FEI Proposes Dropping Highest & Lowest Judges’ Scores, Partially Eliminate Collective Marks in CDIs

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Frank Kemperman, International Equerstrian Federation Dressage Committee chairman (pointing finger) with some dressage judges. File photo. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

July 7, 2017


Dropping the highest and lowest judges’ scores for each movement and eliminating some collective marks is proposed by the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) Dressage Committee on the recommendation of a judging working group to become effective in 2018.

The proposal was made to not count the highest and lowest scores but to keep the marks awarded by the other judges on ground juries of five members and for panels of seven judges for specific championships such as the Olympics, the World Equestrian Games, World Cup Finals and the European Championships.

The recommendation for the changes would not apply to young horse classes and panels of three judges.

The proposals did not receive majority support of the dressage committee–three of the six members approved, one was against and two were undecided, according to the proposals for changes to the rules for 2018 seen by dressage-news.com.

The so-called “HiLoDrop” has been advocated by some riders and trainers for the past several years to counter substantial disparities in judges’ scores, especially at championships such as the 2013 Europeans where a low score by one of seven judges was seen by some as affecting the medals placement. That led to creation of the “6%” rule enabling changes to scores that differed by at least six per cent.

An issue raised was that the judge awarding a significantly different score than others on the ground jury might be correct but the score may not count.

The Dressage Judging Working Group (DJWG) that was set up by the FEI a year ago reported that the HiLoDrop system is widely used in other Olympic judged sports and also in other equestrian judged disciplines.

“Following a detailed analysis of almost 1,000 competitions from 2017 it is shown that the average effect on final scores is a shift of +0.1% with a spread (standard deviation) of 0.2%,” the working group reported. “In fact only 3% of all GP/GPS results would change by more than 0.5%–in almost every case a small upwards change.

“The correlation of the HiLoDrop score and the score from the current system is perfectly linear. While the changes are almost invisible for the vast majority of cases in a few cases an important correction would be made; HiLoDrop ensures that the consensus view of the jury predominates in the final result and is not unduly influenced by one judge being exceptionally high or low for whatever reason. The DJWG recognizes that in some circumstances that judge may have been more correct were a detailed re-examination of each movement carried out, but believes that the consensus result is the one that should go forward to the eventual ranking.”

All movement scores from all judges will be available to riders.

In proposing to remove collective marks except for those applicable to the rider–only one of the four collective marks apply to the rider–the DJWG “feels that the collective marks are already taken into account in the movement scores. The switch of emphasis from a movement mark– based on exactly what the judge sees at the moment of execution–to a collective note that is designed to summarize the entire test, does not aid the judge’s focus.

“In analysis of the 1,000 2017 tests it is seen that while technical and collective scores are quite correlated, the riders at the top of the ranking do typically receive an extra boost from the collective marks. We also observe that even in some high level events the ranking of the technical marks is effectively overruled by that of the collective marks.

“The completion of the collective marks also takes time between starters and. particularly for televised events, a small gain in overall competition time can be expected if collective marks are no longer used.”

No change was proposed for seven-judge juries.

However, the functions will be changed of the three-member Judges Supervisory Panel that supervises the judging corps and corrects specific judging mistakes at championship events.

If the HiLoDrop is approved, the FEI recommends reviewing the role of the JSP as the “6%” rule would no longer apply.

The DJWG is led by FEI Dressage Committee chairman Frank Kemperman. Other members are Maribel Alonso de Quinzaños, a 5* judge from Mexico and a member of the FEI Dressage Committee; Kyra Kyrklund, a five-time Olympian for Finland and president of the International Dressage Riders Club; Richard Davison, a four-time Olympian for Great Britain and David Stickland, a senior research physicist at the European Organization for Nuclear Research and a consultant to the FEI on dressage judging analysis.

The FEI Dressage Committee, in addition to Frank Kemperman and Maribel Alonso, is made up of Luis Lucio of Spain, Anna Paprocka Campanella of Italy, Klaus Roeser of Germany and George Williams of the United States.