Guide to Dressage


The senior major Championships cycle over a four-year Olympiad – an Olympic Games, a World Equestrian Games, and European Championships in the two years in between.  The youth teams (young rider, junior and pony) compete at European Championships each year.

Dressage tests are performed in a 60m x 20m all-weather arena and are a predetermined set of movements, except in the freestyle competition where riders decide their own test (including some compulsory movements) and perform it to music. Five judges, at different positions in the arena, mark the movements independently, with each movement receiving a mark out of 10 that is then converted to a percentage score. 

Riders compete for team and individual medals. At a World or European Championships there are medals for both the Grand Prix Special and the Freestyle; but an Olympic Games sees only one set of individual medals is awarded – combining the scores from the Special and the Freestyle. 

AT AN OLYMPIC GAMES

In modern dressage competitions, the horse and rider perform a series of movements in a 60m x 20m arena before a panel of seven judges, who award scores for individual movements and for the overall routine.

The dressage competition consists of a Team event, which is made up of the Grand Prix (GP) and Grand Prix Special (GPS) rounds, and an Individual event, the Grand Prix Freestyle (GPF).

Athletes all compete in the Grand Prix test; the Grand Prix Special sees only the top 6 teams as well as the top 8 individuals not part of a team compete, with all riders performing the same set floor plan. The top 18 athletes after the GPS qualify to contest the Grand Prix Freestyle, with a maximum of 3 athletes per nation able to participate.

Visit the Rio 2016 Hub for more information

AT A EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS

Teams are made up of a maximum of four combinations per nation, all four riders contest the team competition (Grand Prix test) which is held over two days; the team medals are decided at the end of the second day. The three best scores are counted and the team with the highest overall percentage claims the team title. 

The top thirty placed riders from the team test then go forward to compete the Grand Prix Special (no scores are carried forward and, if qualified, all four team members can contest), the combination with the highest percentage score wins.

The freestyle test – commonly termed ‘dancing horses’, which sees riders set their tests to music of their choice. The top fifteen combinations from the Grand Prix Special (GPS) compete in the Grand Prix Freestyle. If all four riders from one nation are in the top 15 only three riders may participate, no scores are carried forward from the GPS and the highest percentage takes the title.

AT A WORLD EQUESTRIAN GAMES

The format for dressage at a World Equestrian Games is run in the same as at a European Championships. With teams being made up of a maximum of four combinations per nation, all four riders contest the team competition (Grand Prix test) which is held over two days; the team medals are decided at the end of the second day. The three best scores are counted and the team with the highest overall percentage claims the team title.

The top thirty placed riders from the team test then go forward to compete the Grand Prix Special (no scores are carried forward and, if qualified, all four team members can contest), the combination with the highest percentage score wins.

The freestyle test – commonly termed ‘dancing horses’, which sees riders set their tests to music of their choice. The top fifteen combinations from the Grand Prix Special (GPS) compete in the Grand Prix Freestyle. If all four riders from one nation are in the top 15 only three riders may participate, no scores are carried forward from the GPS and the highest percentage takes the title.

AT A NATIONS CUP

In 2013 the Nations Cup series extended to include dressage, for 2015 there are six events where nations can earn Nations Cup points. Each FEI Nations Cup event must host a Grand Prix competition in which the team athletes can earn points towards the FEI Nations Cup Ranking.

All participating riders take part in the Grand Prix test; the top 15 athletes may then compete in either a Grand Prix Special or Grand Prix Freestyle.

Nations may compete at every competition but can only gain points from 50% of the events. Teams are made up of three of four riders with the three best scores counting (in a team of four). Points are distributed based on the team’s classification in the competition, for example winning a CDIO3*will carry fewer points than winning a CDIO5*.

Nations Cup Events for 2016:

From To Event
29 March  3 April  CDIO3* Wellington (USA)
12 May  15 May CDIO3* Odense (Denmark)
19 May  22 May  CDIO5* Compiegne (France)
22 June 26 June  CDIO5* Rotterdam (The Netherlands)
7 July  10 July CDIO5* Falsterbo (Sweden)
13 July  17 July CDIO3* Aachen (Germany)
28 July 31 July CDIO3* Hickstead (Great Britain)

The nation with the most points at the end of the season takes the series title.

Visit the Nations Cup Hub for more information

 

Visit the British Dressage website for more information about the sport

Visit the FEI website for more information about the different disciplines and events