What colour do I put on a chestnut horse?

Probably the most asked question, there are loads of options for those of us blessed with an ‘Orange Wonder’ coloured horse…

First of all, consider the horse’s markings. Does it have a lot of white on it’s face? And leg markings? Lots of white on the horse is ‘built in bling’ so a browband with a darker base would look better and provide contrast on the horse, and avoid a lot of cream or white. Not saying you can’t have any cream or white, just don’t use them as main colours.

A solid chestnut with little or no markings on the other hand, would pull off a light coloured browband (cream and gold looks sensational) and the blingy designs tend to suit these horses.

As far as colours go, colours to avoid would be oranges, yellows and similar tones.  I’m personally not a fan of pink on chestnuts unless it is a super cute leadline pony with a super cute little girl riding it…

Colours to use

- Blues tend to look really good on chestnuts, particularly bright blues like royal blue and cobalt. These can be blended with navy or lighter blues, and cream or gold can work in well with those tones as well. Blues are also very easy to tie in with navy hacking jackets (being the most popular colour in the hack ring at the moment)

- Purples (particularly darker shades of purple) can look lovely, but please don’t mix purple with pink. If your outfit has some purple in it and it is all tied in together, purple can work. I’m not so keen on it on the really ‘orange’ chestnuts, it tends to look nicer on the darker ones with a bit of face markings…

- Greens. Green was ‘out of fashion’ for a couple of years back there, but is slowing creeping back into popularity at the moment. Hunter green, cream and gold is a good combination on a chestnut that doesn’t have a lot of white on it.

- Teal.  Teal with either gold or silver, white or cream looks sensational on chestnuts from pale taffy type chestnuts right through to the dark chestnuts.

- Red, white and blue. Classic ‘royal’ colours, r/w/b seems to be a timeless combination that looks very professional and polished.

- Red. Lots of people say ‘don’t put red on a chestnut’ but we’ve seen a change again recently to people going toward red on chestnuts, and done right, it looks sensational. You could add in a tiny bit of white and royal for a classic combination with a red feature.

Choose a design that is flattering to the shape and size of your horse’s head. For a horse with a fine, petite head, you can use designs that have a few different colours, lots of bling if you like it, and large bold patterns like sharkstooth designs. For a horse that has a large and plain head, a pattern that is a bit more complex than sharktooth designs can work well, checkerboards. For those who have really pretty heads with white markings on them, keep the browband simple and let the horse be the feature not the browband (after all, there are no ‘best presented browband’ classes much to Magic Browbands disappointment.


Don’t be afraid to try something different if you like the idea of it. I’ve seen a combination of petrol green, cream and violet look just sensational on a chestnut. Have a look around at shows and magazines and see what looks good. Don’t forget the judge sees the browband from a distance, so really fiddly complex designs can just blend in from where the judge sees it.

If you get really stuck choosing a design, I’m happy to give you a hand if you send me a picture of your horse!

Look out for more articles coming soon from me to cover the other horse colours!  

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