Choosing Your First Browband; Your guide to colour selection

Posted by Holly Leahy on

In this blog series I will be answering some of the questions I’m most commonly asked by clients, when it comes to choosing or designing a first browband.

Previously I answered if you should choose a bling or patterned browband in my blog "to bling or not to bling?" The next question I'll be discussing is one I'm sure you have all seen numerous times on any equestrian-related Facebook page, and doesn’t only relate to Browbands;

"what colour will suit my horse the best?".

When it comes to colour selection (especially putting together browbands) the colour combinations can seem incredibly daunting. Do you choose a black or navy band? Maybe a traditional red/blue/white? Or perhaps you just throw your arms up in the air and follow what seems to be "on trend". This article will help you break down the decision making process, so no matter if you're buying "off the shelf" or ordering custom made, you can make choices with complete confidence in your decision.

The suggestions found here can be applied to not only your next browband, but also your next matchy-matchy set! 

Note; While there is no "set rule" when it comes to colour selection (ultimately you should choose what you love!) These are some general guides and colour theory I take into account when discussing options with a client, to ensure the colours compliment their horse beautifully. Every individual, and every browband designer will have their own opinions on the question, so this is meant as a guide only.

Putting your colours together;

More often than not my clients have absolutely zero idea what they want, or in what colour scheme. So the first question I ask, after determining if they want bling or patterned is;

"is your jacket black or navy?"

Seems simple enough, right? However, by answering this you've already chosen one colour in your colour scheme (see? that wasn't so bad, was it?) The next consideration we take into account is coat colour;

My horse is a chestnut

Chestnuts are first on the list, as they seem to stump my clients the most. A chestnut is essentially a "red" horse, so let's look into what we already know about red;

Red is a "warm" colour, and if you own a chestnut (or if you've ever had red hair yourself) you will know that it can be a temperamental shade to work with.

Some colours can make your horse's beautiful copper coat appear “dull” or “lifeless”, which is definitely something we want to avoid.
To prevent this, we are going look to colours on the opposite end of the colour wheel; cool-toned purples, blues, greens including teal, white or cream, and chocolates are all great options. 

If you do own a chestnut or warm-coloured horse and want to make use of warmer tones (or your club requires it) look into designs where the red is minimal or uses other colours to lift it away from the horse's face. 
Alternatively, choose shades that are of equal vibrancy, or darker than your horses coat; wines, mustards, burnt oranges look lovely on chestnuts. Just try to avoid poppy or fire-engine reds, which may outshine your horses beautiful colour and make it look dull in comparison, or just get lost on the horse altogether.  

My horse is a bay

If your horse is a bay you are truly blessed. Bays can essentially be broken down into two categories; warm toned bays (mahogany, blood) and cooler toned bays (dark, “wild” bay). I will also clump browns into this category too, as they’re very similar.

If your bay is a warm toned bay, depending on how "red" your horse's coat colour throws, consider taking into account the advice to chestnut owners. Avoid reds that are brighter than your horse's coat, as they may make the coat look like it's lacking in lustre.Wines, maroons, blue-based reds are ideal.

If your bay is a cool toned bay, then you can use whatever colour takes your fancy, taking into account the amount of white on your horse's face. Darker purples, bright turquoise/aqua, wines with hint of cream, lime or forest green, and pinks are all stunning choices.


My horse is a black

If your horse is black, you've hit the holy grail of coat colours. Literally, any colour will look stunning on your horse (lucky you!)
Despite what I said about thinking some reds clash on chestnuts, and bling on white markings. If you're blessed with a black that has a big white face, I'm a huge fan of black full bling browbands, with hints of white, on a black with a big white face (hypocrite I know, I know)

Block coloured browbands will be your go-to, especially in photos focusing on the head. The black will make your chosen colour "pop" and look absolutely stunning. Think; bold reds, lavender, turquoise, cream with hints of gold.


My horse is a grey

Depending on the grey, you have a huge selection of colours to choose from. If you have a flea-bitten grey, avoid browbands featuring mainly white or cream as the design (however browbands using white to accent are fine). A cream browband on a grey can give the appearance of a dirty browband.

Bold colours like lime, aqua/turquoise, red, orange, yellow and light blues, all look stunning.


My horse is a dilute

Another contradiction to my earlier statement. I just adore a cream browband with hints of black on a palomino, or a completely black browband with a heavy use of gold. If you're using brown saddlery however, you may be best avoiding black (depending on if you possess my level of OCD of black mixed with brown or not. Some people love it, and that's fine too!)


For dilutes I love to go toward two different ends of the colour chart; depending on the client's taste. If your dilute has beautiful blue eyes, consider incorporating a similar blue into your browband and show set. Teals, turqouise, and rich cadbury purples are all gorgeous on a dilute.

If you're not a fan of bright and bold, you can't go past chocolate browns, wines, navys, slate blues, and rich deep forest or olive greens. Dilutes are essentially cream coat colourings, so anything you love to throw with cream will look divine.

My horse is a paint/pinto/appaloosa

Horses with "loud" markings seem to confuse and intimidate clients just as much as chestnuts when it comes to choosing a browband confidently.

For these horses, I tell my clients to ignore the rest of the body for a moment and focus just on the horse's head. Is your horse a strawberry roan or an appaloosa with a mostly red base? Then take into consideration the points made for chestnuts.
Do you have a buckskin paint? Look at your heritage colours I recommended for dilutes. Dusky blues like Pantone's "Niagara" are gorgeous combined with cream, gold and navy.

Bear in mind each 'colour' has multiples of shades to choose from. This is why I offer complimentary design consultations; I have hundreds of ribbons with multiple shades in each colour (including at least three shades of royal). So while you may not be a royal blue lover, you could love a similar not-quite-royal blue.
It's important to remember that while you should choose a colour you love, you ultimately want to compliment your horse as much as possible. So go into exploring colour opportunities with as open of a mind as possible; you never know what colours you may end up loving simply because they look amazing on your horse!


Happy Showing,



















Holly-Louise Leahy
Colorado Designed Browbands




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