FEI Comes Out Against Moves to Allow Top Hats Again in Dressage Top Sport

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Mikala Münter, perhaps the last dressage rider to wear a top hat in international competition, at a Wellington CDI in December 2020. File photo. © 2020 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Sept. 29, 2021

The International Equestrian Federation (FEI) has come out against moves to permit a return to top hats in specific competitions.

The FEI Board reported Wednesday after a two-day meeting: “While there is still some opposition in the dressage community to the requirement to wear protective headgear, the Board agreed that protecting the welfare of athletes was paramount and it did not support exceptions in the application of this rule.”

Top hats were outlawed and protective head gear required for all dressage competitions as of Jan. 1 this year.

However, some efforts have been made to allow traditional top hats in some senior competitions.

The FEI’s technical chairs such as for the dressage committee were also tasked to review the so-called blood rules.

The appearance of fresh blood on a horse in competition or in the steward’s check after the ride typically leads to disqualification. Suggestions have been made to allow for exceptions if the welfare of the horse is not endangered.