NAWD Objective Judging System

objective judging scoring system, western dressage judge

Objective Judging System 

NAWD is pleased to announce that we have have worked with Andrew McLean, PhD, to develop an objective judging system for use with all NAWD and Dressage on a Dime tests in our virtual shows. By using the North American Western Dressage (NAWD) virtual show system, the rider benefits from being able to review the video of their test as they read through judge scores and comments. Being able to review the videos greatly enhances the education of competitive riders.  

NAWD learned that Andrew McLean Ph.D. is working to enhance the existing judging system that uses the FEI training scale with the Principles of Learning Theory in Equitation (as outlined by the International Society of Equitation Science). Dr. McLean has said that implementing an evidence-based scale will allow judging to become more accurate and fair.  Because of the connection to the training scale, this judging system can be used in all equestrian sports. "The use of a more horse-aware judging criteria will ultimately improve the longevity of our equestrian partners", says Dr. McLean. The judging team at North American Western Dressage worked with Dr. McLean to further refine the system by using the same 0 to 10 scores and word meanings given in dressage.  In addition, they tied these scores to the training scale and placed it in alignment with more detailed reasons for scores. 

Leveling the playing field

NAWD License judges use the NAWD Objective Judging System to judge NAWD and Dressage on a dime tests.  The scale provides consistency and uniformity across NAWD Six Feet on the Ground & long-reining, Western Dressage, NAWD Dressage on a Dime, Ranch Horse, and NAWD All-Around Freestyle. 

How is it possible for NAWD to provide consistency across these different categories?  We provide consistency by linking judging to the classical training scale. When combined with a solid understanding of equine movement and bio-mechanics, the training scale provides the foundation for all horsemanship activities.

The NAWD objective judging system does not replace the FEI judging program.  Rather, it provides more detail for the rider regarding what they need to do to receive a score.   Therefore, the NAWD system enhances the rider's education.  The table provided ties the word meanings of the numbers directly to the training scale.  

USEF/USDF tests for and traditional dressage shall be judged based on the guidance provided by those organizations.

A PDF with this judging system is available for download and viewing.


NAWD wishes to thank Dr. McLean for his contributions to this discussion.  Andrew McLean, PhD is CEO, Equitation Science International ( and an Honorary Associate, University of Sydney, Honorary Fellow, International Society for Equitation Science (ISES, and senior Section editor, Journal of Animal Welfare.  The NAWD Objective Judging System is co-authored by Michael Guerini, Phd and NAWD co-founder Jen Johnson