From Endurance to Dressage
I am a rule follower. Mostly. If the rule is stupid, I'll generally look for a way around it, but otherwise, I see the value in creating norms for society. Without rules, Chaos abounds, and frankly, I see too much of Chaos as it is. It was while thumbing through the August issue of the California Dressage Society's monthly newsletter, Dressage Letters, that I saw the new rules regarding bits.
The article was titled, "Mid Year Rules, More Rules." It took nearly two full pages to show the changes and additions. Dressage rules are not among those that I find stupid, so I took the time to read the fine print, and there was a lot of it. It wasn't until I got to the very bottom of the first page that I saw the first change in the rules that affected me: DR121 Saddlery and Equipment 4. "A snaffle bit [...] must be smooth and curved on all surfaces as in a lozenge-shaped link. It may not have the effect of a tongue plate. Dr. Bristol and French link bits are not allowed.
Guess what bit Speedy goes in?
Speedy's bit, the French link pictured above, will now be an illegal bit. The link in the middle is definitely a tongue plate, a tiny tongue plate, but tiny or not, it is now banned. Here are some examples of much larger tongue plates. The rules about bits continue in subsection 6. "The upper cheek of a hanging cheek (baucher) snaffle (measured from the top of the mouth piece to the top of the upper cheek) may not exceed five centimeters. Fortunately, Speedy's baucher meets the second requirement.
For the last year or so that we competed, I rode Speedy in the double bridle. Now that he is being ridden by "J," he is back in the baucher that I rode him in before showing at Third Level. They're aren't showing, so I have no problem keeping him in the bit that he finds most comfortable and familiar, but if we do take him to show, I'll have to consider which bit to use as his French link baucher will no longer be legal.
Changes to rule 121 subsections 4 and 6 are only just two of the many changes this year, so if you haven't looked at the rules lately, you might want to take a peek. The entire US Equestrian Rulebook can be found here, but the Dressage Division hasn't yet been updated to reflect the changes that the board approved at the 2022 USEF Mid-Year Board of Directors Meeting held on June 20 and 21.
And that's my Public Service Announcement for the summer.
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
2023 Completed …
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: