Notable USEF 2023 Dressage Competition Rule Changes

Dressage Show Coat 

IT IS COMPETITION TIME! We get excited watching the Dapper Horse community compete with their excellent trainers, horses, and team. We are, as always, rooting for you and proud of all of the efforts you put into your craft.

Competition time also means a lot of "What can I wear?" In 2022, the most talked about change was the color of competition breeches.  We do not have any dramatic changes this year; however, now is a great time to highlight some of the changes.  The 2023 rules can be found in the 2023 USEF Rulebook.  

Here is a highlight of the rules language you, our customers, should be aware of in 2023:

DR120 Dress.

Language has been added to clarify that coats and jackets with a discreet stretch/breathable panel in black or the same color as the garment are permitted. The Dress Code provisions of this section apply to all classes and levels, including Championships, at USEF Licensed-USDF recognized dressage competitions. 

1.1 Protective Headgear. Protective headgear is defined as a riding helmet, which meets or exceeds current ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials)/SEI (Safety Equipment Institute) standards for equestrian use and carries the SEI tag. 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, mounted participants in exhibition classes, and those competing in all classes and tests, including Para Dressage tests, must wear protective headgear as defined by this rule and otherwise in compliance with GR801. The harness must be secured and properly fitted. Any rider violating this rule at any time must immediately be prohibited from further riding until the headgear is properly in place.

Protective headgear may be the same as or a coordinating color with the coat, and may include contrast coloring, accent, and crystal decoration. See DR136 for dress code rules for exhibitions.

Dressage Short Tailcoat

1.2 Coats and Jackets. A short riding jacket or cutaway coat (modified tailcoat) with short tails is permitted at any level of competition. A tailcoat is permitted in all classes above Fourth level and in tests for FEI Juniors. Any single color jacket or tailcoat is permitted and may have subtle pin striping, checks or tweeds. Striped or multicolored jackets or coats are not permitted. The color of stretch and/or breathable underarm or side of the body panel in a jacket may be black or the same color as the garment fabric. Tasteful and discreet accents, such as a collar of a different hue, modest piping, or crystal decorations, are acceptable. Only riders competing in Level 1 dressage competitions or in Opportunity classes are not required to wear a riding jacket or coat.

1.3 Vests. Vests of any type are permitted but not required. Vests, including cooling vests, may be worn underneath or outside a riding jacket or when jackets are waived.

1.3.1. Per GR801, a body protecting or inflatable vest, specifically designed for use in equestrian sport, may be worn in any division or class without penalty from the judge.

1.3.2. When the only warm-up available is open to all horses and riders, riders with safety concerns are encouraged to wear an orange vest.

1.4 Breeches and Jodhpurs. White, light or dark colored breeches or jodhpurs are permitted in competition. Bright colors or patterns are not permitted. Contrast piping is allowed.

1.5 Shirts and Neckwear. Shirts with tie, choker, stock tie, or integrated stand-up collar are required. Ties, chokers, or stock ties may be any color. If jackets or coats are not worn per DR 120.1.2 and DR 120.2.1, shirts may be any color, must have sleeves and a collar, and separate removable neckwear is prohibited.

1.6 Boots & Half Chaps. For tests or classes at Fourth level or below, riders may wear tall boots or paddock/jodhpur boots with half-chaps or garters, matching the color of their boots, and made of smooth leather or leather-like material. Tall English-style riding boots, including dress or field boots or variations thereof, are required above Fourth Level. Boots of coordinating color(s), with or without accents, are permitted. Boots/shoes worn while riding anywhere on the competition grounds must have a distinguishable heel.

Equestrian Competition Gloves

1.7 Gloves. White or light colored gloves are recommended and any solid color is permitted at Fourth Level and below. Black, brown, or white gloves are required in FEI tests or levels.

2. Weather Conditions. In locations with high average heat and humidity on the date of a competition, competition management may publish in its prize list that jackets will be waived for the duration of the competition.

Alternatively, management may announce prior to or during a competition that competitors may show without jackets when extreme heat and/or humidity is forecasted. This waiver applies to national classes at a USEF licensed-USDF recognized dressage competition.

2.1 Competitors must wear protective headgear and shirt with sleeves and collar, without neckwear. T-shirts are not permitted.

2.2 Competitors are permitted to wear a hat cover and a rain coat, with or without a riding jacket, in inclement weather.

This is not an exhaustive list; therefore, I encourage you to reference the complete list of USEF 2023 rules which can be found here.

Good luck and see you in the ring!

The Dapper Horse Team