British Dressage considers implementing mandatory helmet rule


Equestrian HelmetGreat Britain may follow in the footsteps of the U.S. and Canada by requiring helmets for lower-level dressage riders. British Dressage is currently seeking input from its membership on a potential rule change for 2012.

A few years ago, it seemed unlikely that helmets would ever be universally accepted by the competitive dressage world, but the general attitude changed following 2008 Olympian Courtney King-Dye’s serious accident in 2010. The United States Equestrian Federation passed rules in January requiring helmets for eventers and dressage riders competing at all but the highest levels.

Equine Canada followed suit in March with a rule mandating helmets for dressage competitors at Fourth Level and below.

So far, the rule changes and proposals have only affected competitors showing below the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) level. The FEI is the governing body for dressage at the international level, and while FEI rules do allow riders to choose to wear protective headgear, they have not yet taken steps to make helmets mandatory.

Several options have been proposed by British Dressage.

  1. Mandate safety hats at all times for everyone riding at a BD affiliated show, whether competing or not, with a permitted exception for those who compete at Advanced or higher, who may wear top hats for the competition phase only.
  2. Mandate safety hats at all times for those competing at Advanced Medium and below with Advanced+ riders permitted to wear hats of their choice for both working in and competition.
  3. Mandate safety hats only for riders competing in Young Horse classes which, by their nature, are likely to have a higher risk.
  4. Mandate safety hats for younger riders competing in classes restricted to that specific age group.
    Note. It is not possible to mandate a hat rule for a specific age group in mixed competition where younger riders compete alongside adults
  5. Continue to leave the decision as the responsibility of the rider and review when the FEI make a change to their rules.

Members are invited to offer feedback on the proposals through July 2011. A rule change would take effect on December 1, 2011.


  1. I’m glad that this might happen.
    Not only should we worry about our horses safety, but our safety is just as important. Helmets are a great thing to have.


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