When we go to horse shows, we have to take multiple things into account. There are many moving factors and preparation just for that few minutes at the show takes weeks, months, or even years. For instance, at dressage shows, a dressage test often lasts for 3-8 minutes. However, preparing for that test takes a long time. One of the preparation steps is reading through the rules of your equestrian federation (or FEI) and ensuring that you follow them. For example, every rider has to ensure that their tack is up to code.
In this article, we will look at what kind of safety stirrups are allowed at dressage shows.
Dressage shows and choosing the right tack
When we do dressage shows, there are many things we need to take into consideration. The right tack is one of the most important things. Opposite to showjumping or eventing shows, dressage shows require us to be very strict with the tack we can have.
The most important thing to remember is that dressage riders are not allowed to have any tack that will somehow aid in the performance. The only exception is para-riders, of course. However, if you attend regular dressage shows with normal rules, you should read the rulebook from cover to cover.
Bridle and bits
Now, you should note that sometimes, the rules vary between federations. However, generally speaking, your bridle and bit should be as simple as possible. Any bits with extra pieces or shanks, for instance, are not allowed. If you are unsure, you can always check the FEI rules for dressage shows.
Side-reins, rubber bands, martingales, etc.
At dressage shows, no extra aid is allowed. This means, that you cannot use side-reins, rubber bands, or martingales. However, you are allowed to use some of them in the warm-up: you just have to remember to remove them before entering the arena.
Also note, that dressage riders are not allowed to wrap their horses' legs or put on boots for them - again, this is for the actual test. In the warm-up, they are allowed.
Safety stirrups at dressage shows
One of the most interesting things to consider is safety stirrups at dressage shows. Though FEI and all equestrian federations are big on safety and require a helmet (unless high-level dressage), certain safety stirrups are not allowed. Whereas showjumpers can have any kind of stirrups they want, dressage riders cannot have stirrups that have magnets, for instance.
Magnetic safety stirrups, though recommended to use at home and in training, are not allowed at dressage shows. This is because they help to keep your foot in the stirrups, and can be considered an aid for the performance. However, if you are a para-rider, you can request to use magnetic safety stirrups.
This does not mean that you cannot use safety stirrups at all - you just have to make sure that the federation allows them.
Whips and spurs
No matter your level in dressage, spurs are mandatory. If your horse does not like spurs or you do not want to use them, you can opt-in for fake spurs. However, whips are not allowed in the arena, unless separately specified.
What else should I remember?
As we mentioned, there are many things regarding your tack that dressage riders have to take into account at dressage shows. You have to wear white pants, boots, helmet, gloves, spurs, and a show jacket. Also, your horse should have a white saddle pad.
Always remember to read the rulebook before entering a show - ensure that your tack is on point.
Frequently asked questions
Can I use Ophena stirrups at dressage shows?
You should check this with your local equestrian federation. However, if you are attending FEI shows, Ophena stirrups cannot be used in dressage shows, as they are considered and extra aid. Of course, for para-riders, this may be allowed.
Should I use safety stirrups at home?
Absolutely. Even if you would not use safety stirrups at shows, you should always use them when riding at home. After all, that is when most accidents happen.
What kind of safety stirrups are best for dressage shows?
First, you should check what kind of safety stirrups are allowed at your local show. However, good ones are any stirrups that have a safety mechanism, such as flexible joint stirrups.