British Dressage unveils new Area Festivals format

The British Dressage (BD) Area Festival series will take on a new format from 2020, with a two-season structure brought in, and a new championship introduced.

From next year BD’s summer and winter seasons will fall into line with the calendar year, with the summer season starting on 1 December 2019 (and on 1 January thereafter) and running until 30 June. The winter season will run from 1 July until 31 December.

The new-look Area Festival series, which continues to be sponsored by Petplan Equine, aims to mirror the regional championship pathway, featuring a two-stage structure with initial qualification each season based on points.

During the first half of the year, between 16 and 18 Area Festivals spread around the UK will offer the chance for riders to qualify for the Summer Area Festival Championships in September, which will also incorporate music championships. Between eight and 10 Area Festivals will then run through the winter season, which qualify through to the Winter Area Festival Championships at Hartpury College the following April.

Area Festivals will run from prelim to inter I at bronze and silver; inter II level will no longer be offered due to limited demand. The separate under-21 sections will also be discontinued under the new system, though the highest placed under-21 rider in each championship will be honoured with a prize.

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The changes come as part of BD’s response to the results of the member survey held earlier this year.

British Dressage’s statement said: “These initiatives are in direct response to feedback we have received from members and follow extensive data analysis. As this demonstrates, we’ve listened to you and taken your comments on board: 70% of you said that the competition structure is currently too complex, 51% wanted more straightforward rules and 60% wanted to see a more even spread of the calendar.”

Further details on relevant rule changes, qualification and eligibility criteria are expected to be released later this month.

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