Turnout Mistakes #2
Carriage Turnout
Youth Drivers

Turnout Mistakes #2

You all liked my first post on our Turnout faux pas, so I thought you might want to see some more.  (Apparently, I am a slow learner when it comes to dressing myself and others…[rolls eyes].)

You’ve already had an introduction to “the big white seat” in the first Turnout article.  We first used it with this little mare, Dolly.  Her dark chocolate coat contrasted so well with her flaxen mane and tail.  At 31”, Dolly was so cute and super easy to drive.  I had a junior drive her at her first show. 

Her turnout actually looked pretty good from the front, but we hadn’t yet been introduced to the fully wrapping aprons, and therefore she had “duck tails” from the back. 

You can also see how the cushion “curls” up on the sides with the driver sitting on it.  This is because the foam we used was just simple foam from the craft store instead of high-density foam.  (I will address more seat issues later.)  

Oh, how I enjoyed wearing my vests, especially on a hot day.  That was before I knew that nobody cares whether or not you are comfortable in a Turnout class!  (Ok, on super hot days, judges will sometimes make coats optional, but I digress.) 

I think I generally wore the vests for Reinsmanship and obstacle classes, but remember the saying your mother used to use when she was pulling on your hair to put it in curlers or braid it?  “It hurts to be beautiful.”  So, suck it up and put on the coat!  I have learned that those vests coupled with the polyester blouse were not cooler anyway, because you are still basically wearing plastic.  I now wear a fitted cotton shirt under my coat, or I also have a mock turtleneck show shirt (in the photo below with the marathon vehicle).  I tried wearing nothing under the coat once, but my sweaty back and shoulders stuck to the lining of the coat like a fruit roll-up on the cellophane! 

In the photo below, I think there was a chance of rain, so I left my plastic seat cover on the vehicle for this obstacle class.  That is also probably why I am wearing my helmet.  There is no use ruining a good hat in the rain for an obstacle class.  I now have a better helmet that doesn’t make me look like such a “mushroom head”.  This turnout is again, just boring and cheap looking with nothing that really ties me to the vehicle.

Recently, there was a show where the judge announced that coats were optional, and I did take her up on it.  (Technically, there is no rule about ladies wearing coats, so I was perfectly within the rules to leave it off.)  The temp at this show was about 90 some degrees in the afternoon, and this was a Working Pleasure class in the Utility Division. I had wore my coat earlier for the Turnout class in the morning.  I still wore my apron and gloves, and I also kept the scarf to tie in a little better with the hat.  In leaving the coat off, I risk the ultra-elegant look of my pasty white, fleshy arms jiggling on the vehicle, becoming a distraction to all those who gaze upon my turnout.  Thank goodness the mare worked great and we won the class anyway.  :-)

To continue the discussion of clothes for hot weather, I have also found that wearing a skirt (not a fan, but I can stomach it for showing) can be cooler instead of wearing full slacks.  I have also been known to wear knee high nylon stockings with my skirt under my apron.  It’s not a sexy look without the apron, but you do what you have to on a hot day and hope the judge doesn’t lift your apron! (I've never had that happen, but I have heard it has.)  Make sure that you can’t see underneath your apron from the back if you are going to wear short stockings!  I'm not a fan of going "stockingless" as it seems that the required closed-toed shoes stick uncomfortably to my feet.  Also, I now try to avoid felt hats on a hot, summer day.  They just look out of place no matter if they go with your turnout or not.  Straw is much cooler and more appropriate.  Melting under your hat just isn’t a good look.  There are also cooling beanies that competitors can wear under their hats/helmets to stay cooler.  I did have a competitor that asked me if it would look silly for her to wear the beanie without her hat because she was cooler with it on than with it off!

Then we have the opposite extreme of the cold day.  I had brought along this Pendleton wool coat to this show really with not much plan to use it, UNTIL it ended up being a cold, damp fall day.  So I put on my heaviest wool coat and my heaviest apron.  Unfortunately, what I really needed was an appropriate rain/trench coat.  (I have one now just in case.)  There is too much “pattern” in this coat that fights with the plaid apron.  The blue also fights with the "light brown" of the cart.  It's a cold color while the rest of the turnout is warm.

Below, I bring you more of my “test drives” of my turnouts before the show.  This is pretty much my standard mode of operation now for a new turnout.  I again bought this coat at a resale store with the assumption that it would look great with my new blue cart.  Actually, the coat color itself really isn’t that bad, its just that the shape is really frumpy.  There was a lot of material in that coat!  After reviewing this photo, I did not show in this turnout.  I think the coat went back to the resale store.  (No, I didn't get a refund.)

Apparently, I did not "test drive" the turnout below, because although the horse looks amazing and we won this obstacle class, it doesn't look like there is too much to celebrate with the virtually all black "funeral" look.  The scarf has cream, light brown, and gray in it, so I thought it would match with the "light brown" cart and the gray hat.  However, from 20 feet away or more (where the judge is), the whole turnout just looks dismal.  But I wanted to wear that gray hat and tried to find a way!

