London Dressage Association

Information for Riders New to Dressage Competition


The London Dressage Association is dedicated to developing dressage riders and horses in Southwestern Ontario through education and competition.  We are pleased once again to offer a series of dressage competitions for the Trillium and Primary competitor.  We are committed to providing high quality dressage competition.  We strive to promote safety and sportsmanship, in an atmosphere of camaraderie and learning.


The London Dressage Association is trying to make show entries simpler and more convenient, and we are committed to continuously improving our process to serve the competitor better.   


If you have suggestions, comments or concerns, please contact a Member of the Executive. If you are new to dressage, or to dressage competition, we will try to answer your questions, and help you find the resources you need for an enjoyable and successful dressage season. 


Definitions and contact information 

    CADORA - Canadian Dressage Owners _ Riders Association.  Cadora, a national, not-for-profit organization dedicated to the development of dressage in Canada, is an affiliated member of Equine Canada (EC) website: 

    COAI - CADORA Ontario Association Incorporated, is the Ontario chapter of Cadora  and is composed of directors/representatives of each Cadora group within Ontario website:

   OEF - Ontario Equestrian Federation. The Ontario Equestrian Federation is the provincial umbrella organization committed to equine welfare, and to providing leadership and support to the individuals, associations and industries in Ontario's horse community. website:   phone:1-877-441-7112        

    DC -  Dressage Canada is the discipline committee responsible for dressage within Equine Canada (formerly CEF) Sport division. Its mandate is to represent and govern Dressage in Canada website: phone: (613) 248-3433

   EC – Equine-Hippique Canada (previously CEF- Canadian Equestrian Federation). May also appear as EHC.  EC is the national organization that represents all equestrian disciplines and equine activity in Canada. website: phone: 1-866-282-8395  

   LDA - London Dressage Association.  The London Dressage Association is a member club of CADORA and an affiliate of DC, serving the London and Southwestern Ontario dressage community.  The LDA fosters and promotes dressage by providing Trillium and Primary competitions and educational events.  website:


● The London Dressage Association is a member group of Cadora and an affiliate of Dressage Canada.   When you purchase a  full LDA membership as either a Junior or Senior Member  you also become a member of Cadora and COAI  and will receive the Omnibus (current year test booklet) free of charge. You do not have to be a member to enter LDA shows, but for Primary shows a non-member fee applies.

● An OEF membership (Junior or Senior) is required for Primary, Trillium and National competitions. 

● A current year EC sport license (Junior, Senior or Associate) is required for the rider and owner of the horse for Trillium competitions and National competitions.

● DC membership is not required to show. However, a senior membership gives you voting privileges, and thus some voice in Dressage's discipline committee.

● Membership in the LDA, Cadora, EC, OEF and DC entitles you to be eligible for their awards programs as well as receipt of their magazines and/or newsletters.  


Passports are issued by EC and prove ownership of a horse or pony as well as providing the owner with a means of keeping updated information on their animal. EC also keeps competition records of your horse. A passport must be transferred with the sale of the horse. Horse passports can be obtained from EC and are required for Trillium and National competitions. Owners must have a current year EC sport license (Senior, Junior) to apply for a passport.  Passports are effective on the date upon which the application and fees are received by the EC.  An annual horse license must be purchased to compete at EC sanctioned shows (Trillium and National).  

Passport applications and EC membership forms are available from the secretary at all shows and also on the EC web site

Types of Competition

The LDA currently offers Primary and Trillium competitions, Classes are split into 3 categories:  Junior, Adult Amateur and Open (see Rules of the Equine-Hippique Canada Section E Dressage for complete descriptions).  For complete details of LDA shows please see the official prizelist, published in March of each competition year.   Copies of the prizelist may be obtained on this website (under "Shows" or Forms).

The Junior category is open to all riders until the end of calendar year in which they reach the age of 18.  Juniors may compete in Open classes, but not Adult Amateur classes.  As of 2003, all junior competitors must wear a properly fitted ASTM (American Society for Testing Materials) helmet that displays the SEI (Safety Equipment Institute) seal.  The British standard BSI is also acceptable.  Juniors must wear this protective headgear at all times when mounted on the competition grounds.

The Adult Amateur category is open to anyone who within the previous 2 years has not accepted remuneration for training a horse and/or coaching, does not hold a current EC coaching certification at Level 2 or above, is not a current EC B, M, or S/FEI judge, and/or not a current listed or former EC Dressage Team member.

The Open category is open to all riders regardless of age or status.

