Whether it is a dressage competition or the dressage section of a horse trial, it is a good idea to get yourself familiar with the different equipment and tack that is needed. A good place to start is the British Dressage Rulebook and British Eventing’s section in their rulebook on rules for Dressage. If you are taking your children to pony club, it is also a good idea to check out what they require as well, as sometimes they add or take away little different rules compared to the main disciplines British Dressage (BD) and British Eventing (BE).
You will find that most unaffiliated competitions are also run under British Dressage (BD) rules.
Types of saddles.
I like the above picture as it shows what you could use for a dressage competition. You do not necessarily need a dressage saddle, but it can help when trying to work with a more established seat and working your horse over the back and through into a subtle, consistent contact. There are horses that do go better in a general purpose or jumping saddle and there is nothing in the rules to stop you using this. It is a personal preference for the horse and rider.
It is also usual to wear a white saddle cloth as this goes with the white or pale jodphurs that riders wear.
Brushing boots and overreach boots.
When completing you need to remember that the horse can not wear brushing boots or overreach boots in the arena. If your horse needs to wear these is it a very good idea to have your friend or groom take them off before entering the arena, otherwise, you will be disqualified.
Breastplates and types of bridles.
You can, however, wear a breastplate, usually, a hunting breastplate as this will not show up too much and if you have a difficult horse it gives you something to hold on too! Also, your horse can now wear a snaffle bridle up to advanced level. It is a personal preference as to when and at what time in your horse’s training that you decide to use a double bridle. Micklerm Bridles are now permitted as well.
All the allowed types of bits are in the British Dressage (BD) rulebook and you are now able to wear a grackle noseband under BD rules. This used to be a BE rule and it has now been found to have better use of pressure points on a horse structure, However, bit guards are not allowed in competition.
You now need to have a bridle number on both sides of your horses, either on the bridle or saddle cloth. You can also ride in a waistcoat as long as the competition is not a championship, which can help all the riders that get warm when competing.
You also have to have gloves on, but it is no longer necessary to wear white gloves, I tend to wear light brown or beige gloves.
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