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What to wear at dressage competitions


  • You’ve learnt your test, practised your rein back and your dressage horse is all set for his debut show, but do you know what to wear for dressage competitions? There are strict rules on dress code at British Dressage affiliated competitions, although for unaffiliated shows, guidelines tend to be less stringent. Skip to the bottom to find out what is expected in unaffiliated dressage classes.

    What to wear for affiliated dressage competition

    • For introductory to advanced medium tests (including FEI junior): uniform, short jacket or tweed coat with correctly tied stock/white round collar or shirt and tie, with a protective hat.
    • Advanced tests and upwards: option of a tailcoat or short jacket both with protective hat, and correctly tied stock or shirt and tie. Forces uniform may be worn with protective hat (or protective service hat).
    • Body protectors may be worn.

    Coats/jackets

    • Tailcoats, short jackets and waistcoats may be a conservative colour in a muted tone.
    • Bright colours or bold patterns are not permitted.
    • Subtle pinstripe, coloured collars and contrast piping are permitted.
    • Tweed is permitted, so long as it is not brightly coloured or boldly patterned.
    • Navy jackets with red collar and white piping are reserved solely for British team riders.
    • In regular competitions, competitors may ride without jackets, but with a fitted waistcoat in muted tones as above.
    • For championships, regionals, Area Festivals, Premier Leagues and High Profile shows, jackets must be worn unless the judges and organiser have given permission for competitors to ride without jackets. In this instance, riders must wear a fitted waistcoat.
    • Plain, dark-coloured waterproof coats may be worn in wet weather.
    • Body protectors are permitted in any conservative muted tone.

    Shirts

    • Can be long or short-sleeved in a solid colour.
    • Must fasten at the neck with a tie, white round collar or correctly fastened stock.

    Hats

    • A protective hat must be worn at all times when mounted, with harness correctly fastened.
    • Top hats are no longer permitted.
    • Hats and hat covers may be any conservative colour.
    • Completely mirrored hats are not permitted.
    • Hats must meet one of the following standards:
      • British – all PAS 015 (1998 and subsequent updates)
      • European – VG1 , EN1384 – 2017 (only in conjunction with another standard from this list)
      • American – SNELL E2001, E2016, ASTM F1164 2004 and later with SEI
      • Australian and New Zealand – AS/NZS 3838 2006 onwards.
      • Hats wearing the BSI Kitemark or SAI mark in addition to published safety standard are strongly recommended.

    Breeches/jodhpurs

    • Cream, white, canary yellow or beige, unless worn with official services uniform when they may be of the uniform colour.

    Gloves

    • Compulsory.

    Boots

    • Conventional riding boots, either short or long.
    • Gaiters may be worn with short boots as long as they are the same colour as the boot and are not suede or fringed.

    Spurs

    • Permitted at all levels; no longer mandatory from advanced level and upwards. For FEI competitions, refer to FEI rules.
    • Must be worn as a pair (except for side-saddle classes)
    • Must be made of metal, which can be coated.
    • Spurs with smooth rotating rubber, metal or plastic ball on the shank are permitted
    • Comb spurs are not permitted.
    • Shank must point towards the rear and end must be clearly horizontal or pointing downwards.
    • Dummy and correctly fitted swan-neck spurs are permitted.
    • No restrictions on type of shank.
    • Rowels which have points must have rounded ends

    Whips

    • May be carried at:
      • All qualifiers, including Quest.
      • Quest regionals and championships.
      • Warm-up classes at championships.
      • Young horse/pony (4, 5, 6, 7yo) qualifiers.
      • Young horse/pony (4yo) championships and semis.
      • Premier Leagues and High Profiles (but selectors may request a whip is not used)
      • Ladies riding side-saddle may carry a whip at any time.
      • Para riders may carry whips appropriate to their dispensation certificate.
    • Not permitted at:
      • Championships, including Area Festivals, regionals, music, nationals and winters.
      • Associated Championships (including Forces Equine).
      • Combined Training Championship (dressage phase).
      • Young horse/pony (5, 6, 7yo) championships and semis.
      • FEI young horse tests.

    What to wear at an unaffiliated dressage show

    You won’t go wrong if you adhere to the affiliated rulebook, as described above. However, the dress code tends to be more lenient at local unaffiliated shows. Whatever the level of show, you’ll want to be smartly turned out in jacket, jodhpurs/breeches and stock or tie. Gloves are always essential in dressage.

    Your best best is to stick to the list above, and if you want to check if an item is appropriate – for example, a bolder tweed or the colour of jacket – contact the show secretary to check that it is permitted.

    One item that is essential whatever the code, is protective headgear to the appropriate safety standard:

      • British – all PAS 015 (1998 and subsequent updates)
      • European – VG1 , EN1384 – 2017 (only in conjunction with another standard from this list)
      • American – SNELL E2001, E2016, ASTM F1164 2004 and later with SEI
      • Australian and New Zealand – AS/NZS 3838 2006 onwards.
      • Hats wearing the BSI Kitemark or SAI mark in addition to published safety standard are strongly recommended.

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