From Endurance to Dressage
After writing this, I went back and reread it ... BORING. So, to eliminate the most boring parts, I've darkened the font. Read those parts only if you need help falling asleep! I decided not to add the rules prohibiting all the non-legal stuff because there is less allowed than prohibited! Meaning, you can ride with a saddle, pad (and half pad), bridle, spurs (that meet the rules), and a whip (that meets the rules). And that's IT!
I wrote this a while ago and felt that it was too boring even for this blog (which as you know strives to be interesting, but doesn't always succeed - I may really tank in this post!). If you already show, you already know all of this. So I guess this post is for anyone who is thinking of showing but doesn't know where to start with their tack. I was in that exact spot exactly one year ago.
And with that, here is some info about dressage tack that is legal for showing. You can find the complete USEF rules for dressage here.
The first thing you have to have is a dressage saddle. Here is what USEF says:
An English type saddle with stirrups is compulsory for Federation and USDF tests. An English type saddle may be constructed with or without a tree but cannot have a horn, swell, gallerie, or open gullet. Australian, Baroque, Endurance, McClellan, Spanish, Stock, or Western saddles are not permitted nor are modified versions of these saddles (exception: competitors with a current approved Federation Dispensation Certificate). A Dressage saddle which must be close to the horse and have long, near-vertical flaps and stirrups is compulsory for FEI tests. Saddle pads are optional, but should be white or of conservative color. English-style stirrups, without attachments, or safety stirrups are compulsory.
So ... basically a dressage saddle with stirrups.
The second thing you have to have is a bridle. Here is what USEF says:
For (Intro, too, I am assuming) Training, First and Second Level tests and FEI Pony tests, a plain snaffle bridle is required with a regular cavesson, a dropped noseband, a flash noseband (a combination of a cavesson noseband and a dropped noseband attachment) or a crossed noseband. Except for the FEI Pony tests, a crescent noseband is also permitted at these levels. Except for the crescent noseband, buckles and a small disk of sheepskin, which may be used in the intersection of the two leather straps of a crossed noseband, the headstall and cavesson/noseband of the bridle must be made entirely of leather or leather-like material. A padded cavesson/noseband and crownpiece are allowed. A browband is required, and except for the parts that attach to the crownpiece or headstall, is not required to be made of leather or leather-like material.
So ... basically any English style bridle. You'll notice that it doesn't have to be black or even made of leather!
And finally, you do have to have a bit, for now ... Here is what USEF says:
Only those bits listed with Figure 1 (can't show figure 1) are allowed. At any level of competition, a cavesson noseband may never be so tightly fixed that it causes severe irritation to the skin, and must be adjusted to allow at least two fingers under the noseband on the side of the face under the cheekbone. Cavesson nosebands may be used with a chin pad. At any level of competition, a browband may be multicolored and may be decorated with metal, beads, gemstones and crystals.
All bits must be smooth and with a solid surface. Twisted, wire and roller bits are prohibited. A bushing or coupling is permitted as the center link in a double jointed snaffle, however, the surface of the center piece must be solid with no moveable parts. The mouthpiece of a snaffle may be shaped in a slight curve, but ported snaffles are prohibited.
PERMITTED SNAFFLES* (Must be used in Training-Second Level Tests. Optional in Third and Fourth Level Tests.)
1. Ordinary snaffle with single-jointed mouthpiece.
2. Ordinary snaffle with double-jointed mouthpiece.
3. Racing snaffle (D-ring).
4. Snaffle. A) with cheeks, with or without keepers. B) without cheeks (Egg-butt).
5. Snaffle with upper or lower cheeks.
6. Unjointed snaffle (Mullen-mouth).
7. Snaffle with cheeks. (Hanging or drop cheek; Baucher). This may be a D-ring or other ordinary snaffle
8. Dr. Bristol.
10. French snaffle.
11. Snaffle with rotating mouthpiece.
So ... basically a snaffle style bit with no port or roller mouth pieces.
Here is what I used to use for endurance (endurance saddle/pad, breast collar, running martingale, crupper, trail bridle/halter combo, splint boots, various packs & hanging items, Easy boots, rump rug, and a fanny pack) and next to all that is what I am using on Speedy ... a lot less complicated than endurance gear!
As always, click photo for larger view.
About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2023 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2023 Show Schedule
*** SCEC 10/15-16/22
2022 Completed …
(*) Tehachapi 5/22/22
(*) Tehachapi 7/24/22
(***) Tehachapi 8/28/22
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%:
Score 1: 62.115%