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British Dressage (BD) is reported a “large increase in applications for trainee judges and judge upgrades” this year.

In 2012, 132 people either completed their training to become judges or were upgraded, compared with 185 up to September this year. There is now a total of 721 registered judges.

BD puts this rise down to a policy change introduced last October, making life easier
for potential judges. Since 2008, applicants had to provide a competition record or references indicating coaching or training experience at the level they wish to judge, alongside a 5-page CV.

But last year BD revised the criteria because references were proving difficult to obtain. Instead, applicants can produce either 6 plus-60% scores of their own at affiliated (at the level they wish to judge), or 6 plus-60% scores of a regular pupil, and a two-sided CV.

“The application process is much easier and quicker for [candidates] to complete, which has accounted for the rise in applications,” said Katrina Smith, BD judges officer. “The increase has settled now, so it will be interesting to see how this continues.”

But judge Kim Ratcliffe said that just 2 years of figures “don’t make a trend”.

“Making the system more objective — that is, providing 6 scoresheets — is easier than finding suitable referees,” she said. “However, it would be interesting to know how many were applying when it was possible without any supporting evidence [pre-2008]. This is not a full comparison.”

BD expects numbers to rise, as the society is to unveil an alternate upgrading system later this month, which will enable judges to achieve a higher status than that at which they rode. This will come into force on 1 January 2014.

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound magazine (10 October, 2013)