Leading riders are flouting a new safety hat rule introduced by a showing society.

Sports Horse Breeding of Great Britain (SHB (GB)) pushed through the controversial rule — making it compulsory for all members to ride in a hat with a chinstrap — last year.

There was outrage at the time from many leading riders, and Horse of the Year Show refused to implement the rule for its qualifiers, resulting in the British Show Horse Association (BSHA) running these qualifiers this season.

At Cheshire County Show last week (17-18 June), a number of riders did not wear the correct headgear for SHB(GB) run classes.

“In the novice hunter class at least 6 of them were not wearing hats with chinstraps,” one spectator said.

“Some of the professionals seem to have no respect for rules at all. It doesn’t seem right that some people can just get away with it.”

The winner of the class, Robert Walker, was wearing a bowler hat (pictured top, picture by Equinational).

A spokesman from SHB(GB) said it was “aware of the situation” and it was due to be discussed at a council meeting.

Robert Walker did not want to comment when contacted.

Some riders have complained that, with different rules for the same classes, it is “confusing”.

Certain judges have also raised concerns about the practicality of implementing the rule.

Stuart Hollings brought up the subject in his H&H column last month (8 May). He joshed that a more “professional approach” was needed, as stewards are not prepared to carry out a “strip and search exercise in the ring”.

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound magazine (26 June, 2014)

Photo by Equinational