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View Full Version : I give up! I don't understand judging...



Pony Fixer
May. 9, 2011, 11:02 AM
I was at a USDF show this weekend that ran 3 days, and I watched A LOT of rides, mostly 2nd level and above. I have to say that based on the rides I saw, and the scores (and sometimes score sheets) I saw, I can officially say I no longer have a clue what the judges are looking for (and therefore what my scores even mean)!

I rode Second level and got great scores (64.5-68.8%) which either won or were second in the class (for perspective of the overall class scores). Class sizes ranged from 4-8, which I would say is pretty typical in this area for that level.

I watched 3 Fourth level classes. In one (4/3), the person could not sit the trot. Literally there was daylight between the saddle and the bottom for the whole ride, really bad in the medium/extensions. The horse had really nice half passes, SI and walk pirouettes. The horse did not have changes. AT ALL. I mean the horse would either hesitate (almost stop, it was very jerky) between the leads, or took one trot step. In this test there are 2 single changes and then a line of 4-tempis. In all seriousness I thought they'd be lucky to break 50%. The score--61.5% to place in the middle of the class. This same horse later did 4/1 similarly and won a class of 3 with a 64%. (again with daylight and no changes). Another horse, owned by a friend, has late changes. She knows this and has been working on it with some success. In the particular 4/3 class I watched the horse was late behind on all 5 changes in the test but the test was otherwise lovely. I asked to look at her test and she got 7s on both single (late) changes, and an 8 on her tempi line with the comment of "correct count". An 8. For 3 late changes that were 4 strides apart.

Uh, what is going on? Fourth/3 is one step behind PSG and they are handing out (it was more than one judge) scores over 60 for horses with late changes, no changes, and folks that still can't sit the trot. To me it cheapened my scores, too. I can see being a bit lenient in the changes at 3rd, because it's new to that level (not that I was ever given a break on my horse that had a late change in one direction), but at 4/3??!!

I don't have sour grapes--I wasn't in these classes, and like I said one of the folks in question is a friend and I'm happy she scored so well (her overall score was a 69% FTW). But I just think this sends the wrong message. The competitors were just basically told that the training was on the right path--keep on going!

So basically, color me confused. That is all.

InsideLeg2OutsideRein
May. 9, 2011, 12:03 PM
. In the particular 4/3 class I watched the horse was late behind on all 5 changes in the test but the test was otherwise lovely. I asked to look at her test and she got 7s on both single (late) changes, and an 8 on her tempi line with the comment of "correct count". An 8. For 3 late changes that were 4 strides apart.

So basically, color me confused. That is all.

:D Who was the judge? If I ever get really desperate for a good score, I'd like to go see him/her! :winkgrin:

horsephotolady
May. 9, 2011, 12:23 PM
And to think I have avoided showing 3rd level because my changes have hesitations, and some are late. Guess I don't need to worry about that!

I agree, the scoring does sound odd. Was the whole rest of the test spectacular?

AllWeatherGal
May. 9, 2011, 12:28 PM
The only way to understand is to be sitting with the judge.

There are people much smarter than I am who can explain how a couple of movements can have a low-ish impact on a final score. I would hurt my brain trying to come up with all the possibilities including high scores below the line and not severe strikes on the particular movements.

Regarding "sitting the trot", it might look ugly, but if the judge(s) determine that it's inelegant but not completely ineffective, there may be no influence on the score.

There is the possibility that your eye isn't as tuned as the judge(s).

And there's the distinct possibility that the show (USEF, right?) hired some Really Bad Judges. They are certainly out there. I know, I've sat with some of them ... even as I wrote scores and comments I was painfully agausting inside.

It would be interesting to know which show it was.

I can't imagine any way to make judges accountable for their work other than the USEF competitor form, the TD report, and open communication.

paintlady
May. 9, 2011, 12:31 PM
I don't get it either sometimes.

Last year, my barnmate and I both did Intro. B and scored 58.5% with an "r" judge. She went off course TWICE! I did not. Yet, we both got the same exact score. I know her horse is a waaay better mover than mine... but no penalty for going off course?!?

I also did Training 2. My horse had a near perfect halt going in. Our halt at the end had issues. Yet, we scored a 6 on both. Go figure.

