FEI allows snaffle bits for 1-2* dressage events

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File image. © FEI/Stephen Mowbray

Dressage riders at one and two star level can choose to compete in a snaffle bridle rather than a double bridle, under new rules introduced by horse sport’s governing body.

Previously, double bridles were mandatory for one-star and two-star horses. The update ruling to the FEI’s dressage rules came into effect on January 1.

They state that either a snaffle or a double bridle is allowed in 1*, 2* and international Junior and Young Rider classes.

Bits are still compulsory, meaning that bitless horses cannot compete in dressage, and nosebands – either a cavesson, dropped, flash, crossed, combined – are also compulsory at all levels of the sport.

The rules state that a noseband “may never be so tightly fixed that it causes harm to the horse”. These  must be checked as per the Stewards noseband protocol, which states “The tightness check must be done with the steward’s index finger between the horse’s cheek and the noseband.”

If the noseband is noted to be too tight during the pre-competition gear check, the rider is to be asked to loosen it. If the noseband is tight after the horse has finished the test, the chief steward will give a yellow warning card to the rider.

• Abuse of the horse is also defined under the FEI Steward’s Manual, and includes excessive and inappropriate whip, hand or leg use, the prolonged use of training methods or movements, and sensitisation or desensitisation of any part of the horse.

Excessive use of hyperflexion (or rollkur) fall under the FEI Steward’s Manual, which states: “Long, deep and round riding is accepted, unless used excessively or prolonged (hyperflexion of the neck). There is a danger when copied by unskilled riders. There is a fine line between training and overtraining!”

The latest FEI Dressage rules are here.

The Stewards Manual for dressage is here.

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