The goal of a dressage competition is to determine whether
each rider has their horse under control and whether they
are able to perform the required test elements. During a dressage
test, a horse and its rider execute several dressage movements
in a predetermined and formalized order. Dressage tests are
divided into short exercises, each of which is awarded a mark
out of ten from the following scale:
Excellent = 10
Very good = 9
Good = 8
Fairly good = 7
Satisfactory = 6
Sufficient = 5
Insufficient = 4
Fairly bad = 3
Bad = 2
Very bad = 1
Not performed = 0
Judges accompany scores with overall impressions and comments
that must account for or correlate to their numerical scores.
Because horses and riders are scored on a universally accepted
scale rather than relative to their competition, each pair
of horse and rider perform at different times and are not
compared to one another as a part of scoring itself.
The officials who evaluate dressage trials are known as the
jury. International competitions are judged by a five panel
jury, while lower level dressage classes have either two or
three judges on a jury. The jury evaluates uniformity of gaits,
impulsion, general standard of riding, attentiveness of the
horse, confidence of the horse, effectiveness of aids, and
standard presentation of the horse and rider.
Though the jury judges the presentation of the horse and
rider as well as their actual movements, the manner in which
the tests are performed is the most important consideration.
The extra weight placed on these elements is reflected in
the protocol for scoring; more important considerations have
a coefficient of two or three by which the score is multiplied
so that it will have a greater impact on the final score.
A horse and rider's final score is expressed as a percent
value; ultimately, the sum of all of the scores that a horse
and rider receive on each test is divided by the total number
of points possible, and the resulting number is multiplied
by 100 to arrive at a percent value. This percent value is
then used to rank horses and riders and assess the outcome
of the competition.