British Dressage Seeks Views on Possible Mandatory Safety Helmet Rule

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British Dressage is seeking views from its members on whether to follow the United States and Canada to mandate the use of safety helmets beginning with the 2012 competition year.

A helmet rule was among the most significant issues to be considered by British Dressage. Details were posted on its Internet site Monday as part of what it said is a Rule Book implementation strategy that it felt “important to have a thorough consultation with BD members regarding the major rule changes.”

David Wightman competing with Partous in the Grand Prix at the recent CDI-W in Burbank, California. © 2011 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Mandatory helmet use for U.S. dressage riders came into effect Mar. 1 this year and in Canada on May 1, at 4th level and below in both nations. Although the new rules do not apply to FEI classes, a growing number of riders in both big and small tours in the U.S. and Canada are wearing helmets.

The rule came into effect a year after U.S. Olympian Courtney King-Dye was seriously injured in a horse accident in Florida and driven by widespread support within the North American equestrian community spearheaded by Riders4Helmets.com based in Lexington, Kentucky.

“It’s my belief that many people don’t wear helmets because they don’t think it’s the ‘fashionable’ thing to do,” Courtney commented. “By making it a rule, it becomes what people wear and, therefore, fashionable. Because people aren’t always brave enough to go against the norm, the organizations have a responsibility to make it the norm by making it a rule and thereby maximize rider safety.”

The BD helmet question:

“Hats – should BD mandate wearing of safety hats with a 3-point harness?

“There has been much publicity surrounding the decision of the USEF (U.S. Equestrian Federation) and Dressage Canada to mandate the wearing of safety hats for all competitors on show grounds and if they are competing at the equivalent of Advanced Medium and below. Should BD follow suit?

“Options

“1. Mandate safety hats at all times for everyone riding at a BD-affiliated show, whether competing or not, with a permitted exception for those who compete at Advanced or higher, who may wear top hats for the competition phase only.

“2. Mandate safety hats at all times for those competing at Advanced Medium and below with Advanced+ riders permitted to wear hats of their choice for both working in and competition.

“3. Mandate safety hats only for riders competing in Young Horse classes which, by their nature, are likely to have a higher risk.

“4. Mandate safety hats for younger riders competing in classes restricted to that specific age group.
Note. It is not possible to mandate a hat rule for a specific age group in mixed competition where younger riders compete alongside adults

“5. Continue to leave the decision as the responsibility of the rider and review when the FEI make a change to their rules.”

British Dressage said it welcomed feedback and suggestions that would be reviewed before any decisions are made at the Rules and Fixtures Committee meeting in July. The 2012 Rule Book will be distributed at the end of September so members have plenty of time for the new rules to be read before implementation Dec. 1.

Complete details are available at: http://www.britishdressage.co.uk/news/show/1077-2012-rules-consultation—we-want-your-feedback