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Tiger Horse
Aug. 2, 2011, 05:20 PM
This past weekend I went to a dressage schooling show to cheer on some barn mates.

One horse/rider combination did 1st level, test 1 (I did not see this particular test) and judge commented that due to conformational faults extended gaits would be/are extremely difficult for this horse . . . not really a first level horse.

I'm not sure what to make of that - too honest? One person's opinion? Would you take it to heart and adjust your goals?

GreyStreet
Aug. 2, 2011, 05:24 PM
Is it possible the judge's comments were misinterpreted? This strikes me as a bit odd for a couple of reasons. First, there are no extended gaits in First Level, only lengthenings. Even a horse without spectacular movement can be lengthened and compressed such as to show *some* sort of difference in the movements required at First. It's possible the judge was implying the horse may have a difficult time extending if the rider's goals include moving up to Third and beyond.

There is absolutely no reason why a competently ridden horse could not do well at First Level. If the judge truly said something to that effect (which again, is a bit odd IMO), I would take it with a grain of salt.

mjhco
Aug. 2, 2011, 05:26 PM
Schooling show?

Was the judge an "L" Program Graduate or a rated judge?

Yes, there are horses with conformation that limits the ability to do extensions. Doesn't mean they cannot be done at all.

I would be interested in seeing the complete "quote" rather than paraphrasing. Maybe at this time the horse is not a first level horse due to adherence to the directives for the test. First level is not just about lengthenings.

Tiger Horse
Aug. 2, 2011, 05:34 PM
Is it possible the judge's comments were misinterpreted? This strikes me as a bit odd for a couple of reasons. First, there are no extended gaits in First Level, only lengthenings. Even a horse without spectacular movement can be lengthened and compressed such as to show *some* sort of difference in the movements required at First. It's possible the judge was implying the horse may have a difficult time extending if the rider's goals include moving up to Third and beyond.

There is absolutely no reason why a competently ridden horse could not do well at First Level. If the judge truly said something to that effect (which again, is a bit odd IMO), I would take it with a grain of salt.

Maybe I got it wrong! Comments were relayed to me by another party - maybe the term used was lengthening, not extending. Either way, it appeared the judge didn't think this horse had much of a future as a dressage horse.

Tiger Horse
Aug. 2, 2011, 05:38 PM
Schooling show?

Was the judge an "L" Program Graduate or a rated judge?

Yes, there are horses with conformation that limits the ability to do extensions. Doesn't mean they cannot be done at all.

I would be interested in seeing the complete "quote" rather than paraphrasing. Maybe at this time the horse is not a first level horse due to adherence to the directives for the test. First level is not just about lengthenings.

Yes, a schooling show. USEF "r" judge.

I'll have to see if I can get clarification on the comments.

Liz
Aug. 2, 2011, 06:43 PM
You have to remember , it is only one person's opinion. Why is your friend riding/competeing in dressage. Is she trying to increase her horses rideability? Then dressage is for every horse, not matter the conformation. Is she riding dressage with competition goals in mind? Then the horses conformation may limit her goals.

mvp
Aug. 2, 2011, 07:11 PM
The judge could be giving what he/she considered was a helpful prediction: Letting the rider/owner know not to plan on taking this horse all the way up the levels.

I'd take what I heard from the judge with a grain of salt, but put it in the mental notebook in case I heard another pro or two say similar. Then I'd pay attention and change the plan for the horse before I had done too much damage.

KBEquine
Aug. 2, 2011, 07:58 PM
It is one person's opinion, and might have been reinterpreted by the hearer who passed it along to you.

One of my favorite parts of shows is if 9 of 10 judges say, "your circles are ovals" you can be pretty sure that your circles are ovals. If one judge says it & the rest don't, maybe you had an off day in front of that judge. Or maybe his/her glasses need adjusted.

In other words - there isn't enough information in your friend's description to interpret what comment was made, much less why.

I did start dressage on a gelding built downhill & my trainer made a similar comment, to manage my expectations. But since the gelding loved to jump big & clean & only did dressage to humor me, I found him a place where he could jump for a living.

So maybe the judge might be trying to help manage your friend's expectations.

Bogey2
Aug. 2, 2011, 08:19 PM
One horse/rider combination did 1st level, test 1 (I did not see this particular test) and judge commented that due to conformational faults extended gaits would be/are extremely difficult for this horse . . . not really a first level horse.

