Dressage Competition: Some Matters to Expect

There are many dressage competitions held internationally. Horsemen, both men and women, compete in various competitions. There are competitions that being done from amateur to Western Equestrian Games and Olympic Games. The main goal of such activities is to mold the natural athletic ability of horses. Through various dressage trainings, horses could develop the willingness in performing movements. Thus, they can maximize their potential being a riding horse.

CDI means Concours Dressage International. It is a dressage competition acknowledge by FEI.CDI competitions. Many well-known horse riders would compete in an international arena to gain more exposure for bigger competitions.  Also, they join international events for them to get enough CDI events that are beneficial in their image.

With all the information above, what can we expect in a dressage competition?

Let’s Get Started!

 The Dressage Competition

When doing the movements in a dressage test, the judges will give their score from the end of arena behind C marking. In other competitions, judges would compose of 3 persons. The other 2 judges will give their scores from behind of B and E in the arena. Furthermore, judges will score according to every element that you have done in a dressage test as you are riding. They are also observing how the movement is well executed by your horses for the purpose of current level.

Before you can enter into the arena, there is a signal such as bell or car horn toot. This is just simply saying that you can now perform the test in the arena. As you have an entrance, you will give salute and halt to judges. Also, there are letters in the arena that serve as your guide in performing every movement of the test.

Moreover, the judges will ask you to ride at other gaits and to give various speed inside the gaits. In case it is windy for whatever reason, it is a good thing to know your test and whether the caller is delayed or you just can’t even hear them.

Then, as you leave the arena after finishing the movements, you will salute and halt the judge. You will receive your scorecard after finishing the dressage competition. Along the scorecard is the final score. With this, you can reflect about the feedback of the judges and identify the area that needs improvement.

The Judges of the Dressage Test

Every level in the dressage competition has purpose. It is the guide for every judge to give scores according to your performance. For affiliated competitions, the allowed judges are those qualified and registered by the governing body for officiating.

The judge should pass the qualifications of judging the class level.

All judges should undergo regular training and equipping according to their status level to remain in the position. This helps the credibility of the competition in ensuring standard scoring of the sport.

Quest | British Dressage

Scoring for a Dressage Competition

Dressage assessments require a series of movements to be done in front of a judge by horse and rider who will then give a score out of 10 to each action. Following the test of the competition, the total good marks are being divided by the total possible marks that are good. With this, the horse and the rider would know how high the percentage remark they gain in the competition. Also, with the computed score, it will then be deducted from 100 to know the penalty score. They will carry this penalty score throughout the competition.

The following set of scoring has been taken from rules of USEF for event and agreed by the USEA.


For every movement and collective mark, judges will grant good scores from 0-10. The number zero being the lowest and 10 as the highest. Also, for both collective marks and movements, all half scores from 0.5 to 9.5 can be used. With this, the scores should be recorded with decimal points.

In some cases, if the horse or rider fell, it is not considered for elimination. He will have penalty as a result of the failed execution of movement. To further complicate the picture, if a competitor got eliminated, he or she can still finish the performance until the end.

  • The following are the deduction for Errors:
  1. 2 points deduction for 1st offense
  2. 4 points deduction for 2nd time
  3. Elimination for 3rd time
  • The following errors have two points deduction. However, these could not result to elimination.
  1. With a whip or with bandages or boots on the horses’ legs or with an inconsistency in dress, approaching the area around the arena.
  2. Upon beginning, entering the arena with a whip or with bandages or boots (when they are not allowed).
  3. Before the bell sound, you enter the arena.
  4. Failed to enter the arena within 45 seconds, but less than 90 seconds will have 2 points deduction. However, it is not cumulative nor considered as an error. 

Another Elimination Reasons

  • In the following cases, dismissal is left in the hands of the Jury:
  1. Receiving illegal support
  2. Doing the test in the wrong attire
  • In the following instances, exclusion has to be implemented:
  1. A participant did not reach the arena within 90 seconds after the signal, unless the Judge in C has been given with a legitimate purpose.
  2. Doing the test with an unauthorized whip, unsafe saddlery, or illegal spurs.
  3. Resistance
  4. Lameness marking
  5. Leaves the competition between the time of entry and final salute.

Calculating the Scores

  • The remark from 0 to 10 will be given by the judges to the participant based on the movements and added with the collective marks. There is any deduction for any errors.
  • For every judge, the total percentage they give to the participant will be divided by the possible maximum marks. The result after dividing is then multiplied to 100. The final result serves as the score of each judge.
  • In case of having more judges, individual calculated scores are being taken and add them. After adding the scores, it will then be divided by the judges’ population.
  • For penalty calculation, the equation should be 100 subtracted by the percentage or average percentage.

Two Types of Dressage Competitions

First and foremost, it is important to know that there are two type of dressage competition – unaffiliated and affiliated.

Unaffiliated Competition

This competition can be done in any venue and judged by any person. However, events like this has always invited registered judges over the years. The very reason for this is to have a useful information and feedback about how a performance can be improved. 

Moreover, the unaffiliated competitions usually have cheaper entry fees and free membership fee. 

Affiliated Competition

With this kind of competition, the governing body is responsible for running the event with their rules and regulations. This have an assurance that all competitions have credible standard. Also, the judge for this competition is someone experienced and qualified to do the task.

For you to enter in such competition, you need to register with your horse and pay a fee for membership.

For more ideas about the dressage competition, watch this video:

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