Section 9 - Dressage Division
Please Note: The NYS 4-H Equine Show is not a Licensed USEF Competition, however USEF tests and scoring will be used for the show.
Please Note: Since the Dressage Division allows riders from Hunt Seat and Saddle Seat, you need to know the personal appointments and attire for the seat in which you are riding. If there is a conflict in the listings, the Dressage Division takes priority.
- That which is correct for the seat being ridden. Refer to the personal attire and appointments list for the appropriate division.
- Spurs - blunt only - but not recommended for training level – all spurs must have straps.
- Rowelled spurs
- Clip-on spurs
Please Note: Since the Dressage Division allows riders from Hunt Seat and Saddle Seat, you need to know the tack and equipment for the seat in which you are riding. If there is a conflict in the listings, the Dressage Division takes priority.
- That which is correct for the seat being ridden. Refer to the tack and equipment - list for the appropriate division.
- Noseband - all English seats
- Hunt, Dressage, and Saddle Seat riders must use bits designated on the bit chart.
*Any bits may be made with a rubber, plastic or leather covering, but the bit may not be modified by adding latex or other material. Bits with mouthpieces made of synthetic material are permitted, provided that the contours of the bit conform to the contours of one of the bits pictured.
Acceptable bits for 4-H Dressage follow: (Hunt, Dressage, and Saddle Seat - required).
- Ordinary snaffle with single-jointed mouthpiece.
- Ordinary snaffle with double- jointed mouthpiece.
- Racing snaffle (D-ring).
- with cheeks, with or without keepers.
- without cheeks (Egg-butt).
- Snaffle with upper or lower cheeks.
- Unjointed snaffle (Mullen-mouth).
- Snaffle with cheeks. (Hanging or drop cheek; Baucher). This may be a D-ring or other ordinary snaffle as pictured in Nos. 1-6.
- Snaffle with rotating mouthpiece
- Dressage whip measuring less than 47.2" (USEF Rule Book DR 120.6) including the lash
- Snaffle bridle
- Figure 8 noseband
- Dropped noseband
- Flash noseband or cavesson
- Dressage saddle
- Wire, twisted wire or sharp-edged bits – to include twists, slow twists and gentle twists.
- Roller bits
- Full bridles below 4th level (Saddle Seat riders included)
- Draw reins, side reins, chambon, nose reins, gogue and other similar training devices.
- Dr. Bristol
- French Link Snaffles
Allowed in practice or warm-up rings
Dressage exhibitors may select no more than three tests. Tests must be in adjacent levels. The Musical Kur is considered one of the three tests. The Musical Kur is considered equal to the highest test in that particular level. The three classes do not include the Dressage Equitation, which is held time and schedule permitting.
Training Level Dressage Tests: The purpose of the Training Level Dressage Tests is to confirm that the equine’s muscles are supple and loose, and that it moves freely forward in a clear and steady rhythm, accepting contact with the bit. Gaits judged on freedom and regularity. Impulsion judged on desire to move forward, elasticity of steps, suppleness of the back, and engagement of the hindquarters. Submission judged on attention and confidence; harmony, lightness and ease of movements, and acceptance of the bridle. Rider’s position and seat judged on correctness and effect of the aids.
First Level Dressage Tests: The purpose of the First Level Dressage Tests is to confirm that the equine, in addition to the requirements of Training Level, has developed thrust (pushing power) and achieved a degree of balance and thoroughness. Gaits judged on freedom and regularity. Impulsion judged on desire to move forward, elasticity of the steps, suppleness of the back, and engagement of the hindquarters. Submission judged on attention and confidence, harmony, lightness and ease of movements, and acceptance of the bridle, lightness of the forehand. Rider’s position and seat judged on correctness and effect of the aids.
Test of Choice Test: An exhibitor that rides a First Level test can ride another test either the same one or one higher than they rode the first time. Examples: If an exhibitor rides First Level Test 1, but doesn’t feel they are ready to ride a higher test they could do a Test of Choice and ride the First Level Test 1 again or if they ride a First Level test and would like to ride a higher level they could ride First Level Test 2.
