Let’s Discuss: Bling in the Ring

If you are an on-trend equestrian, you have probably noticed a bit of sparkle taking over your local tack store. Bling seems to be anywhere and everywhere, as the English disciplines learn the delights that Western pleasure riders have known for years.

Dressage queens have been adding a bit of shine to their game for some time, starting with incredibly subtle bits of glimmer, such as twinkling spur straps, and slowly but surely becoming emboldened over time. Bedazzled ear bonnet, browbands, saddles, and helmets are all currently en vogue at your average competition these days.

Subtle. (find them here.)

Jumpers have always had a lot of freedom when it comes to style, and eventers maybe more so. And while I haven’t noticed so much dazzle in the eventing world, it does peek in occasionally. Rhinestones adorning the cantle of a saddle, for instance, or along the stirrup leather keeper.


Less subtle.

For myself, I would be happy to leave the bling at home. Having just purchased the below bridle, I find myself cringing slightly when thinking of keeping all that flash clean. Instead I’m in the market for a toned-down browband with the same shape and a little less… that. Perhaps the fact that my horse already looks like a child’s plaything contributes to my not wanting to adorn him in all things twinkling, maybe I’m just not a blingy person.

The Kavalkade Mia Bridle

Where do you fall on the spectrum? Bring on the bling? Or go without? What trends have you noticed in your local arenas? What is the most outlandish, or your favorite sparkly trend you’ve seen? Do you have a favorite way to add some shine to your traditional riding gear?

23 thoughts on “Let’s Discuss: Bling in the Ring

  1. I’m not blingy either! Just not my thing, but it’s great others like it. I am also a weirdo that doesn’t like fancy stitch given the choice…

    • I heard about your recent saddle purchase! Are you just beyond excited?! Or do you need a glass of wine after making that financial decision ;P Maybe a Stubben therapy group needs creating ๐Ÿ™‚

      • I’m soooo excited!! And, yes, a therapy group that also consumes wine would be helpful! I may also have to start driving for Uber to pay for it…. ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜ฌ We all know who to blame for this.

  2. I like some bling, but not like… a helmet full of it. Granted, my horse is plain bay, so we can get away with a little bit of dress up. I do like the black rhinestones on my dressage bridle… it’s like… as boring as you possible make bling.

  3. I’m definitely NOT a bling person either. I mean, my horse’s colors are navy blue, hunter green, and black….not super adventurous there haha. The only bling I own is a single row of clear crystals on his navy fly bonnet, and even then I sometimes think that’s too blingy. I also don’t like bling on myself; I tend to keep my clothing, belts, gloves, spur straps and helmets on the subtle side.

  4. In theory I’m like ALL BLING ON EVERYTHING SPARKLES EVERYWHERE but when it comes time to actually spend the money I always end up with super conservative, plain gear. At first this was because I was planning to cross into the eq ring at some point, but now I just like having versatile gear that will stand the test of time.

  5. When I did the night jumpers at the Woodstock County Show back in high school, we blinged it up for that. But it was jumpers AND under the spotlights! I got an obnoxious purple sequined shirt to wear with my black breeches and wrapped her legs in purple polos, then did her hooves with purple glitter hoof polish. That’s about as blingy as I could ever see myself getting, lol.

  6. Not really a fan of bling. I started my riding career in Western Pleasure and maybe I got burned out on bling? It was also drilled into me from a young age never to wear a sparkly belt because it draws the judge’s eye and makes anything other than a perfectly level seat super obvious. So I think that thinking has trickled down to the rest of my conservative clothing choices. Bling is supposed to sparkle, right? And it sparkles when it moves? So why would I want to draw attention to my hands or legs when they’re supposed to be quiet and still? I also went into the hunters where being traditional is king and bling is…frowned upon. Now that I’m eventing, the only “bling” I have is on my dressage saddle pad and it’s a single row of silvery piping that is just a tiny bit shiny.

  7. i like my sparkle browbands a LOT lol. and both my bridles have charms on them. everything else tho? honestly pretty subdued.

    i think it matters more what the whole picture looks like in its entirety, vs each individual piece. like you mentioned – your horse already has a lot of natural flash that doesn’t necessarily benefit from dialing up the wattage. or like, if every single detail that could possibly bear a rhinestone has a rhinestone on it, or every single detail that can be color coordinated is color coordinated (bonnet, pad, boots, jacket etc)…. the effect can be a little strong. but i definitely like the occasional embellishment, esp if it helps to tie a look together.

  8. Maybe it’s the former western pleasure in me, but I like classy bling. Also matching all the things. Some sparkle on a browband or bonnet, a few on a saddle pad, I do love. I also just got a to die for pair of sparkly blingy Animos and I will wear them shamelessly, but they’re obviously just schooling breeches so I don’t feel like it matters. I don’t think I’d ever go like, full helmet bling, and I don’t even like a lot of the contrast on coats, but I’ll always have a soft spot for some well-placed sparkle.

    And someday maybe I’ll have a QH again and then I will 100% wear this: https://gohorseshow.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/AQHYAAug5-10.jpg

  9. I have so much bling for when I am at home schooling, but at shows not so much. If I were still in the jumpers, I’d have some sparkles, but in hunters your bling is your horse. It can be overdone, like anything, but I do like the look of subtle or tastefully done tone-on-tone rhinestones.

    I remember from h/j shows in the 90s there was basically no sparklies except some jumper riders would wear the western rhinestone concho belts and others would get that roll-on glitter from Bath & Body Works and roll it on their helmets or in their horses’ tails. Sparkles will find their way into show gear no matter what for some people.

  10. I like bling. Probably because Ollie is a plain bay and I need to dazzle him up sometimes but I am NOT opposed to some flashy looks in the white box. However, on XC… nothing annoys me more than people who over color coordinate! That definitely bothers me more than the bling!

  11. I’m not into the bling personally, either. That being said, I don’t mind looking at some subtle bling on a dark bay or black horse. Subtle being the key word ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. I like bling but then wrestle with when to break it out. Like the saddle pad I just bought, what scenario is sparkle worthy? I am not showing yet anyway but I feel it would be Too Much for the show ring yet it is too special just for home. I have a tastefully blingy black browband that I would use for a dressage show (whenever I finally get to one of THOSE!) but feel like it should be earned, not just for training level. So I’ll be in a rest home before it ends up out in public. ๐Ÿ˜‰ It’s languishing in a drawer along with my white gloves that I bought a bazillion years ago that I have never worn.

  13. I think bling done in a tasteful and subtle way can look sharp and fun, but I admit I inwardly cringe when I see a rider take it overboard. I get it, we all have different tastes, but I like things to look traditional too. I like my pretty browband in dressage and even bought an Annie’s Equestrienne dressage coat with small teal accents this year. Cross country gets a little more fun, but I like to take it back to classy in stadium. At home, all bets are off and I have bold saddle pads and whatnot haha! To each his (her) own. ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. I don’t mind if others have bling, but I am not a blingy person really. I do have a bridle with a single sparkle coat of arms looking thing and that is about it. I think it is like anything, if you over do it, it will look silly. I have seen blingy brow bands, blingy helmets, bling on the saddle pad all together on one horse and I felt it distracted me from actually watching the horse move. Just my thoughts. I wonder how it effects the judges?

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