AllWeatherGal
May. 9, 2011, 12:36 PM
I don't get it either sometimes.

Last year, my barnmate and I both did Intro. B and scored 58.5% with an "r" judge. She went off course TWICE! I did not. Yet, we both got the same exact score. I know her horse is a waaay better mover than mine... but no penalty for going off course?!?

I also did Training 2. My horse had a near perfect halt going in. Our halt at the end had issues. Yet, we scored a 6 on both. Go figure.

I don't know about intro, but USEF tests do have a penalty for going off course. It may not have offset the high points, however.

Check out the "boxes" for the first and last movements ... they include more than just the halt. You may have had a nice turn on the center line to your final halt, and maybe off-center line, or a little wobbly coming to the movement ... or forward-from wasn't as crisp, or your turn at C wasn't straight ...

Valentina_32926
May. 9, 2011, 01:04 PM
When I debuted at Third level I knew my changes were hit or miss - and I missed more than hit them. (Fixed now). So when my scores reflected the late change I was expecting it. I do have to say my debut (non recognized) my changes were late and I got nailed for it BUT the rest of the test was well done and I ended up with either a 62+% or a 64+% - I forget now. Blew my mind but looking at the video I understood how well the rest of the test went so I knew how I could score that high.

In this case since individual movement score was * that means changes should have been clean - and apparently were not. Maybe judge was not looking and missed the late. (Had one show where I sat at X for over a minute waiting for judge to wave me on - but she wasn't looking at me so didn't realize (until she looked up) that I was motionless at "X" awaiting an indication to continue. Needless to say although my score was OK I never wasted my money on a show where that judge was working. And show organizers noticed the issue (plus I said something) and she hasn't been asked back since then.

When we pay this kind of money to show I'm paying for good (even if bad) feedback.

netg
May. 9, 2011, 02:16 PM
I've seen a score in the 60s for a horse who majorly flubbed several movements and was scored accordingly. They weren't doubled and so had less influence getting 3s/4s on those than they 7s/8s on other movements which were doubled.

I would want to know what the rider scores were, as well as the related comments, to know what the judge thought of the trot. Perhaps the horse had a very mobile back, and the rider appeared to just be very soft but moving with the horse to the judge? I'd think air time would lower the score... but maybe not enough to make a big difference? If gaits were 8s, it could have made up for 5s for rider, too.

It's just really hard to say. Especially if you have a horse who is borderline on a lot of scores, a judge can choose the more generous or the more tough scores for each of those movements and have a huge difference in the final overall score.

eponacelt
May. 9, 2011, 03:27 PM
Can't answer your specific question, but I second the idea of sitting with the judge all day. Volunteer to scribe!

I did this weekend (I love scribing) and got to see First through I-1. There were a few movements (walk pirouettes in particular) where there was a big range in scores. Either people getting 4s or 8s (but mostly 4s). This was a little above my level, and I asked the judge to explain the difference between 4 and 8 while we were on a break. She not only explained, but showed me as we watched the next few rides. It was very, very helpful.

I'll also say that even judges are surprised at who comes out on top. We had one of those this weekend where the winner of the class wasn't her favorite ride (she wasn't a fan of the actual riding), but when the scores were tallied, that was the winning ride.

NCSue
May. 9, 2011, 07:39 PM
I can make an educated guess as to which show you are referring to. Unfortunately some show managers make it a point to hire "competitor friendly" judges. While I don't like bringing home a low score -- and believe me I have -- I HATE bringing home a high score that I have not earned.

I was at a different show a couple weekends ago and the scores ran the opposite way. One of the reasons I have enjoyed showing dressage is that the judges are educated and the standard should remain fairly consistent. I haven't found that to be the case the last few shows and it's very frustrating.

Pony Fixer
May. 9, 2011, 07:42 PM
The only way to understand is to be sitting with the judge.

There are people much smarter than I am who can explain how a couple of movements can have a low-ish impact on a final score. I would hurt my brain trying to come up with all the possibilities including high scores below the line and not severe strikes on the particular movements.

Regarding "sitting the trot", it might look ugly, but if the judge(s) determine that it's inelegant but not completely ineffective, there may be no influence on the score.

There is the possibility that your eye isn't as tuned as the judge(s).

