Dressage Ireland

Judges Training & Upgrading

Training News

Training News

For information on seminars and training dates and updates on judges training please see the Judges Training Notices.

Dressage to Music

Guidelines for Judging Dressage to Music

Compiled by Linda Whetstone and edited by Stephen Clarke. The section on Music and Interpretation of the Music was largely written by Ken Barnsley and other ideas came from “Dressage to Music” by Jane Kidd, The FEI “Dressage Handbook - Guidelines for Judging” and notes by FEI International Judge Katrina Wust “The Artistic Marks in Freestyle Competitions”. We are very grateful to all major contributors as well as those who gave their time, expertise and advice in compiling these notes.


How To Become A Judge

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

Dressage Ireland has over 60 Listed judges who perform this vital role.

Requirements to become a Trainee Judge

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

  • be a Dressage Ireland member
  • be at least 18 years of age
  • have ridden at affiliated level at Novice level, minimum.
  • fill in an application form, Form A with details of your experience.Two references, Form A1, from dressage judges or dressage trainers must be provided to confirm your suitability to become a judge
  • apply for a Log Book to record your training.

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:

  1. Write for judges on an official list, in order to become familiar with the terminology and understand the demands made on the writer.
  2. 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.
  3. Practice Judge Novice classes according to the procedure set out in the List 6 to 3a upgrading protocol.
  4. Attend at least one National Judge Training day a year. Details on DI website under Judges Training Notices.
  5. Keep your Log Book up-to-date.
  6. 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

    CD - 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.


    DVD On all the dressage Levels
    The full tests are available on YouTube along with videos of each movement broken down and explained.

    DVD – “Through the Eye of the Judge with Stephen Clarke” – Series 2, these are excellent judge education videos for all levels from Novice to Grand Prix. The videos are available from throughtheeyeofthejudge.co.uk.

Judges Upgrading
Application Forms