Informal Dressage
  Schooling Show or Clinic

In an effort to allow people to “school” their horses at any particular level and any particular USDF/USEF/FEI test often schooling shows are offered locally by larger stables. This tends to be a lower pressure way for a rider and horse pair to become familiar with the show environment and with the various tasks of performing a new level or new test. Many of these “Schooling shows” offer classes such as: Training level (any test, First Level (any test), Second Level (any test) then perhaps group several levels together such as Third and Fourth, then offer another class for entrants performing tests above Fourth Level. Regular United States Dressage Federation (USDF) or FEI tests are used at these shows. The show management reserves the right to alter required attire but not normally required tack. General USDF and FEI rules still apply. Another difference between a Schooling Show or Clinic and a Sanctioned Show is that a low fenced arena may be replaced by a high fenced arena, indoor arena or no arena fence at all.

This class is also open to Clinic Style Entries. Entry consists of horse and team performing an 'individual movement' for critique and expert help from a dressage trainer or judge. These entries do not require regulation attire or equipment. Anyway type of humane training equipment is allowed. When using dolls, photos can show the trainer/judge as well as the rider/horse. Comment line should consist of an explaination of the movment being critiqued and the trainer/judge's advise for improvement. Also note and use of training equipment as such.

Informal Dressage Schooling

The Informal Dressage Schooling or Clinic can be performed by any horse and rider who are capable of walking, trotting, cantering, steering and stopping. Horses and riders are required to enter at the trot, halt at X (the letter in the middle of the dressage court) and stand immobile for long enough for the rider to salute.

The horse should be well behaved, although judges usually understand that horses showing at schooling shows are often young and green and more likely to shy or make mistakes. It is important, however, that the horse is sound and suitable for showing—if he does not look fit to show, the judge will excuse the horse and rider and not allow them to ride their test.

What the Judge is Looking for in Schooling Tests

The judge is judging the quality of the gaits and looking for balanced, smooth transitions. They want to see circles that are round and the correct size, they want the horse to move straight down the centerline, across the diagonal or on the rail, and they want to see an immobile halt at the beginning and end of the test. They also give collective marks for the freedom and regularity of the gaits, impulsion, submission, and the rider’s position, seat and use of the aids.

Riding a Dressage Test

The judge will ring a bell or blow a whistle when the judge is ready, and the rider then has 45 seconds to enter the dressage court and begin the test.

The rider should make a make a good, straight entrance into the arena. When the rider reaches X, rider must halt the horse and transfer both reins to the hand holding the whip. Rider will then drop the other hand straight down to their side and crisply nod their head in salute. Rider should breathe deeply and take their time, not rushing to begin the test before the rider or the horse are ready.

As the rider moves through the test, they should always be thinking about the next movements so they can prepare the horse for them. The rider should also try to ride as well as they know how to make every movement count. Each movement is scored separately, so performing one poorly does not mean the whole test is a loss. They should just try to ride the rest of the test as well as possible.

At the end of the dressage test, the rider will halt and salute again, then exit the arena on a loose rein. On the way out, they should ride toward the judge’s stand and thank the judge. Then rider should exit the ring.


An English (Huntseat) saddle or a Dressage saddle is required. A Snaffle Bridle with cavesson noseband, dropped noseband, flash noseband, or combination of flash and dropped nosebands is required.
Optional Tack:

White or conservative-color Saddle pads
Breastplate or crupper
Spurs without rowels
Prohibited Equipment:

Double bridles, martingales, bit guards, boots or bandages, blinkers, or other gadgets are strictly forbidden, under penalty of elimination.

The typical dress code is a short (huntseat) riding coat of dark color or twead, with tie, choker or stock tie, white or light-colored breeches or jodhpurs, boots or jodhpur boots, a hunt cap or riding hat with a hard shell. Gloves of conservative color are recommended. A whip, no longer than 47.2 inches, may be carried. However, at schooling show the rider may have a more relaxed dress code.

Please read the Dressage Main Page and the Dressage Overview and also Dressage - the Value of Knowledgefor futher information concerning attire.
Entry Requirements:

Schooling Show
A regulation dressage arena is not required nor are visible letters.
A description of the test and movement.
A regulation dressage arena is not required nor are visible letters.
A description of the movement the rider is receiving 'clinic help' with. These would not consist of a full test but individual movements.

The above list of Tack and Attire requirements is merely a simplified version.
FOR COMPLETE RULES, DETAILS AND SPECIFICS please see Dressage Main Page,   Dressage Overview, 
Dressage - the Value of Knowledge,
  the USEF Dressage Rulebook, FEI Rulebook and the USDF Rulebook listed above in the top menu.

Are to be shown ONLY in Dressage All Others, Awards, Horse Entering, Horse Exiting Arena, etc.

Photo Credit:
Info: Bay Swedish Warmblood Mare
Mold: CM PS Palouse
Owned and shown by Veronica Geddie

Comment: Butterscotch performs an extended trot in a Prelim class at a local show