I'm not sure what to make of that - too honest? One person's opinion? Would you take it to heart and adjust your goals?
__________________

I had a judge tell me the same thing when I first started showing dressage..and she was so right! I just wish I had a trainer who would have told me this! My horse went on to be a very happy hunter!

2tempe
Aug. 2, 2011, 08:49 PM
One of my favorite parts of shows is if 9 of 10 judges say, "your circles are ovals" you can be pretty sure that your circles are ovals. If one judge says it & the rest don't, maybe you had an off day in front of that judge. Or maybe his/her glasses need adjusted.

This is so right...Its interesting: in spite of the subjective nature of judging in dressage and what's a 4 or a 5 or an 8, I can say that over a season of 6 shows and at least twice as many tests, my horse and I have gotten very consistent remarks and darn consistent scores. Our strong points were always judged as our strong points. Weak ones also (unless I got lucky and nailed a walk pirouette now and then:sadsmile:). Variations on any given day, but overall consistency!

But to OP's point, I wouldn't take one judge's opinion. But I would go back and examine the lengthenings, how I ride them, how they are set up and how they could be made better.

Tiger Horse
Aug. 2, 2011, 10:21 PM
I did confirm that the judge's comments were on extensions.

From what I understand the judge was pretty tough on everyone and positive comments were few and far between. Not what I would hope for at a schooling show.

Owner, who wasn't riding, was pretty disappointed in the comments - but, I doubt that will change her plans - she has pretty high hopes for this horse.

Tiger Horse
Aug. 2, 2011, 10:29 PM
The judge could be giving what he/she considered was a helpful prediction: Letting the rider/owner know not to plan on taking this horse all the way up the levels.

I'd take what I heard from the judge with a grain of salt, but put it in the mental notebook in case I heard another pro or two say similar. Then I'd pay attention and change the plan for the horse before I had done too much damage.

Could be - and I'd do the same.

mjhco
Aug. 2, 2011, 10:37 PM
1. There are NO extensions in First level. Just lengthenings

2. If I had a quarter for each time judges or someone who wanted to be helpful tell me that my horse couldn't move up because of his lengthenings I could have paid for all the years of lessons to get him to Grand Prix. Nope. He still can only get a 7 on extensions. But we get 8's on our passage, piaffe, tempis, and pirouettes.

3. Some folks just haven't ridden/trained enough horses to understand that attitude and a great canter can take you a lot farther than a great trot.

4. I did have a caring, knowledgeable I judge tell me in a lesson to not worry about my horses limitations in the extended gaits. And to maximize the gaits /transitions that we could score well on. And here we are at Grand Prix.

Have your friend set her and her goals to be all they can be. And just see where that takes them. No harm. No foul.

Tiger Horse
Aug. 2, 2011, 10:50 PM
1. There are NO extensions in First level. Just lengthenings.

Understood, but that is the terminology that the judge used.


Have your friend set her and her goals to be all they can be. And just see where that takes them. No harm. No foul.

I'm sure she will . . .

GreyStreet
Aug. 2, 2011, 11:27 PM
I still believe just about any horse should be able to compete decently at First Level.

If lengthenings are not your friend's strong point, then she should focus on the things the horse CAN do well. Can the horse collect a bit more prior to the lengthening, to show a *real* difference? Perhaps the horse has trouble with the lengthening but can compress like nobody's business. Can the horse perform the lateral movements well? Does she ride a forward, relaxed, accurate test?

My horse is not a knock your socks off mover, but we have won quite a few First Level tests in good company because we are typically forward, steady and I practice riding an accurate test. Weaknesses, IMO, really start to show up in Second when you start pushing past the comfort zone a bit - now it's not just about lengthenings but collection, developing the mediums so that you can ride the extensions at Third, etc.

CosMonster
Aug. 2, 2011, 11:49 PM
I think whether comments like that are appropriate really depends on the tone and specifics. I mean, if the judge does it helpfully in a "this may hold your horse back in the future" sense, then I really don't see a problem with it. I've gotten a few comments like that over the years (only one was off-base IMO, the others were accurate assessments of each horse's limitations) and they don't bother me.

Except one that I still remember and that actually put me off dressage for a long time. I was like 10 and obviously a hunter rider (based on tack and attire) trying out a dressage schooling show. My pony was not a spectacular mover or anything but she was a serviceable little thing and a great child's pony because she could do everything--we jumped up to 3'9", showed up to first level dressage, rode trails, evented, fox hunted, did gymkhana...you get the idea.

