Friday, September 12, 2014

Ask The Judge | 9/12/2014

Questions About Dressage

With Amy McElroy

Amy McElroy is a USEF R judge, qualified to officiate at any USEF recognized show at all national dressage levels. She rides, trains and teaches at Fairlane Farm in Aiken and judges about a dozen dressage shows and events each year. In her popular Ask the Judge column, she answers readers' questions about dressage.

Dear Amy,

The dog days of summer are here. I have entered several recognized comeptitions this summer - both USDF dressage and USEA shows. I know sometimes jackets are waived in the summer. Can you give me any information about when you have to wear a jacket and when you don't?

                                                                                       -Too Hot

Dear Hot,

The heat is definitely upon us for the summer, and both the United States Eventing Association and the United States Dressage Federation recognize that hot weather will have an effect on what riders wear in competition. The USEA and the USDF are both governed by the United States Equestrian Federation rulebook. The 2014 USEF rules for dress code are different, depending on whether you are competing in an event (USEA) or a straight dressage (USDF) show. Let's look at what the 2014 rulebooks say for both disciplines:

-DR120.1. Classes through the Fourth Level require a short riding coat of conservative color or a cutaway coat. 
-DR120.2. For all tests above Fourth Level, the dress code is a dark tailcoat or dark jacket. 
-DR120.3. At all test levels, riders may wear jackets in other colors within the international scale. Contrast coloring and piping is allowed. Striped or multi-colored coats are not permitted. Tasteful and discreet accents such as a color of a different hue, or modest piping, or crystal decorations are acceptable. Neckwear is only worn if a jacket is worn. 
-DR120.5. Riders in Level One competitions [one day shows] and riders in opportunity classes in Level Two [one or more day shows with two arenas] or Level Three [two or more day shows with three arenas]. Shirts of any color are permitted and jackets and vests of any type are allowed but not required. No neckwear unless wearing a jacket. 
-DR120.8. In locations with high average heat and humidity on the date of competition, management can publish in their prize list that jackets will be waived for the duration of the competition. Alternatively, management can announce prior to or during a competition that competitors can show without jackets when extreme heat and or humidity is forecast. This waiver applies to all classes. However, competitors must wear a shirt with sleeves and a collar without neckwear and without decoration. T-shirts are not permitted. 
-DR120.14. If coats are waived, a solid color cooling or lightweight vest may be worn over a riding shirt. [A riding shirt means a sleeved shirt (long or short sleeves) with a collar and no neckwear – i.e. no stock tie, etc.] 
-DR124.6. Elimination: Dress code violations inside the competition arena at the discretion of the ground jury.

So, for rated dressage shows, check your prize list first. You may find that coats are waived. In this case, you should plan to wear a riding shirt with sleeves (long or short). You have the option of wearing a vest over this if you are uncomfortable without your jacket. Even if jackets are not waived on your prize list, they may be waived on the day of the show. For this reason, you should be sure you have an appropriate, sleeved shirt with you to wear in case jackets are waived. You won’t want to be stuck wearing your jacket because you don’t have the right shirt.


-EV114.9. A competitor who competes with incorrect items of dress may be eliminated at the discretion of the ground jury. 
-EV114.10. At temperatures of 85 degrees and a heat index above 85 degrees, or at the discretion of the ground jury or the organizer, competitors will be permitted to compete without jackets in the dressage. In such cases, competitor must wear either a long or short sleeved shirt of conservative color, without neckwear. 
-EV114.5. Horse trials Beginner-Novice through Preliminary: a coat of dark color or tweed. Tailcoats not permitted. Shirt, white or lightcolored. 
-EV114.6. Horse trials Intermediate to Advanced and Three Day: A dark colored coat, but no tweed coat. Tailcoats are permitted. 
-EV114.8. At eventing tests or when three phases of a horse trials are contested over one day, a long or short sleeved shirt with a collar and without neckwear, of conservative color. A riding jacket is not mandatory. [No matter what the weather.]

So, if you are riding in an event, I would check the weather. Chances are, coats will be waived. If it is a one-day event with three phases, you already know that coats are not mandatory. However, you do need to have a conservative-colored shirt with a collar, and no neckwear.

According to the rules of both the USDF and USEA, when coats are waived, you are still allowed to wear them. But, I would like to stress that, when coats are waived and there is extreme heat, most judges would rather see you ride without a coat for your own well-being. Some riders believe that they will have better scores if they are wearing a jacket, but this is not true. As long as you are neatly turned out, you should be fine. Remember, we are judging the quality of your horse, the use of the training scale and the beauty and harmony of your ride, not your outfit. Stay cool!

This article is copyrighted and first appeared in The Aiken Horse. It is reprinted here by permission.