Suggestions for attire in this situation?


11 Years
Feb 2, 2011
Hi all :))

I recently started helping at my horse trainers barn, and next thing you know I am something of an apprentice.

Here my issue... at first, when I was just helping out, I simply wore whatever I wouldn't mind getting dirty... which is old t-shirts, stained from horse baths, ect. Then I started trying to wear my slightly newer t-shirts, but they aren't much of a step up and I am quickly breaking them in with the dirt and frequent washing (I dont have many of those).
Now, we go from cleaning stalls, getting manure/urine shavings all over me... to hopping on a horse for one of his clients (I got to be guinea pig once or twice already, LOL) ... back to cleaning more stalls getting very sweaty... then leaving in a rush to go for farm visits (at some posh places, gahh) so I can see how some business stuff like breeding arrangements is handled.

Anyway, the problem is that I am simply under-dressed! My trainer is the nicest fellow in the world, he and his wife are so sweet... and he doesent notice that stuff at all. However, I am aware that it reflects on his business and I'm getting kind of frazzled.
I plan on getting a few items next week.... but Im short on funds so I will be forced to keep it very limited. I'm trying to figure out what clothing items I can get that will stand up to the abuse, look reasonably decent, and hopefully hide manure.
The trainer does half the work himself (short-handed till he/we find a replacement hand) and he has these pant protecter things that zip up the sides... I looked them up but they are far beyind my budget and look very very hot. I am sweaty enough already, LOL.
Second, theres nothing to protect my shirt, and I'm not a guy so I cant throw a sports jacket on... haha.

If you're wondering why I have to get the poo on me... well... it's a 32 stall barn, between the two of us we need to get it done in about 4 hours so he has time for many other chores on top of training horses and seeing clients (which he wants me to observe and learn from).... so it's quite a rush to get them done. We drive the old pick-up down the aisle and have a carry sized manure tub each that we fill in the stall and then dump in the truck as we go.... well, I'm getting good at throwing the heavy loads right in there, but inevitably there is a cloud of urine shavings that comes up and gets in my hair.... and ifI do it the slow way.... that means a poo smear from the side of the tub or the truck.

I wont even tell you about getting the poop OUT of the truck in the woods... it is dependent on the wind direction.

I'm having lots of fun, but I feel like a slob. I wouldnt care about looking like a slob one iota except,
1. feeling like you look fairly decent is a good emotional defense when encountering snobs
2. I'm concerned about how I represent a business belonging to a truly kind family!

Whatever I do, poop is gonna get on me... and as we start preparing more horses from the fields.. it's going to be copious amounts of horse hair of every color sticking to me too. I have a grey horse myself already so most of my t-shirts so far have been light colored... not so good for bays or blacks....

I guess I need to forget about the poo and sweat and horse hair and my own messy hair and concentrate on the basic shape of the garments... being like they could have been professional before I began work that day... LOL!

The typical outfit seems to be polo shirts and baseball caps... but thats kind of far from my taste... which is usally pink and happy looking.. no hat. I do have my Aussie hat on standby if I get out in the sun again, but I personally cant keep a hat on while I sweat and dig out urine holes.
A polo might be okay.. but will it hold up to abuse... washing... ect.... and what about color. And what about pants... I am wearing one of my 3 pairs of decent jeans each day, just found a hole starting in one of them on the leg from all the strain.... what to do... and my couple of pretty western button downs just cant seem to accomodate my shoulders during digging and bending work.

Any advice? Thanks for reading :))


10 Years
Apr 15, 2011
Brown or other dark canvas work pants can stand up to a hard poop week and come out looking clean. Actually, I think they can stand up on their own, with no help from you. The pair I wore was thick and felt like wearing stiff cardboard.

Maybe wear a tank top/t-shirt with very short sleeves with that for mucking, and keep clean button up or polo shirts on hand to throw on when you are dealing with clients.


Free Ranging
13 Years
Mar 19, 2009
My favorite work clothes have always been jeans, a western cut chambray (sp) work shirt, and boots. They look nice and can stand up to the abuse. The most practical work clothes in the world are bib overalls, but unfortunately they don't look real spiffy.

Carols Clucks

9 Years
Oct 13, 2010
I would suggest you look for some patterned t-shirts The patterns help to loose some of the staining

And then a button up shirt that you can throw over the t-shirt for looking respectable.

