Fun With Rules

The USEF Rule Book isn’t a real book.It just plays one on TV. The main manual of our sport doesn’t come in a paper version any more.You can find it online at and study the relevant portions there or download any of it you want.You can also put it on a mobile device such as a Kindle.Although it appears on those electronic media in book form, the only way you’ll get it on paper is to print it out yourself. Actually, if you’re a techie troglodyte like myself, that’s not such a bad way to go.The most relevant sections to our dressage showing lives are DR 120 to DR124, which only cover about 25 pages.I have two printed copies encased in plastic sleeves, one in my judging briefcase and one in my show bag.My IT guy–aka my husband–recently also downloaded the entire dressage section of the Rule Book to a new tablet he got for me.He seems to expect me to use that tablet as a combined reading and computing device to lighten my load on airplanes, plus music player, email supplier, camera and maybe operate the Space Shuttle while I’m at it. His expectations of my techie prowess are always greater than my own.

I’ve been drowning in rules questions lately.I prepared a “fun rules quiz” (an oxymoron?) for several 2015 new-test forums I’ve been giving.I also got a call a couple weeks ago from an East Coast GMO newsletter editor asking my permission to reprint an article I did in 2011 for USDF Connection on “50 Ways to Get Eliminated.”No problem giving permission, but I needed to update itsince four years is a chasm in the rules-change continuum. Then I got another call from a Midwest GMO with the same request, so at least this time it was ready to go.And right now I’m wading through the rules exam that all U.S. dressage judges are required to complete every three years.

When I was updating the article, I was interested to note a couple big changes.One was that the head gear controversy was finally settled for good with the requirement that all riders at USEFdressage shows wear approved helmets.The only time you’ll now see a top hat at a dressage show in the U.S. is when it is run under FEI rules.Fall of horse or rider now means elimination, which it didn’t four years ago.And you no longer have to ask permission to use a fly hood if you are showing outdoors–just be prepared to take it off for inspection after you leave the ring.

Some rules get changed but never seem to die.I was told yet again this week that a mixed-metals bit was illegal.Not so–that rule vanished years ago.Whips can be up to 47”, not the 43” of recent memory, and gloves are NOT required at the lower levels.I don’t think they have ever been, at least not since I started showing in the ‘70s.Let’s not get into the color of the gloves, or of any dressage show gear for that matter.That FEI color scale that dictates allowed colors is more confusing than Windows 8.






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