Jul 26, 2020

Know Your Rules: Help, I Learned the Wrong Dressage Test!

By Gretchen Butts - USEA Eventing Licensed Officials Committee , Wayne Quarles , Sue Smithson
USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

This article originally appeared in the May/June 2020 issue of Eventing USA magazine.

The USEA Eventing Licensed Officials Committee will be writing a series of articles relating to current rules from the USEF Rules For Eventing and how they are interpreted and implemented. The committee feels that transparency is important, and want to keep everyone current on the rules and how officials are expected/required to implement them.

Learn the dressage wrong test? Here is the established protocol:

What happens if you start your dressage test and it is the wrong test? Current USEF eventing dressage test ‘A’s track left and test ‘B’s track right, so the judge knows within the first movement that you probably learned the wrong test. According to the rules, leaving the ring (presumably to re-learn the new test and start again) is elimination, so “another chance” is not an option. Once you enter the ring at A, you have officially started the competition.

The protocol mandated at judges’ continuing education clinics and training programs is the following: ring the bell to stop the rider and confirm what seems apparent – the rider learned the wrong test. Ask if the rider is prepared to ride the correct test. In many instances, event riders know both tests of the level; so they can start over from A with nothing but a 2-point error (under no circumstances should the rider exit the ring).

If the rider is flustered or upset, the judge is allowed to (a) tell them how and where to start over, and (b) tell them the next few movements. Our current tests are short, and generally “mirror images” of left and right movements. In most cases, with help from the judge, the rider can make it to the end with one or two errors. The third error, unfortunately, will result in a TE (technical elimination), but the president of the ground jury can allow the rider to continue to the jumping phases with permission; the rider just won’t get a ribbon. The rider MUST ask for this permission before proceeding to the next phase. If the president is busy judging in another ring, check with the technical delegate (TD) instead.

What about realizing that you learned the wrong test before your published dressage ride time? Can you ask to go later? Part of successful competition is preparation. This includes knowing and studying the correct test for the competition, which is easily done in advance of arrival. If riders are given a second chance to be properly prepared, this gives them a competitive advantage over the others.

As with all judging, consistency and impartiality must be the priority. If someone makes an error and goes off course in either jumping phase, they are penalized according to the rules. They are not permitted to start over.

All of our recognized events are competitions and not schooling opportunities. A fair and level playing field is what everyone expects, and officials work diligently to provide.

Thanks for your good work as officials!

Please send questions or other topics that you would like to see discussed to Nancy Knight at [email protected].

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