Eventing Ireland (EI) is the latest equestrian body to allow riders to wear dark-coloured jodhpurs or breeches in competitions. It follows a similar inclusion by British Riding Clubs (BRC) and British Dressage, as well as national governing bodies in other sports.

The move is hoped to make the sport more inclusive and is part of EI’s commitment to its Diversity, Inclusion and Equality policy. The decision was made at a recent EI meeting, where the board decided to give its athletes the choice to compete in dark-coloured jodhpurs at national and training competitions.

According to the Women’s Sports Federation, one in two girls drop out of sport before they reach the age of 20. One of the main reasons stated was insecurity and feeling self-conscious about their bodies. A Women in Sport study surveyed 4,000 teenagers, who stated that the reasons for giving up on their sports included body image, puberty and fear of judgement. A 2021 Adidas survey found that “one in four girls drop out of sport during adolescence, citing fear of period leakage”.

The EI membership was sent a survey asking for their opinion on the matter and 78.5% were in favour of the rule change.

Following this result, the EI Board were unanimous in its decision on 11 December to introduce the rule from 1 January 2024, applicable to all athletes. It was agreed that any solid colour, such as navy blue, brown, dark grey or black, including white jodhpurs with dark seat, will be permitted.

Last year BRC changed its rules across all competitions to allow riders to wear black or navy breeches. White, cream and beige are still accepted but the addition of black and navy as permitted colours is intended to “help female competitors feel more comfortable and confident to perform at their highest level while they are on their periods”.

Lead image credit: Lucy Merrell/Kelsey Media

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