Equine Canada/Dressage Canada have issued a late rule change that as of May 1st, 2011, only competitors above 4th level will be allowed to wear Top Hats in Canadian Competitions. All others must wear a safety approved helmet with harness when mounted on the show grounds. Failure to comply will cause the rider to be eliminated from the show.
Here is a copy of the new rule as of March 23rd, 2011:
ARTICLE E 4.0 SAFETY HEADGEAR [effective May 1, 2011]
1. ASTM/SEI or BSI approved headgear must be worn by all riders
showing Fourth Level and below, regardless of age, when mounted on
the competition grounds at EC Bronze, Silver and Gold competitions.
2. ASTM/SEI or BSI approved headgear must be worn by all noncompeting
riders mounted on horses entered in classes at Fourth Level
or below in EC Bronze, Silver and Gold competitions.
3. All riders of any age while on non-competing horses must wear
protective headgear at all times while mounted on the competition
4. The penalty for contravening 4.0.1 is elimination.
5. Non-competing riders who contravene 4.0.2 and/or 4.0.3 will be
instructed to dismount until wearing an ASTM/SEI or BSI approved
Note: At the tack check which follows the test, the steward may ask the
rider to dismount so that the helmet may be inspected for the ASTM/SEI or
My comment is that I will miss wearing my Top Hat until I can ride in the FEI classes. It’s unfortunate that this elegant piece of our attire will no longer be visible at the higher national levels of our sport. I acknowlege the inherent risks of riding, but always felt that once you reached third level, you were secure enough in your training to make a personal decision as to the head gear appropriate for your level of showing. Equine Canada (Dressage Canada)’s position is to: ensure our safety and protect against liability. I thought that is why we signed waivers to compete at shows.