If you’re unsure or confused about what to wear for your exam, read my top tips below.
I find some candidates don’t think ahead about what to wear and come the day of the exam, their jodhpurs haven’t been washed and the jacket worn at a competition last year suddenly doesn’t fit!
Then there are the candidates who have every intention of looking smart, even purchasing new equipment before the exam, but then find it doesn’t quite fit or it’s uncomfortable. This can of course fluster or worry even the calmest of candidates.
I’ve tried to think of every eventuality below – so you don’t have to!
Make sure you are comfortable in the clothes you will be wearing for the exam.
Obviously we don’t always ride in our hacking or show jackets, shirt, gaiters or long boots. If you’ve bought new clothing for the exam then practise riding in it – for example, new leather boots will be stiff, which can affect your position. If you have a new jacket, check all the pleats and pockets are not stitched together. Practise riding in your jacket to make sure it fits and doesn’t restrict your riding in any way. Even consider what shirt you will wear – I find that a clever tip is to buy a shirt that’s slightly too big, so it won’t ride up and become untidy when jumping.
Ensure you arrive looking smart, clean and presentable.
Although it’s not essential, a hacking jacket is preferred, but make sure your tie or stock is tied properly (a tie is often easier). Also keep your hair in a comfortable hairnet and tied back if it’s long.
Dress for the weather and bring a spare set of clothes.
Weather is unpredictable so come prepared for any eventuality. Even on a hot day I’d recommend a long-sleeved shirt – as you won’t be allowed to ride without your arms covered, you may be more comfortable in this than having to put your jacket back on. For the stable management and non-riding units of the exam, bring warm, practical clothing. Check what type of gloves you have. Are they suitable for hot or cold weather? It’s also better to wear dark gloves instead of white. They stay cleaner for longer and can also give the impression of a more steady contact when riding as they don’t catch the assessor’s eye so easily.
Check your hat silk is secure on your hat.
A silk that is too large may fall off and make you feel self-conscious or could slip, which can give the illusion you are crooked.
Ladies – consider your underwear!
So many candidates suddenly become nervous and self-conscious when they realise their dark or patterned ‘lucky bra’ can be seen through their white shirt.
Although I refer to wearing jackets with a shirt and tie, this isn’t essential, although they will help to ensure you look smart. Being around horses isn’t a clean hobby, but BHS Exams are vocational qualifications and prepare you for work; dress smart and it makes a good impression on the assessors that you are professional in your approach.