English tests to be used are as published by USEF and included here. They are:
- Training Level, Test 1
- Training Level, Test 2
- Training Level, Test 3
- First Level, Test 1
- First Level, Test 2
- First Level, Test 3
- Test of Choice for First and Second Level
*Please Note: The NYS 4-H Equine Show is not a Licensed USEF Competition, however USEF tests and scoring will be used for the show.
Examples of the 2023-26 USEF Dressage Tests can be found at the end of this section. To find the 2023-26 USEF Dressage Tests: Click on the icons at the last page of this division or visit USEF.
In the upper right hand corner – you see the USEF LOGIN. Just type in your username and password. If you forgot your password, click on the Forgot Password? And do what the prompts ask. If you don’t have a username/password you can either Create New Account (for people who don’t want to pay for a membership to USEF) or Joining USEF as new individual member. Follow the prompts. It takes only minutes to get your username/password created and verified.
Once you are logged on and “in” the page will be the Main Menu. At the top will be your Member ID, your username and your email address. Go to the bottom of the page to Other Options. The first thing listed there is ‘2015 Dressage Test Score Sheets’. Click on that and you will have all the tests. Pick the ones you want.
If all else fails; someone could contact the USEF webmaster at webmaster [at] usef.org ( )or call them at 859.258.2472.
Prix Caprilli Test
- For horses with jumping experience showing Training Level Dressage or above – maximum height of fences 2’. Seniors jump 2 feet and juniors jump 18 inches. The test will be ridden in the large arena.
- It is understood that in the working gaits, a jumping horse is not expected to be as round on the bit as a competing dressage horse.
- The horse must softly accept the bit and may show more “roundness” in the parts of the tests separate from the jumps.
- Trot work to be done posting.
- Transitions into and out of the halt maybe through the walk.
- Test may not be called.
- Refusals will be penalized as an error of course. Knockdowns will be penalized at the judge’s discretion. In the case of a knocked down rail being in the way, the judge will ring the bell for the rider to stop without penalty. After the jump is replaced the bell will be rung again telling the rider to continue from where he stopped.
Dressage Seat Equitation
- Dressage Equitation classes shall be open only to riders who have never competed above Second Level in recognized competition.
- To be shown at medium walk, trot and canter both ways of the ring. The rider's position, seat and specifically the correct use and effect of the aids required by the Training and First Level Dressage tests are to be judged as outlined in DR 117.1 (USEF rule book).
- The movements shall be performed by the exhibitors simultaneously; however, the judge may ask for independent execution of certain tests.
- In judging the seats, use and application of aids at the working gaits, judges shall include the following tests:
- Transitions from one gait to the next; both ways
- Transitions from walk to halt and vice versa.
- Additional tests from which the judges may select:
- Transitions from trot to halt and vice versa with or without stirrups.
- There will be no exchange of equines.
General Rules for Dressage Tests
- Exhibitors may select no more than three tests (including a Musical Kur).
- Each entry is to individually perform the required test. A schedule of order will be established for each class. It is the responsibility of the exhibitor to be ready to ride at the scheduled time or be eliminated. Tentative ride times will be assigned the evening before with the final ride times posted as early as possible in the morning of classes.
- Tests are to be ridden exactly as listed.
- All Training Level tests will be ridden in a small arena. (20 meters x 40 meters) All First Level and Musical Kur tests will be ridden in the large arena (20 meters x 60 meters). (1 meter = 3.3 ft.).
- No readers will be allowed.
- At the salute, riders must take the reins in the left hand. A rider will let the right hand drop loosely along the body and then incline the head in a slight bow.
- The use of the voice or clucking is prohibited and will be penalized by deduction of two marks from those which would have been awarded for each movement where this occurs. *Excessive use of the whip will be cause for Elimination at the judge's discretion.
- When a competitor makes an error on the course, the judge sounds a bell or whistle, shows them where to take up the test again and leaves then to continue. The clock is not stopped. If the error does not impede the course of the test, it is up to the judge to decide whether to sound the bell or not. Every error, whether or not the bell is sounded, is penalized as follows:
- 1st error minus 2 points
- 2nd error minus 4 points
- 3rd error Elimination
- i.e. When a competitor makes an error of the test, such as trotting rising instead of sitting, or failing to take the reins in one hand for the salute, the competitor is penalized as for an error of the course.
