U.S. Rider Tests– a drop in the ocean

1 Oct

USEF (United States Equestrian Federation) has just released new “Rider Tests.” A few years ago, there was an attempt to make mandatory qualifying tests to permit riders to move up the levels.

This time, the tests were simply shoveled in under Extraordinary Rule Change, and –for the moment–are voluntary not mandatory.

Yes, qualifying is necessary in certain countries in Europe– there is real prize money to be won,true sponsorship, and classes (and entire shows) are often over-subscribed. The only fair way to choose riders is meritocracy.

And yes, those countries where this kind of qualification is in in place include the Big Ones in dressage: Germany, Netherlands,etc.


But hardly any U.S. dressage shows are filled to capacity.In the mid-West and loads of other areas, the complaint is usually the enormous distances necessary to compete at all.

But the U.S. already has plenty of qualification systems in place:

Regional Championships? Need qualifying scores.

National? Ditto

High Performance A and B list? Ditto

The part I do not get is on what basis there is a perceived ‘need’ for rider qualifying tests.


Did shows suddenly get over-subscribed in the U.S.?

Did prize money suddenly become available/go up in amount at most shows?

Will this have any useful effect on getting a young,uncommitted athlete to decide–yes, dressage is for me because of the rewards..?

Will this perhaps get sponsors to see ROI as more marketable because the sport has announced it is ‘serious’ as opposed to ‘elite’ and ‘hobby’?


In other words–will this grow the sport of dressage?

Because if it does, then good.


Dr Klimke said the movements exist only to make the gaits better: that this the purpose of training/schooling; that this the basis for the concept of gymnasticizing.

And yet we are now being told that the  gaits do not matter???

Will not be judged???

For that matter, as ALL the scores/comments on these tests are in 4 boxes at the end (much like Young Horse tests where ‘potential’ is judged rather than specific movements) how subjective will the judgments be?

The reality kernel buried in the ‘rider tests’ is that much of the training offered in the US is sub-par.

Not that the riders bounce up and down but that the horses move with unsupple backs,offering no place to sit.

Not that the riders do not want to learn—but learn from whom?

Yet the very people who train teach and judge are the people who came up with the rider tests.

It is a self-fulfilling prophecy.



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