Top Hats May be Gone in Dressage Competition, but Not in Image

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Nov. 3, 2020

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

On New Year’s Day 2021, the top hat will no longer be allowed to be worn in dressage competitions, ending a tradition of generations. But the top hat will survive, at least for a while, on paper or in digital form as the image of both official organizations and some top shows.

Among the organizations is the United States Dressage Federation, a group that was active in eliminating the top hat in favor of protective headgear despite pleas by many of the top riders in the world to allow tradition to be maintained by senior riders at the highest levels of the sport.

“As of now,” a USDF spokesperson told dressage-news.com, “there is no plan to make any changes to the current USDF logo. This was evaluated a few years ago and it was decided to maintain the historical integrity of the logo at this time.”

On the other hand, British Dressage plans to start phasing in changes to its images next year.

Winnie Murphy, the spokesperson for BD and like many of her peers working hard to keep their members updated on constant changes in coronavirus requirements directly impacting equestrians as well as the equally unprecedented changes in regulations due to Brexit, responded to questions:

“We have a new logo and brand ready to launch which is much more modern and forward thinking (and with a safety hat) but have put the grand unveil on hold for now, probably until the early spring when we hope the COVID situation is beginning to turn for the better.

“We’re currently working on revising our current logo to change hats in line with what’s legal to wear as of 1 January but won’t go to town on reprinting everything in the knowledge we’ll be changing overall soon. But wherever it’s easy to change, we will.”

The Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, Florida, that was born a decade ago during widespread efforts–particularly in North America–to compel the use of hard hats also is not dropping the outline of a rider wearing a top hat in its image displayed throughout the show grounds during the three months of the winter circuit and seven CDIs.

“We have no plans to change anything at this moment,” said Thomas Baur, Global event director.

Dressage at Devon, one of the top fixtures of American shows for decades, gave a similar response: “No decision has been made at this point.”

On the other side of the world, Toni Venhaus, organizer of the preeminent Sydney CDI3*, has been struggling with how to bring in officials so as to be able to even stage a CDI–the last was in February and regulations make the future so uncertain there are no shows so far on the calendar for 2021.

“To be honest I had not given this too much thought about the logo but I guess we will need to update in time,” Toni said.

Simply for the fun of it–not dressage but top hat, click “Top Hat, White Tie, and Tails,” the Irving Berlin musical composition performed by Fred Astaire in the 1935 movie “Top Hat.”

An enjoyable respite from the international calendar for December that is normally jampacked with with some of the best indoor shows.

Salzburg, Austria; London Olympia; Frankfurt, Germany with the finals of the Nürnberger Burg-Pokal and the Louisdor Prize in addition to a CDI, and the ultimate year-end celebration at Mechelen, Belgium, is almost wiped clean of shows. The Burg Pokal and Lousidor Prize have been moved from the central Frankfurt facility to the home center of the organizer, Matthias Alexander Rath who has taken over from his step-mother, Ann-Kathrin Linsenhoff.

The only top sport event remaining on the calendar to the end of the year is the Global Dressage Fall Festival World Cup and CDI3* at Wellington Dec. 10-13.