British Dressage Test Changes

  • Written By: British Dressage
  • Published: Tue, 14 Nov 2023 16:10

British Dressage is pleased to release plans for the launch of new tests and changes to the BD test structure in 2024.

Following the initial announcement at the AGM last month, we can confirm that the Test Committee has completed a full review of all BD national tests.  Their brief was to provide clearer progression through the levels, by streamlining, simplifying, and enhancing the BD test structure, to better support the training and development of riders.

This has resulted in the introduction of new tests, as well as the revision of existing tests, to update the marks allocation, terminology, and directives, ensuring a consistent approach at all levels of national competition, from Introductory to Advanced Medium. 

The number of tests available at each level has been consolidated, with four at Introductory, six at Preliminary to Medium, and five at Advanced Medium (plus two at Advanced), including short and long arena options from Prelim upwards.

This will provide a much-improved framework to the BD test system, offering distinct stepping-stones for riders to progress up the levels. The new BD tests will be numbered from one to six, with one reflecting the entry test at each level, progressing through to six, the most advanced.  

Dressage at its core is all about training, developing new skills and forming a harmonious partnership between horse and rider. The new and revised tests will therefore be more clearly linked to the scales of training, with progressive tests at each level providing a greater focus on the training of horses and rider development.  

Horse welfare has been at the heart of this project and, alongside the physical changes that will help support the correct way of going, some of the terminology has also been amended to reflect how the sport has continued to evolve. The descriptions of movements and scales of training that underpin the tests will also be updated in the 2024 BD Members’ Handbook.    

In addition, there have been changes to the presentation and language used in the new BD tests.  As part of this process, we reviewed all directives to ensure greater clarity for riders, coaches, and judges. Members will hopefully see improved consistency across their test sheets and a clearer link between the directives and marks, which will further aid rider development and training.  

Marking has been reviewed to ensure that movements are appropriately allocated, while there has also been a reduction of co-efficient marks used for paces, as we strive to make the field of play as fair and equal as possible. Dressage is for all, and these changes will continue to promote this core philosophy that underpins the sport.  

Free Access to New Tests

The new BD tests will be published on Friday 1 December, along with the 2024 BD Members’ Handbook.  As an exclusive benefit, all BD members with a paid subscription will be able to view the tests for free over a six-month period until 31 May 2024.  We will communicate full details on how to access the tests in due course.

The new BD tests will come into operation from 1 July 2024 and available for qualification at the start of the new winter season. The first championships that will see the new tests in use will therefore be the Winter Regionals and Winter Area Festivals in January and February 2025, followed by the NAF Five Star Winter Championships in April 2025. 

The Summer Regionals, Summer Area Festivals and National Championships in 2024 will continue to use the current tests, as they will still apply for qualification during the first half of the year, from 1 January to 30 June 2024. The Saracen Quest Semi-Finals & Championships, and the Cavago Associated Championships will also operate under the same format, using current tests.

This means that there will be ample time for riders to learn the new BD tests, as well as adjust to the changes made to the existing tests that will remain as part of the framework.  From April next year, you will be able to purchase the tests as normal from the BD shop, including packs and laminated options, and we’ll also be launching diagrammatic test packs well in advance of the tests going live. 

Our regions will continue to play a vital role in helping members manage the transition and achieve their competition goals by hosting plenty of test riding clinics in 2024.  These will provide a great opportunity to get expert advice on the new tests and put them into practice in your training before they’re in active use at competitions. Regional test riding opportunities will be added to BD Online throughout December and will commence in February. To find out more, visit your region on the BD website and take a look at upcoming events. 

There will also be opportunities to attend BD events, such as the Principles of Dressage at Moulton College in Northamptonshire on 23 & 24 March 2024, where practical and theory sessions will be on offer, focusing on the new test structure.  Judges and coaches will also receive specific guidance and training on the new tests, with the regions holding sessions with tutor judges and coach educators for members and officials from February onwards.   

We have also filmed each of the tests, so that all members will be able to watch them in practice with supporting commentary.  These will be available to view on the BD website early in 2024. In addition to the free access and viewing via the BD website, the full range of tests will also be available on the BD Test Pro app, in partnership with LionDog, providing a perfect opportunity for members to learn tests using their mobile device.  

In advance of the launch of the new test structure on 1 December, we recommend that all members check their BD Online login details, which requires your registered email address and password. If you need any assistance, please contact the BD office and our membership team will be happy to help.