Dressage Judging Working Group Ordered Set Up by FEI “To Improve Judging”

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The 2012 Olympic Games ground jury and officials. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
The 2012 Olympic Games ground jury and officials. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

April 7, 2016

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

The creation of a dressage judging working group was ordered by the FEI, the International Equestrian Federation, Thursday “to improve judging of the discipline.”

The FEI Bureau mandated the group “following evaluation of the judging in dressage in 2015 and 2016 and taking into account experiences in other sports that have similar judging systems.”

The system of judging typically by panels made up of five judges at international Big Tour events–seven at some championships–has come under increased scrutiny and criticism over wide disparities in scores and limited procedures to make judges accountable.

The issue came to a head this year in Olympic qualifying events at Moscow in February and Lier, Belgium last month that led to results of one competition not being accepted because of what the FEI described as nationalistic judging.

The International Dressage Riders Club and other stakeholders, including some event organizers, have sought changes in judging, including ways to increase compensation for judges better than the €120/US$136 per day typical in Europe but almost four times greater in the United States

The bureau that is the top decision-making group aside from the annual General Assembly of 130 national federations of the FEI, the governing body of Olympic and international horse sports, also agreed to set up another working group that directly affects dressage.

The FEI said it “will focus on harmonizing the education, core roles, appointment, remuneration and promotion of FEI officials on a global basis and across all FEI disciplines.”

Make up of the group will be proposed “in due course.”

Based on feedback from the FEI Sports Forum earlier this week, the Bureau said the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo “nations can qualify with either a team of maximum three athletes, or, if they have not qualified a team a maximum one individual per nation for each Olympic discipline.”

The Technical Committees for the Olympic disciplines of dressage, eventing and jumping should “finalize their proposals in that direction” to be submitted to national federations before a deciding vote at the General Assembly in November.

While the technical committees were asked to adopt a similar approach to formats at the World Equestrian Games in Bromont, Canada in 2018 it “understands that differences across the disciplines are still possible.” In addition to the three Olympic horse sports, the World Games also includes driving, endurance, reining, vaulting and para-equestrian.

Draft rules incorporating discussions from the Sports Forum and over the last year will be sent to national federations on July 15 with responses to be sent back to the FEI by Sept. 9 with final drafts published Oct. 28 ready or voting by the General Assembly in Tokyo Nov. 22.

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Correction: In 9th paragraph, the FEI corrected its report on Bureau decisions. \The corrected version states “nations can qualify with either a team of maximum three athletes, or, if they have not qualified a team a maximum one individual per nation for each Olympic discipline.” An earlier version stated: “should be teams of three and one individual per nation.”