British Dressage Regional Championships & Area Festivals 2017

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. This has resulted in what, at first, seems complex rules and qualification criteria and to further complicate matters the eligibility rules and Area Festival competition format have both changed significantly in 2017.

It is difficult to understand the Regional Championships and Area Festivals from the 2017 Members Handbook since this is written as a list of rules so this article explains the championships in more straightforward language with the aid of animated diagrams and tables. There are also lots of links in the article which take you to the relevant section in this article or to related articles.

In simplifying the rules I may have glossed over a rule that refers to you so always refer to the British Dressage 2017 Members Handbook for the definitive explanation.

Jump to:

1/ Overview

2/Sections: Gold, Silver, Bronze, U18

3/ When are they held?

4/ Qualifying Criteria

5/ Grading Points

6/ Qualification Points

7/ Dressage Tests

8/ Maps of venues

Key Changes

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 a 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 but the lower level must be the Gold section.

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 (click for a map) that are qualifiers for the National (summer) Championships at Stoneleigh Park in September 2017 and 8 Winter Regional Championships (click for a map) that are qualifiers for the Winter Championships at Hartpury College in April 2018. 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 Championships. The number of automatic qualifiers is based on a ratio of the number of starters where a starter is a competitor who enters the arena at A. The ratio will be something like 1 in 20 which means that if there are up to 20 starters then 1 rider – the winner – will automatically qualify. If there are 21 to 40 starters then the top 2 placed competitors will qualify. All automatic qualifiers for the National or Winter Championships must score over 65%.

British Dressage will award wild cards to the best of the non-qualified competitors from across all Regional Championships so that the class at the Nationals or Winter Championships is full.

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 (which are marked) 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 only £32 (compared to £82 for full British Dressage membership). You can compete on an Associate registered horse which is free (compared to £77 for annual horse registration). So if you compete only in music classes the total cost of BD membership can be as low as £32 per year which is only 20% of the total cost of membership and horse registration.
  • If you qualify for a Regional Music Championship then the rider must upgrade to full membership and the horse must be fully registered to compete at the Regional Music Championship.
  • Your music must include up to 20 seconds of entrance music up to your salute after you enter at A. The test sheet includes the time limits on the duration of your freestyle test and therefore the duration of the music.
  • Dont forget that you must also sign a PPL licence for the music details of how to do this click to jump to the British Dressage website page with instructions.
  • Grading points are not awarded for Music Freestyle tests.

Music tests at the Regionals are run from Novice to Inter 1 levels. Novice to Advanced Medium levels have Gold and Silver sections but no Bronze sections.

Area Festivals

Area Festival qualification criteria are lower than the qualification criteria for the Regional Championships so the Area Championship is the perfect opportunity for a lot of members to compete in a Championship environment.

The Area Festival competition format has changed significantly for 2017 to allow more competitors to compete in this popular championship. The new format now includes 2 rounds – the First Round and the Semi Finals – before the Championship (click for more details) held at the Winter Championships, Hartpury.

There are now sections for Under 18 riders up to Medium level and the Area Festivals now go up to Inter 2 level with more levels having both a Silver and a Bronze section.

  • The Under 18 sections are mandatory for riders who have their 18th or under birthday during 2017.
    • The rules do not give U18 riders the option to compete in Bronze or Silver but to be fair I cannot see any reason why a young rider would want to compete against adults!
    • Obviously there aren’t any U18 sections in the normal BD competitions so the qualifying scores can be gained in either Bronze or Silver sections.
  • A combination can only compete in one of the Under 18, Bronze or Silver sections at a level even if they have earned qualification for both Bronze and Silver. Under 18s must compete in the Under 18 section and adults can compete in their choice of Bronze or Silver section but cannot compete in both.
  • Combinations can only compete at a level and the level above at the Area Festival First Rounds
    • Both of these levels must be entered in the same Bronze or Silver section e.g. 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 rider must be a full member and the horse must be fully registered for the score to count as a qualifying score for the Area Festivals at Novice and above.
    • At Prelim the rider may be a Quest or BYRDS member riding an Associate registered horse for the score to count as a qualifying score for an Area Festival First Round. But see the next bullet point about taking part in an Area Festival.
    • To take part in an Area Festival First Round, Semi Final or Championship at any level (Prelim to Inter2) the rider must be a full member and the horse must be fully registered.
  • Combinations cannot compete in both an Area Festival First Round or Semi Final and a Summer or Winter Regional at the same level in 2017
  • The new Bronze and Silver eligibility criteria in the 2017 Members Handbook (Section 3 page 26) now include results from previous Area Festivals. You must check to ensure that you are eligible for the Bronze or Silver section under the new rules. The eligibility criteria now include rules that cover the following Area Festival results:
    • if rider on any horse has scored 65% or more or even just competed at an Area Festival then the rider is excluded from some of the lower levels Bronze sections
    • if the combination score 68% or more or even just competed at an Area Festival then the rider is excluded from some of the lower levels Silver sections
    • if the combination has been placed in the top 3 at the Area Festival Championship then the combination cannot compete at the same level or below in the same section in future years

