Dressage Committee Raises the Bar at USEF Convention in Louisville

The annual USEF Convention is the perfect opportunity to see the key people gathered together to improve their breed(s) or discipline(s).  Rule Change Proposals are presented here that have often come from months and sometimes years of discussion and it is at this Convention that some final decisions are often made.

A perfect example of this took place in the Dressage Committee meeting.  While most of what was being discussed were basic issues where some “fine tuning” was needed, the main focus centered on a proposal to implement a qualification process to compete at certain levels.  That proposal has garnered much discussion throughout the dressage community and if blogs could emit smoke, this topic would have caused for some black smoke for sure.  Much of the “heat” was coming from misinformation, explained Janet Foy, Chair of the USEF Standards Sub-Committee.

The proposal is based around the concept of creating a qualifying system for riders and horses who want to compete starting at either the Third or Fourth levels.  “We’ve met twice and have taken into account the worries of the membership,” commented Janet.  As a result of listening to the many concerns, the dressage committee while moving forward on the qualification process has changed the suggested implementation of this proposal for when riders would have to comply from the 2010 competition year to 2011.

The Committee met on Thursday, January 10th and from that meeting three ideas have surfaced but none of them have been totally finalized.  Two would be based on a qualifying point system (one starting at Third Level and the other at Fourth Level).  The third proposal is focused on a rider’s test in front of two judges, “where riders would have to demonstrate that they know the basics,” said Janet.  For example, riders and horses would be tested on the movements such as turns on the haunches, reinbacks, and position of the rider’s seat.

“This would strictly be a rider’s test,” noted Janet.  “It would have nothing to do with the quality of the gaits.”  This has been clarified because one of the outcomes from all the emails the dressage committee has received is a concern by the riders that many can’t afford to buy horses that showcase super high quality but yet their horses can do a decent job of accurately and precisely demonstrating the Third Level movements.