- In the case of marked lameness, the judge informs the competitor that he is eliminated. There is no appeal against this decision.
- If during the test the equine leaves the arena (all four feet outside the fence or line marking the arena perimeter), the competitor is eliminated.
- A competitor leaving the arena at the end of the ride at any point other than A shall be eliminated.
- Equines which enter the arena with their tongue tied down will be eliminated.
- Each commenced second in excess of the time allowed is penalized by 1/2 point. The clock is started when the equine moves forward after the first salute and is stopped when the competitor salutes the judge at the end of the test. Times allowed are located on each test.
- In all competitions, the winner is the one having the highest total points. In the case of equality of points, the competitor with highest marks under "General Impressions" is the winner. When the General Impressions are tied, the judge may declare a winner or the competitors may remain tied. General Impressions are the same as Collective Marks.
Scoring for Dressage Tests
Scores used by the judge for all movements and collective marks:
- 10 - Excellent
- 9 - Very good
- 8 - Good
- 7 - Fairly good
- 6 - Satisfactory
- 5 - Sufficient
- 4 - Insufficient
- 3 - Fairly bad
- 2 - Bad
- 1 - Very bad
- 0 - Not executed
- Add up all points in Movements column, being careful to check for errors and coefficients. A coefficient is represented by a printed 2 next to the points. The score for that movement must be multiplied by 2 before adding up total points.
- Multiply coefficients then add up the total points in the General Impression (Collective Marks) column (last 4 categories).
- Add all points (both the above). Add total from 1 and 2.
Total test score - movements
+ Total collective marks
Total test score ÷ possible score = % score
- Subtract ERRORS according to the following schedule (errors will be indicated with a large E, then the points are scored for the corrected movement):
- 1st Error on test minus 2 points
- 2nd Error on test minus 4 additional points
- 3rd Error on test Elimination
- (Please note that rides with three errors or other elimination such as leaving the arena will be scored right through to the end, but score should be posted as Eliminated/No Score. All errors and eliminations should be double-checked with the judge.)
- (If time is to be used) Check the time of the ride against the time allowed (printed on the front of the test sheet). If overtime, subtract time penalties as follows: 1/2 point for each commenced second overtime.
- After deducting error and time penalties, you will have the total score. Divide the total score by the total possible points (found on back of test paper) to determine the percentage.
- The total points and percentage (or reason for elimination if eliminated) should be written on the front of the test sheet. When posting scores, both total score and percentage should be posted. If possible, percentages should be announced when giving out awards. Score sheets should be kept until awards are handed out and then given to riders.
Rules for Musical Kurs
- Movements exceeding the difficulty of the level entered will be penalized by a deduction of four points, from the total points for each occurrence.
- Compulsory movements may be performed in any order.
- Compulsory movements must be shown on both reins but not necessarily symmetrically. Compulsory movements shown in only one direction will be scored, but a "0" will be given (and averaged into the final score) for compulsory movements not shown in the other direction, (you will only receive half the points possible)
- The arena shall be 20 meters by 60 meters. (see the following pages for large and small arena setup distances).
- Musical tapes must be handed in 4 hours before the scheduled ride with clear directions as to appropriate time to start the music. It should also include the competitor's name, equine name, level of ride and time of play. The tape should be cued up so that the music is ready to play when the "play button" is pushed. Sound equipment will be available if a standard tape is used.
- Maximum time allowed for Musical Kur is 5 minutes.
- In case of a tie, the higher total for artistic impression will break the tie.
- For an effective freestyle, the rhythm of the music should suit the gaits of the equine.
- It is advisable to always bring an extra copy of the music tape to the competition.
Scoring for Musical Kur
- Each movement is scored on the basis of 0-10, zero being total failure of a movement, 10 being perfection. Collective marks for pace, submission, impulsion and rider are also given. Total points are expressed as a percentage of possible points.
- Musical Kurs are scored on:
- Total Points - Technical Execution +
- Total Points - Artistic Impression
- Divided by Total possible Points of this ride = Percentage Score
- Time will be considered in scoring. Refer to each test for time penalty.
