Eventing Dressage – Rider Dress and Horse Tack Rules Explained

Eventing Dressage Rider Dress

When competing under British Eventing rules, there are a number of core dress rules for the rider. These can be broken down into three sections depending on the level you are competing at.

BE80(T), BE90, BE100, BE100Plus, BE105, Novice

  • Protective Headwear in a black or dark blue colour
  • Jackets may be a single muted tone conservative colour. Subtle pinstripes, coloured collars, contrast piping to collar, lapels, pockets and vents are permitted. Conservative/muted tone tweed jackets are permitted as long as they are not loud colours or have bold patterns
  • If a competitor chooses not to wear a jacket, they can wear a fitted conservative colour waistcoat.
  • A long or short sleeve shirt that fastens at the neck in white, cream or a conservative colour (no bright or multi colours may be worn)
  • A tie, American collar or correctly fastened stock
  • Gloves
  • White, buff or fawn breeches
  • Plain black boots, topped boots or full grain smooth black leather gaiters with matching boots
  • Brown boots, or brown leather gaiters with matching boots must wear buff or brown breeches

Intermediate

  • Protective Headwear in a black or dark blue colour
  • Jackets may be a single muted tone conservative colour. Subtle pinstripes, coloured collars, contrast piping to collar, lapels, pockets and vents are permitted. Conservative/muted tone tweed jackets are permitted as long as they are not loud colours or have bold patterns
  • Only a British Team rider may wear a navy jacket with a red collar and pockets with white piping.
  • If a competitor chooses not to wear a jacket, they can wear a fitted waistcoat of any muted conservative colour, it should not have a bold pattern or be brightly coloured.
  • A long or short sleeve shirt that fastens at the neck in white, cream or a conservative colour (no bright or multi colours may be worn)
  • A tie, American collar or correctly fastened stock
  • Gloves
  • White, buff or fawn breeches
  • Plain black boots, topped boots or full grain smooth black leather gaiters with matching boots

Intermediate Championships, Advanced Intermediate, Advanced

  • Protective Headwear in a black or dark blue colour
  • Tail coat in black or dark blue
  • White stock or white tie
  • Gloves
  • White, buff or fawn breeches
  • Plain black boots or full grain smooth black leather gaiters with matching boots. Topped boots must be worn with white breeches

For All Levels

Protective Headwear must be worn when mounted, this includes exercising, warming up or competing, and conform to the following standards;

  • British & European – BSI Kitemark or Inspec IC Mark with a PAS 015 (1998 or 2011) or VG01.040 2014-12
  • American – ASTM F1163: 2004a onwards with SEI mark 2001 and 2016
  • Australian & New Zealand – AS/NZS 3838 2006 onwards with SAI Global mark

All hats must be ‘hat tagged’ by a British Eventing official for compliance.

Inflatable/air jackets are permitted without a body protector for the dressage phase.

Spurs are optional at all levels. Spurs must be made of smooth metal, blunt and incapable of wounding a horse. Metal spurs with round plastic, metal or rubber knobs are allowed. Rowel spurs which rotate freely and are round and smooth are permitted but not in the Young Horse Classes. Dummy spurs are permitted with a shank less than 4cm long and point towards the rear and if curved must point downwards.

Whips are not allowed while competing in the dressage test but may be used with warm up with.

Jewellery if worn can increase the risk of injury. Competitors are strongly advised to remove all jewellery especially before the Showjumping and cross country phases. Long hair should also be appropriately secured.

Eventing Dressage Horse Tack Rules

There are certain tack requirements for your horse when competing under British Eventing rules for the Dressage phase. Here we explain a brief overview of the 2020 British Eventing Rules and Members’ Handbook 2020. In essence British Dressage rules govern the dressage phase except where modified British Eventing rules apply.

Saddles
An English or Continental style saddle with a pommel, cantle and flaps. This includes treeless saddles. Side saddles are not allowed. The saddle should be either black or brown, navy and grey in colour.

A gel pad/memory foam or sheepskin seat is permitted as long as it is unobtrusive and matches the colour of the saddle.

Unless a dispensation had been granted, velcro straps from the girth to the stirrup iron or a mechanical means of fixing the rider’s boot to a stirrup iron is not permitted.

Bridles
The horse must wear a conventional bridle with a bit, noseband and browband. The reins are to be attached to the bridle via the bit. The bridle colour is predominately black or brown (again navy and grey are also permitted). Discreet padding on the noseband and headpiece/poll area is permitted. Padding is not permitted on the cheek piece area or the front of the noseband.

Bits
A snaffle bridle can be worn in the Dressage phase for all levels, from Intermediate Novice or above a double bridle can be worn. Permitted snaffle bits include:

  • An ordinary plain straight bar or jointed centre snaffle
  • Ordinary snaffle with double-jointed mouthpiece including French link and with a lozenge
  • D Ring Racing snaffle
  • Egg-butt snaffles with or without cheeks
  • Snaffle with upper cheeks only
  • Rubber, leather, plastic or steel unjointed or jointed snaffles
  • Hanging cheek snaffle

British Eventing has produced a table which defines the saddlery that is permitted, not permitted or compulsory at each phase.

Riding In Exercise Areas Lungeing Dressage Tests Show Jumping & Cross Country
Bit guard & tongue guard Y Y N Y
Nose net Y Y Y Y
Ear covers *1 Y Y Y Y
Ear plugs N Y N N
Fly fringe Y Y N *3 N *3
Face masks *5 NOT PERMITTED
Snaffle bridle/ Micklem multi-bridle/ST-Zaum/Freeflex/Stubben Freedom/PS of Sweden High Jump/ PS of Sweden Jump off/ Collegiate Comfitec/ Jeffries Gentle Bridle/Grackle. Bridles must be used with a permitted bit, without bit clips and with a throatlash Y Y Y Y
Double bridle Y Y N *4 Y
Running and Irish martingale Y Y N Y
Bib martingale Y Y N Y
Side, running reins and chambons N Y N N
Neck strap Y Y Y Y
Seat covers Y Y X Y
Boots, Bandages Y Y N Y
Equiboots/Hoofboots Y Y N N
English style saddle COMPULSORY
Flash, crossed (incl. grackle/Mexican) or dropped noseband only with snaffle bridle PERMITTED
Cavesson noseband PERMITTED *2
Breast plat PERMITTED
Blinkers NOT PERMITTED
Tongue Strao and/or tying down the horse’s tongue NOT PERMITTED
Draw reins NOT PERMITTED
Standing martingale NOT PERMITTED
Any other form or martingale or gadget NOT PERMITTED
Sheepskin cheekpieces and any other attachment fitted to the cheek pieces that may affect the horse’s vision NOT PERMITTED
Sheepskin noseband *6 Y Y N Y
Coloured stirrups Y Y N Y
Body bandage/spur pad Y Y N Y
Stirrups which can be attached by magnets or other means to riders’ boots NOT PERMITTED

Source: British Eventing Members Handbook

*1 Ear Covers / Protective Fly Hoods are permitted and may provide noise reductions. The ear covers should be discreet in colour and design. Ear covers may not be attached to the noseband.
*2 Compulsory with a double bridle
*3 Only permitted if specially authorised for all competitors in exceptional climatic conditions by a BE Steward
*4 Double bridles are only permitted at Intermediate Novice and above for dressage
*5 Equivizor is permitted for warming up on the flay with clear lenses
*6 Sheepskin shall not be used on a Grackle/X noseband other than on the crossover section.