HiLo Scoring Proposal that Drew Opposition from Many Riders, Judges, Organizers, Spectators Reported Off Table–Again

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Feb. 25, 2019

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

A proposal for so-called HiLo scoring that was pushed for two years by the International Equestrian Federation but opposed by much of the rest of the dressage world–top riders, judges, show organizers and spectators–has reportedly been dropped again by the FEI.

The change of mind by the FEI was disclosed by Bettina De Rham, FEI dressage director, to a meeting of top rated 5* judges in Moscow earlier this month, acording to officials who were in attendance.

The FEI responded that the HiLo was part of the recommendation of the Dressage Judges Working Group received FEI Board approval at the FEI General Assembly in November 2018.

“The Hi/Lo will not be considered until the new Code of Points is evaluated to see if there is a need for any score correction models,” a FEI spokesperson said.

The resurrection of the proposal came from the FEI Dressage Judges Working Group to drop the high and low scores for each movement. It was submitted to the governing body’s general assembly in 2017 but voted down though a separate move to eliminate collective marks for all but the rider was passed.

The FEI brought it up again in 2018 as part of what it said were experiments to make changes to dressage tests, judging and other aspects of the Olympic sport that the organization said was being done to grow the global audience.

A similar case was made by the FEI for the so-called “short” Grand Prix that was tested at the London Olympia World Cup event in December that was widely considered unsuccessful.

HiLo had been proposed by the Dressage Judges Working Group after it reported analyzing 1,320 Grand Prix level tests with five or more judges in 2017.

The finding was that the average score change per rider increased by only 0.09 per cent, with 224 scores dropping a little and 1,096 scores up a little.

That alone prompted many to question the need for change for only miniscule alteration in results but making the scoring system less understandable to the potential audience it was aiming to attract.

Judges particularly opposed the suggestion as many said it would produce mediocre judging as officials could give marks to be among the majority and not the discard score.

“For the majority of cases, scores will change very little, although on average there will be a small increase in final scores,” according to the FEI summary of the proposal at the time. “No single judge can ever determine the final ranking, the consensus result will be the determining factor.

“Nationalistic or other biases, deliberate or not, will always be removed from the final score; it is impossible for a single judge to push a rider up or down compared to their colleague’s appreciation.”