What is Demi Dressage?
Demi Dressage is an online video dressage competition platform aimed exclusively at junior riders aged 16 and under.
Who is it for?
Any child up to the age of 16, who has access to a pony to ride, can compete with Demi Dressage! Our child-friendly colour-coded levels cater for all abilities from those just starting to ride independently in walk, to older and more experienced riders almost ready to progress to Pony Club or BD Intro and Prelim tests. Our lower level tests can also be ridden by children still on the lead rein! You don't have to have your own pony - a share/loan, riding an older sibling's pony or riders riding at Riding Schools are all welcome to compete.
Where is it based?
Although we are based in the UK – and our competitions slot in around the UK term time/school holidays to make it easier for parents and children to have the time and daylight needed to record their tests – anyone from around the globe can enter. All you need to be able to do is send us your test video!
How does it work?
Simple – just enter one of our regular competitions (there are classes to suit all levels) film your test and upload it to us before the closing date! All tests will be judged together after the competition closing date, just like at a real show! Each rider will then receive a test sheet with comments and tips from our experienced and child-friendly judge, and rosettes will be awarded based on percentage scores.
What are the tests?
All Demi Dressage tests are written by us to provide a progressive system for young riders – from their very first independent school movements right up to those almost ready to progress to BD Intro and Prelim tests. As well as standard dressage ‘school movements’, our tests sometimes also include poles or other props. As well as being fun, our tests are designed to be more accessible for children to ride and understand, in order to help them progress.
When are the competitions?
Unlike online dressage for adults, where competitions are usually run monthly, our competitions are centred around (UK) school term time/holidays, with the closing deadlines being at the end of the holidays to allow parents and children time and daylight to practise and film their tests. Our test calendar includes an event over Christmas holidays, over February half term and October half term through the winter, and then in the summer from Easter to the end of the summer holidays we run a series of 5 monthly competitions from April to August which also run as a summer league! In September there is a ridden Photo Show, and periodically we run extra events too, so there really is something for everyone.
Is non-standard tack permitted?
Ideally all tests are to be ridden in ‘dressage legal’ tack – i.e snaffle bridle and no martingales. However, we understand that some ponies can be cheeky with child riders and the rider’s safety and enjoyment is paramount so at our four lower levels (Green, Yellow, Yellow-Plus and Blue) riders may enter classes using a non-legal bit or item of tack e.g martingale with no penalty. At Red level they can also use any tack, however they will be penalised by 2 marks for doing so. The same applies to the use of bitless bridles.
‘Grass reins’ or ‘Daisy reins’ are permitted at all levels except Red, as long as they are fitted in line with the Pony Club rules (please contact us if you are unsure). This includes the patented ‘Balanced Support Reins’.
Can tests be ‘called’?
Absolutely! Just like in real dressage, rider’s are permitted have a ‘caller’ (commander). The caller may only read the exact movements as they are written on the test sheet – no coaching is allowed.
As we understand that children’s memories and concentration spans can be goldfish-like at best, we are happy for you to repeat commands (e.g. normally a commander would read two or three movements ahead to allow the rider to prepare and ride the movements, but if you need to remind your child what to do next as they get to each marker that is fine. We are also happy if the younger children need reminding which way is left and right!)
What facilities and equipment do I need?
All of our tests are designed to be ridden in a standard small dressage arena, i.e 20m x 40m, appropriately marked. This doesn’t have to be a fenced sand school – you can ride the tests in a field, all we need are the letter markers set out in the right place (see our Blog post on Do I Need An Arena? for more information) You don’t even need to have posh letters – upturned buckets or old supplement tubs in the right place will do – though of course it will help your child if these do have the letters written on them.
Some of our tests may also include the use of poles or cones – but the number required will be kept to a minimum as we understand not all riders will have access to lots of equipment.
Otherwise, all you need is your child and their pony (both safely and suitably attired – see our Rules for full information about tack and dress) and someone with a smart phone or camera to video them!
How does filming work?
All tests need to be filmed from the judge’s position – this is just outside the arena directly behind the C marker. If there is room to step back a few paces so that the whole child and pony can be seen in the frame when they ride past C this is ideal.
Zooming is permitted particularly when the rider is at the A end of the arena, but we still need to be able to see the width of the school, so please don’t zoom too tightly.
All tests must be filmed with sound on, and if your rider is using a caller, please make sure that the video picks up the caller’s voice (standing at B or E and speaking loudly enough for the child to hear you is usually sufficient).
Finally, the tests will need to be filmed (and uploaded) in high definition (HD) – we cannot judge what we can’t see!
Check out these filming tips written for an Ask The Experts feature in Your Horse magazine by Chesca Burrows (Demi Dressage Director) https://www.yourhorse.co.uk/advice/questions-and-answers/article/filming-tips-and-tricks-for-online-dressage
How do I upload my videos?
The easiest way to get your video to us is for you to upload to your own YouTube account. This may take a little time to do in HD so don’t leave it til the last minute! We recommend YouTube not just because it is easiest for us, but also most importantly because you retain full control of your own videos. We suggest you upload as an Unlisted video – this means only you and anyone you send the ‘Share’ link to can see it. Unlisted videos are NOT public or searchable in any way.
You can also email your video to using Dropbox or WeTransfer (if it is small enough to send without these as a regular attachment it is almost certainly not of a good enough quality to judge!) You can also upload directly to the Event page itself on Facebook, but this WILL be public and viewable by anyone so we don’t recommend this method. Please make sure anything you send us is clearly labelled.
Have a look at our Uploading Your Video page for more details.
If you have any problems with any video upload method, please contact us in good time, and we will help you get it sorted!
If you have any more questions – no matter how small – please don’t hesitate to send a message via the facebook page, or email