NEWS > Dressage
Posted by Sydney CDI Media Release on 27/02/2020.

Judges insight: Q and A with FEI 5* Judge Janet Foy

As Australia’s premier dressage event, the Sydney CDI 3* takes great pride in bringing you, our competitors, supporters and spectators, the very best judging available in Australia and around the world.  We are honoured to have another FEI dressage official of global notoriety joining the Ground Jury for the Sydney CDI 3* 2020, Janet Foy. 

Cover photo shoot for “Dressage Q&A with Janet Foy: Hundreds of your questions answered: How to Ride, Train, and Compete—And Love It!"

About Janet

Janet’s interest in dressage started when she lived in Oxford, England, where she passed several British Horse Society Instructor Exams.  As passion and opportunity developed, she progressed through the ranks and is currently a FEI 5* judge, a USEF “S” Dressage Judge and serves as a FEI Technical Delegate.  Janet has judged throughout Europe, Asia and Central America.  The FEI appointed her to judge the 2010 Central American Caribbean Games in Puerto Rico and she also served as the FEI Technical Delegate at the 2013 Central American Games in Costa Rica.  Janet’s judging highlights include the first European Under-25 Grand Prix Championships in Germany in 2016, the World Cup in 2018, the Central American Caribbean Games as President of the Ground Jury in Bogota 2018 and the 2019 European Dressage Championships in Aachen. Janet was also on the Ground Jury for the 2019 Pan American Games in Peru and will be on the Ground Jury for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.  

As a rider and trainer, Janet has won the USDF Bronze, Silver and Gold Medals and gives clinics throughout the United States.  Janet possesses a clear ability to pass on her dressage knowledge to others, demonstrated by her students also winning many USDF Bronze, Silver and Gold Medals and National Titles.

Janet writes articles for various horse magazines and was involved in producing and writing the scripts and voice overs for several USDF judges training videos and three times for the USDF On-The-Levels.   She is the author of two best-selling books: “Training the not so Perfect Dressage Horse” and “Dressage Solutions” both published by Trafalgar Press.

Janet has served on the Board of the USDF, AHSA, USEF as well as serving on the current USEF Dressage Sports Committee and International Disciplines Council. 

In this article, Janet shares her long standing relationship with the Sydney CDI; her judging focus for combinations at the Sydney CDI 3* 2020; disarmingly frank lessons on her experience in achieving life  balance;  recommendations on furthering dressage judging and education; and, some light hearted quirky fun ’Foy’  facts that make her such a colourful high achiever in our sport.

Sydney CDI

The Sydney CDI will mark quite a number of trips from the USA to Australia judging for you.  What is it about the Sydney CDI that keeps you returning to judge this event? 

Why I am coming back to Australia?  They were the first country to invite me to judge at a CDI out of the USA when I was only a 3* judge and this as a great opportunity. Toni Venhaus has always been very generous to out of country judges in helping them gain experience.   So I have judged there as a 3*, and at 4*, and now I felt I should come back and judge as a 5* too.

The organizers are very efficient and lovely to deal with.  I really enjoy the hospitality as well. 

I love the SIEC venue, it has so much history in regard to the Olympics. I judged the test event there and always dreamed about judging the Olympics and now I am!  

What will you be looking for from our combinations at the various levels during the Sydney CDI? 

Harmony:  meaning correct training following the training scale, correct execution of the movements, but all performed in an athletic and elastic way with a good team effort!

You have been involved previously with USA high performance panel selection for Olympic and Paralympic Games.  As we embark on the Sydney CDI qualifier for the Tokyo Olympics, what advise do you have for aspiring rider combinations? 

Stay focused and wish for luck. Unfortunately with the horse a lot can happen to ruin your dreams. 

We will be using the Spectators Judging App (SAP) this year at the Sydney CDI.  Do you have any tips for our spectators? 

I love the app! It gives spectators an idea of how hard it is to judge! Enjoy!  I think the app is a great tool to increase public participation and enjoyment of our sport.

Janet Foy on the judging panel for the 2018 World Equestrian Games in Paris

Achieving Balance

A movement has commenced towards mindfulness and balance within all aspects of Australian dressage community life.  How have you managed to obtain personal balance between dressage and the rest of your life, and why do you think it is important? 

