How Do Judges Actually Score Dressage Tests?
The subjectivity of dressage scores can make them difficult to understand. We’re here to help you out!
Unlike many timed equestrian sports like jumping or barrel racing, judges evaluate dressage on how well the horse and rider perform each individual movement.
Dressage tests consist of two subsets of scores, individual and collective. Each score has a corresponding comment section.
Dressage tests consist of a series of movements and patterns, each of which are individually judged based on accuracy of completion. Both the rider’s and horse’s position are taken into account. Each movement is judged on a scale from zero to ten, allowing for half points. Scoring a ten on a movement is essentially unattainable. They are scored as follows:
0 – Not Performed
1 – Very Bad
2 – Bad
3 – Fairly Bad
4 – Insufficient
5 – Marginal
6 – Satisfactory
7 – Fairly Good
8 – Good
9 – Very Good
10 – Excellent
At the end of each test, the points scored are added up and divided by the total number of possible points in the test. Some particularly significant movements may be multiplied by a coefficient giving them a more significant weight in the overall score. The end result is a percentage that defines the overall test score. The person with the highest percentage for the respective test wins the class.
In addition to these scores earned with each movement, the judges will mark a series of collective scores. These are helpful in determining the overall skill of the horse and rider when working together. Having taken into account the overall test, judges award a score out of 10 for each of the following categorie,: impulsion, pace, submission, and rider.
Next to each individual movement’s score is a “remarks” column. There will often be a comment indicating in what area the movement was lacking or was working well for both horse and rider. At the end of the test, the judge will write down general comments.
Thinking of Moving Up?
The FEI suggests scores in the mid 60s and higher are adequate indications you are ready to move up a level. Generally speaking, any score above 60% is considered a good score. A score in the 80s is very rare and a score in the 90s is virtually unheard of.
No one has ever scored a perfect 100%.
Charlotte Dujardin of Great Britain set the world record at London Olympia for her Grand Prix freestyle on Valegro in 2013 with a score of 93.975%. Charlotte and Valegro broke their own world record freestyle score the following year at Olympia with a score of 94.3%.
It took a lot of hard work to get where Charlotte is, but if you put in the effort you’ll see your scores improving!
Dressage scores are not like math tests. Having accurate expectations for scoring can help you ride confidently and know what you need to focus on.
Let us know your best dressage test score in the comments below!
Featured image by TheOtherKev