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2017 Rule Changes

last updated on August 30, 2016 17:22

2017 Rule Changes

Please read below a member communication which has been emailed to all paid memberst this afternoon regarding the changes to the rules for 2017.

IMPORTANT: Information updated 30 August 2016 - a minimum 5 has been added around Bronze levels eligibilty being affected by competing at a music regional - see updated eligibility tables below.

Dear member, 

We’ve now completed the first cycle of competition under the new structure and thanks to all of you for embracing it, finding your level and providing your feedback along the way. The new structure was over two years in development to provide a modern framework for a rapidly developing sport. Technical input, user groups, member consultation, and several stages of feedback, all went into the end product. A few tweaks were made in January following further member feedback and then it’s been six months of data gathering, statistic monitoring and plenty more feedback.

The good news is that participation levels are like for like with last year, in line with our expectations. The competition structure is largely working as intended, with the vast majority of riders in the sections they should be, according to the experience of the combination.

The Bronze section is doing its job perfectly with newcomers and riders scoring around the low 60% mark enjoying protection at a level they are happy at against their peers. The Gold section is also largely as it should be; however, feedback indicates that some combinations have found themselves in Gold by virtue of their points won over time, when really they are Silver level competitors and have nothing to aim for. Likewise there are some riders in the Silver section that should really be in Gold, which is something we will need to address.

The Silver section still requires some further work to achieve the right balance overall. We acknowledged in April that it was slightly larger than ideal, but it has been vital to let this run for a full year’s cycle. It was through member feedback that the concept of letting experienced riders drop down the levels with a young horse was introduced and with hindsight perhaps we were too generous here. We know that there are some changes to be made to redress the balance and move the more experienced / successful combinations into gold.

We’ve therefore been working towards making eligibility based on performance (horse / rider / combination) rather than points won, which should help to equalise the imbalance that currently exists in the silver section for those riders who are comfortable competing at a level and not scoring particularly highly. We’ve tested the amendments against specific combinations against the new eligibility, which has resulted in them being in appropriate sections for their ability.

We know that there’s been a few ‘hot topics’ being discussed and we want to address those concerns for you and how we hope to resolve them:

Members’ concern:
Silver sections are very large at some levels.
How the improvements will help: Basing eligibility on performance and scores achieved will move more of the high achievers into the Gold section, helping to balance the numbers more equally.

Members’ concern:
Riders in Silver sections who are of too high a standard, including those competently competing at Advanced Medium or above, or those who qualify multiple horses regularly for Regional / Winter / National Championships.
How the improvements will help: The new eligibility tables will also address this based on the achievements of horse, rider and combination. If the horse / rider / combination are consistently achieving a reasonable level, they’ll have to move into the
Gold section.

Members’ concern:
Gold riders who are in the section on points won, but are not competitive at Regionals, have nothing to aim for.
How the improvements will help: Removing the upper points ceiling will now place many of these riders in Silver based on their achievements so, provided they are eligible, can now qualify for Silver Area Festivals and Regionals.

Members’ concern: The ten year rule on calculating rider groups is complicated.
How the improvements will help: We appreciate that this has caused some confusion and plan to revert back to rider groups and eligibility being calculated against all records.

Members’ concern: Competent children being allowed to remain in the Bronze section.
How the improvements will help: While the intention will always be to allow youngsters to learn from ‘schoolmaster’ horses, to aid their development as riders, the performance-based criteria will now apply to children. The age will be amended to 12 years and under.

Members’ concern: The rules for eligibility are too complex and difficult to understand.
How the improvements will help: It has been a challenge to have a system that is fair and representative of all our members – and in attempting to address some of the concerns raised, we acknowledge that it’s actually made the system more complicated in places. We know that riders want to compete against their peers and have a chance of reaching their full potential, which is an ambition that British Dressage as the governing body for the sport fully shares.  In addition, to help simplify, we’ve removed the points ceilings for each section and the ‘schoolmaster’ rule (five regional scores). The new performance-based criteria go some way to address this by ensuring that the rules are consistently applied across all levels and sections.

To view the new eligibility tables:

Quick view – click here
Detailed view – click here

Changes also in the pipeline / under discussion include:

Winter Championship classes 2018 (2017 qualifying)

- There will now be Advanced Medium Freestyle classes for Silver and Gold sections
- A non-music championship for PSG and Inter I will be introduced, which will then qualify riders for the Freestyle championship at each level on the Gala Performance nights
- Prelim, Novice and Elementary Area Festivals will revert back to a one-round final (more information on our changes to the Area Festivals structure is provided below)
- Novice, Elementary and Medium Silver Championships will take place in the outdoor arenas, which means that an additional nine places in each class are available.

