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Shadbelly's FEI

Looking for clarification on the shadbelly requirement. I will be running my first FEI competition at Midsouth in October. Do I need to buy a shadbelly? Is it required? I would prefer not to shell out the money this year if possible. I don’t see anywhere it saying that they are required, only optional.

Thanks so much

You don’t need one until the 3* level!

Well, let me take that back. I don’t think its “required” at any level but you will absolutely not look out of place at the 1* or 2* levels in your regular coat!


I did my first 2*-S in 2021 and I was the one NOT wearing tails. But a lightning bolt didn’t come down and strike me, either. :slight_smile: When I did a 2*-L later on that year, I wore one!

Borrow one. Dressing for success can only help your confidence.

Old school 2-star (now 3-star). Never wore a shad or top-hat even though I have both. There is no requirement to wear one. Nina Fout went to the Olympics wearing a dressage coat and helmet. I was riding against Bruce Davidson, Darren Chaccia, Karen O’Conner, and Hawley Bennett that day.

If you don’t want to wear one, let your riding speak for itself.


Honestly I would worry way more about random FEI rules you might not be aware of instead of your dressage coat. For one, absolutely make sure you have someone horse competent up at stadium with you to remove and replace your hind boots BEFORE you warm up! A lot of people don’t at their first FEI.


They are not required at any level, but most will wear them. However there are riders who do not wear them because their horses are overly reactive to the tails touching their backs. So…if you are going to wear tails, definitely practice in them at home so your horse gets used to the flapping and the weighted ends of the tails. I also know a rider who had her tails shortened so that they did not quite touch the back of her horse who was not keen on being touched by the tails…9


I competed up to the now 2*L level without tails. I think I was the only one in the dressage without tails, but I was 16, broke, and it wasn’t against the rules so I went for it. I also did not have the money for a top hat so it was kind of a win win. I remember saving for my first set of tails and my top hat, both bought used, and was so freaking excited. I still have the tails though if I get back up to the level again, I’d prob go with one that isn’t so heavy and wool.

I had a very reactive mare that would not tolerate the flapping of tails. She went ballistic when I tried so I went in a short coat. So yeah, make sure to practice in them before.

I will say one of the girls stabled near me at my first FEI was eliminated because she did not check the FEI rule book for allowed bits between USEF/FEI so please make sure to read up on the rules. Good luck!

When I did my first/so far only CCI**-L in 2020, the rules stated that tailcoats were permitted but discouraged at the 1* and 2* levels. Having recently seen some people competing at 1*s with tails and thinking it was pretentious, I checked out the current rules. That language has been removed and now they just state that any single colored tailcoat/jacket is allowed. For the record I still think it’s pretentious. Also I think my horse would not take kindly to tails touching him.

Make sure you read the rulebook. I have an extensive collection of ridiculous stock ties, but technically only white was allowed per the rules when I rode. Now it is white or off-white for dressage and white only for jumping.


Why in the world is it pretentious? For a lot of people getting to a 1* or 2* is a life-long dream, and earning the right to wear the tails (if they so choose) is part of that. I wouldn’t see someone wearing tails and think they looked pretentious any more than I would see someone NOT wearing tails and think they looked sloppy/not formal enough. Why not just let people wear whatever the heck they want? The rules say you can do it either way so why would anyone want to inject their judgmental view into that and potentially make someone else feel shitty, I don’t get it. It’s also one thing to just say you don’t like how it looks, but it’s another thing entirely to make a judgement about someone’s character based on what coat they’re wearing. In fact, I would challenge that it could be viewed as pretentious to do so. You have no idea what that one item of clothing might mean to them, even if it doesn’t mean anything to you.