FEI Judge Janet Foy Offers Essential Tips to Young Riders on creating Freestyle Choreography

Written by Betsy LaBelle - In Dressage - Tuesday, June 21, 2016

NAJYRC Freestyle Awards Ceremony Photo: SusanJStickle

As the President of the Ground Jury and Judge at ‘C’ for the NAJYRC, Janet Foy wants Junior and Young Riders to be clear about important rules relating to the freestyle test choreography. The North American Junior/ Young Rider Championships (NAJYRC) will take place this summer (July 26 – 31, 2016) at the Colorado Horse Park.

After qualifying for the NAJYC in the North American Regions, Young Riders may be overlooking some essential elements.  An FEI 4* judge, USEF “S” dressage judge and USEF Sporthorse “R” breeding judge, Janet provides a vital guideline. She strongly urges Juniors and Young Riders to find and connect with their closest FEI judge to demonstrate their freestyle program prior to traveling to the NAJYRC Championships competition.

Janet shared, “Because the young riders are creating the choreography for their freestyles, they have to pay attention that there are five FEI judges at the Championships. There are lots of points to gain or lose."  She remarked, "There’s a pattern with the young riders' choreography that we’re seeing that I’d like to see end."

Junior and young riders are unaware of the required 20 meters in several movements, she clarified, “If a young rider omits something or shortens something, even 10 meters of a movement, there’s a definite penalty. Omitting something is very expensive because the rider may get a zero for that movement in their technical score but also lose points in two places on their artistic score.”

Janet said, “Because the young rider doesn't have to ride in a CDI under an FEI judge to qualify for the Young Rider Championships, the exact specifics of the FEI Freestyle choreography rules may be missed. Though, we are trying to address this in all our national judges forums, nonetheless, omissions are emerging only to be discovered at the Championships.”

“It’s not until after receiving lower scores for their Freestyle Test that the young rider learns of their missing meters and their much lowered score,” Janet said, concerned for the riders' success.  

Giving an example from last year’s NAJYRC, Janet recalled, “A young rider didn’t do the full 20 meters of collected walk. She did some collected walk from H through the corner, which was only about 8 to 10 meters. We didn’t give her a zero, but we gave her a very low score for the collected walk technical score and lowered the degree of difficulty on the choreography because there were missing elements. As soon as those scores went down, she went from being in first place to 12th place in the FEI Freestyle Test. If she walked all the way from H to M, which was 20 meters, she may have won the class.”

Janet emphasized, “Judges and riders need to connect and communicate. Please don’t hesitate to contact any FEI judge.”

Other Choreography Mistakes to Alert

Remembering another young rider at this past winter’s Adequan Global Dressage Festival, Janet said, “I noticed a young rider performed a shoulder-out down the long side, which really isn’t good choreography. While trying to be clever and creative so the judge at C would see it, the judge in the far corner and on the other long side didn’t.” A lesson to be learned, she suggests, “If you’re doing the shoulder-in or shoulder-out, be sure that all judges see a clear beginning and a clear completion of the movement. And be sure to demonstrate at least 15 meters to show the establishment and the finish to the movement.”NAJYRC Awards Ceremony Photo: SusanJStickle

She again stresses the importance that Young Riders have one of the FEI judges watch their freestyle prior to the Championships to check it over for any lost points. “That FEI judge must regard the freestyle according to the FEI rules and really go over it with a fine tooth comb. Young Riders should not rely only on their trainer because even trainers aren’t fully up-to-date on the FEI rules for choreography for freestyles.”

 A list of FEI Judges can be found on the FEI Website:  http://www.fei.org/fei/your-role/fei-officials-lists


Young Rider Test Scoring Penalties

Janet restates that there are three segments of the test that can be penalized. One is the technical portion and the other is on two counts of the artistic portion. If there is an omission, three areas will be penalized; the technical marks may equal a zero, the score for the artistic degree of difficulty would not be higher than 5.5, and the artistic choreography score would not be higher than 5.5.

Scores for choreography and creative difficulty can not be higher than 5.5 if any portion is missing.

Janet is optimistic, “We’re hoping juniors and young riders do find a local FEI judge who’ll watch and clarify the rules for them. We don’t want a trend to continue. We want all the Juniors and Young Riders to understand the scoring and succeed with confidence.”




NAJYRC Awards Photo: SusanJStickle