H&H has learnt that competitors will face higher entry fees when British Dressage (BD) introduces payments for judges this year.
In a new directive BD has decided that judges should be paid – but by the venues.
Judges will be paid £1 per horse per class up to advanced, rising to £2 from prix st georges to grand prix.
H&H spoke to several venues and all said they intended to pass the cost directly on to competitors.
Paul Graham from BD said the change – which comes into effect on 1 December – was long overdue.
“The UK is one of the few remaining countries that do not pay judges,” he said.
“Sixty-seven per cent of organisers and 70 per cent of judges who replied to our consultation said judges should be paid.”
List One judge Maureen Newall said payment gave her colleagues the recognition they deserved.
“If you think about the amount of work judges put in to get qualified it’s the equivalent of a degree,” she said.
But the news has drawn an angry response from some show centres. Dressage at Hickstead organiser Dane Rawlins said it was “madness”.
“We will have to charge the competitors,” he said. “As an organiser, I ask, how does this help the sport?”
Simon Bates, who runs Keysoe, Beds, said: “By taking payment on a ‘per horse’ basis, this is a cost that will be passed straight on to competitors.”
Tim Price, who runs Addington Manor, Bucks, told H&H that he would refuse to implement the change – because it would mean an increase in entry fees.
“We are running around nine horses per hour per arena in several arenas and we can’t take the strain – we already pay BD £2 per test sheet,” he said.
“Any judge who wants paying won’t be invited here.”
But Gareth Jenkins of Bury Farm, Bucks, supports the move. “If riders want professional judges, they have to understand that judges should be paid,” he said.
And Malcolm Attrill of Wellbeck Equestrian, Devon, said he had been paying judges for several years.
“It’s an insult to ask a judge to sit for hours and then give them a bottle of wine,” he explained.
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This news story was first published in the current issue of H&H (12 January 2012)