Primary Competitions   Class levels in the Primary Circuit range from Pre-Training (3 tests developed and used by LDA only), Training Level (4 tests), Level 1 (4 tests) and Level 2 (4 tests).  The Pre-training through Level 1 tests are all ridden in the 20X40 ring and Level 2 will be ridden in the 20X60 ring.     A horse-rider combination may participate in Pre-training for one year only.  A horse-rider combination may participate in 4 technical tests in two consecutive levels.

Requirements:  To compete in the Primary Division, the following are required:

● A current rider OEF membership. 

If rider is not the owner, a current Owner OEF membership

● A negative current Coggins test

● Photocopies of these documents must accompany your first entry for the season and will be kept on file for subsequent entries

● You may be asked to produce the originals of any documents at the show-please remember to bring these on show days

Fees: Primary class fees are $25.00 per test, plus a $10.00 administration fee.  Membership in the LDA is required to be eligible for Primary year end awards.  Non LDA-members must pay $5.00 per competition to compete and are not eligible for year end awards. Incomplete entry forms (missing documentation, signatures etc.) will result in a $10.00 charge.  Lost competition numbers will result in a $7.00 charge

Awards: To be eligible for LDA year-end awards, a horse/rider combination must be a member in good standing before their first show, and compete at the same class level in a minimum number of LDA competitions.  Champion and Reserve Champion are determined for the horse/rider combination by averaging the top 3 percentages received. A minimum average of 55% is required in at least one of the tests for Championships and a minimum of 50% in at least one of the tests for Reserve Champion.  Champion and Reserve Champion will be awarded at each class level.  

Provincial (Trillium) Competitions The Trillium Circuit was developed to fill the gap between the National Circuit and the Primary Circuit competitions. The province is divided into 5 Trillium regions. Classes go from Training Level to Level 4 and include Training Level (old CADORA Basic 2 Freestyle) , Level 1, Level 2, Level 3 and Level 4 Freestyles.  All classes are run in the 20X60 ring.  A horse-rider combination may participate in 4 technical tests at 2 consecutive levels, plus a Freestyle. All classes qualify the horse/rider combination for the Trillium Championships and Provincial awards. See the Trillium Dressage Circuit Handbook for more information.


Requirements: To compete in Trillium, the following are required:

  A valid EC Passport

  A current year Horse License

  A current year rider EC Sport License

  If rider is not owner, a current year Owner Sport License License

  A current year rider OEF membership membership

  If rider is not owner, a current year Owner OEF membership

  A negative current year Coggins test

  Photocopies of these documents must accompany your first entry for the season and will be kept on file for subsequent entries

  You may be asked to produce the originals of any documents at the show-please remember to bring these on show days


Tack Check: Immediately following the completion of the test ride, each horse/rider must have their tack checked by the steward. Failure to conform to EC rules or have tack checked will result in elimination from that class.


Fees: Trillium Class Fees are  $25.00 per class.  For each show there is an administration fee of $10.00 non-refundable, a Trillium Development fee of $3.00 and a Drug fee of $3.00.  Incomplete entry forms (missing documentation, missing photocopies of Coggins test, membership cards, missing signatures, etc.) will result in a $10.00 charge.  Lost competition numbers will result in a $7.00 charge.

A Trillium development fee of $3.00 per show is charged to offset the cost of the Trillium Championships and the year end awards. The drug fee of $3.00 is charged for the random drug testing of horses. The drug tester is likely to be at one or more shows each season. If you are selected accompany the drug tester to the drug testing stall so that a sample of your horse’s urine may be collected.  You must comply with the drug testing or be subject to a hearing, fines and/or suspension. 

            Awards:  To be eligible for the LDA year-end awards a horse/rider combination must be a member in good standing of the LDA before their first show, and compete at the same class Level in a minimum number of LDA competitions, in one competition season. Champion and Reserve Champion are determined by totaling the three highest percentages received. Where there is only one entry in a class, a minimum of 55% is required in at least one of the tests for Champions and a minimum of 50% in at least one of the tests for Reserve Champions. Champions and Reserve Champions will be awarded at each class level, including the Freestyles.


National.  At this time, national competitions are not run by LDA, they are presented by individual farms. Classes go from Training Level to Grand Prix. Each competition will have a prize list outlining the classes, awards, entry fees and details of the competition. Passports and full EC Junior or Senior (not Associate) membership is required.

