Choosing Tack for the Dressage Horse

Dressage is a riding discipline that celebrates discipline, grace, elegance, and beauty. It is a riding discipline that is made even more beautiful by its simplicity.

Video: A Rescue Horse’s StoryMojito is a rescue horse who is (almost) 4 years old. 
Mojito has been adopted! He is both intelligent and sensible. He was a rescue horse we adopted to train and find a good home for him. 
He is currently at the Craig Memorial Equestrian Center in Leverett, MA.

When it comes to outfitting the dressage rider less is better. A rider competing in the lower levels should be wearing well-polished black hunt or field boots. They should have invested in a pair of britches.

A clean white shirt should be worn with a collar and ta stock pin. Covering the white shirt should be wearing a dark-colored jacket. The rider’s hands should be covered in dark-colored gloves that will help disguise the movement of the rider’s hands.

If the rider has long hair is should be gathered up and tucked neatly out of sight.

On the riders, the head should be a black helmet. If the rider is a junior rider, under the age of eighteen, many show committees require that the rider’s helmet should meet ASTM/SEI standards and have a fastened harness.

Unless the rider is aboard a hot horse (high spirited horse with an excessive amount of go) the rider should have a pair of spurs which help dress up the rider’s leg.

A rider competing in the lower levels of dressage should make sure their horse’s tack follows the same simple guidelines as the rider’s apparel.

Before entering the competition the horse’s coat should be clean and well-groomed.

Long before leaving for the show the rider should have pulled their horse’s mane and on the morning of the show they should have plaited the shortened, thinned mane into several tidy braids, if they have a horse with a nice steady headset they can wrap the braids with white adhesive tape, at the lower levels of competition braids are not actually required but they are a sign of respect.

The tail should be left upbraided. The horse’s hooves should be polished with either clear or black hoof polish. The horse’s bit should be a simple snaffle, curb bits are not acceptable in dressage competitions, the bit can not include any copper. The bit should be attached to a plain leather bridle.

On the horses back there should be a leather saddle. At the lower levels of competition, the rider can choose between a black or brown colored saddle and they have the option of using a dressage saddle or a dressage saddle.

Under the saddle there should be a saddle blanket, the blanket can be black or white and be either a square-cut or can be shaped to follow the line of the saddle.

Once a rider has reached the upper levels of dressage competition there are a few subtle changes in their show attire. FEI rules require that they wear a pair of white britches.

Hunt coats are no longer allowed, riders are required to wear the longer, more elegant shad belly.

Although there is no rule banning the wearing of a helmet most riders choose to wear a derby style hat. Black gloves are replaced with white gloves.

Just like the riders show clothing there are some changes made in the horse’s tack. The bridle must be made of black leather, in the horse’s mouth there should be two bits in the horse’s mouth, a snaffle bit and a curb bit.

A whip is no longer allowed in competition.  (thank goodness!) The horse must be braided.

The saddle must be a dressage style cut and be made of black

Some riders have chosen to add a jewel-encrusted browband to dress up a plain horses head.

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