May 2, 2017

Competition Rules Update for 2017

Please be aware that there are some important changes to the competition rules which will apply to all RDA events in 2017, including the regional qualifier and East Region Show at Milton College, Cambridge, and the National Championships at Hartpury College. A copy of the Rule Book can be downloaded from the RDA website here under 'Useful Information' (a column beneath the light blue 'Contacts' box).

The rules most likely to mean changes for your groups from last year are:

  1. Countryside Challenge riders must now score 65% or more to qualify for Hartpury (see below, point 11 and point 13).
  2. Dressage riders with an intellectual disability may now only compete in Grade 6 tests (formerly Grade V) if they also have a physical disability. Any riders with an intellectual disability but no physical disability must enter the I/D dressage tests instead of the Grade 6 tests (see below, point 16).

Here is a quick rundown of some of the most significant changes to the rules across the disciplines:


  1. The dress code for leaders and side walkers has been clarified under Rule 1. The new information is: "Leaders and side walkers must wear appropriate foot wear and gloves are recommended. If hats are worn they must be of the current RDA standard."
  2. Rule 3 allows for footwear other than standard riding boots to be worn, provided they are used with "an enclosed stirrup or a recognised safety stirrup."
  3. Martingales are allowed in certain disciplines (not dressage) under Rule 8e. Before using a martingale in any event please check that it is permitted. Blinkers and side, bearing and running reins are not permitted.
  4. The number of classes a horse may compete in in one day has been changed under Rule 12d. Horses may now enter a maximum of five classes (including lead rein) in one day (formerly six classes). Each horse may compete in a single discipline four times only in one day (e.g. four dressage plus one Countryside Challenge). At the National Championships, the maximum number of classes a horse may enter is 12 across the three days. Each driven class is the equivalent of two ridden classes. Horses may only enter two driven classes per day.
  5. Under Rule 21b, Objections to judges' decisions must be made in writing to the Secretary along with a deposit of £50.00 (formerly £20.00) "no later than half an hour after the incident which gave rise to the objection." The deposit is forfeited unless the objection is upheld/found to be reasonable.
  6. Under 'Horse Welfare in Competition' (Rule 23), a new section regarding the weight of the rider has been added: "Please ensure that you consult the RDA weight chart to ensure that your horse/rider combination is suitable and complies with the weight chart." The weight chart can be downloaded from this list of documents - the document is named 'Weight of Equine Calculator UPDATE 1016.'

  7. Under Rule 26b, axles for carriages should be set at 138/140cm where possible.
  8. Some new penalties have been added in the carriage driving events: a corrected error of course is 5 penalties; an uncorrected error of course is 20 penalties; time faults will be counted as 0.2 penalties per second; and canter strides are penalised by 5 penalties initially followed by a further 5 for each 5 seconds that canter continues. See Rule 30.
  9. Under Rule 32, competitors must finish first or second in regional qualifiers to qualify to compete at Hartpury.
  10. Rule 34 issues a reminder that the arena markers should be 15m apart for carriage driving.

  11. Visually impaired riders must now score 65% or more to qualify automatically for Hartpury (formerly 60%) - see Rule 38b. All other riders must score 65% or more and be placed first or second (see below).
  12. Under Rule 41, Countryside Challenge is now split into four separate categories: Led with 1 side walker, Led or with 1 side walker, Independent, and VI. Please note that there is no longer the option to be led with 2 side walkers. "Side walkers must not be in contact with the rider unless in an emergency."
  13. Qualification for Hartpury: riders coming first or second will qualify for Hartpury. In a section with ten or more riders, the top three may qualify. A section is one of the four categories listed immediately above, split into junior and senior: e.g., in a class of ten senior independent riders, the top three could qualify; in a class of five junior independent and five senior independent riders, the top two junior and the top two senior riders would qualify. If the first and second placed riders cannot compete at Hartpury, the offer is made open to the third and fourth riders. ALL riders, even if they are placed first or second, must score 65% or above to qualify for Hartpury in Countryside Challenge (formerly 60%). The details for all of this can be found in Rule 45a.

  14. The grades have now been changed by the FEI so that Grade Ia is Grade I, Grade Ib is Grade II, Grade II is Grade III and so on. In order to avoid confusion with tests for visually impaired riders, the RDA now refers to the FEI grades as Grades 1 to 5 and the former RDA Grade V as RDA Grade 6 (See 'Dressage Rules', just above Rule 46 in the rule book).
  15. Martingales are not permitted in dressage. Neckstraps must be fitted to a martingale breastplate. Stirrup leathers/lengths of rope and similar are not appropriate and must not be used as neckstraps. Rule 47.
  16. New for 2017, Rule 64e states that riders with intellectual disabilities may NOT ride in the Grade 6 tests unless they also have a physical disability. Instead, they may only enter the I/D dressage tests. The Grade 6 tests are therefore only to be entered by riders with a physical disability (whether or not an intellectual disability is also present).
  17. Blindfolds are not required for any B1-classified rider (Rule 67).

  18. Neck or balance straps attached to a martingale breastplate are permitted (Rule 71f).
  19. All standard snaffles are permitted (see general tack rules). Rule 72 states that a gag snaffle, kimblewick or pelham may also be used in Showjumping.
  20. Rule 79 permits coaches to remain in the arena during a showjumping competition, but they must not instruct the rider in any way.
  21. Qualification for Hartpury remains at 60% and placed first or second, but Rule 84 now allows the top three riders to qualify in sections of ten or more riders (providing the minimum score of 60% has been achieved).

  22. The individual competition is split into three age groups (10 years and under, 11-16 and 17+). There will be three options for competing: the barrel horse, a horse in walk, or a horse in canter. Each individual vaulter must perform BEV pre-novice compulsories and freestyle. The two routines (compulsory and freestyle) must be performed in the same way, e.g. both routines on the barrel, or both in walk, but not compulsories in canter and freestyle in walk. The details for this are in the Rule Book under 'Individual Competition', just before Rule 89.
  23. The team competition involves running in, bowing to the judge (beginning and end) and running out. This section will be scored. This year there is no requirement to show running in to the horse. Each vaulter must perform pre-novice compulsories on the horse in walk or canter. The team is made up of 6 vaulters (two of whom may be able-bodied RDA volunteers). The freestyle has a time limit of four minutes. Further details are available in the Rule Book under Rule 88.

Last updated: May 3, 2017 @ 11:16