Equi-Show fully supports the Classical Riding Club as it strives to “put the ethics’ back into riding’. In light of this support, please note that we only use the official CRC tests which can be purchased from CRC.
Tests are just 1.50 (GBP) and these funds support the CRC mission.
Downloadable tests are available (especially for those outside of the UK and to avoid postage costs). If you have any issue in purchasing your test, please email and let us know immediately!
About CRC Dressage
CRC Dressage is a popular and innovative alternative to established competition riding. It is very good preparation for people who wish to go on towards affiliated test riding at a later stage. The CRC system was devised in 1998 by Sylvia with the help and approval of many establishment figures in the dressage world who wanted a more horse-friendly approach. It was important to attract owners of horses and ponies of all types, shape and size and not to penalize those whose gaits may differ from the "perfect dressage type".
Who uses it?
CRC Dressage is being used in several different countries and is particularly popular with riding clubs, breed societies and supporters of Mountain and Moorland, Cobs, Iberian breeds, Friesians, Arabs, TBs, etc. It was primarily designed for levels up to and including Elementary to encourage better riding practice overall.
The main object was to put the emphasis back on HOW the test was ridden with slightly less emphasis on accuracy – which has its own mark elsewhere. For example – If the circle is ridden with the horse nicely bent and flowing – even if just short of the required diameter – or slightly before or after the marker – this would be considered a less serious fault than an accurate circle starting on the marker with the horse resistant or over-bent.
A few points on why CRC Judging is so special!
'Our Tests are designed in such a way that although each movement must be performed and in the set order, the judge is not required to give a mark, movement by movement. Instead, the judge assesses the whole picture.
CRC Judges have to ride, and preferably train, at least to the Elementary Level before they are considered for our recommended List.
Since the CRC system marks individual riding and training qualities, judges will find the marks speak for themselves so valuable time normally spent dictating will be gained and the judge can concentrate on the performance and flow of the test.
We hope that this way of marking will encourage riders who may have suffered indifferent judging in the past to have another go. The CRC method makes it easier for judges to mark courageously, using the whole range of marks to emphasis areas where something is well shown or lacking. This shows riders what areas or General Aspects of their horse's way of going most need to be worked on. Too often, we see score sheets with 5s and 6s running all the way through; these results do not necessarily tell us exactly where horse and rider are improving or going wrong.'
To read more regarding the way that CRC tests are judged, we recommend downloading the Judging System booklet available on the CRC site here.
A new approach
A big difference in the CRC Tests is the proportion of marks awarded to the rider. The latter is subdivided into a separate mark out of 10 for General Position and Balance; Correct Use of Seat and Legs; Correct Use of Hands. This section – carrying a co-efficient of 1.5 has made a great impact on many competitors. It teaches them that how they ride each movement is as important as the movement itself and how over-aiding is not encouraged.
Instead of marking movement by movement, judges must assess the whole picture. A separate mark is awarded for the quality of the Walk, Trot and Canter – particular attention being given to freedom, elasticity, rhythm and regularity. Stilted movement will be marked down whilst Walk on a Long Rein has a separate mark.
These are broken down into sections - Responsiveness & Attentiveness; Correct Contact – (e.g. poll the highest point, no leaning, etc); Straightness & Correct Alignment on Curved Lines; Forwardness in Correct Rhythm; Balance & Engagement; Over-all Suppleness & Freedom through the Back; Quality of Transitions. These marks give clear guidelines to riders as to what aspects to improve.
To sum up
The whole essence of the CRC mark system allows horses to be judged independently of what breed or size they are. One standard is applied to all as emphasized in our CRC judge training system.
CRC Rules and Recommended Practices can be ordered online from the CRC website. Permitted dress, tack and particularly bitting is addressed; some bits such as the Pelham being allowed (but with 2 points deducted). Bitless bridles are accepted. Ultimately more freedom is handed back to the rider under the CRC system – and much is done to promote the ease and comfort of the horse both through our Rules and the Tests themselves.
For further details on the whole system of CRC Dressage and how and why it came about – we recommend our booklet CRC Training Tests and Judging System available to download from the CRC website.
To conclude, the CRC system of marking allows the judge far greater freedom to award very different marks for strengths and weaknesses. This allows the rider to know where to improve, what aspects to work on and encourages them to go for the highest mark possible in their own abilities – whatever their breed of horse.
The Classical Riding Club was started two decades ago to put the ethics back into riding, not just for dressage but for all the disciplines and all horses. At this time there was a plethora of different ideas and schools of thought often leading to arguments and confusion. People feared that the traditional, classical step-by-step methods might be by-passed in favor of quick-fix 'modern' methods. Gadgets were commonplace; few recognizing how damaging they were to horses – both physically and mentally. It was time for real concern; time for a re-think.
Helping us to help our horse
CRC is all about helping riders to help their horse. We promote and share training methods which can transform the most ordinary-looking horse and turn him into a star. Every rider is capable of this, but it does take commitment. time and patience. With CRC you can explore the techniques of the best in the world - past and present - and start your journey of discovery. Here, for example, is Sylvia's stallion Prazer who was sent to her at the age of 6 with very little topline and totally on the forehand. It is hard to imagine a horse can change so much..... but it is achievable by everyone!
With the support of so many of her students and readers looking for a more enlightened way of riding, Sylvia launched a campaign in 1995 to ban the use of draw-reins in warm-up arenas. This awakened more people to the cause and The Classical Riding Club grew and grew. Some years later we became very involved in the anti-Rollkur protest which eventually led to the FEI taking note and discrediting the practice in dressage. In recognition of its achievements, particularly its contribution towards welfare, the British Horse Society made The Classical Riding Club their first Independent Partner of the Horse in 2009.
Looking to a brighter Future
CRC is now recognized all over the world. It has over 15,000 Members on its Facebook page and Members include some of the most famous names in dressage today as well as quite ordinary people with ordinary horses. The Club is neither elitist or pretentious. Its aim is to educate, educate, educate – since only through knowledge can we protect the horse from abuse. Sylvia has always been at pains to explain that the word ‘classical’ means nothing more than ‘pure, correct and practical’. So whether you are a novice or a Grand Prix rider, the basis should be the same. The work must complement Nature’s laws – the aids designed to help never to hinder or cause stress or pain.
Available to all
It is to this end that Sylvia is determined to bring the Masters – past, and present - to every rider who cares about their horse; whoever they are, wherever they live. ‘The more Members we have – the more we can spread the word.’ Anyone who loves horses is welcome to join.