New USA Dressage Helmet Rules in Effect Tuesday, Steffen Peters Joins GPA Team

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Steffen Peters. © 2011 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

The new rule requiring safety helmets for all dressage riders in U.S. national-level competitions comes into effect Tuesday and the first competition subject to the U.S. Equestrian Federation requirement will be the Palm Beach Dressage Derby World Cup qualifier beginning its 28th annual show two days later.

On the eve of the introduction of the new rule, Steffen Peters signed a sponsorship agreement with GPA, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of safety helmets. He joins Australian Ilse Schwarz, based in Wellington, Florida, and Claudia Fassaert of France as dressage members of the GPA team.

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, which will be one year ago on Thursday, Mar. 3.

The new helmet 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…”

Senior riders in FEI (International Equestrian Federation) levels will have the option of competing in a top hat or protective headgear as at present. 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.

If a rider competes at both national and FEI level in the same competition they will be required to wear a safety helmet in all classes.

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 carry 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 Palm Dressage Derby CDI-W is scheduled for Mar. 3-6 in Loxahatchee, Florida. Other competitions scheduled for the first week of March are Dressage at Mission Pacific in Somis, California, and Dressage Among Friends I and II at Tampa, Florida, both for Mar. 5-6.