horse show only serves to support the fact that they are a great idea. right?

Wrong.

One day last year, I bought, packed, and wore a couple of these shirts at an event. After making fun of me for days, my wife has strongly suggested that I keep these garments in the closet for now on. Not only are they actually ugly (fish and drinking buddies may not care, but fit for the runways of Milan they are not), but they are also potentially terrifying for horses. The first lesson that we learn about horses is that they are not particularly fond of flags and umbrellas. How much do you think they appreciate a man with a parachute on his back?

What’s the alternative? Simply wear a cotton, long-sleeved, button up sport shirt. A pattern will help to hide stains from manure and horse drool. Consider tucking in a tie for added impact.

2. Blue Jeans

Timothy Harfield, Elisa Wallace, Rick Wallace, and Briggs Surratt at the 2015 Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials
Timothy Harfield, Elisa Wallace, Rick Wallace, and Briggs Surratt at the 2015 Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials

Blue jeans are out. Khakis are in. Dark colored khaki’s don’t show dirt as much as jeans. They are also significantly cooler and easier to move around in.

A mistake that a lot of guys make, says Rick Wallace, is that they buy pants with a flat or saggy butt. Especially for men with little going on in the rear-end department, it may be tempting to buy pants that ‘cover up’ the problem. This is a mistake. Instead, a more fitted look will let you show off what your mama gave you, and give you added mobility to boot.

3. Tennis Shoes

Tennis shoes are rookie mistake that all too often goes uncorrected. In tennis shoes, your feet WILL get wet and dirty. You will be miserable. I have written before about the best gift my wife ever gave me, which continues to save my feet ’til this day. But Rick suggests another option: Aileen Country Boots by Ovation. They rival the iconic Dubarry Galway Country Boot in terms of waterproofing and comfort, but at a fraction of the cost. Being fashionable doesn’t mean being uncomfortable, but it also doesn’t mean breaking the bank.

The single-most important piece of fashion advice for horse husbands is this: do what makes you comfortable.
The single-most important piece of fashion advice for horse husbands is this: do what makes you comfortable.
Remember that the goal of all this is comfort. No one likes soggy feet or an overheated undercarriage, and feeling dirty at the end of the day sucks. If a fishing shirt, blue jeans, and tennis shoes is your thing, then go for it! The most important thing, as Rick Wallace insists, is that us horse husbands get out there and give our full support. At the end of the day, rocking a tie and a flat cap might make you feel less dirty, and just a little sassy. But then again, it might not. The key is to dress smart, according to how you want to feel, and in a way that allows you to survive the horse show with as little discomfort as possible. Your clothes should empower rather than encumber.

And above all, don’t take yourself so seriously. What I love about Rick’s sensibility is that, in addition to practicality, it also emphasizes play. “Wear the ugliest tie you own. What looks terrible at the office will look amazing at a horse show.” Mix and match patterns. Wear something that is just a little bit unconventional. Where else but at a horse show do we have the opportunity to be both dapper and dirty at the same time?


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