Sport History Fun Facts: Why is a scarlet riding jacket called a “pink coat”?
A Hunter new rule specifies that conventional attire “following the tradition of fox hunting is encouraged and preferred and that judges shall not eliminate a rider for inappropriate attire except for safety.” Traditional fox hunt attire (and USEF rules) call for “scarlet or dark colors.”
Ever wondered why that “scarlet” jacket is called a “pink coat”? Turns out, if the legend is true, that a renowned 18th-century tailor named Thomas Pinque of London designed the first scarlet fox hunting coat with practical matters in mind. He chose a sturdy, warm wool fabric (called Melton) in a deep red to hide the stains if the rider got blood on it while hunting. Each coat was custom-made and soon became a sign of prestige, so it was referred to as a “pinque coat.” The spelling changed with the times.
Still considered a sign of prestige, scarlet in fox hunting is reserved for Masters of Foxhounds and hunt staff. In the Hunter ring, scarlet is worn for “formal attire” classes. In the Jumpers, a scarlet jacket is usually reserved for members of the US international team (as it is in many other countries).
National Show Hunter Hall of Famers Rodney Jenkins and Quiet Flite in a formal attire class at Devon, c. 1967. Photo by Budd