Support for your leg aids: whip and spurs in the show ring.
As promised, here are some helpful tips about show rules according to the USEF.
Rule DR120.7 says “One whip no longer than 47.2 inches (120cm) including lash may be carried in all classes except under penalty of elimination, USEF/USDF Championships, USEF National Dressage Championships, USEF High Performance Championships, USEF High Performance qualifying and selection trials. (Exception) Competitors riding side saddle may carry a whip no longer than 47.2 inches (120cm) including lash in USEF/USDF Championships.) One whip no longer than 47.2 inches (120cm) including las may be carried in all qualifying classes unless such use is otherwise prohibited by FEI or Federation rules or selection procedures”
Riders should know that ring stewards at shows, after your ride, may measure your whip. A judge who thinks your whip may be long can ask the ring steward to measure your whip and ask the Technical Delegate (TD) to be present. If your whip is found to be too long after your ride, you will be eliminated.
But, adding a little humor to this, since a previous blog talked about color coordination, your legal length whip can be any color! However, if your horse is behind your leg in a test, the use of a white or bright color whip will only accentuate that to a judge. Please only use the whip tactfully as the judge could cite you for abuse if the use is excessive or harsh. Not only can the judge bring this to the attention of the TD, but other competitors, officials, spectators, show management can also file a complaint especially if seen in the warm up ring.
On to spurs.
DR120.10 says “Spurs must be made of metal. Only English-style spurs are permitted, as described below. The shank must be curved or straight pointing directly back from the center of the spur when on the rider’s boot. If the shank is curved, the spurs must be worn only with the shank directed downwards. However, swan neck spurs are allowed.”
I have a judge colleague who if she thinks spurs are upside down, takes a photo on her phone and calls over the TD. If the shank, is not pointed down, the rider is eliminated. You would be amazed at how many competitors don’t realize how the spurs should be worn!
Continuing on with the rule:
“The inside of the spur must be smooth and one or both arms may have rubber covers. If rowels are used, they must be blunt/smooth and free to rotate.” “Metal spurs with round hard plastic knobs on the shank are allowed (impuls spur). Dummy spurs with no shank are also allowed.” “The maximum length for spurs used in other classes and tests (excluding FEI Childrens and Pony tests) is 5.08 cm (2 inches) including rowels. This restriction also applies to warm-up and training areas, as well as during competition. Offset spurs without rowels are permitted for riders having an appropriate Dispensation Certificate.”
Most tack shops carrying dressage spurs have spurs that adhere to the USEF rules. But beware of the consignment or discount bin. There may be some bargains but you may find that the length of the spurs is too long or the points of the rowels are not smooth enough to pass the watchful eyes of the ring steward or TD.
These whip and spur rules are all for the welfare of the horse.
I hope this is helpful with show season in full swing in many parts of the country.
All the best