And there's the distinct possibility that the show (USEF, right?) hired some Really Bad Judges. They are certainly out there. I know, I've sat with some of them ... even as I wrote scores and comments I was painfully agausting inside.

It would be interesting to know which show it was.

I can't imagine any way to make judges accountable for their work other than the USEF competitor form, the TD report, and open communication.

Well, I do volunteer and scribe quite a bit, although clearly I was not in the box for this test since I was a competitor at the same show. The horse is not a good mover, so I can only assume that the good was way over-scored to counter act the bad changes and bad riding.

And, while I am not a judge and so my "eye" is not as finely tuned--I was watching with a local trainer and a BNT. The BNT called the second (64%) test a f*ing catastrophe. This person has competed internationally, so I would guess their eye is better.



When I debuted at Third level I knew my changes were hit or miss - and I missed more than hit them. (Fixed now). So when my scores reflected the late change I was expecting it. I do have to say my debut (non recognized) my changes were late and I got nailed for it BUT the rest of the test was well done and I ended up with either a 62+% or a 64+% - I forget now. Blew my mind but looking at the video I understood how well the rest of the test went so I knew how I could score that high.

I showed 3rd/4th level on a horse with one bad change (ie, frequently late but only one way, the other always clean). I got up to 67% even with 1 or 2 late changes, but the rest of the test would be good (the horse was a good mover, etc.) so I would have several 8s to counter act the 4s I got for the late changes. How the one judge gave a string of late changes an 8 still baffles me, though.


Can't answer your specific question, but I second the idea of sitting with the judge all day. Volunteer to scribe!

I have many times.

I did this weekend (I love scribing) and got to see First through I-1. There were a few movements (walk pirouettes in particular) where there was a big range in scores. Either people getting 4s or 8s (but mostly 4s). This was a little above my level, and I asked the judge to explain the difference between 4 and 8 while we were on a break. She not only explained, but showed me as we watched the next few rides. It was very, very helpful.

I'll also say that even judges are surprised at who comes out on top. We had one of those this weekend where the winner of the class wasn't her favorite ride (she wasn't a fan of the actual riding), but when the scores were tallied, that was the winning ride.

I guess I just need to get over it. Maybe the judging was bad, maybe there was so much good (where?) in the one to even out the bad. Maybe the tempi count was more important to the other judge than clean/late. I will never know.

Sometimes you eat the bear, sometimes the bear eats you.

ideayoda
May. 9, 2011, 08:31 PM
The judge should make it CLEAR to the rider and viewers when the ride is minimal or good or unacceptable at a given level, they are NOT there to stroke the riders but to HOLD THE STANDARDS.

I have also seen the differences be minimal (I remember a gp ride where one was a joke of fei, and one was internationally competitive and the scores were 61 to 69. Now we could say that the top was right (and I think it was) or the bottom was (I dont think so), but it is simply NOT correct. It serves NO end, and brings down the tradition of training as well.

The numbers are there as shorthand for words, not only for percentages. It is not fair to the top to give the lower minimally lower scores.

Poor riding should get insufficent scores. The scores are about TRAINING. And a person who cannot sit should be getting 4 or lower.

As far as scores for the changes, they should be insufficient if late or not tempi (I take it you asked the person to see it, not the scorers???)

Imho you have a right to be upset, and imho to complain as well.

AllWeatherGal
May. 10, 2011, 09:11 AM
Two different topics about which I have genuine questions (for all readers, not specifically the poster whose sentences I'm quoting.)



And a person who cannot sit should be getting 4 or lower.


Is there a difference between cannot sit and just doesn't? I am thinking of a particular individual (in this case) who competed successfully at the international level and trains horses consistently to FEI. She is also a judge. And I think she's a very savvy rider who from time to time appears (to me) to be perching rather than sitting.

If you had no idea who she was, you might say "she obviously can't sit". Knowing who she is, however, informs anyone that she's decided a half-seat is the right way to approach the situation at the moment. It's judicious riding not lack of skill.

How to reflect that in a score?



Imho you have a right to be upset, and imho to complain as well.

I do think that open communication is both the best way to increase general education and to ensure accountability.

If it's not your test, who do you complain to? And on what evidence? I agree that comments are an important factor in understanding a judge's rationale for scores, so if you're not privy to them, what do you say? How do you defend your complaint?