Black is no longer the new black in dressage.
The FEI started it last year, to allow more instant recognition of riders by spectators… and besides, now sponsored riders can wear the company colors. The USEF followed suit this year, and their approved colors are the same as the FEI. This means that in dressage, where the idea of daring color sense has been to wear a midnight blue tailcoat instead of black, we will now see both short jackets and shadbellies in a veritable rainbow of (subdued) colors.
But there has been some confusion among the members of both organizations about just what colors are allowed. Gee, I can’t imagine why, what with the rule (FEI Article 427) reading like a thesis on the physics of color. I work with color every day: color is my livelihood. And I’m a pretty technical-minded artist, but even my eyes glazed over when I tried to decipher it.
And the new Allowed Jacket Colors for Dressage are…. First I’ll have to explain some basic Color Theory – but don’t worry, this won’t hurt a bit!
Color is described with three components:
- Hue – what color it is, such as red, blue, yellow, etc. Choose a number from 0 to 360 and it will describe a spoke on the color wheel.
- Saturation – how vibrant the color is. 0% Saturation = grey, and 100% Saturation is Oh-Dear-Me-That’s-So-Bright-It-Hurts-My-Eyes.
- Value – how light or dark the color is. 0% Value = black and 100% Value + white.
These three things are combined in what’s called the HSV color chart.
The FEI and the USEF allow jackets that are a color Value of 0% t0 32%…. of any Hue or Saturation, as long as the Value falls within that range. Basically, any dark color. Why the Mother Ships didn’t just say, any dark color, I have no idea.
For easy reference, Yafla makes a cool little color picker. Just click on it and enter 32 in the Value box, then slide the Hue and Saturation sliders around to your heart’s content. It’s easier than me trying to describe Eggplant, Heliotrope, Sienna, Burnt Umber, etc. Just remember that unless your monitor has been color calibrated, the colors you see may not be completely accurate.
So far at shows this year I’ve seen just a few people dabbling their toes in the color palette. I’ve even spied a few pinstripes and window panes, too. But I’m looking forward to seeing more of you out there in living color!