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Olympic and World Equestrian Games dressage tests could be marked by a panel of seven judges, rather than the current five, and a new supervisory panel may be introduced to check for technical mistakes by judges.

Half marks are also proposed for all international dressage competitions, to make marking more precise.

These are the latest suggestions of the FEI dressage committee, which met on 27-28 August, and are part of an overhaul of the sport since 2008.

The three proposed changes to the judging system will be voted on by members at the FEI general assembly in Taipei (1-6 November).

Olympic rider Emma Hindle said the ideas are positive.

“Judging will always be a matter of opinion, but whatever the FEI can do to make it more open is important.

“An external panel above the judges is the most important aspect. Judges checking themselves was not a good idea.”

A six-person dressage taskforce was set up in 2008 after the FEI called for the resignation of its entire dressage committee.

British dressage team chef d’equipe and H&H columnist Richard Davison, who sat on the committee, said: “We were asked to look at systems of judging that would make it more transparent. There was much discussion and we did not always agree.

“Our recommendations were sent out to national federations and put in place at competitions like Aachen and Rotterdam.

“Some riders were daunted by having seven judges around the arena, but they have got over that.”

FEI dressage director Trond Asmyr said: “Education of the judges and their continuous assessment is an ongoing process that helps to ensure the highest level of fairness.

“It is vital for the future of the sport that judging is seen to be fair.”

This article was first published in Horse & Hound (30 September, ’10)