Safety Helmets for USA National Dressage Required on March 1

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Soon to be required for U.S. 4th Level and below. Ilse Schwarz, a Florida-based Australian, riding 4th Level at a USEF competition. © 2011 Ken Braddick/

LEXINGTON, Kentucky, Jan. 24–Safety helmets will be required for all dressage riders in national-level competitions effective Mar. 1, 2011, under a new rule approved by the U.S. Equestrian Federation Sunday.

Senior riders in FEI (International Equestrian Federation) levels will have the option of competing in a top hat or protective headgear as at present. Although it appears FEI level riders are also exempt from wearing protective head gear in the warm up arena, a growing number of U.S. and international riders competing at FEI level in the U.S. are wearing safety helmets in both the warm up and competition arenas.

But if a rider is competing at both national and FEI level in the same competition they will be required to wear a safety helmet in all classes.

All riders under the age of 18 years must wear protective head gear at all levels, including FEI, as well as riders in FEI Dressage Tests for 4, 5 and 6 year-old horses as well as USEF test for 4-year-old horses.

The rule states: “At any time while mounted on the competition grounds, all riders under age 18, and all riders while on horses competing in national level tests, all riders competing in Para-Equestrian tests, and all riders while on non-competing horses, must wear protective headgear as defined by this rule…”

Protective headgear is defined as a riding helmet which meets or exceeds ASTM/SEI (American Society for Testing and
Materials/Safety Equipment Institute) standards for equestrian use and carries the SEI tag.

The harness must be secured and properly fitted.

The head gear rules for dressage were changed in response to a groundswell of concern about safety that was brought to prominence after Olympian Courtney King-Dye was seriously injured in a horse accident early in 2010 and is undergoing extensive rehabilitation.

The only helmet seen in the dressage competiton arena at the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky, worn by Steffen Peters on Ravel during the awards ceremony. © 2010 Ken Braddick/