Helmets or Top Hats? Issue Not Yet Done With
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Nov. 11, 2021
Supporters of top hats are making a last ditch effort to have the traditional headgear as an option over safety helmets when the International Equestrian Federation’s General Assembly that has the final word meets in Antwerp, Belgium next week.
Although outlawed as of Jan. 1, 2021 and reinforced by the FEI executive board six months later, the European Equestrian Federation has declared its members have shown a preference for restoring top hats as an option for senior and Under-25 competitors in CDI4*, CDI5* and championships and games.
So it plans to raise the issue at next week’s annual get-together.
The European federation weighed in after moves by Germany, Austria and the International Dressage Riders Club to put the issue on the agenda.
“The traditional dress code with an elegant hat is a world-renowned recognition feature of Dressage sport,” according to their proposal. “We do not want to give the impression that Dressage sport has become dangerous. We acknowledge the aspect of safety, however we are not aware of any head injuries that have ever occurred to top Athletes during a high-level Dressage competition.
“Therefore, Athletes of the age category U25 and older should have the freedom to decide for themselves whether they want to wear a top hat or a helmet in competition.
“This freedom of choice should only apply to CDI4*, CDI5*, Championships and Games on Grand Prix level. For awards ceremonies and at all other times when mounted, the use of protective headgear shall remain mandatory.”
The FEI didn’t want it brought up again.
The FEI Dressage Committee was not unanimous in its original response against allowing top hats. The FEI Medical Committee was against.
“The proposal was reviewed by the Board at the June 2021 Board Meeting; the Board unanimously agreed not to support the proposal and, therefore, it is not included in the proposed rule changes. The Board noted that this topic was subject to a specific vote at the 2019 General Assembly and that vote should be respected.”
Not so fast, said the European federation.
It plans to re-open the issue as a survey of its members “has shown a preference for altered rules according to which Athletes of the age category U25 and older should have the freedom to decide for themselves whether they want to wear a top hat or a helmet in the competition.”