The latest version of the British Dressage (BD) rule book is now effective (1 February 2003), and with most unaffiliated competitions running under BD rules as well as affiliated competitions it pays for everyone to keep up to date with the changes.

Anyone competing should read the new rule book, but to help riders HHO has compiled a summary of the major changes.

  • Free walk on a long rein: This is described as: “Free walk on a long rein is a pace in which the horse is allowed complete freedom to lower and stretch out his head and neck while the rider maintains a light contact on the rein. The horse covers as much ground as possible, without haste and without losing the regularity of the steps, the hind feet touching the ground clearly in front of the foot prints of the fore-feet.

  • Give and re-take the reins: This is described as: “The rider pushes forward both hands to clearly release the contact and then re-take it. The movement of the hands should be continuous and achieved over two or three strides. As this is a test of self-carriage thehorse should stay in balance, keeping the same rhythm, level of engagement, suppleness of the back and accept the restoration of contact without any loss of submission.

  • Spurs: Spurs will only be compulsory from advanced classesand upwards instead of from medium and upwards.

  • Area festivals: Area festivals will include classes from preliminary to advanced medium level and the top three combinations from each class will qualify for the festival final inApril.

  • Regionals and semi-finals: Competitiors may choose which regional and semi they attend but they must inform the BD office in writing if they are changing from their allocated competition.

  • Dressage to music: There is a new series of dressage to music qualifiers starting in May 2003. Tests at novice and elementary level may be run in the long or short arena at the organiser’s discretion but the regionals and championships will be run in the long arena. The times will be the same so that there is no need for two tapes, only two floor patterns.

    The following rules are also effective despite not being in the book

  • New bits: The FEI has approved a new bit – a snaffle with a rotating, cylindrical, central section to the mouthpiece. Two Myler bits are now allowed; the plain snaffle with a slightly curved mouthpiece and the snaffle with a rotating mouthpiece. Both must be made of the same metal throughout and may not have copper inserts.
  • Wet Weather: At the organisers discretion rain coats may be worn but they must be of a plain dark colour.

  • Stallions: If riders wish to show they are riding a stallion in a riding-in area they may wear a yellow cross band.