Basing eligibility for the different competition leagues on performance rather than points won should help address some members’ concerns, British Dressage (BD) believes.

A statement released this week thanks members for “embracing” the new structure, and announces how it will change.

In the statement, BD sport operations manager Paul Graham admitted the new rules are more complicated than previously, but said he hoped the changed eligibility criteria would help simplify the system.

He added that BD hopes performance-based criteria “should help to equalise the imbalance that currently exists in the silver section”.

The statement reads: “We’ve now completed the first cycle of competition under the new structure and thanks to all of you for embracing it, finding your level and providing your feedback.

The new structure was over two years in development to provide a modern framework for a rapidly developing sport. Technical input, user groups, member consultation, and several stages of feedback all went into the end product.

“A few tweaks were made in January following further member feedback and then it’s been six months of data gathering, statistic monitoring and plenty more feedback.”

Mr Graham said the bronze and gold sections are mainly working as they should be, and that “the vast majority of riders [are] in the sections they should be, according to the experience of the combination“.

But the statement adds: “The silver section still requires some further work to achieve the right balance overall. We acknowledged in April that it was slightly larger than ideal, but it has been vital to let this run for a full year’s cycle.

“It was through member feedback that the concept of letting experienced riders drop down the levels with a young horse was introduced and with hindsight perhaps we were too generous here. We know there are some changes to be made to redress the balance and move the more experienced/successful combinations into gold.

“We’ve therefore been working towards making eligibility based on performance (horse/rider combination) rather than points won, which should help to equalise the imbalance that currently exists in the silver section for those riders who are comfortable competing at a level and not scoring particularly highly.

“We’ve tested the amendments on specific [horse/rider] combinations against the new eligibility [criteria], which has resulted in them being in appropriate sections for their ability.”


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Mr Graham said the eligibility criteria should help move “more high achievers” into gold, and that the “ten-year” rule will be removed, so eligibility will be calculated on all records.

Other rule changes include new silver and gold advanced medium freestyle qualifiers for the 2018 winter championships, while the minimum percentage to qualify for the regional finals will increase by 1% in all levels except prelim.

Combined training will also return, with classes at prelim/70 and 80cm jumping and novice/90cm and 1m jumping. These will also be open to British Showjumping and British Eventing members.

Anyone with feedback on the structure is invited to email feedback@britishdressage.co.uk