FEI to Remove Collective Marks from Dressage Tests

The 2017 FEI General Assembly recently took place in Montevideo, Uruguay. One of the big topics up for discussion were changes to the Collective Marks on FEI dressage tests.

Recommendation: Collective marks should be partially removed from all FEI tests in 2018, keeping only the collective mark for the Rider. This will not be applicable for the Young Horse Tests.

Dressage Judging Working Group
With the possible exception of the Rider/Aids mark, the DJWG feels that the collective marks are already taken into account in the movement scores. The switch of emphasis from a movement mark – based on exactly what the judge sees at the moment of execution – to a collective note that is designed to summarize the entire test, does not aid the judge’s focus. In analysis of the ~1000 2017 tests it is seen that while technical and collective scores are quite correlated, the riders at the top of the ranking do typically receive an extra boost from the collective marks. We also observe that even in some high level events the ranking of the technical marks is effectively overruled by that of the collective marks. The completion of the collective marks also takes time between starters and. particularly for televised events, a small gain in overall competition time can be expected if collective marks are no longer used.

Dressage Technical Committee
In principle the DC agrees to this suggested change. The DC however would like to insist that relevant comments are made for each movement so that the submission of the Horse is marked. The DC agrees that the mark for the Rider should be maintained as suggested.

Original FEI Proposal Document can be found here.

During the 2017 General Assembly, the DJWG’s proposal was voted in favor of. What this means, in the new 2018 FEI Dressage tests, the only collective mark will be “Rider’s position and seat; correctness and effect of the aids”. There will no longer be collective marks for Gaits, Impulsion, or Submission.

“While technical and collective scores are quite correlated, the riders at the top of the ranking do typically receive an extra boost from the collective marks. We also observe that even in some high level events the ranking of the technical marks is effectively overruled by that of the collective marks,” the report stated, based on analyses by FEI statistician David Stickland.

This will give the judges less opportunity to influence the overall score at the end of the scoresheet, and instead, the scores will be based mainly on the cumulative score of all movements in the test. This will also save short amounts of time at the end of each ride since the judges will have less lines to fill out on each test.

International five-star judge Dietrich Plewa’s thoughts:

That decision also surprised me a bit. I would have liked to keep the footnotes so that we judges have a chance to summarize and evaluate our general impression at the end of an exam. Now only the footnote for the seat and the action of the rider was received, whereby I could have just imagined at this grade, that one sweeps the coefficient. Not infrequently, a rider benefits from his name on this note. I think the note for the rider is important, but in relation to the other footnotes I think that note is rather less significant. In particular, the grade for the purity of the courses had special value. For example, if a horse has perturbations in the test that do not entitle us to eliminate it, then in this footnote we had the opportunity to reiterate our concerns about balance and clock security. Or think about the step. The step is considered only with two notes, with coefficient. Previously, we were able to emphasize a fundamental shortcoming in the basic gait step again in the footnote, especially since the step also reveals something about the correct training of a horse.

Let us also remember the footnote for obedience. There we could make a statement as to whether the idea of ​​a horse corresponds in terms of education to what we want to see. Often we see horses that do not make mistakes technically, but pass the lessons rather mechanically, not going through the body. That’s not what we want. We could refer to this in the footnote for the obedience. Again and again, much is discussed about the style. Especially when horses are consistently set a bit too narrow in the neck, the single note could often be considered only inadequate. With the footnote for obedience, we were able to make it clear that we can not tolerate leanings / tight necks. 
The footnotes were very important to make a summary statement. 

If you want to watch the FEI General Assembly, the morning and afternoon session videos are below.