USEF Licensed Dressage Judge Licenses Explained

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The United States Equestrian Federation licenses dressage judges at three levels 

Senior (‘S’) Dressage judges may officiate in all national and FEI Level Dressage classes at Federation Licensed Competitions. Senior Eventing Judges may officiate at any level of Eventing. (GR1008)

Registered Dressage judges (‘R’) may officiate in classes at Fourth Level and below, FEI Junior Tests, FEI Pony Tests, FEI Childrens Tests, FEI Para-Equestrian Dressage Tests, FEI and USEF Dressage Tests for 4-year-old horses, and USEF and FEI Eventing Dressage Tests at all levels. Registered Dressage judges are not permitted to officiate in any classes above Fourth Level or FEI Dressage Tests for 5 and 6-year-old horses. (GR1009)

Recorded Dressage judges (‘r’) may officiate at Second Level and below, in Eventing tests equivalent to Second Level or below, and in Eventing Competitions at the Intermediate Level or below. Recorded Dressage judges are not permitted to officiate at the Third Level and above, in FEI or USEF Dressage Tests for 4 and 5-year-old horses, FEI Childrens Tests, FEI Pony Tests, or FEI Para-Equestrian tests. (GR 1010)

Requirements for Specific Classes

Materiale classes-When Materiale classes are held at a Dressage Competition that offers only Dressage classes, or both Dressage and Dressage Sport Horse Breeding classes, they may be judged by any classification of Dressage judge. (DR134)

USDF Regional Championships-Two judges (at least one of whom must be an ‘S’ or FEI dressage judge) must officiate in each championship class at Second Level and above. It is recommended that three judges officiate in FEI level championship classes. For Training and First level, two ‘R’ judges may be used provided at least one of those judges resides outside the region. In addition, fifty percent of judges hired to officiate in Regional Championship classes must have permanent residence outside the region. (2023 Great American Insurance Group/USDF Regional Championship Program Rules)

Dressage Sport Horse Breeding – A competition with a Federation Licensed Dressage Sport Horse Breeding division must have a Federation licensed Dressage Sport Horse breeding judge and a Federation licensed dressage technical delegate. Guest Cards will not be allowed. (DR202.2)

Special Designations

All levels of Licensed Dressage Judges may earn designations for Equitation, Freestyle, and Young Horse by attending additional specific training for these divisions. 

  • The Equitation Designation is required for one judge at the Dressage Seat Equitation Finals and Semi-Finals.
  • The Freestyle Designation is required for the Judge at C (Freestyle Classes) at the Regional Championships and US Dressage Finals.
  • The USEF or FEI Young Horse Designation is required for Championship classes at the Developing Horse Championships.

All Licensed Judges must complete maintenance requirements when renewing their license annually:

  1. Judges must be a current Participating Member in good standing of the USDF.
  2. All judges must attend a Federation/USDF Dressage Judge clinic every three years.
  3. Judges must officiate at four Federation licensed/USDF recognized Dressage competitions, Regular Competitions (with open or breed-restricted Dressage divisions), and/or Eventing Competitions every two years. 
  4. Judges must pass an open book maintenance examination with a score of 85% or higher every three years.

Reference: 2023 Licensed Officials Policy and Procedures

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