Competition rules

The rules are a great place to start for all the information you need to know to compete in affiliated dressage, including what you and your horse are allowed to wear, what the judges are looking for and how to qualify for all the different championships.

If you're not sure which level and section you should be competing in, our eligibility guides have been designed to direct you through a series of questions to provide you with the level and section for you. We also have an Approved Tack and Equipment Guide, which illustrates the tack, bits and equipment permitted under our rules.

2024 Members' Handbook

Effective 1 January 2024


Click on the below document for a summary of the major changes and additions, which are marked in bold in the handbook. 


Click below to view the annex in the members handbook which explains the rules will apply from 1 July 2024.


Area Festival rules reminder

Please ensure that you have read all of the rules in the 2024 Members’ Handbook, especially referring to the Area Festival section.

A combination may not compete at the same level (including music) in both Area Festival and a Regional in the same season. The Area Festival level must be higher than the Regional if competing in both.

Combinations who score 68% (70% Music) at Regionals, may not compete in an Area Festival at the same level or below in the current and future years e.g. a combination scoring 68% at Novice Silver may not ride in an Area Festival at Novice level or below again.

Combinations who score 68% or higher (70% Music) at the Area Festival Championships, may not compete in an Area Festival at the same level and section or below in the current and future years.

Please be reminded that it is the responsibility of the owners and riders to ensure that combinations are eligible to compete in the classes/sections for which they are entered.

2024 printed handbooks

We will print a very small number of additional rulebooks for those Full members who really do need to access a printed version. If you fall into this category please contact the team below ahead of the 2024 handbook being ready. Your request will then be verified by our team, prior to a printed copy being posted out in December. All of our judges, stewards and officials will receive a printed copy automatically.


Approved Tack and Equipment Guide

Alongside the Members' Handbook, there's an Approved Tack and Equipment Guide for British Dressage competitions to provide you with a pictorial guide for clarification on permitted tack and equipment:



How to apply

All classified and non-classified riders can apply to British Dressage for dispensation to use compensating aids to assist them in non-disabled competitions. Please complete the Dispensation Application Form and submit it to the Para Officer with diagnostic evidence from a registered medical practitioner or other chartered health professional (to include registration details) stating diagnosis and the effect on functioning which necessitates the use of compensating aids, to support your application.


Applying for a Dispensation for Joined Reins 

All classified para riders can apply to British Dressage for dispensation for the use of joined reins to assist them in non-disabled competitions.

To apply for joined reins a rider must be formally classified either through the FEI or Nationally and must also provide evidence of missing digits/parts of their arms. Dispensations for joined reins will not extend to those who have poor grip. Such riders may apply for use of loop/ladder reins instead.


Clean Sport

It's vital if you are competing at a national or international level you understand the rules and guidance surrounding anti-doping – both for humans and equines.


Eligibility guides 2024

Level Section
Prelim Bronze Silver Gold
Novice Bronze Silver Gold
Elementary Bronze Silver Gold
Medium Bronze Silver Gold
Advanced Medium Bronze Silver Gold
Prix St Georges Bronze Silver Gold
Inter I Bronze Silver Gold
Inter II / Grand Prix   Silver Gold

Travelling horses within the EU

Here's the latest guidance for moving equines between Great Britain and the EU.