Twice and you’re out: dressage riders react to wrong course rule change

  • Dressage riders who take the wrong course twice during a test at an international will be eliminated, following a rule change approval at the FEI general assembly (13 November).

    A first error will result in a 2% penalty. A vote was held between a 3% penalty and a 2% penalty — the latter took the majority.

    Under current rules, two marks are deducted from each judge for the first error and four for the second, with the third triggering elimination.

    The regulations will come into place on 1 January 2016.

    The FEI’s Frank Kemperman explained that the rule change “brought dressage more in line with jumping, where a single error of course means elimination”.

    H&H reported ahead of the vote that judges objected, with Katrina Wurst stating she was “totally against this”.

    Carl Hester also said that he won’t be supporting the rule change, stating it would put “crazy pressure on judges”, adding: “I do wonder whether anyone on the FEI dressage committee really likes or cares about dressage.”

    However, Richard Davison told H&H that although it “might appear harsh” the rule is a lot softer than if you make a mistake in either showjumping or eventing.

    “In jumping one error means you’re out — and you have a lot less time to learn a course than a dressage test,” he said.

    Rider Tahley Reeve-Smith agreed: “Most people who have an error will only do it once. It should encourage better knowledge of tests and so hopefully better prepared for championships where no readers are allowed.”

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    The rule will apply to seniors, under-25s and young riders only.

    Errors of course in the juniors, pony riders and children categories will be penalised in the same way as young horses — with a 0.5% penalty for a first error, 1% for a second error and elimination for a third error of course.

    British Dressage’s Paul Graham said that no immediate changes would be made to national rules, but they would be looked at over the coming year.

    Another rule that comes in on 1 January means that all children, pony riders, juniors and young riders must wear protective headwear during horse inspections.

    Don’t miss Carl Hester’s views on the rule in his exclusive VIP comment — read it here

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