After a winter largely spent locked down, we imagine a lot of the people out there are ready to start seeing friends and living their lives once again. For keen equestrians like us, that has meant finally having the first competition dates in the diary, giving us a clear training aim for the first time in many months. It’s exciting and nerve-wracking in equal measure, but we can’t wait to get back out there. Have you already got some competitions lined up this spring?
If you’re a seasoned affiliated campaigner you probably have a good handle on the tack you’re allowed to use for your chosen sport, but it’s always with double-checking before you finalise arrangements for that first day out. The rules do occasionally change, and you don’t want your training and the trip itself to be a waste. Take a look at your governing body rulebook for specific rules related to allowed and banned tack.
Perhaps you’re new to affiliated dressage, showjumping or eventing, or are returning to it after a long break? If that’s the case, then it is well worth your time checking to see what tack you can and can’t use in your chosen discipline. For example, happy mouth bits, Kimblewicks, B-ring snaffles and bits with gag cheeks are all banned in affiliated British Dressage competitions. Or, if you’re lucky enough to have a beautiful Iberian horse and have the classical style of saddle to match, sadly you won’t be able to ride in it for competitions.
If you’re taking part in British Eventing affiliated competitions make sure you remind yourself of the tack permitted for each phase. No martingales (standing, bib, running or Irish) are allowed for the dressage test at any level, and you can only use a double bridle at Intermediate Novice level and above. Even for the cross-country phase tack should be ‘sensible’ colours, such as brown, black or tan.
British Showjumping competitions allow for a much broader range of tack colours and styles, but there are still rules you need to know about. For example, the shank length on Pelham and Weymouth bits and the styles and sizes of curbs you are allowed have been tweaked in the last two years. It’s well worth checking in to avoid disappointment or embarrassment on the day!
Thankfully, ergonomic bridles such as ours are allowed under all the different affiliated rules and regulations. Elevator bridles are designed to prevent pressure being applied to the sensitive structures of a horse’s head, so you want to be able to use them all the time, including the competition days when you and your horse need to perform at your best. That improved comfort might just give you the competitive edge, too! If you’re returning to the ring soon and would love a beautiful new bridle for the big day, take a look here.