Anyway, this judge made a comment about my pony being a poor choice for a dressage horse (which was not news to us), but it was worded really nastily and basically came across to me as saying that my pony was not worth anything. To a 10 year old who loved her pony, that was devastating. I thought (and still think) that the judge was extremely out of line with those comments. My parents and trainer actually filed a complaint over it and she was not invited back to judge at that series of shows (not just based on our complaints; as I understand it there were quite a few others as well). Although the thing I still laugh at is that we rode T1 and T2--and we got like a 68% and a 73% so obviously she wasn't that bad of a pony! :lol: In fact I think we even placed in both classes so it's especially WTF.

edit: It wasn't just me being over-sensitive as a kid, either. I came across those tests in my old PC folder I still have just a couple of years ago, and was kind of shocked at how mean the comments really were. Totally inappropriate for really any judge, but way out of line in that venue.

So I guess to me it just really depends on the situation. I do think it's a tricky thing to comment on, since a limitation in one particular area doesn't always mean the horse won't move up the levels. Also, the judge has no idea if you even want to move up--plenty of riders are happy to top out at 1st or 2nd level, and/or are just dabbling in dressage. Personally, if I was judging a dressage show I would not say anything like that (probably, I've never judged a dressage show but I have judged other shows) but I don't think it's really out of line.

xQHDQ
Aug. 3, 2011, 08:49 AM
The judge could be giving what he/she considered was a helpful prediction: Letting the rider/owner know not to plan on taking this horse all the way up the levels.

I'd take what I heard from the judge with a grain of salt, but put it in the mental notebook in case I heard another pro or two say similar. Then I'd pay attention and change the plan for the horse before I had done too much damage.

This. The judge was giving her opinion on what she saw that day.
I would like to know what overall score the ride got and what each movement achieved. That would put the comment into perspective - good score = horse can do 1st but not higher; bad score = maybe horse not ready for 1st and should go back to TL (could also mean bad riding or mistakes or whatever).

paulaedwina
Aug. 3, 2011, 09:34 AM
Not too honest, too opinionated. It's the problem when we forget that even the experts sometimes have their own biases. You can take a horse as far as you and the horse can go. When you run into those people think of a horse like Tulloch Ard - a $500 Clyde/TB cross that won the Garryowen in 2011 and competes at PSG.

http://www.bordermail.com.au/news/local/news/rural/its-easy-to-love-this-star/1639679.aspx

http://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/article/2010/09/30/238421_horses.html

Paula

AllWeatherGal
Aug. 3, 2011, 10:25 AM
I did confirm that the judge's comments were on extensions.

From what I understand the judge was pretty tough on everyone and positive comments were few and far between. Not what I would hope for at a schooling show.

Owner, who wasn't riding, was pretty disappointed in the comments - but, I doubt that will change her plans - she has pretty high hopes for this horse.

Giving the judge the benefit of the doubt, s/he could have misspoken or the scribe misheard and miswrote. Speculating further, I might look at this judge's history: how long an "r" and how did s/he score other shows? Over the years I've seen the tendency for r's, especially new r's to be a bit tougher than more senior judges.

After I got over my agaustedness at the reference to extensions in a 1st level test, I'd skim the comments to see if there was anything useful to take away and file the test for future. I would probably wait to show for this judge again until s/he had earned an S.

I've heard from many experienced FEI riders and judges that you buy a canter. Not only is the trot is the most improvable gait, but upper level movements are mostly canter-based.

Now, that's the honest truth ... according to what I know ;)

Heinz 57
Aug. 3, 2011, 12:25 PM
Is it possible that the comment was something to the effect of 'horse is too downhill to achieve proper extension in lengthening'? That could be interpreted two (or more!) ways, either that the horse is BUILT too downhill and will never be ABLE to really show a good lengthening, or the more likely intention that the horse was RIDDEN too downhill and could reasonably achieve a proper lengthening if it were corrected.

Either way, it just sounds like a poor choice of words. I'm wondering if it was a comment on a movement, or in the collective marks at the end? It seems unlikely to make a comment about potential for another level on a First 1 test, let alone a level that isn't even the next one up!

Petstorejunkie
Aug. 3, 2011, 12:55 PM
3. Some folks just haven't ridden/trained enough horses to understand that attitude and a great canter can take you a lot farther than a great trot.