This is later that year at Walnut Hill 2010.  I had seen the photo above and decided to try again.  This is better, but again quite informal with the vest.  I only wore this turnout for this obstacle class.  I love the horse's elevation, but I'm not a fan of the turnout.  :-( 

Below is a close up of this turnout which actually looks like it matches...but only from the front. When you are doing your dress rehearsal, be sure to look at your turnout from all sides!  (Our son, Kyle, wanted to "drive" at Walnut Hill, so we let him drive in the warm up arena.)

You can also see above how Alax's mane is having a bad day.  Alax likes the front of his mane on the left side normally, and will shake it over there when you aren't looking, so we have to really plaster it down for shows.  I have tried to braid it, but his mane is so thick that it just seems to pull out before we get into the ring no matter what we do.  So now I "cob" it.  I got this idea from showing our Welsh Cob, and I really like it.  It is clean, neat, healthy looking, and super easy!

I undercut the mane to take off some width, and then trim it to the length of four inches or so.  The night before the show, I wet down his mane, soak it in Quic Braid, and put on a stretch hood. The next morning, Alax's mane is fully plastered down.  We run a mane comb through it to fluff it just a little and we're done! 

One more example of a “dry run” before the show.  This is my sister who drove our little sorrel mare.  The thing about sorrel horses is that because they have the orange tones, they tend to look pretty good in the complementary green.  She was given the hat and apron by a carriage driving friend, and we worked on the rest of the turnout with what was in my closet.  First, we started with the vest and blouse.  That blouse was too emerald green to go with that mare and chestnut stained vehicle.  It is "cold" and the turnout is "warm".  So that was eighty-sixed. 

Then we tried the more forest/olive green coat, which looked better, but the yellow in the scarf just popped out like she was wearing a goldfinch around her neck! 

The final photo is what we settled on, but we tucked the scarf in a little more for the show.  The scarf is basically just a cream base with forest green.

What a difference changing out one scarf does! :-0  She placed 2nd of 7 with this turnout.

I am a big fan of sticking to just one “color” in a turnout.  I see too many people who say have a vehicle of one color or even two colors, and then have a coat of different color, and a scarf of yet another color.  Sorry, but all I can think about when I see such a turnout is Rainbow Brite. I have photo examples but won't embarrass my friends by "picking on them" publicly.

More on the squooshy seat cushion.  At some point, I learned more about carriage upholstery (not historical upholstery, but practical and current), and we started using high-density marine foam like is used for boat cushions.  I also learned that in order to keep the cushion from curling on the sides, the base has a plywood bottom that helps keep it ridged.  So, we redid the seat on my show cart below.

I’m sure that there are a multitude of ways that carriage upholsterers build their cushions, but this worked for us.  Since the blue cart has a spares box under the seat, it is not screwed on from the underside, but we do have carts where the seat cushion is more permanently attached in this manner.  I use thick rubber shelf liner between the seat cushion and the vehicle box to keep the seat from sliding and scratching the paint. This turnout above was discussed more in the first post.

Lastly, I will mention my disasters with the gentlemen in my family. In the first photo, Chad’s turnout isn’t really all that bad except for that hat.  The brim is way too small, and a judge actually said something about it. 

The next year, we got a better hat with a larger brim that looks more current in style and in better scale.  (Chad's favorite hat is actually a straw in the last photo of the other post.)  The bad thing about the turnout in the photo below is something you probably have already picked out…Kyle’s big white helmet. 

I will say that it wasn’t my fault!  I had packed a black helmet cover and coat for Kyle, but when it came time to get dressed for the Father’s Day class at the Columbus Carriage Classic, Kyle was not having it!  He knew that coat and helmet cover were going to be hot and there was no way he was putting them on!  (He’s always been a fairly practical child…😊)  So we picked our battles and sent them in the class without those accoutrements.  To this day, Kyle is still not going to put on more clothes than is necessary and won’t drive in pleasure shows as a result.  He will groom for someone else once in a while but loves to navigate in CDEs where he can wear short sleeves and no helmet cover!  The last photo is Kyle being a little older and super happy that he has to wear hot clothes in June to groom for a friend’s tandem!  (He was also thrilled about getting his picture taken...)  We could have also figured out a way to tuck up the bight of that helmet harness so it wasn't dangling.  I see a lot of junior helmets that would look great if only for the want of a black rubber band in a strategic location!


Truly, a smile finishes a perfect turnout! 



Feb 20, 2020
Myrna Rhinehart

We call that a Country Gig. We built it for a friend and his gray Welsh pony, but bought it back when we bought this mare and he decided to show his minis instead.

Feb 20, 2020

What kind of cart is the one in the very last photo here?

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