British Dressage Regional Championships & Area Festivals 2016

British Dressage holds championships every year at many different levels of horse and rider training, ability and experience. British Dressage have setup a Championship system that means that horses and riders are competing against other horses and riders with similar levels of training, ability and experience. Unfortunately, this has resulted in what, at first, seems complex rules and qualification criteria and to further complicate matters the competition structure has also been changed significantly in 2016. The Regional Championships and Area Festivals and their role in the new competition structure is explained in clear and simple terms below. In simplifying the rules I may have glossed over a rule that refers to you so always refer to the British Dressage 2016 Members Handbook for the definitive explanation. You should also check the Rule Clarifications leaflet which actually contains a very important rule change to the end date for qualifying for the Summer Regionals.

Jump to:


Open and Restricted

When are they held?

Qualifying Rules

Grading Points

Qualification Points

Dressage Tests

Location on Map

Key Changes

Even if you are an experienced competitor I recommend reading the following list of key changes…

Date Changes
  1. The Summer Regionals qualification period ends on Sunday 19th June 2016
    • In the past the cut off date has always been the end of the month so don’t run out of time to qualify for the Summer Regionals by this change to the middle of June. I think this is a very important change and, maybe I have missed it but, I have seen no publicity of this change.
    • The 2016 Rule Book states that the Summer qualification period ends on Wednesday 15th June but I spotted a Rule Clarifications leaflet in Dec 2015 that states on the front page that “The summer qualification period has now been extended up to Sunday 19 June 2016”.
    • And to state the obvious the Winter Regionals qualification period starts on 20th June 2016
  2. Area Festival and Music qualification starts on 1st Dec 2015.
    • Both these qualification periods started on 1st Jan in previous years. In reality this will probably not make much difference to most people because Christmas reduces the number of competitions and also the number of competitors in December.
Other Key Changes
  • There are now 8 Regionals (compared to 7 in 2015) for both the Summer and Winter but only 17 Area Festivals (compared to 19 in 2015)
  • Obviously the change to Gold/Silver/Bronze from the old Open/Restricted is a major change and at a simplistic level:
    • Regionals: Gold corresponds to Open and Silver to Restricted
    • Festivals: Silver corresponds to Open and Bronze to Restricted
  • If you are aiming to qualify for the Regional Championships at Novice Silver then note that the minimum % has increased to 66% from 65% for the old Novice Restricted
  • Points have increased for scores of 74% and over and competitors in CDIs are now awarded more points for the same score than in a national British Dressage competitions

Championships Overview

There are three championships that will be explained on this page:

Regional Championships

The Regional Championships have classes at levels from Prelim to Inter 1 and most levels are further sub-divided into Gold and Silver. Gold is for the most experienced horses and riders and Silver is for horses and riders with more limited experience but not usually beginners. An overly simplistic explanation is Gold is for professional riders and Silver is for the best amateur riders. (This is a simplification and not always accurate but is appropriate in the context of this overview of the championships.)

When a horse and rider qualify for the Regionals then that combination can only compete at one Regional Championship. If the combination of horse and rider qualify for the Regionals at more than one level the combination can only compete at maximum of 2 levels. If you are lucky enough to have qualified at more than 2 levels then you may choose which 2 levels you compete at – the levels do not need to be consecutive.

Any rider who is a full member of British Dressage with a horse that is fully registered (i.e. not competing on a class ticket) and met the qualification criteria summarised below may compete in a Regional Championship.

There are 8 geographically diverse Summer Regional Championships that are qualifiers for the National (summer) Championships at Stoneleigh Park in September 2016 and 8 Winter Regional Championships that are qualifiers for the Winter Championships at Hartpury College in April 2017. You are free to choose the Regional Championship that you want to attend – it does not need to be the closest.

The highest placed competitors at the Regional Championships will automatically qualify for the National & Winter Championship and British Dressage will award wild cards to the best of the non-qualified competitors from across all Regional Championships. All automatic qualifiers for the National or Winter Championships must score over 65%.

Winter Music Regional Championships

Freestyle or Music tests allows you to create your own dressage test which is performed to your own selection of music. This obviously gives you a lot of creative freedom to show off your horse at his/her best with both technical and artistic marks. There are obviously some restrictions with British Dressage defining the compulsory movements and prohibited movements at each level.

