SS Rules


NMDA Schooling Show Guidelines

(Updated February 14, 2018)

A.    General Show Policies

1.     Show judges must be “L” graduates or USEF licensed judges.

2.      Show management reserves the right to:

a.     Cancel, rearrange, and/or change classes or officials;

b.     Refuse any exhibitor for cause, have any horse removed from the grounds for cause, and/or return any entry fee and eliminate the exhibitor for cause, all without being liable for damages or compensation; and

c.     Allow or disallow competitors around or in show arenas prior to or during competition.

3.     Show cancelation: If a show manager is considering canceling or postponing a show for reasons other than weather or insufficient entries (fewer than 20 rides (tests) at show closing), he/she must notify the Board, ideally a week before the show.

4.     Show Prizes: Awarding Schooling Show Hi-Point Awards/Ribbons are up to the discretion of each Schooling Show manager.

5.     Dogs are not welcome on show grounds. However, if dogs must be brought to the show, they must be on a leash, no longer than 6 feet, at all times and attached to a human for the safety of all concerned. No exceptions.

6.     Manure and other waste must be picked up from the parking area before leaving the show grounds.

7.     It is appreciated if show participants stay to help pick up the competition arena(s).


B.    Show Entry Requirements and Information

1.     Entries will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. In general, 50 rides is considered a full show – but final decision regarding number of rides per show is at show management’s discretion.

2.     Schooling show Opening and Closing dates are determined by show management. Shows are Open as soon as the show information is posted on the NMDA website. Entries must be postmarked or received electronically no later than Closing date.

3.     Entries must be entirely filled out, signed and full payment of fees must accompany the entry form. No phone or fax entries will be accepted. A class entry will be presumed to be an Open Division class unless specifically marked otherwise.

4.     For the purposes of NMDA schooling show entries, riders may be classified as Juniors (JR) until the end of the calendar year they turn 18; thereafter, they may compete as Adult Amateurs (A/A) (19 and over) or Open competitors.

5.     A rider may not enter Open and Adult Amateur at the same Schooling Show.

6.     Non-member fees: A fee will be charged for each non-member rider and owner for each horse/rider combination Entry Form submitted. Non-member Junior riders and horse owners may waive the non-member fee for their first NMDA Schooling Show.

7.     No horse may be shown in more than three tests per day with the exception of one additional group class.

8.     A horse may not be ridden in more than two adjoining levels. (For example: USDF Introductory Level tests A, B and C are one level below Training Level.)

9.     A horsemay not be ridden more than once in the same class unless the second ride is ridden Hors de Concours (“out of competition”).  Note: Open, A/A and JR are different classes. (A rider cannot show in different divisions at the same show. (See # 5 above.)

10. Payment: If entries are mailed or hand delivered, checks must be made payable to NMDA. Checks returned for non-payment may incur a fee of $25. Only entries electronically submitted may be paid with credit card.

11. Ride timeswill be posted on the NMDA website approximately three (3) days before the show.

12. Group classes (e.g. Equitation, Suitability) may be entered at the show – time permitting.

13. Substitutions: Substitutions of rider, horse, or times will be made only at the discretion of show management.

14. Refunds and Scratches: Full refunds will be made if withdrawals are received prior to the Closing date.

15. Non-competing horses: All horses brought to the show grounds must be entered in the show, or pay a $10 fee plus the $10 office fee and a liability form must be signed. The horse will be issued a number which must be worn while on the show grounds. This rule applies to all horses brought to the show for any reason.

C.     Schooling Show Rules:

1.     The show will be run in accordance with the following U.S.E.F. rules:

DR101 thru DR118 – Gaits and Movements

DR119 – Participation in Dressage Competitions  -Exception: DR119.3: Riders may compete in NMDA Schooling Shows as Adults when they reach the age of 19, andexception to DR119.7: The manager and Secretary can compete at their own competition.

DR120 – Dress - Exception: Informal dress is allowed, neatness is requested (no tank tops, inappropriate t-shirts.) Half chaps are allowed at any level. Coats are not required.

DR121 – Saddlery & Equipment - Exception: Colored saddle pads allowed. Bits, bridles, and saddles MUST adhere to USEF rules. Checking tack and attire is optional. Correct equipment and attire is the responsibility of the competitor.

DR122 –Execution & Judging of Tests

DR123 – Scoring, Classification & Prize-Giving – Except as stated below ( #11Ribbons).

DR124 – Elimination

DR132 – Suitable to Become a Dressage Horse

DR133 – Dressage Seat Equitation


2.     Event horses will be judged by USEF-Event Division rules.


3.     Western Dressage horses will be judged by the USEF-Western Dressage Division rules with the following highlights:

a.     Horses shown in Western tack must enter/ride the Western Dressage Association of America (WDAA) tests.

b.     Helmets must be worn whenever mounted. (This is the only “exception” to USEF-WD rules).

c.     Gaited horses are allowed in Western Dressage, substitute “Saddle Gait” for “jog.” They will be put in separate classes (see USEF-WD129). (Gaited horses are severely penalized in Classical & Event classes.)

d.     WD riders may use voice and patting during a test.

e.     May carry a regulation dressage whip (no longer than 47.2 inches).

f.      A regulation snaffle, Western curb bit or Bosal is allowed at any age – any level. Mechanical hackamores are not allowed.

g.     With a snaffle must ride with 2 hands, with a leverage bit may ride with 2 hands or one hand but cannot switch during a test.


4.     All disciplines have the following exceptions and guidelines:

a.     All riders, regardless of discipline, must wear a regulation HELMET and riding boots or paddock shoes with a distinguishable heel, while mounted.

b.     Judges are allowed to talk with the exhibitors – judge to initiate the conversation.

c.     Judges are allowed to judge students or horses that they have bought or sold.


5.     Tack may be checked before or after entry into the arena, or in the warm-up at the discretion of the gatekeeper or show management.

6.     Schooling, riding or lunging is permitted only in designated areas.

7.     A horse on the show grounds (including non-competing horses) must wear its assigned number at all times except in its stall or trailer. If two numbers are provided, numbers must be visible on both sides of the horse.

8.     Show management reserves the right to refuse any exhibitor for cause; to have any horse removed from the grounds for cause; to return any entry fee and eliminate the exhibitor for cause; all without being liable for damages or compensation.

9.     Tests will not be released until a class is completely scored and posted. No test will be released to anyone other than the rider or the rider’s representative. Riders are urged to check their tests for errors before leaving the grounds.

10. The Show Manager has final say in all disagreements regarding a particular show. In some cases the Board of Directors will be consulted on a decision. USEF rules dominate where possible.

11. Ribbons: In A/A and Open classes of only one entry (both Classical and Western Dressage classes), a first place ribbon will be given only if the rider has a score equal to or greater than USDF Qualifying Scores (see table below). A/A and Open classes of 2 or more entries and all Junior classes will receive the usual place ribbons.


NMDA Minimum Qualifying Scores (as of 2016 – to be used in 2017 and beyond):

Tests:                                                   A/A                        Open:

Intro* – (Classical and WD)                         63%*            68%

Training Level/WD Basic*                            63%             68%

First Level/WD Level 1*                                        62%             66%

Second Level/WD Level 2*                          61%             64%

Third Level/WD Level 3*                                       60%             62%

Fourth Level/WD Level 4*                           60%             62%

FEI (all classes)                                         60%             60%


*Minimum percentages assumed by NMDA, as no

USDF Qualifying Scores available for Introductory

Classical and all Western Dressage (WD) tests.