Kaci Riggs: Charlie 1 Horse Hat Designer

…and that’s just the beginning with this Texas cowgirl. Kaci Riggs has made some of the most popular and stylish hats in the barrel racing (and Western) world, and that’s a combination that’s not always easy to create. Her Charlie 1 Horse hats have popped up everywhere from the National Finals Rodeo to the IBRA Nationals, and every barrel race and roping in between. (And quite a few Best of the Best competitors looked fabulous in them this fall!) 

Kaci’s taken her knowledge of the fashion industry and combined it with her in-the-arena know how to produce some of the finest hats we’ve ever seen. Whether she’s jet-setting across the West or kicking the boys’ butts in the roping pen, Kaci is looking fabulous in one of her designs.   

Tell us about how Charlie 1 Horse started, and how you came aboard to create these hats.
Charlie 1 Horse started in 1978. It was HUGE during Urban Cowboy. Many, many celebrities have worn Charlie 1 Horse; the list is long. It’s so cool to look back at the old stuff. They are TRULY works of art. Richard Petty, Kid Rock and Eddie Montgomery still wear the old ones.

I was hired as an assistant to the Resistol designer, Bob Posey. In spare time, we worked on C1H styles. When I was hired, we just didn’t sell many of the fancy ones. I chose to make a few things I thought I could relate to and wear. I kept the competitive cowgirl in mind, but I also had to consider the business woman who needed to look fabulous at a Cattle Baron’s ball. We started seeing a lot of success within the barrel racing industry and fashion industry.

What is your background in the horse industry?

I grew up in 4-H, junior rodeos, high school, amateur and college rodeo…. I ran barrels when I was little. I rode English for a couple years. I started roping when I was 11; my dad needed a heeler ;-D

My senior year of high school, I qualified for the National High School Finals Rodeo in the breakaway roping. I placed at Nationals that year in Gillette, Wyo. and received some scholarship money. That helped me continue my education and attend Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX with additional rodeo scholarships. I qualified for the College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyo. my senior year of college. Since college, I have always continued to rope. No matter where I was in my career, I have always continued to rope. I feel very fortunate that my career allows me to cross over into many disciplines of the equine industry. I’m passionate about the western lifestyle.

How does that background affect your designs?

My background really helps me to know how important the FUNCTION of a hat is. When you compete, you can NEVER have to worry about losing your hat. It has to fit, be comfortable on your head, stay on during competition and you have to feel good wearing it. It has to fit your personal style and not make you feel awkward…. And it has to be affordable. I believe your horse, your rig, your entry fees have a higher priority than fashion. That is why Charlie 1 Horse is committed to making the most FABULOUS~LOOKING hat at the most affordable price.

When you’re making a hat, what kind of cowgirl are you thinking of as you design it?

I’m thinking of a cowgirl with the most original style. She wants a look that is her OWN. She DOES NOT blend~in. She’s a leader; not a follower – she blazes trails…. She respects the lifestyle, but she likes to put a modern TWIST on her own personal look. Her appearance is important to her and her hat is how she expresses her eccentric personality. I have to make a hat that appeals to a variety of women – I personally prefer the more core-western styles, but I also design some that are completely outlandish. You gotta give ‘em what they want….

So far, what has been your favorite moment of your career?

Gosh, that’s tough… I enjoy each moment. I guess seeing it come full-circle is best. It’s really fun to see C1H published in magazines. I love when girls WIN BIG who wear our hats – I LOVE seeing C1H in win-picts. I love seeing the flag girls at the NFR totally blinged-out wearing our stuff. I love getting tagged in photos on Facebook of little-bitty girls that look SO gritty and tough wearing Charlie 1 Horse – it makes me laugh! I guess the most rewarding part is to see how happy the hats make people.

Tell us about your all-time favorite hat, either one you’ve made or otherwise.

Hahahaaa… that’s like asking a mother to pick her favorite kid! LOL!!! I really love the tonal trimmed felts. I’m not a HUGE fan of flashy…. I love the tacky leopard prints, but they’ve been hard to make. Honestly, my favorites change each season we launch a new line.

What do you do when you aren’t busy making hats or working for Hatco?

I try to spend a lot of time with my family, but I’m sure my family would attest that I ROPE every chance I get! There are a handful of ropings that I like to go to each year. The Open to the World, the Windy Ryon, our Resistol Roping and the USTRC Finals…. I guess I travel a lot and spend a lot of time with friends. I’m all about a road trip…

What is one style tip that every hat-wearing cowgirl should know?

No matter what you think, if it’s creased right, you look GREAT in it. Women are SO UNCOMFORTABLE in hats. It drives me crazy…. They just aren’t used to wearing them, or they don’t wear the right one. I could pick a hat for any woman and I promise she would look great in it! A flattering crease makes all the difference. Don’t EVER just wear it straight out of the box. All brims need to be hand creased.

What is your favorite outfit to rock your Charlie 1 Horse with?

You didn’t really just ask me this…. Every day is a fashion show for me, you know. I’m all about dresses with cowboy boots…. Maybe funky tights? I love my cowgirl suit too!!! (CTC jeans & Barranada shirts) Whatever it is, it CAN’T overpower the hat!!! IT’S ALL ABOUT THE HAT. Sorry, but I just can’t answer this one directly…..

What is next for you and Charlie 1 Horse?

I have a new commitment and dedication to Hatco in product development for Stetson, Resistol, Wrangler, and Dobbs brands. Charlie 1 Horse will always be the most creative and fun line to design and will continue to surprise us each season. You will see a handful of fedoras with western twists (inspired by a fellow cowgirl fashion diva). They are for the cowgirl who wants to cross over into fashion without forgetting her roots ;-D I’m so excited about the new felts we will launch in January at Denver Market. Some can be found at NFR in December with ML Leddy’s.

Charlie 1 Horse has set some pretty high standards…. We will keep moving forward!

Our friends at Rod’s Western Palace in Ohio carry Charlie 1 Horse Hats, as do many fine retailers across the U.S. For a great deal on a Charlie, download and print this coupon! 

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10 thoughts on “Kaci Riggs: Charlie 1 Horse Hat Designer

  1. Do you make hats for kids? My little girl is 10 and the hats are to big, she starts JR High Rodeo next year and she wants a Charlie One Horse hat.

  2. What is the hat that Jennifer Smith wore at the 2011 NFR with the spade, heart, diamond, and club called? I really really want that hat!! It’s so pretty!

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