Premier League competitions

- All classes (with the exception of Medium) at any Premier League competition should have a minimum of three judges
- Grand Prix qualifiers must have an International judge on the panel
- Where Medium and Advanced Medium classes are on offer, only Gold sections will be held
- Premier Leagues will be able to hold one Advanced Medium class, which will give direct qualification for the winner to the

National Championships

- In the event of oversubscription, Group 1 & 2 riders will have priority and balloting would then be subject to Group 3 riders and below at the organiser’s discretion
- Riders in Group 3 entering PSG and Inter I combinations must achieve a minimum of 63% in regular competition to qualify for a PL class at that level

Qualification percentages for Regionals

- With ever-improving standards, the minimum percentage for qualification scores will rise by 1% across the levels (excluding Prelim) in straight and music classes
- The total number of points required has been raised for some sections:
 Medium Silver – now twelve points, six from qualifiers
 Advanced Medium Silver – now ten points, five from qualifiers
 Advanced Medium Gold – now fourteen points, seven from qualifiers
PSG and Inter I qualifiers
- All PSG and Inter I classes scheduled must have a minimum £30 first prize and will therefore act as qualifiers (taking into account that first prize money is not awarded until there are five starters)
- This rule would not apply to PYO classes

Quest Club

- Elementary will be dropped as a level in Quest Club competition due to low demand
- List 6 judges will be eligible to judge Novice Quest Club sections
- BYRDS sections have had the age range amended and will now become Under 18 classes

Combined Training

- In association with BS, BE and PC, combined training will return to the BD calendar
- The new series will be aimed at grass roots riders, to include classes at Prelim with 70cm and 80cm jumping and Novice with 90cm and 1m jumping
- Open to members of BD (including Quest Club), BS,BE and PC

Tack and equipment

- The FEI issued an update on permitted tack which BD have implemented with immediate effect at the beginning of August – click here for details.
- BD will allow ear covers in all competitions from 15 August 2016 in line with the FEI
- Body / belly bands, kinesiology and Shakeeze mask tape will not be permitted in warm up or competition arenas.

Associated Championships

- An Arab Horse Society Championship will be offered in 2017 to join our family of associated championships.

Area Festivals 2017

Thanks to the members who took time to answer our survey in May. With over 1,000 members responding it provided us with some great feedback, really interesting insight and helped us to cement our own ideas. The Area Festivals have become BD’s largest series with around 30% of our members taking part, but the structure is now at capacity and it’s time to evolve this competition onto the next stage of development.

The feedback told us that while you love the sense of occasion at an Area Festival, you would like more opportunities to be available and want the levels to go higher. It was also felt that young riders should have their own opportunity, rather than competing against adults. In addition, riding two rounds at the Championships proved to be unpopular.
We have therefore expanded the series to give more riders a shot at that ‘big show atmosphere’, starting earlier in the year, as well as introducing additional classes and a new section for under 18s.

The key changes are as follows:

- This will now run as a three stage series;

 24 Area Festival First Rounds will be held around the country from Prelim to Inter II, with Bronze and Silver Sections (Silver only for Inter II), staged between May and August, which will qualify for:
 Eight Area Festival Semi Finals, one for each of the BD regions, to be held between September and October
 Area Festival Finals at the Winter Championships at Hartpury in April, to determine our Champions at each level.

- Area Festival First Rounds;
 Qualification will be as it is at present, with the exception that from Prelim to Advanced Medium in the Silver section one score must be from a qualifying test (i.e. P19, N39, E59, M75 and AM98),
 Combinations may attend as many Festivals as they qualify for
 The top ten in each section from Prelim to Advanced Medium and top five from PSG to Inter II qualify for one of the eight Area Festivals.

- Area Festivals Semi Finals;
 A combination may only compete once per level qualified for in an Area Festival Semi Final
 Qualification to the Festival Finals will be on a proportionate ratio basis
 Wild cards may be issued if numbers warrant

- Area Festival Finals;
 One round Championship for all levels from Prelim to Inter II

- Under 18s Section;
 A new competition for Under 18s, from Prelim to Medium, to run in parallel.
 There will be just one section at each stage of the series, but qualification score sheets can be earned in either Bronze or Silver sections.

We’re really excited that the new format will give more riders than ever that chance of riding at a big show and earning that all-important plaque and rosette, offering combinations a chance to progress towards their ultimate ambition of riding at a Championship.

It’s been a challenging year for everyone in implementing and understanding the new competition structure and again, we’d like to thank members for their continued support.

If you have any constructive feedback to provide, please email us at This email is for collection of feedback and will be regularly monitored but not all enquiries can be guaranteed a response.

Working together with input from all our members and stakeholder groups, these proposed changes should have a positive impact on the rules framework. Our ultimate aim is to provide an environment that provides healthy competition, with a fair playing field for all, which enables any rider to reach their full potential.

Kind regards,

Paul Graham
Sport Operations Manager