What is a Prix Caprilli?

A Prix Caprilli is a dressage test with jumps in it! And I wish that more shows offered it. I realized that many show managers do not know what it is so they can not add it to a class list. And while I have never done a prix caprilli myself, they look like a blast so I am trying to get the word out about them!

A Prix Caprilli is a dressage test with jumps in it. The number of jumps and their heights vary with level. Just like normal dressage tests the lower the level the less you are asked to do. I even saw some that were walk/trot only with 2 little cross-rails set on the diagonals. I also watched videos of some with 6 jumps at varying locations in the ring that included counter-canter.

So what is the difference between a prix caprilli and a jumping course? The horses way of going. In jumpers there is no empahsis on the horse and rider’s form, it is all about getting over the jumps. A prix caprilli on the other hand is judged like a dressage test with emphasis on the horses way of going, the rider, and the horses gaits. What they are looking for is the smoothness and rhythm of a dressage test, just with jumps in the middle. Try as I might there are no good videos that I could find on Prix Caprilli’s. They all looked more like someone in white jumping then a dressage rider who just happened to have a few well placed jumps in the ring.

I think that having a Prix Caprilli at a show might be a great way to show hunter riders how much fun dressage is. In hunters, as in a prix caprilli, you are judges on how quietly and rhythmically your horse goes around the ring, but unlike in hunters a rider will get a score out of 100% and get feedback on each individual movement! Now, looking at the judges test sheets they do make a note of saying that the jump itself is not to be judged on roundness, but that they are looking to see if the horse is round on the aids right before and right after the jump. I know a lot of people and horses who rush to or/and jumps so a prix caprilli might be a great way for them to focus on correcting that issue.

One of my big questions is what happens if a horse refuses? In dressage, if a movement is not shown a judge will most likely not give you a score (I have gotten a 2 once because the judge took pity, but a 0 is standard practice). In a prix caprilli refusals well be penalized as an error of course, which means you get a re-do, but will loose 2 points from your total score at the end. The emphasis is not the jumping style of the horse, it is on the horse’s relaxation, obedience and evenness of pace.

It is a dressage test that happens to have jumps in the way and the jumps should not disrupt the standard performance expected in a dressage test. And here is a fun prix caprilli fact, 2008 US Olympic team member (and my personal dressage idol) Courtney King-Dye once rode a prix caprilli demo at Lendon’s youth dressage festival.

What do you think? Do you think it looks like fun? If so start asking your local show managers to add prix caprilli classes! Below is one of the many prix caprilli tests that I found online, just to give you all an example. And for my non-dressage people the numbers tell the judge and rider the movement, and the letters are to show them where the movement should be executed in the arena.

Enter working trot.
Halt. Salute. Proceed working trot.
Track right.
Change rein over Fence #1. Return to working trot after jump.
20m. circle left.
Before F
Turn on line to Jump #2. Return to working trot after jump and proceed toward M.
Medium walk.
Free walk. (x2)
Medium walk.
Working trot.
Bet. A & K
Working canter right lead.
Change rein over Jump #1, land in working canter.
Working trot.
Bet C & H
Working canter left lead.
Large 1/2 circle left over Jump #2. After jump, proceed straight ahead.
Opposite M
Working trot.
Circle 20m. letting the horse gradually chew the reins out of the hands at working trot, rising. Before C gradually take up the reins.
Straight ahead.
Change rein over Jump #3. Return to working trot before F.
Down centerline
Halt. Salute. Leave arena at a free walk on a loose rein.


11 thoughts on “What is a Prix Caprilli?

  1. Now that sounds like fun! I love the idea of adding jumps to a dressage test. It adds yet another element of connection between horse and rider and another way to get him thinking and moving his feet. Although, I can’t imagine the ugly leg positions you’d see with people going over fences with dressage length stirrups. Of course, if I could keep them shorter for this particular class, that’d be even better!

  2. I would love to do a Prix Caprilli test some day… I have found one or two places that hold them but they’re about an hour or two away and I haven’t made it to those grounds yet.

    Some shows do have a “Test of Choice” class and if you get management a copy of the test, and they have the equipment for the jumps, they should be able to hold it for you. If they won’t hold it as a class, you could ask to do it as an exhibition ride during a lunch break. Sometimes seeing the test in action is enough to generate the competitor interest needed to add it to the schedule!

    I think I had a score sheet for the Prix Caprilli tests at one point but I imagine a refusal would be scored the same as anything in a normal test — marked down according to disobedience and rider tact, the same way it would if, say, your horse took off bucking during the extended trot.

    If you talk to any of the local show managers, tell them you have at least one other rider who would enter, because I’d love to do it!

  3. It does sound like a blast! Even though I havent jumped in a long time. And the first time I ever saw a prix caprilli or even heard of it was when Courtney King rode it at the youth dressage festival. I actually think it was on Mythilius. Very cool!

  4. I love the Prix Caprilli’s! We offer them in our schooling shows, and there are usually 2-4 people in each class (walk-trot, and training level). We get really good feedback about them, especially from the combined training people. 🙂 I wish they were more universally offered, especially for the kids.

  5. We are just about to offer Prix Caprilli in Australia for people with intellectual disabilities at the Special Olympics National Games. Can anyone tell me how preceise the movements should be. For example, the test states, “make a loop passing fence no 2 on your right and fence number 1 on your left. Should the loops be 10m or 20m loops like in a dressage serpentine?

  6. Hi Karen – if you order the Prix Caprilli tests from the USDF is also gives you directions how to set up the ring. Try Lendon Grey’s website because she might have them for free. The way the jumps are set up makes all the difference. If you have 2 jumps in the same area it would be impossible to do a 20 meter loop. Most Prix Caprilli trets make me think that the loop to go around a jump should be 10 meters.

  7. How do you get copies of the actual test to judge? We are going to have a dressage show and these would be great to add!

  8. Remember that up until about the 1950’s, yes some of us even remember the middle of last century, all upper level dressage tests ended with a jump just outside of the dressage arena. depending on the level the jumps went up to something like 4′.

    I liked the suggestion for the hunter community. I think that if I can get our pony club to include the prix caprilli this year I will send the information to the hunter burns just to see what happens.

    The eventers love anything that involves fences—yes, I try.

    All of the tests are on line

  9. In South-Africa we now have Prix Caprilli at our SANESA (South-African Equestrian Schools Association) shows. At the first few shows there were not so many entries, but at our last Qualifier there were 14 kids in my daughter’s class. These tests are definitely a bit more difficult than the dressage tests in the same level, but I think it is a brilliant way to introduce the children to more advanced tests. 🙂

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