All three types of competitions now called National, Provincial (Trillium, in Ontario) and Primary are governed by the rules of the EC, use EC officials and are subject to the fines and penalties of the EC. Any person competing or officiating at one of these competitions must abide by the EC statement of principal (see the EC Rule book or the prize list for details).

Details about the London Dressage Association Competitions

 Late entries are not accepted.  Due to the complexity of scheduling competitions of this size, late entries cannot be accepted. See the prize list for entry deadlines ( 6 p.m. Friday, 1 week preceding the competition).

 Cross entries are not permitted on 1-day competitions. Primary and Trillium competitions are two separate competitions run on the same day on the same site. Horse/rider combinations may not enter both competitions on the same day. Cross entries are permitted on two-day competitions, however Trillium riders must move up one level or enter hors concours (the test is judged but no ribbons or points are awarded). 

 ● A copy of a negative coggins test must be submitted with the entry form the first time the horse shows in a competition season. Please make sure the horse's competition name (not barn name) is on the Coggins test.  Horses without valid coggins tests will not be permitted to remain on the showgrounds.

 Waivers must be signed. Photocopying of the entry form is fine, however please do not copy the signatures. This is not legal.

  Formal Ribbon Presentations. Formal ribbon presentations are made for the Youth Team Challenge and the Quadrille Challenge. Check the scoreboard for time and location. Riders should be dressed and mounted.

 Stabling. Overnight stabling or stabling for the day of the competition is the responsibility of the landowner of Eastwood Equestrian Centre, Ted deBoer. Contact the stable directly for inquiries (453-9906).

  EC Approved Hard Hats are mandatory when mounted on the competition grounds. Top hats and bowlers are allowed in the competition ring only.

 Juniors must wear a properly fitted ASTM (American Society for Testing Materials) helmet that displays the SEI (Safety Equipment Institute) seal.  The British standard BSI is also acceptable.  Juniors must wear this protective headgear at all times when mounted on the competition grounds.

 Refunds - see prize list for details. The show coordinator must be notified by the Friday before the competition and a vet note must be submitted to the Treasurer (Susan Thauer) within 10 days of the competition.

How Judges are Assigned (Trillium and Primary competitions)

  SM – (Senior Medium) can judge Training through Level 4 

  SB – (Senior Basic) can judge through Level 2 (Level 4 with a guest card) 

   r – (Recorder) can judge Pre-training through Level 1 (no guest card is allowed) 

How Rings are Assigned

The assigning of classes to rings is a very complicated process. The variables that are involved are: 

  Judge Credentials, Size of Classes, Ring Size,

  Wait times, who went first last show

  Judge’s Lunch and Breaks

  Each rider to ride before 2 different judges, if possible

 ● EC judge time limitations .

What to wear at the LDA shows(Trillium and Primary)

Taken from the CEF Dressage Rule Book, 2002 Section 2.20.

 Riders-Pre-training through Level 4  

A tweed or dark coloured jacket, white or light coloured or brown breeches, black or brown boots, tie, hunting stock, or choker, and gloves.  Juniors are permitted to wear jodhpurs and boots.   A hunt cap, bowler or top hat, tie, white hunting stock tie, or choker, gloves (white or black), black or brown boots. Spurs are permissible but not compulsory. Half boots or half chap boots zipped over short boots are not permitted.  (Note: White gloves will show up a rider’s unsteady hands more than black. White should be used at Medium Levels)

In EC Primary competitions, EC dress regulations are not obligatory.  Exception: Boots with heels must be worn, and riders must wear hard hats (bowlers or hunt caps) or protective headgear.  All juniors must wear an ASTM/SEI or BSI approved helmet at all times when mounted on the competition grounds.

 Riders with long hair must wear hair nets or tie hair back in a braid or bun.

Spurs must be made of metal, and there must be a shank pointing directly back from the centre of the spur. The arms of the spur must be smooth. If rowels are used, they must be free to rotate and dull enough not to cut the horse’s skin.

Any exhibitor may wear protective head-gear. Exhibitors choosing to wear protective head-gear (helmet and harness), must wear a short dark jacket and dark hat cover.

In the case of inclement weather riders may elect to wear a warm or water-proof overcoat and hat cover. In extreme heat or humidity the judge may permit competitors to ride without jackets. Competitors must wear regulation hat and solid white long or short sleeved shirt.

Horses-Pre-training through Level 4 

All tack must conform to the EC Rules. 2002 Dressage Rule Book Section 2.21.

