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Canadian Jacqueline Brooks was one of the first Grand Prix riders to routinely wear a helmet in competition.

OTTAWA, Dec. 28–Canada becomes what may be the first nation in the world to require safety helmets for all riders at all levels of dressage competition with a rule to be in effect on Jan. 1, 2012.

“I am very proud of our Dressage Committee for taking this step,” said Equine Canada president Michael Gallagher. “I believe we are the first national federation in the world to introduce this rule across all levels, and I can guarantee we will not be the last.

This change for 2012 is a modification to the rule that came into effect in May, 2011 where all riders competing in Fourth Level and below, FEI Young Horse Tests, Material and equitation classes at Bronze, Silver and Gold shows had to wear helmets.This rule also included non-competing riders as well.

That rule mirrored a similar requirements in the U.S. following an accident in whch Olympian Courtney King Dye was thrown from a horse and seriously injured in March, 2010.

“I am thrilled that Canada is promoting the use of helmets,” said Canadian Olympian Ashley Holzer, who routinely wears helmets during competition. “Helmets prevent head injuries, and I feel a rule that promotes the safety of its riders is a great rule.”

“Riders4Helmets is delighted that Equine Canada is demonstrating that riders safety comes before tradition by implementing helmet rule changes in dressage shows at all level,” said Lyndsey White, co-founder “Courtney King-Dye’s accident showed that safety has nothing to do with level of skill. Any rider can suffer a traumatic brain injury–even an Olympian. Equine Canada should be congratulated on taking this monumental step.”

Feedback received by the Dressage Canada Rules Committee on the subject of helmet safety was in favor of riders wearing approved helmets in competition.

A rule extending the use of safety helmets for all equestrian disciplines governed by the International Equestrian Federation was to come into effect on Jan. 1, 2012 but implementation was delayed for a year on a move by the U.S. citing the difficulty of application in reining and vaulting.

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