Dressage judges told to make allowances for eventers

New Zealand eventer Annabel Wigley keeps her cool during a tense moment on Black Drum at Badminton in 2010.
New Zealand eventer Annabel Wigley keeps her cool during a tense moment on Black Drum at Badminton in 2010. © Mike Bain

Dressage judges have been told to go easy on eventing horses in competitions, though training, basic paces, and presentation of the test should be evaluated in the same way as pure dressage.

In a note to judges officiating at British horse trials, FEI judges Judy Harvey and Nick Burton comment that because of their different musculature, eventers will “rarely be able to show the looseness characteristic of the Grand Prix horse and therefore their paces are unlikely to be as extravagant”.

However, it is also noted that in eventing the dressage score is a platform from which the well-presented dressage test should gain an advantage in the other phases ahead. “The margins are important and for this reason the whole range of the scale of marks should be used where appropriate,” they said.

“Event horses are very fit and sharp enough to run for their lives. Minor disobedience and keenness should not be punished too severely.”

The note also advises that as the surface going at horse trials events is not always ideal, and as a result horses should not be heavily penalised for a minor loss of rhythm, particularly if this occurs crossing a rutted centre line.

“Distractions such as close proximity to the show jumping and cross country should also be taken into account. If a horse is presented showing good training and way of going and does cope with the environment then it should be rewarded with very high marks. Remember 10 is only excellent.

“Bold accurate riding should be rewarded. But also remember to be tolerant at the lower levels where it is possible that riders will have had no dressage education whatsoever. Of course they should be marked fairly, but comments must still be constructive and understanding.

“Your comments should always be made in a positive, helpful and understanding manner with an appreciation of the skills required to produce these all round athletes.”


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