New jacket regulations are among the rule changes that will come into force at British Dressage (BD) competitions.

Under current rules it is up to the organiser or judge to decide whether riders may go jacket- less in extreme heat. However the new rule leaves the decision down to the rider.

“In regular competitions, riders may choose to ride without jackets and wear a fitted, plain, conservative-coloured waistcoat,” the new rule states.

“If no jacket is worn a suitable long/short-sleeved shirt that fastens at the neck (white or cream, and not bright or multi-coloured) with a tie, American collar or correctly fastened stock must be worn.”

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Paul Graham from BD confirmed that riders can ride without a jacket or waistcoat if they feel it is that hot.

Competing without a jacket at championships, regionals, Area Festivals, Premier Leagues and High Profile shows must still be approved by the organiser and judge.

The organisation’s jacket rules were debated on the BD online forum this summer.

The “boil in the bag” thread received more than five pages of comments.

One member said they had had enough of “peeling” their jacket off between classes, then putting it back on again.

Another questioned how many other sports require competitors to “dress up quite this much” in hot weather.

The rules, which come into effect on 1 December, also cover the colour of jackets.

Jackets can now be in “any conservative colour in muted tones”. Before jackets had to be a “dark colour”, such as black, navy, bottle green, charcoal grey or brown.

But jackets must not be “distracting” for the judge and cannot be of bright, fluorescent or garish colour.

As well as the hat safety regulations, headwear must also comply with altered colour guidelines.

Extreme heat planning

The rule change will come as a relief to many, as this summer competitors were warned to take precautions if riding in the heat. Charlotte Fry suffered in extreme temperatures at the European Young Rider Dressage Championships in Vidauban, France (1-5 July).

“It was between 35 and 40°C and after the individual test on the hottest day, I got off my horse and collapsed,” said Charlotte, 19.

“Normally I am fine in heat, but during a test you give it everything and then when you stop, your adrenalin dips and it really hit me. I had been a bit wobbly after the team test, as had other people.”

For the kür the following day, Charlotte made sure she was better prepared.

“I drank water all day and Dad put my jacket in the freezer with cold packs on it to keep it cool until just before I went into the arena,” she said. “It wasn’t as hot anyway, and I went earlier in the day as well. I definitely learnt from the experience.”

Ref: H&H 22 October, 2015