Why Do Girls Wear Horse Show Hair Bows?


Have you ever wondered why kids have to wear certain parts of a horse show outfit? Read on to learn about horse show bows and why young equestrians often wear them.

Horse Show Bows Devon
Photo Credit: Dan Stasiorowski

As you pack your horse show bag the night before a horse show, if you have a kiddo with long hair, you will want to make sure you include a pair of horse show bows in your bag. Actually, I always recommend keeping a spare pair of bows in your bag, just in case you forget them, or one breaks, or a friend needs to borrow them.

Equestrians have been wearing their hair in braids and ribbons for decades. However the bows themselves have evolved over time. We used to tie simple strands of colorful yard or ribbon on the ends of our bows for bows. These days bows have gotten pretty fancy and can be made or bought in an array of colors and designs.

Who Needs to Wear Horse Show Bows?

Typically junior riders under age 13 will wear horse show bows. Of course, this depends on their hair length. If the rider’s hair is long enough to be braided in 2 braids (or even 2 small pigtails), bows are a good accessory.

If hair is too short to pull into braids, the rider should collect her hair in a hair net.  Once a rider turns 13, the bows are typically retired for a hair net.

How Big Should the Bows Be?

Horse show bows can be colorful and full, but should not be too big. As far as length of the bows goes, a good rule of thumb is that you never want the braids and bows to cover the rider’s number on her back. If you add the bows and the number is blocked, you can fold the braids up, sort of overlapping them and eliminating some length.

Lily Show Bows

Why Do Riders Wear Bows in Horse Shows?

Thanks to the similar look of a traditional horse show outfit, one rider looks pretty similar to the next. From the tan jodhpurs to the black helmet and dark jacket and boots, it’s not an outfit that offers many opportunities to personalize.

Horse show bows offer a fun way for riders to show off their personality.

What Color Bows Should You Wear?

Since bows are a fun way to show off a little bit of the rider’s personality, you can wear whatever color bows you’d like. Maybe go with favorite colors or colors that coordinate with the rider’s hair color or pony’s coat color. Is there a holiday on or near the horse show date? Perhaps coordinate with holiday colored bows.

Dressage Festival Lily Bows

Where Can I Buy Horse Show Bows?

Pairs of bows marketed specifically to equestrians have become more popular in recent years. We usually buy our bows from local tack shops, or Etsy is also a great place to look. Our favorite Etsy bow maker is Bows to the Shows. We have bought several pairs from them over the years.

You can even try your hand at making horse show bows.

Lily feeding pretzel


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