Becoming a judge

We operate a comprehensive training and assessment scheme which enables judges to progress up the levels, or ‘lists’, from preliminary to the heady heights of judging grand prix tests at championships.

Judging DSC 3806

Many trainers and riders use the knowledge they have built up to progress into a judging career. Becoming a judge helps with test riding and coaching skills as well as the general understanding of the way of going of the horse. We currently have just over 1,600 judges, this includes approximately 600 trainees. 

The 'lists'

The lists range from six to one. As a list 6 judge, you can judge Preliminary competitions and this increases to list 1, where the most experienced are able to judge Grand Prix tests at championships. To remain listed you have to attend a seminar, and to upgrade your listing you need to demonstrate further experience, which includes passing an exam paper and a practical testing day.

Contact for more information or call 02476 698831.

How to become a Trainee Judge

There's no criteria to meet in order to become a Trainee Judge, however you must be a Full or Premier Club member of British Dressage.

To start the process you'll need to register, which includes a registration fee of £15, your registration will then be valid for 12 months. Trainee Judges are required to attend an induction day within their first year of registration (which are organised regionally), plus an annual seminar thereafter as part of the requirements to be eligible to judge.


Judge Testing

Please note that any judges wishing to upgrade must have been at their current list for a minimum of one year before coming forward.  

Part 1 and 2 exams

There are changes coming to the exam system soon, please keep an eye out on this page, and in the judge newsletters for updates.

All final Part 1 or 2 exams will be held in the week commencing 13 January 2020 across all regions. Bookings for these exams has now closed. We wish anybody taking these exams the best of luck!
More information on Part 3 exam dates, venues and bookings will be announced in early 2020.

Part 3 exams

Please be aware that in order to be eligible for these 2020 examinations you’ll either be an individual that has not yet had the opportunity to sit a Part 3, is required a re-sit for Part 3 or have achieved a Part 1 or Part re-sit in 2020 and has now become eligible.

These examination dates have been scheduled in order to provide a final opportunity for those eligible to come forward for assessment before we transition into the new judge education system, where practical assessments will begin to roll out in 2021.

Individuals that are on our wait list from autumn 2019 will be contacted as a priority in order to be provided with first opportunity to book. This opportunity will be time permitted so please be aware that after the time slot provided to you these examination dates will be released for other non-priority members to book onto.

Part 3 examination dates 2020

Venue Date Level
Newbold Verdon Equestrian Centre Wednesday 18 - Thursday 19 March Novice - Advanced Medium
Kingswood Equestrian Centre Tuesday 19 - Wednesday 20 May Novice - Medium
Richmond Equestrian Centre Tuesday 23 - Wednesday 24 June Novice - Advanced Medium
Sparsholt College Wednesday 15 July  Novice - Advanced Medium
Chard Equestrian Centre Wednesday 26 - Thursday 27 August Novice - Medium
Scottish National Equestrian Centre Thursday 3 - Friday 4 September Novice - Medium

Part 3 exam dates and venues for FEI levels will be confirmed shortly.


Examination bookings will be live on Bookwhen from Monday 17th February 2020 at 8:00am and available to book through the below link. Please be aware that only those on our priority wait list will be contacted directly via email in relation to booking details for Bookwhen.


Please also be aware that we have selected examination venues across the region to try to accommodate candidates but please ensure that you book early to avoid disappointment. If you are not eligible for this examination you will forfeit your examination fee.

Reasonable adjustment

If you believe you may require a reasonable adjustment for your exam, you need to notify British Dressage at the time of your booking. Please email the training and education department with the reasonable adjustment form completed and supporting documentation in the form of a signed letter from either your doctor or a formal letter from the relevant disability/support group.


Judge information

For more information or to talk to someone about your specific requirements please contact the Training and Education Department (tel: 02476 698831) 

FEI Judge Exam

Bookings for the FEI judge exams have now closed. We wish the very best of luck to those coming forward. Please keep an eye out on this page, and in the judge newsletters for updates on the next exam opportunities.

Evaluations and assessments

Oral evaluations and shadow judge sessions are conducted by our Tutor Judges. Find a list of our current Tutor Judges here.

Please note fees are applicable for these services.  These fees are detailed in the new judge testing accreditation document and are also listed at the bottom of the Tutor Judge list.

How to become a Para Judge

If you are a list 3 judge or above you can now become a para judge by following the new for 2019 Para Judge Pathway! As our para community continues to grow, we really do need more para judges to support this growth and following this pathway could not be simpler.


How to become a Music Judge

In order to become qualified to Judge music classes you must simply complete a test paper. There's a paper for all levels of Judge, from Trainee to List 1. The below information should make the process clear.

Existing music judges

If you attended a Music Seminar before 1st December 2017 you can continue to judge music classes and will not be required to sit a paper to continue to do this. Neither will you need to sit a paper every time you upgrade to a higher list.

New music judges

If you have not previously attended a Music Seminar but you now wish to judge music classes, you'll be able to take a test paper at a time and place to suit you.

Trainee judges may also take a test paper to further their knowledge and understanding about judging Freestyle classes. This will be of value should they judge an unaffiliated Freestyle class as well as being ready to judge Freestyle classes once they become a listed judge.

How to access the music test paper

There are 3 different papers, appropriate for the following levels; Novice/Elementary, Medium/Advanced Medium and FEI Level. These test papers are available at a cost of £20 and can be booked at any time:


If you do not achieve the required 70% to pass the paper, you can re-sit it for an additional fee of £5, which can also be booked above.

Learn from the world's top judges

The International Equestrian Federation's publication FEI Dressage Handbook Guidelines for Judging, has been written by some of the most experienced FEI dressage judges. It will help with understanding scores and the criteria outlined in the FEI Dressage Rulebook. It is available from the British Dressage shop.