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Dressage Rules

All ESDCTA dressage schooling shows are conducted according to the USEF Rules for Dressage Competitions, with exceptions as noted here. A current copy of the USEF Rulebook where the most recent rule changes are highlighted in red is available on the USEF website:

Some of the most common questions pertaining to rules are explained briefly here:

  • A simple snaffle, regular caveson, flash, figure-eight or drop noseband are required. A noseband is required for dressage competitions unless prior approval to ride without one has been obtained. Twisted wire bits are not permitted. Refer to USEF Rules for Dressage #DR121: Saddlery and Equipment for a complete explanation of permitted saddlery and equipment as well as pictures of all permitted bits.
  • Bandages, boots, blinders, martingales, draw reins, side reins, running reins or artificial devices are not permitted. Lunging with side reins and riding or lunging with boots, bandages, ear muffs or a running martingale is permitted only in the warm-up arena.
  • Whips may be carried during a test, but may not exceed 47.2″ (120 cm). Only one whip may be used during warm-up and must not exceed 47.2″ (120 cm). Whips are not permitted in any championship classes.
  • Riders may have a reader (except in final and championship classes); however, it is the rider’s responsibility to know the test. Movements may be read only once. All FEI tests, including FEI Jr. tests, must be ridden from memory. Reference USEF Rule DR#122.
  • Use of voice while riding your test is not permitted.
  • Committing three course errors, leaving the arena during the test or marked lameness results in elimination.
  • Riders may not show under a judge from whom they have received private or semi-private instruction within 30 days of the show. The conducting of clinics or assistance in group activities, such as Pony Clubs, unless individual instruction is given, will not be considered as instruction, coaching or tutoring. Should a rider choose to show, s/he will then be riding “Hors de Concours” (HC). His/her score will not count toward awards.
  • Horses may not be entered in classes differing by more than one level at any one show. The number of classes entered must comply with the USEF rule limiting the total number of classes in which a horse may be ridden per day. Currently horses competing at 4th level and below may enter a maximum of 3 classes per day. Horses competing at the FEI level can enter a maximum of 2 classes per day. DSE, Quadrille and PDD classes are excluded from the maximum limit of rides per day.
  • A rider must enter the arena within 45 seconds of the judge’s signal (usually a bell or a whistle).
  • If jackets are excused, a shirt of conservative color, with sleeves, must be worn. Stock ties are to be removed and the shirt should be left open at the neck.
  • The current USEF rule on Protective Headgear will be enforced at all shows.

The following exceptions to USEF rules are permitted at ESDCTA dressage schooling shows:

  • Smooth leather or leather like half-chaps may be worn if combined with matching colored paddock boots at all levels at schooling shows.