Proposed Dressage Rule Change on the Minds of Many Gathered for 2008 U.S. Equestrian Federation Annual Meeting

The U.S. Equestrian Federation meets this week in Louisville, Kentucky for its annual meeting, scheduled for Jan. 9-13 and the Dressage Committee has its work cut out. A proposed rule change that would require riders to qualify to compete at Third Level and above beginning in 2010 has generated much discussion within the dressage community.

The proposed rule change, officially called 275-07, states that riders competing in dressage competitions at Third Level and above must be eligible according to qualification criteria established by the USEF Dressage Committee. What exactly those criteria would be has not yet been determined, but the general idea being tossed around is to create a sort of point system, similar to what is seen in Europe. Essentially, under a point system, riders earn points based on their scores in recognized competitions. For example, under the latest suggestions that will be discussed during the Dressage Committee’s Thursday meeting, scores of 58 - 59.99 percent would earn one point, scores of 60 - 62.99 percent, two points and so on.

Both the USEF Dressage Committee and the organization’s Board of Directors will vote on the proposed change at this week’s annual meeting. What they are voting on is simply a proposal to establish a process for creating a qualification system. In a memo to the dressage community, the USEF Dressage Committee noted that it would be at least 2010 before any qualification system was actually put into place.

If proposed rule 275-07 is passed this week during the annual meeting, the next step will be the actual creation of a qualification system. The process of creating such a system would occur over the next two years, which should give the dressage community time to adjust and give their input. Some, however, are concerned that the Dressage Committee has already made decisions on how this qualification system will operate. And, indeed, at this week’s annual convention, suggestions for competition standards will be discussed.

Those suggestions include the idea of the point system mentioned above. How many points would be needed to move up a level is undecided but suggested numbers range from 10 to 20. There would be no qualification required, however, to ride tests up through Second Level or to compete in the FEI Pony classes or in the USEF Four-Year-Old or the Five and Six-Year-Old FEI classes.

USEF Dressage Proposed Rule Change Dominates Internet Discussions