The above bullets are not the exact rules but summaries of the rules for various levels/sections and I have included to show that competing at Area Festivals can affect your eligibility. So, if you have competed at Area Festivals check the 2017 Members Handbook and do not risk the £50 fine for competing in the wrong section!

Time Scales for Championships

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 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 few seconds.

Championship Levels

The levels discussed on this webpage are:

Prelim

Novice

Elementary

Medium

Advanced-Medium

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 the advanced levels are often a little bit different and would add complexity to this summary document.

Sections: Gold, Silver, Bronze & Under 18

In both the Area Festival and the Regional Championships each of the levels is further divided into sections. At the Regionals the sections are Gold and Silver. At the Area Festivals the sections are Silver, Bronze and Under 18. These sections allow combinations to compete against combinations with a similar amount of experience.

GoldGold sections are for experienced riders, typically but not always professionals, 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 at a level or combinations whose scores are still relatively low.
Under 18The Under 18 sections are mandatory at Area Festivals for riders who have their 18th or under birthday during 2017. Under 18 sections are only run at Area Festival First Rounds, Semi Finals and Championships. There are no Under 18 sections at normal competitions or Regionals or other championships.

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. The 2017 eligibility rules are more straightforward than in 2016 but you will still need to sit down with the 2017 Members Handbook section 3 and work out which levels / sections the combination of horse and rider are eligible to enter. You will need to know the riders competition record on any horse, the horses competition record with any rider and the competition record of the combination of horse and rider.

If you enter a section which the combination of horse and rider are not eligible to compete then you could be fined £50 … so make sure you check your eligibility!

British Dressage Championships for Gold Silver Bronze Sections 2017

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:

  • 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
  • but do not forget that you must check you are eligible to enter the section / level

If you enter the Silver sections you have the flexibility to decide which championship to enter. You do not need to decide which championship to enter when you are collecting qualifying scores and points. You only need to decide when you enter either the Regional Championship or the Area Festival First Round. You cannot enter both the Area Festival and the Regional Championship at the same level in 2017. If you enter a Regional Championships then you can only enter Area Festivals at levels above the Regional Championship entry.

At Prelim it is the same except there is no championship for Prelim Gold. In 2017 the Area Festivals have introduced the Prelim Silver section which did not exist in 2016.

When are the Championships & how do I qualify?

The Regional Championships are held twice per year.

ChampionshipDatesHow to qualify…

Winter Regional Championships

6 Feb 2017 – 3 Mar 2017You will already have qualified in 2016 at affiliated competitions between 20th July 2016 & 30th Nov 2016

Known as the Regionals and held at 8 geographically diverse locations (see map).

Winter Championships

at Hartpury

12-16 Apr 2017Qualify at the Winter Regional Championships in 2017 either automatically (notified at the Regional Championships) or with a wild card entry which British Dressage will decide based on the results of all the Winter Regionals.

Summer Regional Championships

14 Jul 2017 – 14 Aug 2017Qualify at affiliated competitions between 1st Dec 2016 & 18th June 2017

Known as the Regionals and held at 8 geographically diverse locations (see map).

National Championships

at Stoneleigh

14-17 Sep 2017Qualify at the Summer Regional Championships either automatically (notified at the Regional Championships) or with a wild card entry which British Dressage will decide based on the results of all the Summer Regionals.

Winter Regional Championships

Feb/Mar 2018 (TBA)Although these Regionals are held in 2018 I have included them in this page about 2017 because qualification is during 2017 at affiliated competitions between 19th June 2017 & 30th Nov 2017

The Area Festival’s First Round and Semi Finals are annual.

Area Festival Championships

Winter Championships at Hartpury

12-16 Apr 2017

The Area Festival Championship is held at the Winter Championships at Hartpury so that competitors get the opportunity to compete in a major championship environment.

Qualify at the Area Festivals in 2016 either automatically (notified at the Area Festival) or with a wild card entry which British Dressage will decide based on the results of all the Area Festivals.

The 2017 Winter Championship will be the final Area Championship where competitors have qualified at the old format Area Festivals.

