It really depends on a few things.
Firstly, your location.
Secondly, your discipline.
Thirdly, your age.
Location is important because it will have an impact on how things are done. Here, half chaps are very common [we call quality leather ones gaiters in Aus, not sure why]. I have a nice pair with suede inners which you don't see when I'm riding but allow me a little extra grip... always a good thing considering how slippery my jumping saddle is.
Regarding discipline - here, dressage riders either ride in jodhpur boots [what you are calling paddock boots] and clips to keep the jods down, or tall boots [usually, with top hat and tails as well, and therefore usually only the REALLY serious folks]. Jumpers quite often ride in boots and half chaps, because jumpers aren't quite as traditionalist or as appearance-focused, and it's cheaper to replace a worn-out half chap than it is to replace a worn-out tall boot. The calves usually wear out first. It's also more comfortable to be able to take off that leather covering your calf between classes [we quite regularly have days in excess of 100*F, that's only about 36 or 37*C and here in Aus we can get hotter than 40*C during very early and very late show season].
Show hack riders, it does vary according to age. Under-18s can't wear them in rider classes, it just isn't done. Over-18s in unofficial classes most often have really high quality gaiters, and over-18s in official classes have tall boots.
And then there's personal preference, and in appearance-based classes like show hack and hunter, judges' preference! So, you see, here in Aus at least, it depends on your discipline but either you do or you don't and mostly it's YOUR choice.
Edit; and the size of the show counts too! Schooling shows [we call them training days] tend to have a smart-casual dress code which basically means as long as you turn up wearing jods or breeches and are reasonably neat you're ok... braiding isn't always compulsory though it also isn't always optional... whereas bigger shows, regardless of discipline, you will find most people are presented to the nines with braided horses, proper jackets, the best gear... and depending on discipline [and how crazy they are!] sometimes with makeup on their horses AND themselves. Personally I find show prep and presentation bunches of fun so I like to braid and black hooves and put makeup on my horse no matter the size of the show we go to. Or for that matter the discipline. We have done eventing braided [dressage and stadium, couldn't leave his braids in for TWO nights so had to take them out for XC], show hack classes, showjumping... etc etc, although it's only the latest show that I went really mad and went the full Monty [pun intended- horse's name] with presentation with makeup and all that.
Last edited by blue eyed pony; 11-14-2012 at 06:57 PM.