Have your friend set her and her goals to be all they can be. And just see where that takes them. No harm. No foul.
:yes::yes::yes:

Commander Cody
Aug. 3, 2011, 02:05 PM
Rode a horse at one of his first shows for an S judge (materiale class) and judge said horse "would never make a dressage horse". Well, never ever tell me never! Horse went on to compete through Grand Prix. Sure he looked like a crab on speed at first but once we got some balance and he started to listen to me, it all built from there (Lusitano stallion). But I did have to ignore some of the comments as we were starting out.

My advice would be listen to the horse not the judge. The horse will say if it can (and wants to) keep going or not. Mine loved the work. We learned to play on his strengths (collection) and make do with his weaknesses (extension).

AllWeatherGal
Aug. 3, 2011, 03:45 PM
looked like a crab on speed at first

:eek:
Quite the visual! I cannot imagine what he was like to sit.

dudleyc
Aug. 3, 2011, 04:16 PM
As a broad brush statements the iberian horses tend to not extended well - they almost never show overstep in the extended walk, so they may not do well at the lower levels,. They do have a great ability to carry behind and often have amazing passage/piaffe and canter pirouettes.

Perhaps the judge wants your friend to jump to GP :)

Tiger Horse
Aug. 3, 2011, 06:46 PM
Thanks for all the comments/opinions.

This judge was pretty tough - it seems the average score was mid-50s. Now, I am not a judge, but some of the tests I did watch looked pretty nice. I've seen worse scored higher.

I have not seen the test scores for the horse in question, but the person I spoke to yesterday had seen it and said the comments were pretty nasty. Maybe the judge was having a bad day - it was awfully hot . . . still, it was a schooling show, and a little encouragement could have gone a long way.

paulaedwina
Aug. 3, 2011, 07:56 PM
Yes I take particular offense for it being a schooling show. There you want to hear real criticisms - stuff you can take home and study. JMO, but this other stuff can really just inadvertantly kill someone's spirit.

Paula

dwblover
Aug. 3, 2011, 09:09 PM
I would disregard that comment totally. I just cannot figure out why in the world a judge would be saying that a horse competing in First level test 1 will never be able to extend? Who in the world ever told that judge the horse was aimed at third level? Just very strange to me, you are supposed to judge what you see on that day during that test, not speculate about the horse's shortcomings in the next few years.:confused: I personally would have preferred a low score on the lengthening and the judge leaving it at that.

mjhco
Aug. 3, 2011, 11:29 PM
Thanks for all the comments/opinions.

This judge was pretty tough - it seems the average score was mid-50s. Now, I am not a judge, but some of the tests I did watch looked pretty nice. I've seen worse scored higher.

I have not seen the test scores for the horse in question, but the person I spoke to yesterday had seen it and said the comments were pretty nasty. Maybe the judge was having a bad day - it was awfully hot . . . still, it was a schooling show, and a little encouragement could have gone a long way.

How about getting the exact comment? Rather than relying on someone else's opinion of 'nasty'. Some folks take any corrective statement as nasty.

ToN Farm
Aug. 3, 2011, 11:56 PM
One horse/rider combination did 1st level, test 1 (I did not see this particular test) and judge commented that due to conformational faults extended gaits would be/are extremely difficult for this horse . . . not really a first level horse.
I believe there are horses that are so limited that they will never have a good lengthening, let alone a medium. An example would be a short strided foundation bred QH.
I'm not sure what to make of that - too honest? One person's opinion? Would you take it to heart and adjust your goals?
Can never be too honest for me, but it seems most people prefer encouraging remarks, even if they skirt the truth. I have adjusted my own goals due to limitations of my horse. I think one should not need a judge to tell them of the limitations. A rider should become educated enough to know what those limitations are. At the lower levels, a rider hopefully is working with a trainer, and the trainer should be helping decide what levels and tests the pair is qualified to do.

The permitting of rising trot at First Level is bringing out pairs that are able to do 'the pattern' but are not First Level horses. The biggest change from TL to First IS the lengthenings. If you do not have a lengthening, you do not have a First Level horse.

paulaedwina
Aug. 4, 2011, 12:04 AM
Those are opinions. And opinions are like backsides; we all have them.

Paula

Tiger Horse
Aug. 4, 2011, 12:25 AM
How about getting the exact comment? Rather than relying on someone else's opinion of 'nasty'. Some folks take any corrective statement as nasty.

