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Dressage riders under 14 will now have more opportunities thanks to a new competition category.

Children on Horses has been introduced to the sport by the FEI for 2016 and there will be a championship final at next year’s junior and young rider European Championships in Spain (19-25 July).

Children on Horses already exists in showjumping and is open to riders from the beginning of the year of their 12th birthday to the end of the year of their 14th birthday.

Combinations must ride a test similar to the higher end of elementary.

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“This is great news for our younger riders,” Karen Ryder, British Dressage’s (BD) British Young Riders Dressage Scheme and under-21 manager, told H&H.

“The transition from ponies to horses can be a tricky one and having an FEI championship to aim for gives added focus and drive. We’re looking forward to the first year of competition and are grateful to Keysoe for running some classes to get it off the ground in Britain.”

The Bedfordshire venue will be providing two opportunities to compete in Children on Horses classes nationally, at its High Profile under 25 show (12-13 March 2016) and its international (14-17 April 2016).

To be considered, riders who are 12 years old must have two results of at least 70% at novice or above. Riders who are 13 or 14 need to have two results of 70% or above at elementary or higher.

They must have been obtained at two different shows and under different judges.
Riders must not take part in juniors in the same year and horses must be six or over.

Trainer Jill Day said it was a “great idea”.

“Anything that encourages children to get on horses at an earlier age is a good thing,” she told H&H.

“It will be good for children who may be too tall for ponies, or for those with parents who don’t want to or can’t afford to buy an expensive pony, only to have to buy a horse at a later date.

“This way they can find a horse they can work up through the levels with and feed into the junior or young rider system. It will give them international experience.

“By the time they are 14 or 15 they and the horse could be up to advanced medium level, and it also makes sense financially.”

All applications must be returned to BD by the end of January 2016.

Ref: H&H 17 December, 2015