Some interesting outcomes from FEI General Assembly about HiLo

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Recommendation: Adopt HiLoDrop scoring per movement for all FEI dressage competitions, with the exception of Young Horse events and for all juries with 3 judges

Dressage Judging working Group (DJWG)

In HiLoDrop the highest and lowest scores awarded by the judges for each movement in the test are not taken into account and the average score for that figure is formed from the remaining scores. The final score awarded to the rider and horse is formed by the coefficient weighted sum of this score for all the movements. Each judge’s score sheet is unaffected by this process and the final scores per judges form part of the record of the event. Such a system is widely used in other Olympic judged disciplines and also in other equestrian judged sports.

Following a detailed analysis of almost 1000 competitions from 2017 it is shown that the average effect on final scores is a shift of +0.1% with a spread (standard deviation) of 0.2%. In fact only 3% of all GP/GPS results would change by more than 0.5% - in almost every case a small upwards change. The correlation of the HiLoDrop score and the score from the current system is perfectly linear. While the changes are almost invisible for the vast majority of cases in a few cases an important correction would be made; HiLoDrop ensures that the consensus view of the jury predominates in the final result and is not unduly influenced by one judge being exceptionally high or low for whatever reason. The DJWG recognizes that in some circumstances that judge may have been more correct were a detailed re-examination of each movement carried out, but believes that the consensus result is the one that should go forward to the eventual ranking. All movement scores from all judges will go forward to the official record and be communicated to the rider in the normal way.

GER NF - is against the HiLo drop

SWE NF - is against the HiLo drop. We suggest an annual trial (2018) with the proposed system with an evaluation afterwards, before FEI decides to change this Rule.

DEN NF - We are open to any suggestion that would improve the current system, but don’t feel that HiLo drop is the right answer. We think more focus on education and evaluation would improve our current system.

GBR NF - If the whole judging system is in the process of being overhauled then we would be better to wait and consider all revisions at the same time. We also feel that this should not be rushed through, particularly half way through an Olympic cycle. 2018 will be a critical year for qualification for all nations, therefore introducing such changes at this point carries quite a risk, especially when a full trial or pilot scheme has not been conducted in advance in order to fully evaluate and analyse the potential impact this could have.

We would recommend that prior to any changes further investigation is required, allowing sufficient time for any new scoring system to be trialled fully in advance of implementation

Alternative Rule Change Proposal for Judge Scoring

In addition to the letter providing feedback on the Hi-Lo Drop proposals, British Dressage would like to formally support the proposals that have been put forward by former FEI Dressage Director Trond Asmyr, subsequently endorsed by Master Judge Stephen Clarke, as an alternative for consideration. We understand that this has also been formally proposed by the Norwegian Federation.

This is a solution that British Dressage has discussed internally previously as a simple and straightforward way to address potential problems of poor scoring or bias. If we are to eliminate large discrepancies in scoring or other anomalies that may exist within the current system then it would make sense to amend only those scores that are significantly outside of the average range.

While there will still be variances, by limiting these to a maximum of 5% (for the final score) it ensures that scores all remain within an acceptable band. The final total can be immediately amended, thereby rectifying any significant differentials without the added complication of dropping the highest and lowest score by movement. Any judges whose scores fall consistently outside of this range should then be subject to further scrutiny and re-training provided as appropriate.

Article 434 – Add 2.2 with the following text: If a judge’s final score for a Horse / Athlete combination varies (above or below) by five (5) % or more from the average of the scores of the other judges for the same combination, that particular score will be changed to the same as the next closest score.

Article 438 – Text amended as follows:Delete the text from “If a judge’s final score” through to “the next closest score”

GBR DRE Judges - The British Dressage Judges Committee are writing to express their concerns about the FEI working group’s proposed changes. We are concerned that the proposed changes will not be for the good of the sport and could in fact be detrimental to the development of judges and the production of dressage horses as athletes.

While we support change, where change produces improvement and progress, in this case we fear that this could be brought about with very little insight and evidence that it is the best way to improve the sport. There currently appears to be very little grounding to suggest this is the best way forward. We would be interested to hear the methodology with which this proposed system has been tested and how comprehensively, as well as the outcomes. So far the proposed system has not been well received by riders or judges alike.

We feel the negatives of the FEI working group’s proposal of removing collectives far outweigh the positives, as the collectives are valuable for several reasons. They are reflective of the whole picture and should not be used to influence the result of a class and any judge found to be doing so in a purposeful way should be disciplined accordingly.

BEL NF - The BEL national dressage committee does not agree with the addition of the high/low judging system to the new FEI rules.

ESP NF - Support the International Dressage Officials Club (IDOC) proposal and NOT support the HiLoDrop rule change proposal recommended by the FEI Dressage Judging Working Group (DJWG).

USA NF - US Equestrian obtained feedback on this proposal from our various stakeholders including many of our top athletes. The proposal is not supported as it is not addressing the issue but seeking to cover it up.

Only ITL and NED agree about the HiLo

ITA NF - Agrees with the HiLo drop. The adoption of this new tool is in accordance with the paramount principle that the judges panel are a TEAM and therefore the opinion of most of the team should always prevail even in the rare and theoretical case of one judge being right and all the others wrong.

NED NF - Hilo Drop scoring per movement. The KNHS is pleased that, after three years of insisting, the FEI has taken over this proposal. We strongly advise the FEI to adopt HiLODrop scoring per movement for all FEI dressage competitions, with the exception of Young Horse events and for all juries with 3 judges.

This will have several advantages:

1. The system would also considerably reduce the impact of unacceptable differences between judges that occur regularly (intentionally or unintentionally), also at Major Championships; for example nationalistic or anti-nationalistic judging, difficult views at some movements, or just mistakes of a judge.

2. The final score is a composite of the previously adjusted individual movement scores, and thus provides a better reflection of the quality of the performance.

3. Judges, whose scores were previously scrapped, will no longer be singled out publicly.

4. The system would also remove the need for a JSP, as any inaccuracies in the judging of individual movements (such as a missed flying change) will already have been removed.

5. The public and press will be able return their attention to the sport, instead of focusing on the competence of one or two individual judges, and the so-called poor quality of dressage judging.

In our view, such a change to the current judging system would be a positive step forward from the introduction of seven judges. It would also send a strong message to the equestrian world and the general public that the sport of dressage is forward thinking, self-critical and intent on improving any shortcomings. In our opinion it would be good to start with a Pilot and evaluate after a certain period.

We also would strongly recommend the introduction of a “code of points” as soon as possible, in order to improve the judging system in the long term.