I didn’t for many years; this is a marriage ruining sport.  To be successful you must work all day every day with horse shows or judging or doing clinics on the weekend. 

And you need money to buy good horses, as no one wants to take lessons from someone who is not successful.  It’s a tough sport.  Now that I don’t ride or own a barn anymore my life is much more balanced. However, coming into Tokyo I am traveling a lot to Europe to judge large shows; 2020 is not a restful year! 

Is mindfulness a commonly practised training concept for USA equestrian high performance sports and/or the general horse community? 

Mindfulness is not really and a movement in the United States, but our team members work with a sports psychologist

What is often lost in our intense dressage focus is that many of our high achievers are multidimensional, reaching success in a number of fields outside the arena.  What do you think is your most satisfying achievement outside dressage? 

Being a good friend.  I am proud of my success in the ballroom. I also enjoy reading, gardening and I also love cooking and attended the Cordon Bleu while living in England.

 Janet Foy and her dance instructor partner Igor Puzhevich, winning second place at the International Rhythm Championship.

Dressage & Judging Education 

Your best-selling books ‘Dressage for the Not-so-Perfect Horse’ and ‘Dressage Q&A with Janet Foy’, tackle the plight of understanding dressage for the everyday rider and horse, through to explaining technically detailed nuances at the sports highest level.    What question have you found the most challenging to answer? 

Trying to explain to a new rider that is it an excellent idea to buy a ‘Professor’ horse to learn on, but NOT such a good idea to think you can just start showing at that level.  

What do you think is the key to better communication in advancing dressage knowledge for the equestrian community? 

Too many instructors in the US can put out a shingle and be a teacher.  That is not the case in Europe. Developing a strong instructor certification is very important.

Where can our audience go to source further dressage information from you? 

Through my books or the articles I have written for Dressage Today.  The USDF site has my levels videos. I don’t maintain a website now. 

Do you think participation in a basic level of judging education would be of benefit to all members of the equestrian community, even if they do not intend on a judging pathway? 

Yes, in the US we have the ‘L Program’ which is open to auditors and aimed at ‘teaching judges to evaluate the correct training of dressage horses’ ( We encourage trainers and competitors to attend the sessions. It really helps to know what the judge is looking for!

Fun Foy Facts: 

  • Who was your first pony/horse? A black quarter horse named Snakes. I was the ‘Girl of the West’ for the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo in 1971. 
  • What is your most embarrassing dressage moment? Having my husband reading the wrong test while I kept riding and the spectators and the judge were laughing themselves silly.
  • Did you come from a horsey home? Not my parents, but my Austrian Grandfather loved all animals and took my sister and I to riding lessons every Saturday.
  • What is something funny about you that not many people would know about? I love pink and anything shiny.
  • Have you convinced your husband that horses are not really that expensive yet? Well, I only had one horse when I married Michael, and sold her after 2 years. He is a retired orthodontist and enjoys my horse friends but we would never have been married if I still had my stable. 


Janet Foy as ‘Girl of the West’, Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo, 1971.

There is no doubt that Janet provides you with ***** good FEI reasons for competitors to submit their qualifying scores, spectators to judge along with Janet using the Spectator App at the event, or for the fleet of foot, to ask Janet for a dance this year’s Sydney CDI3* 2020!

The Sydney CDI will feature competitions spanning levels from Advanced to Grand Prix, attracting top riders from around Australia. Included in the line-up are CDI 3*, CDI-U25 (for riders under 25 competing at Grand Prix level), CDI-Y for Young Riders 16 to 21 years, CDI-P (International Pony) for riders aged 12-16 years and for only the second time after the success of 2019, a CDI-J for Junior riders aged between 14 and 18 years. The Sydney CDI Young Horse Championships will also be decided, with a special guest rider providing commentary on the finalists. 

Tickets for the event have already gone on sale, and seats for the ever-popular Saturday evening Grand Prix Freestyle to Music event are selling out fast.  For more information about the event or to purchase tickets, visit the event website at:

© Tracey Mahony (Media Coordinator, Sydney CDI 2020)

Images supplied by Janet Foy. 

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