British Eventing (BE) is clamping down on the use of coloured tack at affiliated competitions by introducing a rule that requires a “neutral” bridle for all three phases.

The issue was flagged up at Ascott-under-Wychwood (2 June) when competitor Mark Smith’s horse wore a pink saddlecloth and tendon boots to match his pink bridle.

Mr Smith was also wrongly banned from taking part in the showjumping phase for using a Dr Cook Bitless bridle, which BE later deemed legal.

Mr Smith, who captained the Dr Cook’s Quit the Bit team to finish ninth in the national team chase championships in April, rides in the colours of the Breast Cancer Campaign.

BE sport manager Debbie Marfell said: “A mistake was made and [Mr Smith] should not have been eliminated for his choice of bridle – but his case raised the issue of tack colour and what is acceptable.

“We don’t want to impose additional costs, but there is a need to maintain standards.”

British Showjumping does not impose any restrictions on colour or configuration of tack, but riders competing in British Dressage shows are only allowed to ride in tack that is black, brown, grey or navy.

The new BE rule – which takes force immediately – states that bridles (for all phases) must be made of leather or webbing and be predominantly black, brown, grey or navy, and may not be decorated with tassels or other additions.

An additional clarification regarding the permitted use of Dr Cook Bitless bridles has also been issued.

“This is a relatively new piece of tack and we did not have a rule that covered the indirect attachment of the reins to the bridle,” said Ms Marfell.

But she confirmed that it can be used.

Mr Smith told H&H: “The equipment I wanted to use [at Ascott-under-Wychwood] was within the rules.

“I have always said that if and when the rules are altered [to cover coloured tack], I will adhere to them.”

BE has since issued an apology to Mr Smith and will refund his entry fee.

This news story was first published in the current issue of H&H (12 July)