Dress Up a Horse

black and white illustration of a knight on a horse and native american on a horse

Horses  have played an important role in history. For thousands of years—and around the world—horses have changed how people work, travel, trade goods, play sports, and even wage war.

Throughout time, people have dressed horses in different ways. Depending on the culture, this gear has been used for practical reasons, to reflect status or wealth, or both.

Play with paper cutouts of six riders and styles of horse gear from different world cultures. Just follow the instructions below!

What You'll Need

  • Light cardstock and regular printer paper
  • Scissors
  • Crayons, color pencils, and/or markers
illustration of horse

A Horse
(PDF Download)

illustration of rider and horse in tradtional dress

6 Styles of Riders and Horse Gear (PDF Download)

  • European Knight
  • Kentucky Derby Champion
  • Native American Woman of the Plains
  • Sakha Woman
  • Japanese Samurai
  • West African Horseman

What To Do


Print the horse on light cardstock. Then print the six styles of rider and horse gear on regular paper.


Color your horse. Then color each rider and his or her horse gear.


Cut out your horse and each rider and set of horse gear. (Be careful not to cut off the tabs.)


"Dress up" your horse with one style of dress and a matching rider. Just fold the tabs over the horse to attach the pieces.


Now imagine yourself in the rider's stirrups and have fun!

Number 6 inside a badge-shaped graphic.

For a different adventure, try a set of horse gear and a rider from another culture.

Think About It

After you've tried out different riders and styles of horse gear, answer these questions:

  • What are some of the biggest differences you see between different styles of dress worn by horse and rider?


  • Do you see similarities between the different horse gear? Are there parts of the gear that may have different styles, but could serve the same purpose in different cultures?


  • Do you see any symbols that might relate to the status of the rider?


  • Which features of the gear worn by horse and rider would be protective? Which ones would be more decorative?


  • How is the dress of the thoroughbred racing horse and jockey different from the others? Why do you think this is?
Image Credits:

All illustrations, by Sean Murtha © AMNH