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A simpler and more entertaining Olympic dressage format will be tested at the World Equestrian Festival in Aachen, Germany, this summer.

This follows a complete overhaul of the sport after the 2008 Olympics.

Aachen’s director of sport, Frank Kempermann, who heads the reinstated International Equestrian Federation (FEI) dressage committee, says the German show (16-18 July) will be a pilot for the new Olympic dressage format, adopted by the FEI last November.

The changes aim “to make the sport more fair and transparent, more exciting and more comprehensible”.

The team competition — the Nations Cup — used to be decided after the first dressage test, the grand prix.

Now, these medals will be awarded after the second test, the grand prix special. Team riders will start the special in reverse order of their grand prix results.

The freestyle to music will decide the individual placings.

Nations will be able to bring four riders, but only three will take part in the team competition, as having a drop score was deemed confusing.

The show will also trial changes to the judging system — with seven judges instead of five and the introduction of half-marks. In the freestyle, one judge will mark technical elements and another artistic performance.

A number of other pilots will take place during 2010 at venues to be decided by the FEI’s dressage committee.

FEI head of dressage Asmyr Trond told H&H: “These tests will be monitored carefully to [make] the best decisions on what will be proposed [for the sport] from 2011.”

H&H columnist Richard Davison is British dressage team manager and part of the taskforce that proposed the changes. He said Mr Kempermann deserved a big “pat on the back”.

“He’s being very brave in bringing in the changes to the biggest show in the world,” said Richard.

“No drop score and nations being able to bring a fourth rider will encourage development of dressage.”

And British team rider Maria Eilberg was equally enthusiastic, but she added: “Seven judges will be rather intimidating for the riders.”

This article was first published in Horse & Hound (11 February, ’10)