Vicky Moon has been a passionate equestrian since she was seven years old. “It started when I found my mother’s tall black riding boots in her closet one day and became fascinated with her boots and riding breeches,” she recalls. As she got older, pony lessons quickly turned into full-blown participation on the horse show circuit. “Horses have always been a part of my life. I still own several horses and ride as often as possible,” she tells us, while on location in Saratoga Springs, New York, for the racing season.
Moon has chronicled equine lifestyle for years in magazines such as People, Town & Country and House and Garden, and in several books that she has published. Her latest book, The Stylish Life: Equestrian, is a beautifully illustrated hardcover tome that explores the charming world of equestrian sports, its legacy, iconic style and major events.
Here, the author shares her thoughts on what to wear, where to be seen and what to know about the world of equestrians.
S/: Why do you think the world of equestrian sports holds so much cultural fascination?
Vicky Moon: In my opinion, the fascination has to do with the traditions and the unfussy look—simple, clean lines for the fashion and classic, old artwork of horses, standing in their stalls or with the jockey. And I would be remiss not to mention that it oozes money and especially old money. The fact that the Queen of England has always been involved might give you a clue, too.
It’s interesting that you started by writing on the horse’s historical purpose, from farming to transportation to war. But now, horse riding isn’t a necessity but rather a hobby, or a sport. How do you think horses fit into today’s society and culture?
Horses fit into the culture today in the form of competition. The age-old sport of steeplechasing—which began between farmers racing their horses from one church steeple to the next—continues at race meetings around the world. Who has the fastest and best horse? In flat racing around the world, it’s who has the fastest horses? And at horse shows, whose horse can jump the highest? Three-day eventing and dressage competitions are also a factor. Each discipline has a different group of followers.
How has equestrian style evolved over the years?
The style has evolved from something strictly for those who actually do ride horses into the mainstream. Ralph Lauren deserves much of the credit for this with his various lines of clothing with logos of polo players and the tweeds that are used in riding jackets and the leather goods. Of course we should also mention the Gucci loafers with the brass snaffle bits.
You wrote a section on the importance of the royal family’s connection to the equestrian world. Do you think there is some degree of nostalgia we hold in this association for a bygone era of knights and princesses galloping on horseback?
Who says it’s bygone?
What is a foul-proof outfit to wear when attending a horse show or race?
Most important is not to over-dress or you might stand out as a newbie or trying too hard. A true horseman would wear old khaki pants, a blue oxford or blue stripe shirt and a blue blazer or tweet jacket with an old horse tie. Nothing is ever to look new or just from the store. For women, a nice skirt in the fall and a lovely old Hermes scarf would do the trick.
What is your advice to someone who wants to incorporate equestrian style into her everyday wardrobe, without looking too literal?
The scarf is the key—Hermes or Gucci. I like to tie mine into a knot in the middle and then wear it as a sort of necklace. It shows a hint of something horsey without screaming horse. Also, a nice gold bracket of snaffle bits or a simple gold pin.
Horses have been a constant source of inspiration for artists. Why do you think the horse makes for such a revered subject in visual arts?
The horse is very much like a ballet dancer with so many intricate movements of trotting, galloping and jumping. It’s not by chance that Edgar Degas loved to paint both.
Which horse event do you look forward to most each year?
Saratoga Springs, in New York. I’ve been coming here every summer for many years. It’s a step back in time, with big trees in the saddling area and lovely old stables on the backside. The town has a fabulous performing arts centre and the mineral baths have been attracting the swells since 1863. I like to say you can take a bath at the betting windows or at the bathhouses. All you have to do is visit one time and you’re hooked.
The Stylish Life: Equestrian by Vicky Moon (teNeues) is available now. Buy it here.