Last Updated on March 24, 2022 by Allison Price

Dressage has never been more popular since the 2012 Olympic Games.

Many people are not familiar with dressage scoring. Then, the penalty for eventing is calculated from that score.

You’re here if this is you!

This is our guide to how dressage scores.

What is the scoring of dressage tests?

A dressage test consists of a number of movements, and each movement receives a mark.

All the marks from the test are combined and converted into a percentage. The highest percentage wins.

Eventing requires that the dressage percentage be converted into penalties. We’ll explain how this is done in a later post.

Competitions affiliated and unaffiliated

First, it is important to know that there are two types of dressage competitions: affiliated and unaffiliated.

Affiliated competitions follow the rules and regulations set by a governing body like British Dressage. This ensures that competitions follow industry standards and are judged only by those who are qualified and experienced.


These competitions require both horse and rider to register with the relevant governing body (and often pay a membership fee).

Unaffiliated Competitions are open to all venues and can be judged by anyone. The number of unaffiliated competitions that use registered judges is growing due to the demand from competitors for useful and informed feedback.

An advantage to competing in an unaffiliated event? It is often cheaper and has lower entry fees.

The judges in dressage

Only qualified judges are allowed to officiate at affiliated dressage competitions.

To judge the level of the class, the judge must have the required qualifications.

Judges are all highly trained and must regularly attend judge training seminars at the appropriate level for their status to continue to be judges.

This ensures that the industry standard for scoring is maintained throughout the sport.

Dressage testing

Dressage tests, as mentioned previously, consist of a variety of exercises that the judge scores from 1-10. Half marks are used when appropriate.

A movement can earn you a zero, but only if it fails to be shown.

Each mark corresponds to a predetermined standard, which all registered judges are trained in to observe.

The current scale for marking is:

  • 0 = Not performed
  • 1 = Very Bad
  • 2 = Bad
  • 3 = Very Bad
  • 4 = Insufficient
  • 5 is sufficient
  • 6 = Satisfactory
  • 7 = quite good
  • 8 = Good
  • 9 = Very Good
  • 10 = excellent

A movement considered “fairly good” will receive a score of 7.0.

Any movement that fails to meet the requirements will be marked “unsatisfactory” with a score of 4.0

If the movement is “excellent”, the judge should give a score of 10.0.

The most common marks are generally 4.0-90.0.

Please Note:

We are not able to reveal the judges’ thoughts when they decide what score to award each movement. We could, but this blog would take ten times as long!

If you’re interested in learning more about what makes a score of 8.0 different from a score 7.0, we have other blogs on dressage movements.

These posts will outline the criteria that judges look for in each movement. We also give tips and tricks to help you ride it correctly and increase your chances of winning.

Collective marks

The “collective marks” are the four final marks on the sheet. They refer to paces, impulsions, submissions and riders.

These marks are based on the overall performance of the competitor during the test.

These scores are given a score of 10 on the scale of marking. These scores are often doubled. For example, if your horse was given a 7.5 for its paces, it would be worth 15 points.

What happens if things go wrong?

The judge will sound the alarm if you make a mistake or take the wrong route during the test.

The test rider will be able to tell you what went wrong, and then they will let you know where to go next.

If you are having trouble remembering the questions, ask someone to call them.

You’ll lose 2 points for the first mistake. You’ll lose 4 marks each time you make a mistake, which makes your total deductions to 6 marks. You will be eliminated if you make a third mistake, but the judge may allow you to continue the test.

Other sanctions

For example, minor infringements of dress code will result in a 2 mark deduction.

You should always check the rules for your competition as penalties can vary and may change from season to season.

You should pay more attention to the equipment and tack allowed by your dressage association for the level you are competing at. Incorrect tack could result in your immediate elimination.

What is considered a high dressage score?

A score of at least 65% is considered a good score.

If you score 65%, this would indicate that your average score per move was 6.5. This is a range of “satisfactory to fair” on the scale of scoring.

Who will be the winner?

All the marks are added up and converted into a percentage.

(Total Number of Marks Awarded / Total Number of Marks Available X 100)

The combination of horse and rider that has the highest percentage wins the section or class.

If two or more combinations score exactly the same percentage, the horse/rider with the highest combined scores will be the winner.

At the end of each class, the scores and comments are recorded on a sheet called a dressage score sheet.

How can you make a dressage score into a eventing score?

Eventing: The dressage percentage score can be converted into a penalty score by simply subtracting 100.

If you score 74% on your dressage exam, it would result in an eventing penalty for 26.

(100 – 74 = 26)

Final words

We hope you found this article helpful in answering your questions about dressage scoring.

We recommend that you start with a local event to get your horse and you familiarize yourself with the sport before you register for an affiliated competition.

This will help you get a sense of your horse’s progress and give you the opportunity to test your skills in the water.

Allison Price
Allison Price

I’m Allison, born and raised in San Diego California, the earliest memory I have with horses was at my grandfather’s farm. I used to sit at the stable as a kid and hang out with my Papa while he was training the horses. When I was invited to watch a horse riding competition, I got so fascinated with riding!