The FEI dressage committee is proposing to change the qualification and medal allocation for all dressage championships, except the Olympics.

The current format, which has been in use since the European Championships in 1995, sees the top 25 riders in the grand prix go forward to the grand prix special, with the top 15 in the special qualifying for the freestyle. Individual medals are then awarded based on the cumulative scores of all three tests.

The new formula will not alter the team competition, in which medals are awarded after the grand prix, but 30 riders will now reach the grand prix special, where they will compete for one set of individual medals.

The top 15 in the special will, as before, qualify for the freestyle (kür). But the existing system, where scores are carried forward to the kür, has been abandoned and riders will compete for a separate set of freestyle medals on an even footing.

If the change is approved, it will be applied to junior and young rider championships, as well as seniors, and could be put into action in time for the 2007 championships.

Mariette Withages, chairman of the FEI dressage committee, says: “The changes would upgrade the special and give the opportunity for another set of medals to be awarded.”

However, some dressage commentators are concerned that the changes will allow the grand prix and special to be overshadowed by the more entertaining freestyle tests.

It has also been suggested that the new format could have a negative effect on classical training methods as riders concentrate on their kür performance at the expense of the special.