As a discipline, dressage does tend to be very strict and that will usually go for your tack and turnout, too.However, when you’re only just starting out, or competing unaffiliated and elementary there can be a little more flexibility. Any experienced judge worth his or her salt would much prefer a good, quiet and sympathetic rider who may not be entirely perfectly dressed than one of those ‘all-the-gear-but-no-idea’ types (yep, we all know one…). That said, there are still certain definite dos and don’ts and although some aspects are down to a judge’s personal preferences – some traditionalists would mark down for black tack, for example – many are there in black and white in the British Dressage rule book.
Above all else, riding boots must be spotlessly clean and polished and according to the British Dressage Rule Book, they should be black or brown, and match the jacket; and may be long boots or, for juniors, jodhpur boots. Gaiters or riding chaps of the same leather as the boots may be worn. Traditional/patent top boots may be worn, but multi-coloured, patterned or highly decorated boots are definitely a no-no. Spurs may be worn and indeed are obligatory from advanced level onwards – however, please do make sure they’re not upside down, mismatching or decorative. In young horse classes they must be blunt, without rowels. Most dressage riders wear long riding boots with the outside of the boot cut higher and with a stiffener in the back to encourage correct leg position and we have a comprehensive range of riding footwear suitable for competition AND leisure.
Protect Those Legs
Now, as far as horse leg protection is concerned, the jury’s out. It’s easy to assume that a horse being schooled in dressage may not need the same levels of protection as an eventer, hunter or show jumper, and indeed boots and bandages are not allowed when actually competing in British Dressage (section 4, rule 59 of the aforementioned Rule Book). However, perhaps your dressage test is part of a three day event? And of course it does make sense to protect the horse’s legs when schooling as an overreach or brushing injury could rule you out of that weekend’s competition – you’ll rarely see Charlotte Dujardin schooling Valegro without bandages and over reach boots.
Brushing boots protect the insides of front and hind legs from injuries caused by the opposite hooves banging into the inside legs and fetlock. They are fitted from just under the knee, down the inside of the leg and cover the fetlock. These are a multi-purpose boot and can be used for schooling (especially for dressage and when working on a curve), as well as hacking and eventing or jumping. Giddy or young horses are often turned-out in them, soprotecting the legs from those annoying accidental field injuries.
Over Reach Boots help prevent injuries caused when the heel is clipped or caught by the back hooves. They’re usually rubber and simply pull on to absorb the impact of such a knock, and to avoid cuts. They can beused with tendon boots for jumping, or brushing boots for schooling.
Cross country, or eventing boots, are specifically to protect while riding the cross country section when eventing, due to the solid nature of the jumps and the often soft or cut-up ground. They offer considerably more protection to the lower legs than simple tendon or brushing boots and tend to be lightweight and breathable to avoid discomfort from over-heating.
What are you waiting for? Now you have an excuse to shop for both shoes and boots!