British Dressage Full or Music membership allows a rider to compete in Music Freestyle qualifier tests with either a fully registered horse or an associate (free of charge) registered horse.

  • If you only want to compete in Music classes then Music Membership is approx 35% of the cost of full British Dressage membership (based on prices in Oct-2015)
  • Dont forget that you must also sign a PPL licence for the music.
  • If you qualify for a Regional Music Championship then the rider must upgrade to full membership and the horse must be fully registered.
  • Grading points are not awarded for Music Freestyle tests.

Music tests are at Novice level and above with either Gold or Silver sections for Novice to Advanced Medium levels.

Area Festivals

The Area Festivals are marketed at “grass roots riders” so the qualification criteria to compete at an Area Festival are lower than the qualification criteria for the Regional Championships. There are 17 Area Festivals in 2016.

  • A combination can only compete in one of the Bronze or Silver sections even if they have earned qualification for both Bronze and Silver.
  • Combinations can compete at one level and the level above only
    • Both of these levels must be entered in the same Bronze or Silver section. If a competitor enters an Area Festival for the higher level at Silver then the entry for the lower level must also be at Silver – the lower level cannot be Bronze
  • Combinations who have competed at a Regional Championship (except PSG Music Freestyle) in the same calendar year at the same level or lower cannot enter an Area Festival
  • Combinations who have competed at either the National or Winter Championship cannot compete at that level or below in an Area Festival (except for PSG or Inter 1 Music Freestyle)
  • Combinations who score 66% or more in the final round of the Prelim Bronze Area Festival Championship cannot compete in Prelim Bronze at Area Festivals again.
  • Combinations at Novice, Elementary, Medium and Advanced Medium level whose score in the Area Festival Championship exceeds the minimum score for Regional qualification at that level cannot compete in Bronze Area Festivals in future years.

Riders must be full members and horses must be fully registered.

  • Note that a new rule in 2016 states that Class Tickets can no longer be used to qualify for an Area Festival.

The following diagram shows how the timing of the qualification periods for the Regional Championships, Music Championships and the Area Festivals. The diagram is quite complex when all championships are shown so I have…

  • shown the months twice: to aid clarity
  • not shown exact dates: but the diagram does indicate by the position of the line whether the activity starts at the start, end or middle of the month
  • animated the diagram to initially show everything and then highlight the Summer Regionals, then the Winter Regionals, then the Area Festivals and finally the Music Regionals. The highlight rotates through this cycle and changes every 10 seconds.

Championship Levels

All championships are run at all levels. The levels discussed on this webpage are:






There are classes at higher levels but I think it is reasonable to assume that riders at these levels are very experienced and will not be reading this webpage. The rules and qualification criteria at these levels are often a little bit different and would add complexity to this summary document.

Sections: Gold, Silver and Bronze

In both the Area Festival and the Regional Championships each of the levels is further divided into two sections. At the Regionals the sections are Gold and Silver. At the Area Festivals the sections are Silver and Bronze. These sections allow combinations to compete against combinations with a similar amount of experience.

GoldGold sections are for experienced riders who are riding either an experienced or an inexperienced horse.
SilverSilver sections are for horses and riders that have gained some experience and have some good scores at a level and so can no longer be considered beginners.
BronzeBronze sections are for beginners or combinations whose scores are still relatively low even after gaining some experience.

When you enter an affiliated dressage competition you must specify the section that you want to enter. It is your responsibility to ensure that you are eligible to enter the section. British Dressage are in the process of updating their website and I am hoping that the new website will provide all the information you need to check that you are eligible. The new rules are complex and because they are new and nobody has experience with them the new website is critical to assisting competitors to enter the correct section.

Championships for Gold Silver Bronze Sections

If you and your horse are inexperienced at the level of the competition and are eligible to enter the bronze, silver and gold section then your decision on which section you want to enter may be decided by the Championship that you are aiming to qualify for. The diagram shows that at the levels above Prelim if you want to qualify for the Regional Championships then you must enter the Silver or Gold sections. If your aim is to qualify for the Area Festivals then you must enter the Bronze or Silver sections. If you complete qualification you will then be entered in the same gold/silver/bronze section at the Regional/Area Festival.