Area Festivals – First Round11 May – 3 Sep 2017

Qualify at affiliated competitions between 1st Oct 2016 & the closing date for entries for the Area Festival that you are entering. Check the schedule on the BD website to confirm the close date.

There are 27 venues running Area Festival First Round competitions (see map).

If you have met the qualification criteria multiple times then you can enter multiple First Round competitions.

See my article Area Festivals 2017: The New Format Explained for more details.

Area Festivals – Semi Final22 Sep – 30 Oct 2017

You qualify for the Semi Finals at the Area Festival First Round competitions. The top 10 or top 5 (depending on level) qualify for the Semi Finals. See my article Area Festivals 2017: The New Format Explained for more details.

There are 8 Semi Finals which are held at venues around the country (see map). The Semi Finals can only be entered by qualifying at the First Round competitions.

Area Festival Championships

Winter Championships at Hartpury

TBA Apr 2018

The Area Festival Championship is held at the Winter Championships at Hartpury so that competitors get the opportunity to compete in a major championship environment.

Qualify at the Area Festival Semi Finals in 2017 either automatically (notified at the Area Festival) or with a wild card entry which British Dressage will decide based on the results of all the Area Festival Semi Finals.

The 2018 Winter Championship will be the first Area Festival Championship where competitors have qualified in the new First Round & Semi Final format.

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What are the qualification criteria?

All affiliated competitions count towards qualification for either the Area Festivals or 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. You must confirm that you are eligible to enter the section before you enter the competition.

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

  • 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.

The qualification criteria (click for the detail) specify:

  • the 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
  • targets for the grading points awarded based on your % score (click for table that converts % score to points).
    • A specified number of points must be awarded in Qualifier classes click for table
    • The total points required can be awarded in either the Qualifier or the non-Qualifier classes click for table

The points required are different for each level and for Silver and Gold sections click for 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
  • Qualification for the Regionals is achieved with two scores above a minimum percentage which depends on the level and section
  • The minimum % reduces as you rise up the levels and at each level is higher in the Gold section than the Silver section
  • There is no Bronze section for Music
  • Scores achieved in Pick Your Own (PYO) classes cannot be used for qualification
Minimum %
LevelGoldSilverQualification Criteria
Novice69%68%2 scores at the minimum % or higher
Elementary68%66%
Medium66%65%
Advanced-Medium66%65%
Area Festivals
  • A minimum percentage score must be achieved:
  • PrelimUnder183 scores of 62% or above
    Bronze
    SilverOne of the qualifying scores must be from a Qualifying test
    NoviceUnder183 scores of 62% or above
    Bronze
    SilverOne of the qualifying scores must be from a Qualifying test
    ElementaryUnder183 scores of 62% or above
    Bronze
    SilverOne of the qualifying scores must be from a Qualifying test
    MediumUnder182 scores of 60% or above
    Bronze
    SilverOne of the qualifying scores must be from a Qualifying test
    Advanced MediumBronze2 scores of 60% or above
    SilverOne of the qualifying scores must be from a Qualifying test
  • You will be notified by email when you gain scores that qualify you for the Area Festival
  • I recommend that you keep all your qualifying score sheets just in case of any problems.

Grading Points

Grading points are used to grade horses, for rider groups 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

SilverGold
LevelMinimum % ScorePoints from QualifierTotal Points RequiredMinimum % ScorePoints from QualifierTotal Points Required
Prelim66%2020
Novice67%101968%1020
Elementary65%81567%918
Medium64%61265%816
Advanced Medium64%51065%714
PSG & Inter 164%66

Note:

  • It will be generally be more difficult to qualify for the Regionals in 2017 than 2016 because at most levels the minimum % score has increased by 1% compared to 2016 and at a few of the more advanced levels the number of points required and the number of number of points from qualifiers has increased.

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
Advanced MediumAM90, AM91, AM92, AM93, AM96, 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. The table is based on reviewing previous championships so do check the schedule to be certain which test will be used:

Area FestivalRegional Championships
PrelimP19P17
NoviceN23N39
ElementaryE53E59
MediumM73M76
Advanced-MediumAM91AM98

It is likely that the same test used at the Regionals / Area Festivals will be used at the Winter Championships and National Championships but again 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 rules in the Members Handbook

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 rules are published in the Members Handbook which should have been posted to you with the bi-monthly magazine or you can download the 2017 Members Handbook.

Please Leave Comments and Feedback below

I hope the above information has helped to explain the British Dressage Regional Championships, Music Championships and Area Festivals. 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 the 2017 Members Handbook valid until end November 2017. Dates & venues in 2017 are based on information available on the British Dressage website and may be subject to change.

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