How to Become a Judge

The process of becoming a dressage judge takes a lot of time and commitment.

This is necessary to ensure quality judging. Many people use their background as a rider or a trainer in dressage to progress into a career in judging.


Please note that Dressage Judging and its associated activities are voluntary.

To apply to become a trainee judge, the following conditions must be met:

  • be a Dressage Ireland member. 
  • be at least 18 years of age. 
  • have ridden at affiliated level at Novice level, minimum. 
  • submit completed application forms
    • Form A for details of your experience.
    • Form A1 for two references from dressage judges or dressage trainers to confirm your suitability to become a judge. 
  • download the DI Judges Log Book to record your training. 
  • if not already obtained, apply for Garda Vetting/Access NI Clearance and Safe Guarding certificates as these are necessary to become a DI judge. Please see the bottom of this page for more information.

The application forms can be found for download at the bottom of this page. 

If the judges committee accepts you as a trainee judge, your application will be valid for two years. If you have not become a listed judge by the end of the two years, you will need to re-apply.

As a Trainee Judge, before coming forward for testing, is it recommended that you:

  • Write for judges on an official list, in order to become familiar with the terminology and understand the demands made on the writer.
  • Sit in with judges on List 4 or above when tests of Novice and Elementary standard are being judged. When sitting in you must not interrupt or offer comment as the Judge needs to keep their full concentration on the competitor. Allow the judge to decide how much discussion of marks and remarks can be undertaken. To keep to the strict timetable usually set for classes, in all probability any discussions will be limited to the coffee break.
  • It is compulsory to practise judge the appropriate level classes according to the procedure set out in the List 6 to 3A upgrading protocolin order to sit an upgrading exam.
  • Attend at least one National Judge Training day a year. Details on DI website under Judges Training.
  • Keep your Log Book up-to-date.
  • Study the F.E.I. definitions of Paces and Movements as given in the Rule Book.

The following suggestions are also made to help Trainee Judges, not only to improve their knowledge but, equally important, to enable them to express their thoughts clearly and concisely. To be able to judge a class, technical knowledge is not enough, it is also necessary to instantly put thoughts into words and, at the same time, evaluate the movement with a mark.

  • Watch horses training, particularly at Novice level.
  • Read books and magazine articles on Dressage Training.
  • Learn the value of the scale of marks. i.e. 4=insufficient, 6=satisfactory.
  • Make sure that you are familiar with the rules, so that you are not thrown into confusion if something goes wrong.
  • Learn the test from a ‘Judges point of view', noting particularly the split up of the movements and whether the transition is in the preceding or following movement.
  • Remember that a movement starts at the first letter mentioned and continues until the first letter of the next movement.


Contact and Reference Information

These are suggestions to help you with your experience.

  • FEI Dressage Judges Handbook – Guidelines for Judging
    Learn to love it, it is all there – every mark for every movement from 10 to 0.
    Order Form can be found at the bottom of this page for download.
  • Score 10 Dressage Judge Training CDs.
    In each CD you will learn about the paces and movements required, alongside information on the Training Scale and suitable scores. Easy to listen to at home , in the car or lorry.
    Order Form can be found at the bottom of this page for download - please use code DI10 when ordering
  • DVD On All the Dressage Levels
    The full tests are available on YouTube along with videos of each movement broken down and explained.
  • Through the Eye of the Judge with Stephen Clarke DVD – Series 2
    These are excellent judge education videos for all levels from Novice to Grand Prix. The videos are available from

The FEI dressage handbook is available below