At Prelim if you enter a Silver section then you can only qualify for a Regional Championship. If you enter a Bronze section then you can only qualify for an Area Festival. There is no championship for Prelim Gold. Because there is only a single championship that can be aimed for the rules allow some flexibility to change your mind if you fail to qualify for the Prelim Silver Regional Championships. You can use the Prelim Silver score sheets as qualification for the Prelim Bronze at an Area Festival but only if as a combination you are eligible for Prelim Bronze.

If you enter a Silver section then you can use the result as part qualification for either a Regional Championship or an Area Festival. When you enter the test you do not need to specify if you are aiming to qualify for an Area Festival or a Regional Championship. You only need to decide when you enter either the Area Festival or the Regional Championships – you cannot enter both an Area Festival and a Regional Championship at the same level in the same calendar year. If you enter a Regional Championships then you can only enter Area Festivals at levels above the Regional Championship entry.

When are the Festivals and Championships?

The Regional Championships are held twice per year. The Area Festival’s are annual.


Summer Regional Championships

15 Jul 2016 – 14 Aug 2016Qualify at affiliated competitions between 1st Dec 2015 & 19th June 2016 (**Note change from the end of June in 2015 to mid June)

Known as “the regionals” and held at 8 geographically diverse locations (in 2016 there is 1 additional Regional). Note: the BD 2016 Rule Book has been updated to change the end date for qualification for the Summer Regionals from 15th June 2016 to 19th June 2016 in a Rules Clarification leaflet.

Winter Regional Championships

6 Feb 2016 – 4 Mar 2016Qualify at affiliated competitions between 1st July 2015 & 30th Nov 2015

Known as “the regionals” and held at 8 geographically diverse locations (in 2016 there is 1 additional Regional)

Qualification for the 2016 Winter Regionals occurs in 2015.

Winter Regional Championships

Feb/Mar 2017 (TBA)Qualify at affiliated competitions between 20th June 2016 & 30th Nov 2016

Affiliated competitions on or after 20th June 2016 count as qualification for the Winter Regional Championships in 2017.

Area Festivals18 Aug – 24 OctQualify at affiliated competitions between 1st Dec 2015 & the closing date for entries for the Area Festival that you are entering. The close date is 10 days before the first day of the Area Festival.

National Championships

at Stoneleigh

15-18 Sep tbcQualify at the Summer Regional Championships either automatically (notified at the Regional Championships) or with a wildcard entry which British Dressage will decide based on the results of all the Summer Regionals.

Winter Championships

at Hartpury

6-10 AprQualify at the Winter Regional Championships and at Area Festivals for the Area Festival Championships either automatically (notified at the Regional Championships or Area Festival) or with a wildcard entry which British Dressage will decide based on the results of all the Summer Regionals / Area Festivals.

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What are the qualification criteria?

All affiliated competitions count towards qualification for either the Area Festivals and the Regional Championships depending which section – gold, silver or bronze – that you enter.

ChampionshipQualification Criteria
Summer & Winter Regionals

You must enter the Silver or Gold section if you are competing Novice or above. If you are competing at Prelim then you must enter the Silver section because there is no Prelim Gold Championship.

In the British Dressage schedules classes are marked as Qualifiers or non-qualifiers.

  • SQ = Summer Qualifier
  • WQ = Winter Qualifier
  • S = Summer (non-Qualifier)
  • W = Winter (non-Qualifier)

This terminology is confusing because both Qualifiers and non-Qualifiers count towards qualification but Qualifiers are given more weight in the qualification criteria. Generally the higher numbered, more difficult, test is the Qualifier.

