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New hat rule causing stir among dressage competitors

Theresa McCaffrey

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"North Forks Cardi Jessica Wisdom Final Salute 5-Apr-09 3-53 PM" by Nikki - originally posted to Flickr as North Forks Cardi Jessica Wisdom Final Salute 5-Apr-09 3-53 PM. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

It may seem like a minor detail to outsiders but a new hat rule could potentially cause a divide between competitors of the shopping world.

From January 1st 2014, competitors will be required to wear hats with chinstraps when taking part in showing class events. The new ruling was first announced by Sport Horse Breeding of Great Britain (SHBGB) in November 2013 but was met with condemnation from its members. Despite this opposition the governing body is deciding to make the wearing of hats compulsory for all hunter and sport horse classes.

However, while there had been some objections the SHBGB has gained support from committee member Katie Jerram who believes that hats with chinstraps can help to prevent serious injuries. Ms Jerram still notes that the reason she did not suffer a potentially fatal injury when she fell off her horse in 2009 was down to the fact that she was wearing a chinstrap.

Writing on her Facebook, Ms Jerram said: "In this day and age when safety standards are so high and the quality of hats available is so high, surely vanity shouldn't prevail over sanity. I lost my son at a young age through brain damage and my ex-husband is lucky to be alive.

"He couldn't look after himself for a year and had to learn to read and write again following his head injury. So please don't tell me that how you look is more important than your safety.”

Current dressage events see competitors wearing a top hat to complement their full show attire but the SHBGB is keen to enforce regulation that will ensure the safety of all involved. For the purists, it is seen as a break from tradition but officials at the governing body want to avoid any potential injuries in the future.