The Definition of Hors Concours

Competition Without the Pressure of Competing

Dressage horse preforms a passage.
Advanced riders can ride in competition hors concours to warm up their horse. Image Credit:Bongarts/Martin Rose/Getty Images

Definition: Riding hor concours at a horse competition means you are not competing. You will still pay an entry fee, receive a number and be judged by the judge. However, you will not be considered for placings. You may be required to wear your number upside down, to remind the judged that you will not be rewarded for your performance no matter how well you do. At a dressage competition, you will receive a score card and mark from the judge, but not be eligible to win any rosettes or awards. Not all competitions will allow hor concours entries, so it’s best to check ahead, especially if you are making post entries the day of the competition.

Why Ride Hor Concours

Most of us want to go to a show for the opportunity to win a ribbon.  But, you may want to ride hor concours because you have a green horse and you are just there for the experience. Or, you may want to try riding a dressage test in illegal tack like a sidepull or riding in English tack in a western show trail class. You may ride hor concours when re-schooling a horse that has bad habits in the show ring. A rider may want to ride hor concours for the experience of competing, without the pressure. In some cases, you may be able to ride in a competition you have not qualified to compete in.

Hor concours allows you and your horse to experience competing without the pressure of actual competition. This allows you to not worry about time penalties or other scoring, but still get the opinion of a judge. You may also ride in a class of a lower level than you would normally ride in, so you can use that class as a warm-up for your actual competition. You may be left to the last, so that the other competitors don’t have to wait on a non-competitor. You will also not be eligible for points if points towards year end or other awards will be offered.

Hor concours is a French phrase and means roughly “exception from competition”. You may also see or hear it referred to as HC. It is most commonly used in the dressage ring. Whether or not riders may ride hor concours is at the discretion of the judges and organizers. If scheduling is tight, hor concours opportunities might not be offered.  Check ahead to see whether hors concours riders are welcome at the competitions you wish to attend and make sure your status is clearly marked on your entry form. 

Pronunciation: or kahn-koor

Examples: They took the young horse on the competitive trail ride, but rode hor concours so they could go slow and not worry about time penalties or losing points for manners.


The dressage rider rode hor concours as a warm-up for his main test.