Sweeping Changes Proposed for Judging at Top Dressage Events

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Trond Asmyr
Trond Asmyr, FEI Dressage Director

LAUSANNE, Switzerland, Sept. 8–Sweeping changes in judging, most affecting the top dressage championships and tested at major competitions this year, will be proposed to the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) General Assembly Nov. 1-6. Half-points are proposed for all FEI dressage competitions.

The proposed changes were adopted at the FEI Dressage Committee meeting in Mannheim, Germany, that considered the experience of the pilot projects and feedback from within the sport.

The aim is “achieving maximum transparency and fairness and, as a consequence, trust in the sport,” the issue that led to the ouster of the Dressage Committee almost two years ago and the creation of a Task Force to examine ways to overhaul judging of the sport.

The changes to be proposed to General Assembly are:

* Seven judges instead of five for designated events such as Olympic Games, World Equestrian Games, Continental Championships on Grand Prix level and World Cup Finals. The European Championships, for example, are at Grand Prix level while the Pan American Games are at small tour level so, if approved, the Europeans would have a seven-judge panel but the Pan Ams would remain at five judges.

The report said that statistical reports show that using seven judges gives a “more correct total result” and also lowers the influence of each individual judge from 20 per cent to 14 per cent, thus reducing “the influence of each individual judges’ marks and decrease the risk for nationalistic judging.”

Statistics also show that the use of seven judges changes the rankings. In some tests where two additional judges were taken out, the rankings would change for about half of the participants. If the highest and lowest scores were taken out, the placings of 10 out of 38 still changed. “Taking out the highest and lowest scores does not achieve the objectives of consistency and reducing the effect of a given potential instance of biased judging,” the committee said.

* Half marks for all FEI Dressage competitions to enable judges to refine their judging and make it more precise. Half marks can be given in the full range from 0.5 up to 9.5 and for all scores (marks for movements, collective marks, technical element in the Freestyle both per movement and as final mark for that movement). Half marks already exist for the artistic element in the Freestyle.

* Judges Supervisory Panel for designated events such as Olympic Games, WEG, Continental Championships at Grand Prix level and World Cup Finals. The JSP would be allowed to correct judges’ marks for factual errors, such as definite technical mistakes. The Dressage Committee cited a benefit of the JSP as providing “back-up” for the judges to protect both judges and athletes by preventing unfair marks. Clear guidelines have been prepared stipulating how the JSP should interact with the judging process. The ideal composition of a JSP group at a competition would be three members made up of two judges and one trainer or rider.

In addition to supervising at events, the JSP should evaluate the quality of judges in general, make a proposal for assessment of judges and their status (promotion), provide a “long list” proposal of judges for the Olympics, WEG, Continental Championships on Grand Prix level and World Cup Finals, and a general overview of the “judges’ world” to the FEI Dressage Committee and FEI headquarters.

The committee recognized the cost of the JSP.

“Smaller events could benefit from having a JSP as well,” it said, “whereas this is both a financial and organizational issue. The cost for the JSP at the shows where its presence is mandatory will be added to the contract. If the JSP was to be sent by the FEI to 2-3 other shows, the cost would be carried by the FEI. The JSP team for the non-mandatory events should ideally have equipment to correct the given marks but should at least take part in discussions after the competition.”

FEI Dressage Director, Trond Asmyr, commented on the proposals: “There is no doubt that the education of the judges and their continuous assessment according to fixed standards is an ongoing process that helps to ensure the highest level of fairness and correctness in the sport. It is vital for the future of the sport that the judging is seen to be fair and transparent.”

For the complete report, click on: Proposed_rule_changes_in_the_judging_methods_of_Dressage_08_Sep_2010_FINAL