Shadbellies are primarily used by the dressage and hunter riders. However, these two styles of shadbellies are not interchangeable. Where the hunter shadbellies are shorter and more plain looking, their dressage counterparts are flashy and longer in length.

A “shad” is often also called “tails” or even a “tailcoat”. In dressage competition, the shadbelly is required of riders competing in the high level tests, such as Grand Prix. Lower level tests do not require (allow) the use of shadbellies. In its simplest form, a rider and his/her mount must move up the levels of dressage competition to be bestowed upon this honor. The same general  rules apply to the hunter ring as well.