In short: black or brown bridle(with regular cavesson, dropped noseband, flash, or figure 8) and saddle. Martingales (other than running), bit guards, any kind of gadget (bearing, side, running or balancing reins) hoods, blinkers, ear muffs or plugs, seat covers are under penalty of elimination, strictly forbidden on the show grounds at any time during any competition.

Breastplates, foregirths, girth covers and non-restrictive nose fly guards are permitted. 

Tack which is designed to facilitate the comfort of the horse or safety of the rider in the competition or warm-up area is permitted.  Not permitted are gadgets designed to affect the performance of the horse (e.g., bit burrs).

In the warm-up ring running martingales are permitted on the snaffle rein. Boots, bandages are permitted, and side reins are permitted when lunging unmounted horses only.

Double bridles are permitted at Level 3 and above only.

What to do when you get to the LDA competition

  Get your trailer parked (in designated area) and get your horse settled. Do not leave the horse unattended, especially tied to the trailer. (Most horses that get  hurt or loose at shows have been left unattended)

  Report to the secretary, take your passport and CEF membership card. (Trillium Only). Give the secretary your last name. You will receive your number. Please return your number at the end of the day when picking up your tests.  Lost numbers will result in a $7.00 fee. 

  Check the score board. Note which horse you follow in your classes.  

  Put your rider number on the left side of your saddle pad. This number must be on the horse when in the warm-up ring and competition ring.

  Competitors are asked to respect signs prohibiting entry into certain parts of the show grounds.

  Lunging is allowed in the round pen at the north end of the property, behind the old red barn.  Please be courteous and limit yourself to 20 minutes, as others may be waiting.

  Resident riders at Eastwood will be identified separately from other competitors.

  When entering the warm-up ring, check the clock beside the gate for show time. Keep an eye for the rider in front of you to leave. Listen for the announcer to  announce who is in the ring and who is on deck.  Proceed to the on-deck area when the rider you are following is in the competition ring.  Note: you do not have to ride before your scheduled time. However if you are ready and wish to proceed this helps to keep the show running.

● Test callers can be used if desired and are arranged by the competitor. 

● Arena fence conditions must remain the same for all entries in the class. Please do not change the gate. Having the gate open or closed is at the discretion of the show organizer and if it is to be closed, a volunteer will be provided. 

● Trillium competitors must proceed to the steward immediately after their ride for a tack check.  Failure to do so will result in elimination.  Primary competitors are encouraged to have a tack check after their ride, if they wish to do so, but this is not mandatory.

● After completion of all your classes, return your number to the secretary and pick up your tests, passport, and freestyle cassette/CD (if applicable). Note: Tests cannot be returned until the class is complete, and they will not be returned without the rider number.

What to do at Ribbon Presentations

● Ribbon schedule will be posted on the scoreboard. Currently, ribbons are presented only at the Youth Team Challenge (July show) and Quadrille Challenge (September show). 

● If you can’t attend a ribbon presentation due to competing in another class, please send someone in your place.

● Riders should be dressed and mounted. Once in the ring, line-up in a straight line with your class.

When called move forward and pick-up your ribbon. If your horse is shy or will not take a ribbon, please take ribbon in hand. Note some sponsors are not horse people and may be very nervous. Always say "thank you" to the sponsor.

If a rider receives an award or donated item from a sponsor, a follow-up letter of appreciation to that sponsor should be written.

Dressage Competition Etiquette

The following are a few helpful suggestions to make a dressage competition fun and enjoyable for officials, fellow competitors, volunteers and landowners.

● Scratches. If you must scratch from a class or the competition, please call the show coordinator, or tell a fellow competitor or volunteer, to notify the secretary at the show. When the show is not notified, many volunteers will be looking for you.

● Retiring from the ring. If your horse is misbehaving or comes up lame in the ring forcing you to retire, stop, face the judge and salute before leaving the ring.

● Appearance. Horses should be braided and clean, saddle pad and tack should also be clean.

● Scoreboard. This is an area for people, not horses. Please leave your horse with someone outside the scoreboard area and read the scoreboard on foot.

● People Areas. Walk your horse through these areas. There are a lot of non-horse people and children in these areas. If your horse makes a mess, please clean up after him/her.

● Warm-up. Warm-up should be conducted in designated areas only. Please use the warm up ring for mounted warmup work and the lunging area for unmounted warm-up.

● On-Deck. One horse only on deck at a time. This gives space to complete last minute warm-up and have tack checked.

● Warm-up ring.

...left hands meet when passing other riders.

