First clinics showcasing the new BD test structure take place

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  • Published: Thu, 15 Feb 2024 11:29 GMT

Last weekend (10 – 11 February 2024) saw the first test riding clinics featuring the new BD tests take place across the country. 


Test riding clinics provide the ideal opportunity to fine-tune arena craft in a low-pressure environment, whilst gaining expert advice from a BD judge.  Each of the six BD regions is offering a variety of test riding opportunities, all focusing on preparation for the new test structure launch from 1 July 2024, at the start of the new winter qualification season.

BD Wales Development Officer Vanessa Archer commented on the success of her first clinic on Saturday 10 February: “We were delighted with the level of interest and take up for our first event.  We had eleven riders take part in a detailed feedback-based session with judge Jan Evans.  My thanks go to Jan, and the team at Little Mill Equestrian, which is also our Winter Regional venue and provides a great facility for local training and competition.”

Briony Cutler was one of the riders who took part in the session and gave her feedback on the experience: “It’s great to have one-to-one time with a judge who would normally be scoring you; it gives you the opportunity to show them what you’re trying to achieve whilst they can explain their marks and help you through the movements. I worked on my halts, which I struggle to make square, and the judge gave me some great help on how to engage the hindleg at the beginning of the centre line, to create a good halt on X.  I’d normally be paying my entry money for the feedback, so half an hour with a judge to work on this in training is invaluable.”

Commenting on what riders can expect from the new tests, Youth Rep Briony continued; “The changes in the tests are smooth and well-suited; there’s nothing for anyone to worry about, and a test riding clinic with the new tests in use is a great chance to understand them in more depth and detail.”

Briony would encourage any rider to have a go at a regional test riding clinic: “You can take so much confidence from it.  A lot of people see the judge as the person there to say what’s going wrong, but when you go to a test riding clinic it helps you understand that the judges want you to do well, and they want to help you. They’re really pleased to see when riders are having a good time and doing what the test requires. Test riding clinics are great for understanding judge feedback, seeing what their thoughts are, and realising that they are just as passionate about developing riders as coaches are.”

List 3 Judge Jan Evans also commented on her experience at Little Mill: “The day went very well.  We had a mix of riders wanting to understand the new tests and others who wanted some practice for the upcoming Area Festivals and Regionals." 

Highlighting how clinics can benefit riders, Jan explained: “It’s invaluable to have the opportunity to practice test riding.  As a judge you can help riders to improve the presentation of their test, in relation to both accuracy and the quality of the work, whilst giving them the confidence to “train their horse” through the test.  It is great practice to encourage riders to continually think about the balance and way of going and help them to understand how and why certain movements are included. Making riders more aware of where they may need to rebalance and reset their horses means we can reward correct training.  There’s so much that riders can take away from the judge’s point of view.”  

On the changes to the BD test system, Jan added: “The new and revised tests offer improved symmetry and flow very well indeed.  The small changes that have been made will be of huge benefit to the quality of the work.  There is certainly nothing to fear!  I would certainly recommend finding a local event – there are plenty of brilliant judges and coaches in each area and you can depend on enthusiastic support from us all.”

To find out more about upcoming test riding clinics local to you, visit your region on the BD website and search for training on the navigation menu.  


How to access the tests and videos

To view the test videos and PDFs, please log in as usual to the BD website using your BD online details. This is the email address and password that you normally use to access the BD member portal – simply click on the button below where you will be taken to the login page.