Riders in New Zealand riders have been banned from wearing top hats in all competition in the country.

Equestrian Sport New Zealand (ESNZ) has taken the “bold step” of ruling that safety helmets certified to the appropriate safety standard must be worn in all competition in future.

“Rider safety (and safety in general) is always a critical concern for ESNZ,” a statement from the federation read, adding: “This means that the long-established top hat is no longer allowed to be worn in the disciplines of dressage and eventing with immediate effect.”

The federation has also reviewed its safety requirements, following the removal of standard EN1384 (BSEN1384) in Europe, with new standards coming into effect on 31 July 2017.

“This will give riders time to purchase new helmets if necessary, and is aligned with the New Zealand Pony Club Association’s time frame for meeting the same standards,” said ESNZ.

The other approved standards which some equestrian sports use remain unchanged.”

Federation chief executive Vicki Glynn added: “This is a major step forward for safety of riders competing in New Zealand and is accompanied by the ESNZ recommendation that helmets should be worn at all time when handling horses.

Horses can be unpredictable and we know that riding is a risk sport so we must do everything we can to make our equestrians safe.

“Sadly we can no longer allow the use of the top hat in competition, but the design and elegance of the contemporary safety helmet makes them a worthy replacement and safety must come first.”


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ESNZ regulations will state that at showgrounds and competition venues, “the use of properly fastened protective headgear is mandatory”. Riders will not be allowed to compete if this is not the case.

Any rider who fails to wear the appropriate headwear when required will be given an official warning. A second offence would mean a protest being lodged with the ground jury, which if upheld would mean the rider would be “disqualified from further participation in the event, unless exceptional circumstances apply”.

Riders’ use of cameras while mounted is also banned unless agreed to by the ESNZ technical delegate at the event.