British Dressage rule changes mooted

  • Grass-roots riders could find themselves trying to qualify for championships against the likes of Charlotte Dujardin, in one of six proposals being considered by British Dressage (BD).

    BD would like to learn members’ views on its plans to remove restrictions and allow any combination to compete in open classes at any level.

    Under current rules, top riders cannot compete in qualifiers below medium level.

    This would mean that, rather than putting a horse out of the level when it reaches the maximum limit of points, it moves into the open section. It can remain there as long as the rider wants and can qualify year on year for the open level at the championships.

    “[It would] allow horses and riders who have reached their ‘ceiling’ to continue to compete,” said BD’s Paul Graham.

    “[But] opening novice and elementary up to group 1 and 2A riders [international level or those who have won grand prix points] will limit championship opportunities for lower grouped riders.”

    Laura Gordon, who competes mostly at elementary, welcomes this.

    “My horse is 16 and probably won’t progress much more. We’d be very limited without this rule,” she said. “It would be great to compete against top riders on their future stars at local shows. It’s how it goes in eventing, so why not?”

    Amateur rider Georgina Stuart agreed that “being able to ride a new young horse at novice would open things up again.

    “As a non-professional competing at grand prix, I find a lot of doors shut behind me, such as Area Festivals and regionals,” she said.

    “But I can see for the majority of members who only compete at novice and elementary, it would take away any dream of ever winning. Perhaps better to exclude international riders?”

    Another BD proposal covers developing the Area Festival series to reflect its growing popularity — participation is increasing by 8% each year.

    The ideas under discussion include increasing the number of Area Festivals to 25 preliminary rounds, spread around the country. There would be qualifiers for eight second rounds — leading to the championships at Hartpury — and there would be a champion at each level.

    Visit www.britishdressage.co.uk for proposals.

    This news story was first published in Horse & Hound magazine (16 May 2013)

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