Having grown up taking riding lessons at a dressage barn 30 minutes from home, experimenting with different horses, riding in coordinated drill teams and performing on horseback in front of large audiences, I suppose you could say I had just the right amount of time to learn the art of colour-coordination via trial and error.
Having started lessons when I was 8, fashion wasn’t exactly a staple in my life, and my lesson horse for each designated week was often seen sporting an array of zebra stripes, tie-dye, cheetah print, and a variety of other funky (albeit not necessarily fashionable) assortments.
Now, 18 years later, I am a first-time horse owner of a gorgeous, blood bay OTTB with almost no chrome other than the tiniest star in between his eyes, and a pair of random white lines on his hind fetlock from an old injury. As someone who has now dabbled in the world of fashion, style, and beauty, colour-coordinating has become something I am somewhat obsessive over.
Which colours look best on which horses?
When broken down, there are four different coat colours that are most commonly seen on a horse and anything beyond (palomino, roan, buckskin) are typically within the family of one of the following. They include:
When it comes to colour-coordinating and choosing the best colours for your horse, whether you’re at home or in the show ring, it’s important to understand if your horse has a neutral colour (grey, white, black), or not. Neutrals can make any colour pop, and because it’s a neutral, your horse will look good in just about any colour, ranging from bright blues, greens and reds, to muted or pastel mints or blushes.
Do: Choose bright colours, pastels, or rich tones.
Don’t: Choose another neutral.
The ‘redhead’ category includes everything from chestnut to sorrels and even some horses that fall into the bay family but have warm undertones (think blood bays, for example). These horses don’t necessarily need to have a red mane, but many (excluding the bays) will.
The trick here is to use complimentary colours that would typically fall on the colour wheel for red and orange (warm colours), as your horse is warm-toned instead of cool-toned.
Do: Choose cool-toned colours like purple, blue, periwinkle for a stark contrast.
Don’t: Choose red, orange, or yellow as the main colour as it will wash out your horse, though you can certainly utilize copper or gold as accents in piping.
When talking about ‘brown’ horses, what I’m referring to are the cool-tone brown horses like dark bays, as opposed to the mahogany-toned blood bay we referenced above. In dark bay, or cool-tone horses, warm colours will really pop. Utilize copper, rust red, burnt orange, or even burgundy to make a statement in the show ring.
Do: Warm tone colours, reds, oranges, yellows, and all of their variations are good options for cool-tone horses.
Don’t: Pair a cool-toned horse with cool-toned colours. Putting navy on a dark bay isn’t going to do him any justice. Instead, consider utilizing a warm colour or take advantage of how dark he is and use a white accent colour if you really want him to pop.
Use your horse’s colour to his/her advantage and play with some different complimentary colour combinations to determine which colours work best on your equine partner.
What colours do you like to utilize best on your horse? Let us know by leaving a comment below – or better yet, post a pic on Instagram with the hashtag: #stablematesCC
Canter Couture is a new equestrian style and lifestyle column for equistinistas by Alyssa Winegarden. Alyssa is a former model, lifestyle blogger, social media influencer, and first-time horse owner of an OTTB gelding named Village. Her experience in the world of fashion, combined with her fifteen years in the equine world has given her a unique perspective of the equestrian lifestyle. Join Alyssa on Stable Mates as she explores the world of equestrian fashion, DIY barn decor, tack hacks, and all things Pinterest-worthy. You can follow Alyssa on Instagram and Twitter at @thealywolfe, and on her blog, thewolfandthewardrobe.com