Insanity (updated)

Yesterday a story popped up on Twitter, a story I have been unable to confirm. Despite my inability to confirm it I believe it to be real and definitely warrants discussion.

The story appeared on and was a report on the North American Young Rider Championships currently underway at Kentucky Horse Park.

The story mentioned a couple of controversial issues but the one that incensed me was about helmets.

This is extracted directly from the story.

One of the controversial decision was that of Cara Whitham of Canada, an Olympic-level judge and technical delegate for the competition, who stopped a rider on the entry ramp to the competition arena and ruled they not wear a safety helmet with pink bling. The rider offered another helmet with crystal decoration. The TD refused to allow the rider to enter the arena and insisted on a top hat.

I know that Dressage is steeped in tradition, but as I have said before tradition has no place before safety. Asking a rider to wear a top hat instead of a safety helmet is INSANITY. This is a huge step backwards and must NOT be condoned by either the FEI or the USEF.

How can equestrian sport move forwards with a positive focus when this archaic mindset from our Officials prevails. What upsets me even more was this reportedly occurred at a Young Riders event. A terrible lesson to teach our young people.

Since my story, I now found a further clarification, essentially the rider was advised not to wear too much bling. Here is the clarification, I still don’t like it. A safety helmet should always be preferable to a top hat, full stop end of conversation, the judges should and must judge you on what you and your horse do during a test, not what you wear.

This is still a very dangerous message to be sending to a young rider.

I am very disappointed.

Yours in Eventing


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About ESJ_Photo

John Lechner also known as ESJ or JohnVacy is a photographer and writer. He is based in the Hunter Valley of NSW in Australia. John has a passion for Eventing photography and writing. John is an FEI Official (Technical Delegate) in addition to the work he does as a writer and photographer in the sport. You can see John's work on Eventing Nation and An Eventful Life where he is both a contributor as a photographer and writer. To find out more about ESJ and where he will be next be shooting more eventing photography then go to About ESJ. John is available to provide specific photographs at Events for riders and sponsors as well as providing images for publication.

One thought on “Insanity (updated)

  1. Just to further clarify the clarification. The rider was advised that she could choose between her white blingy helmet and her top hat. She, the rider, chose the top hat.

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