Neckstraps are to be allowed at all levels of British Dressage (BD) as part of new rule changes — developed following a consultation with members — which take effect on 1 December.

Previously, neckstraps were only allowed for warming up, competing at prelim and in young horse classes.

Stef Eardley, who has ridden to grand prix, welcomed the change.

“There are times in the past when a neckstrap definitely would have been a bonus,” she said.

“Some people are snooty about them, but when I am on a horse that is bucking vertically, I want something to hold on to.”

Other rule changes for 2014 include the addition of half marks at all levels (news, 1 November 2012) and competitors being allowed to rise in medium and extended trot in tests at medium level.

A decision about changing the competition structure for BD has been postponed until early 2014.

One option may be that BD adopts a policy where only the horse, rather than the rider, dictates eligibility for a class.

Paul Graham from BD told H&H: “Having collated the responses to the rules consultation, we realised that the competition structure as a whole required looking at in more depth.

“BD has evolved a lot, particularly in the past five years, and we want to take time to consider members’ views in order to deliver a structure relevant to the current sport.”

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound magazine (5 September, 2013)