Many dressage riders will be sighing with relief after British Dressage unveiled the rule changes that come into effect on 1 December.

Among the most popular changes is the decision to allow riders to rise in all trot movements at elementary level. According to British Dressage’s Jo Bagnall, this change has been made to open up elementary level competition to a wider range of competitors.

“The requirement for riders to sit during most trot movements at elementary level has prevented some riders, such as those with back problems and big moving horses, from making the step from novice to elementary in the past,” she explains. “While we acknowledge that being able to ride sitting trot is important as partnerships move up the grades, we hope that this change will allow more members to enjoy elementary competition.”

The whip length rule that was introduced last year in line with FEI rules has also been changed, bringing to an end the endless running round with tape measures at shows to ensure they do not exceed the maximum length.

“This rule proved rather troublesome for members when it was first introduced and so we have revisited it so that whips may not be used in a way or of a length that disturbs other riders. This is a less stringent way of achieving the original aim,” says Bagnall.

Another decision that is expected to be widely welcomed is that snaffles are now allowed in advanced tests.

“We see no reason why horses that have been trained to advanced level in a simple snaffle bridle shouldn’t be allowed to compete in a snaffle,” explains Bagnall. “Many top riders advocate riding and training in a snaffle and BD rules now support this at advanced level.”

The confusion surrounding the use of section A and section B in classes at preliminary level is also set to come to an end with the decision to introduce open and restricted sections to mirror the rest of BD’s classes. Riders who are eligible for the preliminary championships should enter the restricted section, with all other riders in the open section. In order to qualify for the regional championships at preliminary level riders must be placed first or second twice, with a score of at least 65%.

Another new rule which BD saw fit to introduce is that all horses must wear their competition numbers at all times when being ridden or exercised at an affiliated show. “This rule has been introduced on welfare grounds to ensure all horses are identifiable at all times,” says Bagnall.

For full details of all the rule changes visit: www.britishdressage.co.uk