British Dressage set to make radical changes

  • Dressage’s governing body is proposing the most radical change to the sport in decades — and it’s all in response to members’ feedback.

    A dramatic overhaul of British Dressage’s (BD) competition structure has been proposed to make it “less complicated” and “less restrictive”.

    The restructure would mean the emphasis is put on the results of a combination rather than just the rider. This will allow competitors to stay at a level without being forced to move up.

    Under the proposed system, open, restricted and training will be scrapped in favour of gold, silver and bronze divisions. Bronze will be for those who are new to each level — having earned up to 50 points — silver is the middle ground, up to 150 points, and gold is for combinations who have achieved more than 150 points at any level — and they can compete at this level forever.

    Under the current plan combinations in the silver category would be eligible to compete both at Area Festival championships as well as the national/winter championships.

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    Rider categorisation will be simplified into 5 groups and the highest, group one, will have to ride in gold sections at all levels.

    Paul Graham from BD has been working on the new structure for more than a year.

    “This has come from members telling us that we needed to make changes for the current sport,” he told H&H.

    “It is based on flexibility and choice. We hope it will cater for the needs of our current members and make the sport more accessible and easier to understand for new members.”

    The new system has been put to BD members and there is an open consultation period until 6 June.

    A majority of members have welcomed the changes, but there are still some concerns.

    “The principle of revising the whole system is a really good one,” said dressage List One judge Kim Ratcliffe. “But I think the silver band is too wide and might lead to that section being dominated by professional riders on younger horses.

    “I also think it is wrong that schoolmasters, who under the current system could have been downgraded, now will no longer be eligible for Area Festivals because they will have to compete in gold.”

    H&H caught up with BD members had to say at the Winter Championships to hear their opinions.

    For more information and to give feedback visit British Dressage’s website.

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