Horse Costume Class Tips


Horse show costume classes can be great ways to bond with your horseDoesn’t everyone like to play dress-up? And what horse lover hasn’t spent at least a few hours fussing over a pretty pony? By participating in a horse show costume class you will get the opportunity to have some creative fun with your horse, yet still enjoy the competitive challenge of competing for a ribbon. Here are some helpful tips to get you going.

Before you plug in your hot glue gun, choose appropriate costumes for you and your horse. Duos are a good choice, with you playing one role and your horse playing the other. Examples of possible duos include: Bride and groom, angel and devil, farmer and cow, Santa and reindeer, zoo animal and safari guide, and princess and prince. Of course, while envisioning the wardrobe possibilities, you also have to ask yourself, “Do I want to sew?” The more elaborate the costume—particularly the horse’s outfit—the more likely you’ll have to design an original pattern using tracing paper, then sew it together.

Once you’ve settled on a concept, take a trip to the local craft store. The easiest fabric to use for costumes is felt, which you can purchase by the yard. Felt comes in a variety of colors and is inexpensive and durable. At the same time, shop for any embellishments you might need that can’t be found around the barn or lurking in your back closet. Feather plumes and boas, washable water-based paints, spools of ribbon, holiday decorations and artificial flowers can all contribute to a festive costume. If you’re planning to use props, make sure you can gather them up long before you need them. Otherwise, you’ll be frantically searching for hard-to-find items like a giant baby bottle or a pair of silly plastic sunglasses the night before the event.

As you hunt for the perfect costumes, don’t neglect safety issues. If your horse will be wearing any sort of mask, be certain the eye holes are large enough so they don’t impair his vision. Refrain from using any prop that has sharp edges or rigid metal rods, just in case you or your horse take a tumble. Don’t use any item that is toxic (your horse might get the munchies during the judging procedure) or could be caustic to your horse’s skin or hooves. Glitter, for example, should only be applied using glue that will wash off with mild soap and water, or use glitter spray and hoof polish designed specifically for horses.
Finally, do a dress rehearsal. The costume class is not the place to discover that your horse is adamantly opposed to wearing a Batman cape, or that he will not tolerate ribbons festooning his tail. Because horses are herd animals, if one determines that a costume class is a very scary place the event could explode into a wild melee. 

With some imagination and planning, you can keep your costume class adventure fun—and safe!

Further Reading
Halloween on Horseback
Horses in disguise

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Cindy Hale’s life with horses has been filled with variety. As a child she rode western and learned to barrel race. Then she worked as a groom for a show barn, and was taught to harness and drive Welsh ponies. But once she’d taken her first lessons aboard American Saddlebreds she was hooked on English riding. Hunters and hunt seat equitation came next, and she spent decades competing in those divisions on the West Coast. Always seeking to improve her horsemanship, she rode in clinics conducted by world-class riders like George Morris, Kathy Kusner and Anne Kursinski. During that time, her family began raising Thoroughbred and warmblood sport horses, and Cindy experienced the thrills and challenges of training and showing the homebred greenies. Now retired from active competition, she’s a popular judge at local and county-rated open and hunter/jumper shows. She rides recreationally both English and western. Her Paint gelding, Wally, lives at home with her and her non-horsey husband, Ron.


  1. Costume classes are great! I dressed up my horse as Little Red Riding Horse one year and I was the wolf dressed as the grandmother. Great article!

  2. I have competed so many times in costume class. This year with my horse i was a taco and mary had a monkey like whiplash from taco johns on a mexican blanket. We won alot in the shows. It is really fun. You guys should try it!

  3. i never thought to use the glue gun. hopefully now i can start puting the dumbo out fit together. i can’t wait the other horses will probably spook when they see the huge ears moving.

  4. hello i have a questions about the costumes is there a spasific non toxic paint to use on horses. i know they make it but where do i find it. would i find horse paint at the craft store or a pet store or a horse store. where?

  5. hey jill richmond why not make him look like hes in a stall or make him look like hes a giant a cant fit in a barn by making a barn to put over his mack and it almost reaches the ground

  6. I did a Halloween class at my first horse show three years ago. I must say, a dress rehearsal is a must. The horse in front of me spooked at his sombrero as the Mexican jumping bean, and things got crazy fast. Even though my first try was a bust, I would love to do it again.

  7. my friend was doing a costume class and she was some kind of spanish girl and the horse was a camel and our other horses were trying to run away from him and he’s just standing looking lazy. It was so funny and crazy!


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