And I would look at the thrift store since you are going to need a few shirts as they will be getting messy


The truth is out there...
12 Years
Mar 5, 2007
Phoenix, AZ
I think having change of clothes will be your answer! I used to have the same problem at fair. Cleaning stalls one minute and having to look presentable for a presentation the next! I did what on poster suggested and wore a tank top. Kohls has some really nice polos on sale for $11 each right now and that's not even including the 20% off! That would be perfect and then wear the old t shirts in between.


Free Ranging
13 Years
Mar 19, 2009
You might consider getting some coveralls. They go on over your clothes. You can put them on when you are cleaning stalls etc. then take them off when you have to look decent. Our vets use them all the time on farm calls. They put them on when they get to the farm and before they go to treat and examine livestock. They take them off when they go to get back into the truck to leave. I wore them a lot when I was milking cows. They slip on and off relatively easily and do a good job of protecting your clothes. Another thing. I always wore a nice western belt with my jeans, earrings, and a little makeup. Just mascara and lipstick, and took care to keep my hair combed. These little touches helped with my appearance too.

Peaches Lee

11 Years
Sep 19, 2010
I know how you feel! At my work I feel like such a non presentable slob because I frequently encounter blood/urine/feces/slobber/vomit (veterinary clinic). So I don't really get to look nice or dress up, which depresses me. Anyway, I would love to go back to my old work outfit which was an equestrian's outfit.

Since you do some riding, why not some riding breeches, paddock boots and a dark polo t-shirt? Riding breeches come in all different colors and tucking in a polo looks very professional, but very easy to work in. Good luck!


11 Years
Aug 30, 2009
Mt Repose, OH
My Coop
My Coop
You need a bag with a hair brush, hair ties, lint brush, micro fiber rag, baby wipes (unscented), deodorant, and a clean shirt. Extra socks won't hurt. Anything else you want to add too. The bag goes with you to the barn and stays in the car or tack room.

Check out the men's athletic section of a thrift store for "pull away" pants in a thin fabric. Should be $10 or less, and they'll have buttons or zippers up the side. Get them one size too big so that they can be worn as outer wear over something else.

I always wore black breeches, easy to wipe clean with the baby wipes. Get rid of any barn odor by rubbing dryer sheets over them. I kept two men's polo shirts in the car to change into. Cruddy t-shirt for work, and a tank top under it. That way I could change where ever I was standing from the t-shirt to the polo shirt. Ladies polo shirts aren't long enough to wear with breeches, at least not to me. LOL There were plenty of girls who wore body hugging riding clothes top and bottom. I prefered a looser/longer shirt over breeches.

Then I had rubber muck boots I picked up for $15, and nicer knee high riding boots I found for $75 on craigslist in the off season. I tried to keep $100 free for when I saw good deals, and slowly built a collection of barn clothes and tack. In a pinch the rubber boots can be quickly hosed off, and wiped with the micro fiber rag from my bag.

The barn is your home away from home, so pack a bag!


12 Years
Feb 15, 2007
Austin area, Texas
I going to suggest something that new is fairly expensive, but can usually be found in any thrift store. Try to find some "technical" pants for hiking/backpacking. They are made to take some hard wear, sort of repel dirt, look nice (in some cases) and are comfortable for working in. I have a pair of Columbia titanium pants that I've worn for years that look just as good as the day I bought them. I also like the idea of a button up shirt to go over the T-shirt. You might look for something that is NOT all cotton; because it will resist wrinkles a little better. As a second choice I would go for the canvass style pants, like Carharts, which are made to be worked in.


9 Years
Jun 4, 2011
I don't know, what you describe is what everyone I know that works with horses wears. I think that if any of my horse friends walked into a barn and saw anyone working there who looked "spiffy" they would turn around and leave lol That doesn't mean that you go to work looking like a slob, you just dress in a way that is practical for what you are doing. and even if they look nice, anything other than a plain t-shirt is going to have people raising eyebrows. Not because it doesn't like nice enough, they are going to be wondering "who in their right mind wears something nice to work in a barn???" Go to wal-mart in the men's section and buy a couple packages of undershirts. They generally come in white or black. Black will be hot in FL but it will hide almost any dirt. You're going to be sweaty anyway but unless you are spending hours in the direct sun, the black will be better. If it gets too hot, just make sure you are wearing a tank top underneath and pull off the thirt

As others have suggested, a nice pair of jeans. Some muck boots that can be hosed off. A pair of riding boots that you can slip on when you go from working to riding. A tank top under a light t-shirt for when you are working, pull off the t-shirt and slip on the button-down if you need to "clean up"

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