  • Minimum % that must be achieved to count towards qualification.
    • Gold sections have a higher minimum % than the Silver sections.
    • The minimum % reduces as you rise up the levels
  • The grading points awarded to horse & rider are based on your % score and are used in the qualification criteria:
    • A specified number of points must be awarded in Qualifier classes
    • The remaining points can be awarded in either the Qualifier or the non-Qualifier classes
    • The points required are different for each level and for open and restricted sections and are listed in a separate table
  • Reminder: you can only count points awarded where you met the minimum % score criteria
  • If you have qualified for the Regional Championships you will be invited to enter by email from British Dressage with a special Regional Championship entry form.
    • This ensures that only qualified horses/riders can enter and that only one Regional Championship can be entered.
Winter Music Regional Championships
  • Minimum % that must be achieved to count towards qualification.
    • Gold sections have a higher minimum % than the Silver section
    • There is no Bronze section for Music
    • Advanced Medium and PSG only have a Gold section
    • The minimum % reduces as you rise up the levels
  • Qualification is based on the competitors place in the results subject to meeting the minimum percentage (since grading points are not awarded in Music classes).
    • The top placed combinations that have not already qualified will qualify for the Winter Regional Championships if they have achieved the minimum score
    • 2 combinations will qualify from each Music class except at Medium (Gold), Advanced Medium and PSG where 3 will qualify
    • The qualification criteria were changed by British Dressage on 8th January 2016.
    Minimum %
    Novice69%68%2 scores at the minimum % or higher
    Area Festivals
    • A minimum percentage score must be achieved:
    • Prelim3 scores of 62% or above at the same level
      Medium2 scores of 60% or above at the same level
      Prix St George
      Inter 1
    • You will be notified by email when you gain scores that qualify you for the Area Festival
    • The rules state that you must send a copy of “notification of qualification” with your entry as proof of qualification. However, the rules also state that you can send the original score sheets as proof of qualification. I would therefore recommend that you keep all your qualifying score sheets just in case you do not receive the “notification of qualification”.

    Grading Points

    Grading points are used to grade both horses and riders and are also used for qualification to the Regional Championships. Points are awarded based on the percentage score at an affiliated dressage competition. Competitors in International CDI competitions are awarded more points than competitors in national British Dressage Competitions.

    Score (%)British DressageCDI
    Less than 60%0 points
    60% – 61.99%1 point
    62% – 63.99%2 points
    64% – 65.99%3 pts4 pts
    66% – 67.99%4 pts6 pts
    68% – 69.99%5 pts8 pts
    70% – 71.99%6 pts10 pts
    72% – 73.99%7 pts12 pts
    74% – 75.99%8 pts14 pts
    76% – 77.99%9 pts16 pts
    78% – 79.99%10 pts18 pts
    80% or higher11 pts20 pts

    Qualification Points for Regional Championships

    LevelMinimum % ScorePoints from QualifierTotal Points RequiredMinimum % ScorePoints from QualifierTotal Points Required
    Prelim Silver66%2020
    Advanced Medium63%4864%510
    PSG & Inter 163%66


    • Novice Silver minimum % has increased to 66% from 65% for the old Novice Restricted

    Which Dressage Test will be used?

    The following tests are the only tests that can be used for the qualifier class:

    PrelimP2, P13, P14, P15, P17, P19
    NoviceN30, N34, N37, N38, N39
    ElementaryE49, E50, E53, E57, E59
    MediumM71, M73, M75, M76 (new test)
    Advanced MediumAM90, AM91 (new test), AM92, AM93, AM98

    Dressage Tests can be purchased from British Dressage. However, some of the more advanced tests are also FEI tests and can be downloaded free from the FEI website.

    The following tests are likely to be used for the various Championships and Festivals. However, this is not defined in the rules it is only based on reviewing previous championships so do check the schedule to be certain which test will be used:

    Area FestivalRegional Championships

    It is likely that the same test used at the Regionals / Area Festivals will be used at the Winter Championships and National Championships but this is not defined in the rules so check the schedule.

    Where are the Area Festivals and Championships held

    Click on the links below for pages on Horse Clips with maps and lists of all the Regional Championships and Area Festivals:

    Read the British Dressage Rule Book

    Please note that this page is only a summary of the full rules. So it is possible that I have not given details of a rule that affects you so I do recommend reading the full book of rules. The Members Handbook should have been posted to you with the bi-monthly magazine or you can download the 2016 Members Handbook and a Rule Clarifications leaflet from the British Dressage website.

    Please Leave Comments and Feedback below

    I hope the above information has helped to explain the British Dressage Regional Championships and Area Festivals. Although it is complex and the change to Gold/Silver.Bronze has introduced a lot of changes it does result in competitions between horse and riders with similar abilities. If you have any questions or need further explanation please leave a comment below and I will respond and if required edit the page to ensure the information is clear.

    Information on this page is based on British Dressage Rules 2016 valid until end November 2016. Dates & venues for Championships in 2016 is based on information available on the British Dressage website and may be subject to change.