New FEI helmet rule goes into effect today...


Deluxe Dozens
11 Years
Mar 29, 2008
Riverside/Norco, CA
Safety Helmets for USA National Dressage Required on March 1


LEXINGTON, Kentucky, Jan. 24–Safety helmets will be required for all dressage riders in national-level competitions effective Mar. 1, 2011, under a new rule approved by the U.S. Equestrian Federation Sunday.

Senior riders in FEI (International Equestrian Federation) levels will have the option of competing in a top hat or protective headgear as at present. Although it appears FEI level riders are also exempt from wearing protective head gear in the warm up arena, a growing number of U.S. and international riders competing at FEI level in the U.S. are wearing safety helmets in both the warm up and competition arenas.

But if a rider is competing at both national and FEI level in the same competition they will be required to wear a safety helmet in all classes.

All riders under the age of 18 years must wear protective head gear at all levels, including FEI, as well as riders in FEI Dressage Tests for 4, 5 and 6 year-old horses as well as USEF test for 4-year-old horses.

The rule states: 'At any time while mounted on the competition grounds, all riders under age 18, and all riders while on horses competing in national level tests, all riders competing in Para-Equestrian tests, and all riders while on non-competing horses, must wear protective headgear as defined by this rule…'

Protective headgear is defined as a riding helmet which meets or exceeds ASTM/SEI (American Society for Testing and Materials/Safety Equipment Institute) standards for equestrian use and carries the SEI tag.

The harness must be secured and properly fitted.

The head gear rules for dressage were changed in response to a groundswell of concern about safety that was brought to prominence after Olympian Courtney King-Dye was seriously injured in a horse accident early in 2010 and is undergoing extensive rehabilitation.
I think this is a great new rule.
I compete in eventing and ride a young thoroughbred, so I usually wear a helmet, but anything can happen on any horse, really.
I know many consider the tophat to be "traditional", but I believe that safety should come before tradition. This rule could save the lives of riders and i think it's a great step forward for FEI.
I'm glad the rule is in place. I think that the injury of Courtney King-Dye had a lot to do with the rule being accepted by the delegates and membership, but I think that the legal advisors probably indicated to USEF, that they were leaving themselves open for incredible liability if they did not start to put helmet rules in place.

I also believe that eventually, all divisions of USEF competition will have helmet rules. I heard that there was some agitation from some of the 'breed' divisions as they did not want helmet rules in their classes.

I am guessing that hunters are the biggest USEF division, and I think helmets are required for all over fences classes now anyway.
It certainly should be a requirement at ALL levels of competition, IMO. I used to get a lot of weird looks when I drove in driving classes with my helmet on, but I think driving a horse put to a carriage is even more dangerous than being mounted...the cart can pack quite a wallop too if something happens. I don't even put a foot to a stirrup without a helmet on...a person has only one head, and the head they save will be their own.
Eeeeeeeek.....DRIVING.....eeeeeeek. I was talking to a gal who said she had gone to a bunch of driving events in Europe on vacation. I thought wow cool! She proceeded to tell me, with delicious relish at my horrified reaction, the many accidents she had seen, with all sorts of mayhem happening that I'd rather not delineate on a child-friendly site. BUT OH MAN. I do a little driving, and I never get 'in' without a helmet on. That dang war wagon with 4 horses weighs in at about 6000 lbs (1200 lb per horse = 4800 lb + 1200 lb vehicle). My little training single w/ pone is 640 + 350 lbs= 909lb - nothing to sneeze at if it's resting on your head. I see people blissfully careening around without a brain bucket and figure I'll be helping them get SSI in a few years...
You want to see the ulitmate driving wreck video, youtube search Country Pleasure Driving Class Gone Wrong. Warning, if you don't want to see several national caliber arabians one by one losing it in a class, losing their drivers, crashing into other horses, falling down, total mayhem, DO NOT do the search. I think it should be required viewing for anyone considering driving... but not required for youngsters who are sensitive to horses getting hurt and seeing bad wrecks. They should be required headgear at all times, I think, for driving, same as they are for motorcycles. A horse under harness is considered the same as a vehicle on the road, and should have some safeguards in place same as seatbelts in cars, helmets on motorbikes, life vests on boats.
Great rule. I am so for people , not just kids wearing helmets you have no idea.
I have my son today because of a riding helmet.
We had a very hot under the collar conversation about that when that video came out.

One person was shocked at all that was done wrong in that video.

Then another friend chimed in and dressed her down for being an elitist and not recognizing that 'stuff happens'.

THEN another driving person chimed in and spent a good long time lecturing the lot of us as to all the different things that were wrong during the class - incorrect training, harness and fitting of vehicles, incorrect actions of the handlers/drivers.

I took notes from what speaker number 3 said, lol. And after thinking about what she said I started looking at the fitting of a LOT of carts and harnesses and was pretty shocked to realize that these errors were very, very widespread.

"I have my son today because of a riding helmet"

That deserves an explanation
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