As of April 1st, competitors at all United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) sanctioned dressage events will be required to wear helmets, including senior riders in Grand Prix and small tour events.
The decision made by USEF is the second time a major horse sport nation has implemented a safety helmet requirement at all levels of dressage. Canada implemented the rule first, requiring all national competitors to wear helmets back in 2012. The rule ends a contradictory and confusing application for senior riders that requires a helmet whenever mounted while on show grounds, except when warming up and in the competition arena.
Some other nations have experimented with helmet rules, but modified them to exclude Grand Prix riders because of complaints from riders. The new USEF rule requiring helmets applies also to riders who wear military or police uniforms, but senior riders in International Equestrian Federation (FEI) events will still be allowed to wear top hats.
On January 1st of this year, the FEI implemented the rule that had been adopted by the U.S. requiring safety helmets for all dressage events, except for seniors in Concours Dressage International (CDI) events, the international events that act as qualifiers for the World Cup and the Olympics.
The new rule states: “From the time horses are officially admitted to the competition grounds by competition management, anyone mounted on a horse at any time on the competition grounds including non-competing riders, riders on non-competing horses, and those competing in all classes and tests, including Para-Equestrian tests, must wear protective headgear as defined by this rule and otherwise in compliance with GR801. Any rider violating this rule at any time must immediately be prohibited from further riding until such headgear is properly in place. Protective headgear is defined as a riding helmet which meets or exceeds ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials)/SEI (Safety Equipment Institute) standards for equestrian use and carries the SEI tag. The harness must be secured and properly fitted.”