...coaching in the warm up area should be done with coach outside the fence or at the side of the warm up ring.

...slower horses should stay on the inside, faster horses have the right of way.

...beginners should have the right of way over advanced riders.

...horses acting up should be removed from the warm up ring. (The steward can ask a rider to leave) 

Trailering Safety

●  Have vehicle, trailer, hitch, and lights checked on a regular basis.

  Protect horse’s legs with shipping boots or bandages with cotton underneath. A tail bandage will keep the horse from rubbing its tail.

  Blankets should be done up quite tightly, so that there is no danger of them slipping or getting caught when loading or unloading.

  Loading. Encourage the horse up to the ramp, but don’t hurry. A bad experience will only make it worse the next time. Never stand behind a loading horse, if a horse kicks or rears, you are in the danger zone.

 ● Tie horse in trailer with safety clamp on one end. A leather halter is best, as nylon will not break in case of an emergency.



  Whips and Readers are not allowed. 

  Minimum score for awards is 50%

● Schooling of horses may only be done by the competing rider.

Cross-Entering (1998 CEF Dressage Rule Book page 34 - 2.8.4)

 Horses may be ridden by more than one rider at a competition, but not more than once in a class. Cross-entering the same horse in both junior and senior divisions of the same class is prohibited.


The London Dressage Association is a non-profit organization designed to promote dressage in the community. Without volunteers we cannot run competitions, clinics, or special events. Through volunteering you can learn about dressage as well as support your local dressage community. To volunteer call the show coordinator or June Turner (519-348-8204) or any member of the executive.

 How to complete a L. D. A. Competition Entry Form

Please print neatly, if your entry form cannot be read, spelling mistakes will occur. If you are sharing a horse with another rider or riding more than one horse please make a note of this so your times can be set accordingly.

   Rider's name: First name and last name of the rider as you would like it to appear on the scoreboard.

  Horse's name: Full name of horse, as in passport if Trillium, or as you want it to appear on the scoreboard if Primary.

   Passport Number: Required for all horses competing in Trillium. Points will not be accumulated until a valid passport has been obtained.

  Check whether you are entering in the Trillium or Primary Circuit.

  Check whether you are an Open, Adult Amateur or Junior Rider ( a junior rider is one who has not attained their 18th birthday as of January 1st of the current year). If this information is missing you will be placed in the Open category.

  List classes you are entering and include the Level and test number of name e.g. Level 1, Test 1; Level 1, Freestyle, etc.  Note you may enter up to 4 technical classes in 2 consecutive levels plus a  freestyle.  For 2003, Freestyles are limited to the Trillium Circuit

  List entry fees. $25 for Trillium, $20 for Primary technical or freestyle classes, $10 for Pas de Deux, Pas de Trois or Quadrille classes, $5 for Youth Team Challenge classes.


  Complete applicable fees for your Circuit . Both Circuits pay the $10.00 Administration Fee.  Trillium add $3.00 development fee and $3.00 drug fee. Non LDA members add $5.00 for Primary Circuit. Trillium non LDA-members must be a member of CADORA.

  Photocopies of the 2003 OEF card for owner and rider (if different from owner), a 2003 negative coggins test  and EC license for owner and rider (if different from owner-Trillium division only) are required to be submitted with the competitor’s first LDA Entry Form for the 2003 season.  Please bring copies of these documents with you to all LDA shows that you attend in case you are asked to produce them.  Membership forms and/or Day permits for both OEF and EC are available for purchase at the registration desk if needed.   If a Coggins test has not been submitted with the entry, and cannot be produced upon check in, the horse will not be allowed to remain on the competition grounds.

  Indemnity Form: This release must be signed by both owner and rider before they are allowed to compete. Parents must sign for junior riders. Junior owners  are allowed. Photocopied signatures are not allowed.


  Fill in the date of the LDA competition to be attended. 


  Riders must sign their name, and provide their address, phone number and EC (Trillium only) and OEF number.  If the rider/owner of the horse is a junior, the parent or guardian must sign the form.  Note the acknowledgement concerning the new approved headgear rule for all juniors. 


   Owners (if different from rider) must sign their name, and provide their address, phone number, EC (Trillium only) and OEF numbers.


  Indicate whether you are eligible for the First Year Riders Award (i.e., This is the first year the rider (not the horse) has been competing in dressage).  In order to be eligible you must also be a member of the LDA.


  Indicate whether you are eligible for the Master’s Award. This award is for LDA adult amateur members ages 45 and up.