Helmets Only–No Top Hats–For All USA National Dressage Events As of April 1
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Helmets only will be the rule for ALL United States Equestrian Federation events, including for senior riders in Grand Prix and small tour events, effective April 1 this year, though senior riders in International Equestrian Federation (FEI) CDIs will still be allowed to wear top hats.
The decision by the U.S. is the second by a major horse sport nation to require safety helmets at all levels of dressage. For national competitions–Canada was the first. The rule ends the contradictory and confusing application for seniors that requires a helmet whenever mounted while on show grounds except when warming up and in the competition arena.
Some other nations have experimented with helmet rules before the availability of fashionable but safe headgear, but modified them to exclude Grand Prix riders because of complaints from riders.
The new USEF rule requiring helmets applies also to riders who wear military or police uniforms.
The United States led the drive for adoption of safety helmets in dressage–they were already required for jumping–after American Olympians Courtney King-Dye and Günter Seidel were seriously injured in 2010.
The FEI on Jan. 1 this year implemented the rule that had been adopted by the U.S. requiring safety helmets for all dressage events, except for seniors in CDIs.
However, a growing number of international riders have switched to safety helmets.
The essence of the new USEF rule: “From the time horses are officially admitted to the competition grounds by competition management, anyone mounted on a horse at any time on the competition grounds including non-competing riders, riders on non-competing horses, and those competing in all classes and tests, including Para-Equestrian tests, must wear protective headgear as defined by this rule and otherwise in compliance with GR801. Any rider violating this rule at any time must immediately be prohibited from further riding until such headgear is properly in place. Protective headgear is defined as a riding helmet which meets or exceeds ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials)/SEI (Safety Equipment Institute) standards for equestrian use and carries the SEI tag. The harness must be secured and properly fitted.”
(This corrects a previous version that stated the U.S. was the first major horse sport horse nation to adopt a rule requiring helmets for all national dressage levels. Canada was he first, implementing its reuirement in 2012.)