Is your hat up to standard? Check out the latest riding hat rules for competition

To mark the British Equestrian Trade Association’s (BETA) safety week , which is running from 27 April to 5 May, here is a reminder of everything you need to know about the riding hat rules in place for 2019 across the various equestrian governing bodies.

BETA Safety Week #BSW19 is an annual awareness-raising initiative, now in its second year, that highlights the importance of safety gear and equipment that has been professionally fitted, is worn correctly fastened and meets the correct standards for the type of riding you take part in.

2019 riding hat rules for competition

British Eventing (BE), British Riding Clubs and the Pony Club unified helmet standards in 2018 so that a single “hat tag” is accepted across all three organisations’ events. The ‘aqua’ coloured tag means riders now require just one tag to show their helmet is approved to the required standard for use in competition.

The standards accepted by each governing body are as follows:

British Eventing, Pony Club, British Riding Clubs and British Team Chasing

British and European: PAS 015 (1998 or 2011) and VG01.040 2014-12, all with BSI Kitemark or Inspec IC Mark
American: ASTM F1163: 2004a onwards with SEI mark Snell 2001 or 2016 (no other mark is needed with Snell)
Australia and New Zealand: AS/NZS 3838 2006 onwards with SAI Global mark

British Dressage

British: All PAS 015
European: VG1, EN1384 – 2017
American: SEI ASTM F1163 04a onwards and Snell E2001 and E2016
Australian and New Zealand: AS/NZA 3838 2003 onwards

British Showjumping

British: All PAS (1998 or 2011) 015, VG1 provided they are BSI Kitemarked
European: VG1 provided they are BSI Kitemarked
American: All SEI ASTM F1163 04a onwards and SNELL E2001 and SNELL E2016.
Australian and New Zealand: AS/NZS 3838 2003 onwards.

Useful additional information

British Eventing

  • Cross-country protective headwear is a jockey skull of an even round or elliptical shape with a smooth or slightly abrasive surface, having no peak or peak type extensions. Noticeable protuberances above the eyes or to the front not greater than 5mm, smooth and rounded in nature are permitted. It must also comply with the ‘Protective Headwear’ criteria and be tagged as set out above. A removable hat cover with a light flexible peak may be used.
  • Hat cameras are not permitted.

Pony Club

  • For cross-country riding (over 80cm) including eventing, tetrathlon, horse trials, pony racing (whether it be tests, rallies, competition or training) and mounted games competitions, a jockey skull cap must be worn with no fixed peak, peak type extensions or noticeable protuberances above the eyes or to the front, and should have an even round or elliptical shape with a smooth or slightly abrasive surface, having no peak or peak type extensions. Noticeable protuberances above the eyes or to the front not greater than 5mm, smooth and rounded in nature are permitted. A removable hat cover with a light flexible peak may be used if required.
  • It is strongly recommended that a jockey skull cap is worn for cross-country riding over lower fences (less than 80cm) as there is research evidence that a fall onto the fixed peak can result in an over extension of the neck backwards with the potential for serious injury.
  • No recording device is permitted (e.g. hat cameras) as they may have a negative effect on the performance of the hat in the event of a fall.
  • The fit of the hat and the adjustment of the harness are as crucial as the quality. Members are advised to try several makes to find the best fit. The hat should not move on the head when the head is tipped forward. Most helmet manufacturers recommend you visit a qualified BETA (British Equestrian Trade Association) fitter.
  • Hats must be replaced after a severe impact as subsequent protection will be significantly reduced. Hats deteriorate with age and should be replaced after three to five years depending upon the amount of use.
  • Hats, must be worn at all times (including at prize-giving) when mounted with a chinstrap fastened and adjusted so as to prevent movement of the hat in the event of a fall.
  • For showjumping and mounted games the cover, if applicable, shall be dark blue, black or brown only.
  • For dressage, hats and hat covers must be predominately black, navy blue or a conservative dark colour that matches the rider’s jacket for area competitions or above. The Pony Club hat silk is also acceptable.
  • The official steward/organiser may, at his discretion, eliminate a competitor riding in the area of the competition without a hat or with the chinstrap unfastened or with a hat that does not comply with these standards.

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Riding Club

  • Only a jockey skull of an even round or elliptical shape with a smooth or slightly abrasive surface, having no peak or peak type extensions may be worn for any cross-country phase. Noticeable protuberances above the eyes or to the front, not greater than 5mm, smooth and rounded in nature are permitted. It must also comply with the ‘protective headwear’ criteria and be tagged as set out above. A removable hat cover with a light flexible peak may be used.
  • Skullcap hats must be worn with an appropriate colour silk for that discipline. For Quadrille competitions, hats of the above standard are mandatory.
  • Competitors are strongly advised to check their hats regularly and to replace them if damaged or following a fall. It is recommended that hats are replaced every three to five years depending on usage.
  • Please note: for the Quadrille competition, no alterations, protrusions or additions are to be made to a hat under any circumstances.

British Dressage

  • Hats that are completely mirrored are not permitted.
  • Top hats or uniform caps are permitted only for advanced to grand prix classes for riders aged 26 and over. This is for the warm up only directly prior to the competition (which may include riding from horsebox park/stable to warm up arena) and the competition test.
  • If a hat comes off during a dressage test, it must be replaced immediately; the rider may dismount or the hat may be handed to them. The test will be restarted at the beginning of the movement during which it came off. There will be no penalty for error of course, but if the hat is not replaced the Judge is to eliminate the competitor.
  • Organisers may require that riders under the age of 21 wear protective hats at all levels. This will be stipulated in the schedule. Organisers may also prescribe venue-specific rules that are stricter than stated here which will be clearly shown in their schedules.
  • It is strongly recommended that members wear hats bearing the BSI kitemark in addition to the published safety standard.
  • Harnesses must be correctly fastened at all times whilst mounted.
  • Competitors are strongly recommended to check their hats regularly and to replace them if damaged, or following a fall.
  • If a rider starts their test without wearing the correct headgear, the judge is to ring the bell and instruct the rider to dismount and leave the arena. At the discretion of the organiser and the judge, the rider may restart the test once properly attired. If a rider fails to comply with the instruction, the organiser is to eliminate the competitor from all classes on that day. This will also apply if, as a result of a spot-check, a rider’s hat is found not to comply with the required standard.

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