Danish System of Awards

Our GMO is considering going to the Danish system of awards for all our shows except the championship show at the end of the season. If you use this system, or have ridden in shows that use it, I’d like to know your thoughts and opinions about it.

There was some discussion about it in a thread that’s now five years old, so I’m wondering what opinions are now.

The most detailed information I could find re: Danish system, stated that tests are pinned like this (although I imagine a show could use whatever percentages they want) :

Blue: 67% or higher
Red: 62%-66.999%
Yellow: 57%-61.999%
White: 52%-56.999%
Pink: 47%-51.999)

One concern that has been raised that for PAC awards, the test has to show a placement on the test front. What would be the best way to handle that?

TIA for any thoughts you can share.

This is how my GMO’s shows run. I really like it. It feels lless like a show and more like a lesson with ribbons. There’s no waiting-- as soon as you are done and your test is scored you can go. Since there aren’t classes you can put people in any order which makes times much easier. You can place them at the end if necessary-- just put them in order by score/test.


I think it makes a lot of sense, though I wonder if those would be the right percentages to use. That blue number is right for the low levels but it might not be so satisfying for 3rd level and up, depending on the size and makeup of your GMO.

A challenge would be that if you are giving rosettes, you don’t know what colors to order. So this creates potentially an extra burden on showholders - maybe you’d want to share ribbons between shows so each venue doesn’t have to order a lot of extra.

A way to make this less expensive maybe is to have rosettes the same color but the center streamer changing colors - those can be stapled in last minute.

A way to maybe make those goals feel better for your members who are sticking their neck out to go up the levels (possibly the only ones in their class) that might be fun is to make those center streamers include the level. That yellow ribbon might feel pretty great if it was also stamped 3rd level - again something more doable if awards are shared between venues, or if it’s added with an extra streamer.

As far as the test has to show a placement, you can still list the order of the scores for each test, the prizes don’t have to match.

For that matter, you don’t have to give ribbons at all. You could also give prizes like gift certificates of different sizes, or other kinds of prizes that are useful and fun and affordable.


Love this idea - I’d probably just get the level on the rosette since you’ll know roughly how many tests you’ll have at each level based on entries. (this is of course assuming there’s not a huge lead time for rosettes - I’ve never had to order them so I’ve got no idea) Then just use more generic streamers for the colors in the center to staple on, which could easily be shared between shows.


I was going to suggest get the different colored rosettes and add the middle streamer indicating the venue/year/level to staple on as needed.

Bumping this up to see whether there are any more thoughts from people with experience with the Danish system, either as competitors or involved in show management. Pros and cons welcome!

My GMO started doing this a couple years ago. I was against it because I like being placed 1 through 6th or whatever the show places (funny thing is they GMO does not have an updated show procedure/policy on the website for the use of the Danish system).

One thing I have observed with my GMO’s shows. The lower levels tend to end up with the blue and red ribbons. Second and above, a few yellow but then you get mostly white with some pink/green in there. Our scores for the ribbons are not what is listed in the original post for this thread. I tried to find the exact scores for each ribbon but it’s not on their website.

In 2020, the shows did run so that a trainer and/or barn would come together regardless of levels then leave. But after that year, they went back to running regular divisions for the levels with exceptions here and there for some riders going out of order. So having this system in place doesn’t make a difference since they close can close out the division before placing.

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If people are involved in awards programs that require placement, the Danish system is annoying to deal with from my perspective since our area 4H does Danish.

I would also reconsider the scores as the levels move up.


As a competitor that is average with a below average horse I do like the idea of the Danish system so I feel like I have something to show for our efforts. Thinking as an organizer I would hate to do the preshow ribbon ordering for using that system. There is just no way to know how many of what you will need. The suggestion of a personalized streamer to be added day of show was a good one. The whole point system in dressage really sets up for being able to compete against yourself and if you want to do so the Danish system would be very motivating and feel more rewarding.

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To clarify, does this mean that anyone who falls in the blue range, say, gets a blue ribbon? If so, I am 100% in favor. This would emphasize training for improvement rather than competing against other people.


Yes, that’s exactly what it means. I agree with you.

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The 4H program I grew up in used this. Judge would place 1-6, and also grade each participant an A, B or C group.

We regularly had classes of 60+, It was nice in to at least get an idea of what part of the pack one fell.

OTOH, you could also be 1st place and given a Group B designation if it was a particularly poor class.

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My club loves uses this system for our schooling shows. We are geographically located in an area that doesn’t have a high concentration of dressage riders, and it keeps the folks that drive a distance happy since their tests can be scored quickly. Philosophically I love the fact that the most important aspect is the score from the judge, not “who you beat.” I suspect that the Treasurer may find this a bit cumbersome, but I think the competitors and volunteers are much happier!

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In the 4-H system of Danish judging, a Blue ribbon means “meets standard”. Red means “approaching standard” , and White means “lots of work to do”. When we ran dressage classes in 4-H, generally scores of 60%+ were Blue, scores in the 50s were Red, and below 50 were White.

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