Further to the incredibly exciting news that I have been given the privilege of dressing International 4* Event Rider Imogen Murray for the first Horse Inspection of Burghley Horse Trials later this week (see Introducing…), I’m finally releasing my Trot Up style guide! The Horse Inspection (also known as the trot up) is where the course vet confirms the horses are sound to start, or continue on to the next round of competition and has, in recent years, become much more of an attraction. A catwalk (or rather, horsewalk) where spectators and press look for fashion inspiration from their idols and with prizes on offer for the best dressed riders, there’s definite competition to look the best! For the riders, the majority of the event is obviously spent in riding boots and jodhpurs so the trot up offers a rare chance to get dressed up and showcase their individual style. So I really am honoured to be picking Imogen’s outfit for her! But you’ll have to wait until Wednesday to see what she’ll be wearing. In the meantime though, I’ve picked out my top trot-up style picks and tips to ensure you can be top of the style stakes at Burghley this year, whether you’ve got a horse in tow or simply spectating.
Burghley lies at the perfect time for me; the beginning of September symbolises the start of Autumn which is my favourite season and certainly my favourite wardrobe to choose from. Gorgeous tweed coats, boats and cosy jumpers in burnt oranges, neutrals, browns and tans are always my autumn/winter staples, so my outfit planning has gone into overdrive with all of the beautiful new season clothes just released in time for the horse trials!
I’ve tried to narrow down my top picks to just a few but it’s been so difficult – I know Burghley is primarily a place to watch the very best equestrian sport (something with is even more exciting this year following our Team GB Gold medal at the FEI European Eventing Championships just a couple of weeks ago), but it rivals even the best towns and cities for shopping. All of my outfits have been chosen from companies who will be exhibiting at Burghley, so if anything takes your fancy (I don’t see how it couldn’t!) then you’ll be able to locate it during the event.
So…to my top picks
As with every style guide here at A Girl About Country, the focus is three fold – stylish (obviously, this is supposed to be a country style blog!), practical and quality. The practical element is really important to me, particularly for an occasion such as a trot up. There is absolutely no point in picking something that hinders your safety or (perhaps more importantly!), your horses safety. Imagine getting all the way to Burghley, only to roll your ankle because your 4* event horse wasn’t plodding along the track waiting for you to keep up in your skyscraper heels. Or worse still, wear a skirt that’s too short or restrictive in movement so you can’t actually take a full stride…it may land you in the press but definitely for the wrong reasons! Quality is also important here too, all of the items I’ve picked have been with quality in mind – you’re going to be wearing these clothes around horses, temperamental horses at best and naughty ones at worst, so your clothes need to be able to stand up to challenge.
So to demonstrate that all of the products I’ve picked can stand up to the challenge and give you a proper first hand review, I’ve roped in some (very!) amateur trot up stars – my wonderful girls Ali and DD…
It’s really important to remember that horses are going to be involved in a trot up, so certain footwear is off-limits if you want to keep your toes! As always, I try to advocate practical style that looks fabulous but is fit for purpose, so my advice would be to wear fully covered shoes or even better, boots to keep your feet safe. I have been the unlucky recipient of many horses standing on my feet and let me tell you, it’s not pleasant, so protection is important!
Another thing to remember – a trot up is just that, so it involves some running usually over gravel. So make sure the shoes you pick are 1. comfortable and 2. actually fit you. I would also advise that you have worn your shoes a few times beforehand so there’s no chance of unwanted blisters that you will have to run on if you want to keep hold of your horse!
A Tailored Jacket
The weather is completely unpredictable during Burghley week, it’s entirely possible to experience brilliant sunshine or pouring rain so a jacket is a must. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I have a slight obsession with coats and jackets…in fact I rather embarrassingly have a whole wardrobe dedicated to them (well, the weather isn’t exactly tropical here in the UK is it?!). I’ve specified a tailored jacket here for a few reasons; horses (particularly those fit enough to compete at this level) are unpredictable and full of energy – don’t give them a reason to spook or shy by having a jacket undone and flapping around. A tailored jacket or coat also adds a flattering shape to any rider, so it’s also important from a style perspective!
Accessorise for the win!
Outfit options are relatively restricted when it comes to trot up style because they have to be chosen with the main focus in mind – getting your horse through the trot up without impairing their ability to trot up sound. Clothing and shoes must be appropriate for being around horses and suitable to run in, after all you wouldn’t choose a short fitted skirt or high heels to run alongside your horse on any other day, so why would you for the trot up! So my biggest piece of style advice is to accessorise – that way you can inject your own personality into any outfit without compromising your safety. There are so many different options to choose with accessories, meaning the plainest of outfits can be instantly transformed in so many different ways which is usually how I add some personality to my own outfits.
The key to nailing trot up (or spectator) style is practicality. There have been many riders in the spotlight for the wrong reasons on trot up day over the years because their first thought has been fashion. Remember, you will be handling horses so you must dress appropriately to remain as safe as possible. That doesn’t mean you have to dress as though you’re heading down to the yard though, there’s so many amazing brands out there that have been designed around country and equestrian life that we really are spoilt for choice. I mean, was your first thought ‘oh that looks practical’ for any of my outfit picks? It certainly wasn’t mine! And yet they all are practical. I have been dragged across the field after Ali took a dislike to the camera tripod and DD decided she didn’t want to model anymore but instead took a hike to say hello to her cow friends in the field next door, that I can honestly say everything here has really stood up to the challenge.
My other piece of advice, wear something you feel comfortable and confident in, you need to focus on your horse passing the inspection otherwise it’s a very long journey home! So all your energy needs to be there, rather than you feeling insecure or worried that you look rubbish (which you won’t by the way – but there’s no worse a feeling). Dress for the weather, which is unpredictable at best during Burghley week! Layers are always a good option and mean your outfit can stay relatively unchanged despite the every changing forecast.
I can’t wait for you to see what Imogen is wearing…make sure you stay tuned to find out. I’ll be taking over the Burghley Instagram page on Wednesday with lots of backstage gossip and behind the scenes footage, including Imogen’s trot up outfit, so I really hope you can join me then! X