Top Hats Off, Protective Headgear On for All Dressage Competitors

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Top hats made their appearance as late as the CDI3* in Wellington, Florida last weekend. Former Danish Olympian Lars Petersen who now rides under the Stars and Stripes on Svalegards De Luxe in the Grand Prix. © 2020 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Nov. 19, 2020

Top hats will be outlawed in all dressage competitions as of Jan. 1, 2021 and protective headgear only will be required, thus apparently ending a debate that was renewed recently by many senior riders seeking to keep the tradition alive.

The International Equestrian Federation (FEI) Board made the decision Thursday not to reopen the issue at the governing body’s General Assembly and to implement the protective headgear requirement as of Jan. 1, 2021.

The General Assembly voted a year ago to extend mandatory protective headgear across most international horse sports under its control, but gave dressage a one-year exemption so top hats could be worn only to Jan. 1, 2021.

The board said two petitions were received–one from the International Dressage Riders’ Club (IDRC) seeking to maintain the option to use top hats in senior international competitions. It urged the FEI to open up the issue for discussion at the General Assembly.

A second petition was from a group named Physician Women Equestrians that called for the requirement for protective headgear be implemented as planned at the start of 2021.

The FEI said it also received unsolicited support from a number of other riders favoring protective headgear for all riders.

“As the FEI did not receive any request for change during the lengthy 2020 rules consultation process, neither from the IDRC nor national federations, the item has not been included on the FEI General Assembly 2020 agenda for a vote,” the FEI board declared Thursday.

“The FEI Board discussed the issue and, although this rule has already been approved at last year’s General Assembly and is not an FEI Board decision, voted unanimously to maintain implementation on 1 January 2021.

“The FEI Board support for the General Assembly decision was based on safety grounds, the fact that a full consultation process had been conducted prior to the vote at the 2019 General Assembly, and that there is a clear and transparent process for Rules revision.”