- Musical Kurs will be evaluated more on the basis of technical merit than on a theme or audience appeal.
There is a small and a large dressage arena. All Training Level tests will be ridden in a small arena. All First Level and Musical Kur tests will be ridden in the large arena.
It is recommended that you use a measuring tape that measures in meters. If you do not have a measuring tape in meters, the following chart has been prepared to convert meters to feet and inches.
Meters --- Feet --- Feet/Inches
5 m --- 16.5 --- 16 ft., 6 in.
6 m --- 9.8 --- 19 ft., 10 in.
10 m --- 33.0 --- 33 ft., 0 in.
12 m --- 39.6 --- 39 ft., 7 in.
36.06 m --- 19.0 --- 119 ft., 0 in.
63.25 m --- 208.7 --- 208 ft., 8 in.
* Conversion factor - 1 m = 3.3 ft.
(PDF of Arena Coming Soon)
Time: Freestyle time limit—5 minutes. Timing and judging commence when the horse moves off after the entry salute and ceases at the final salute. No bell is sounded at the end of the time limit. Movements executed after the 5-minute limit are not scored. Two (2) points are deducted from the total for artistic impression for exceeding the time limit. An extremely short program (under about 4 ½ minutes) may affect the scores for “choreography” and/or ‘degree of difficulty.” The rider must enter the arena or signal the sound engineer within 60 seconds of the entry bell, or will be eliminated. The rider must enter the arena within 20 seconds of the start of the music, or will be eliminated.
Technical Execution: Half-points are allowed. Compulsory exercises which must be performed are listed and scored on the left side of the score sheet. Movements which must be performed on both hands are so indicated by a dotted line under “Preliminary Notes.” Omitted compulsory movements receive a 0 and are averaged into the “Judge’s Marks.”
Forbidden and Allowed: Movements “above the level” (found ONLY in the higher level test) receive a deduction of 4 points for each movement, but not each occurrence of the same movement. All figures (regardless of size), patterns, combination or transitions composed of elements permitted in the declared level ARE permitted, even if the resulting configuration is found in higher levels. To serve as guidelines, the following lists specifically enumerate most of the dressage movements, combinations and transitions which are forbidden or allowed at each level.
Training Level Allowed:
- Trot Serpentine (any size)
- Trot Circles
- Canter Circles
- Canter – Trot
- Change of Lead through Trot
- Turn on the Forehand
- Shoulder-in Travers
- Flying changes
- Turn on the Haunches
- Counter-Canter (any configuration)
- Zig-zag leg yield
- Lengthen Trot or canter
- Canter Serpentine
First Level Allowed:
- Change of Lead through
- Simple Change
- Lenghten Trot/Canter on 20 m circle
- Leg Yield along wall
- Canter Serpentine
- Zig-Zag Leg Yield
- Counter Canter
- Shoulder-in Travers
- Flying changes
- Turn on Haunches
Artistic Impression: Tenths of points are permitted (0.1, 0.2…). Non-compulsory movements may be rewarded or penalized under “Choreography” and/or “Degree of Difficulty” (Artistic). Movements “Above the Levels” are not rewarded in Artistic Impression.
Ties: The higher total for Artistic Impression will break a tie.
Deductions: Exceeding the time limit - 2 points from Total Artistic Impression. Movements “Above the Level” 4 points from Total Technical Impression for each illegal movement, but not for each recurrence of the same movement.
Decimals: Half-points are allowed in scoring the Technical Execution. Tenths of points (0.1, 0.2…) are allowed in scoring the Artistic Impression.
Trot: Training Level, unless stated otherwise, sitting and/or rising trot is allowed. First Level, unless stated otherwise, sitting trot is required.
Examples of the Dressage Tests for 2023-26:
- 2023 USEF Dressage Training Level Test 1
- 2023 USEF Dressage Training Level Test 2
- 2023 USEF Dressage Training Level Test 3
- 2023 USEF Dressage First Level Test 1
- 2023 USEF Dressage First Level Test 2
- 2023 USEF Dressage First Level Test 3
- 2023 USDF Dressage First Level Freestyle
- 2023 USEF Dressage Training Level Freestyle