I probably won't see the exact comment. But, the person who told me about the comment is a trainer at our barn. She's been around a long time - I would think she would know a nasty comment when she saw one.

myvanya
Aug. 4, 2011, 03:51 PM
If someone wrote something similar on my test I wouldn't have any issue with it and I have actually had a couple trainers now tell me that either they firmly believe my horse has severly limited dressage potential because of his conformation or that they don't know how far he will go and doubt he will go past 2nd but lets just keep working anyway (which is an approach I prefer).
To me dressage is about training my horse. I don't really have any personal ties to what level my horse eventually is able to compete. I won't say I won't be excited the better trained he gets and as such the higher the level we can compete, but I want my horse to be happy in his work and well trained. If someone sees his short back and his funky legs and says to me they think his trot and suppleness will be limited I will be the first to admit that will probably be true but I won't let it prevent me from continuing on. I still learn to be a better rider; he still is happy and gaining in his training. I learn from every horse, and my horse is still better at dressage than I am anyway :lol:.

So I guess all that to say, it was one person's opinion, maybe true and maybe not, but in general for shows the judge is paid for their educated opinion. I guess I don't feel it was meant as discouragement but rather a statement of what the judge saw as the facts. Even if it was snarky- I hope it doesn't change things for the pair. Just start at the beggining of the horse's potential and when you get to the end, stop.

Lost_at_C
Aug. 4, 2011, 04:08 PM
I don't understand why the judge used the word 'Extensions' rather than lengthenings. However, I do wonder if the message was supposed to be that the horse doesn't yet have appropriate thrust and throughness for First Level, which is often most obvious in the lengthenings. If that's the case then it's more than a "nasty" opinion or comment, and actually the appropriate insight of someone the rider effectively paid to critique her horse's suitability for the level. I'm of the opinion that standards at schooling shows should not be less rigid than recognized shows... I can pay a friend or trainer to compliment and encourage me; judges need to tell it like it is. Having said that, a good judge should also include some indication of what to work on to fix said problems, and sandwich negativity between positives.... even if that's limited to "nice turnout" and "cute horse"!

Tiger Horse
Aug. 4, 2011, 04:31 PM
To me dressage is about training my horse. I don't really have any personal ties to what level my horse eventually is able to compete. . . I still learn to be a better rider; he still is happy and gaining in his training. I learn from every horse, and my horse is still better at dressage than I am anyway :lol:.

This is pretty much how I feel! Dressage, at least to me, is a lot like golf - it's not abouting winning or losing or competing against someone else. It's about improving the score.

suzier444
Aug. 8, 2011, 07:01 PM
That all sounds like a kind enough comment to me if you interpret the two parts separately (which I think is how they were meant, since the judge used the word "extension" and everybody knows those don't happen in 1st level, especially judges).

The first part of the comment says that extended gaits will be extremely difficult -- it doesn't say impossible or that the horse won't achieve a high level despite that difficulty. The second part of the comment says the horse isn't a first-level horse, which is a way I've heard many people phrase the idea that the horse isn't ready for that level yet. My guess would be that the horse showed no hint of lengthenings whatsoever, so it a) wasn't fulfilling the requirements expected at the level it was shown, and b) the reason for the lack of lengthening appeared to the judge to be conformational, so the judge mentioned that part about extensions -- two separate comments stemming from the same test flaw. I'm not sure if judges are supposed to diagnose like that, but even so, doesn't sound MEAN to me.

If I got that comment, I'd be bummed and would go to my trainer to work it out, but I wouldn't feel victimized. This is JMO but I actually don't love the generic kind comments when I can tell I'm the 800th rider of the day to get the same canned statement. I'd rather not get "nice pair!" right next to "too bad he bucked you off" or whatever.

DutchDressageQueen
Aug. 8, 2011, 07:20 PM
That all sounds like a kind enough comment to me if you interpret the two parts separately (which I think is how they were meant, since the judge used the word "extension" and everybody knows those don't happen in 1st level, especially judges).

The first part of the comment says that extended gaits will be extremely difficult -- it doesn't say impossible or that the horse won't achieve a high level despite that difficulty. The second part of the comment says the horse isn't a first-level horse, which is a way I've heard many people phrase the idea that the horse isn't ready for that level yet. My guess would be that the horse showed no hint of lengthenings whatsoever, so it a) wasn't fulfilling the requirements expected at the level it was shown, and b) the reason for the lack of lengthening appeared to the judge to be conformational, so the judge mentioned that part about extensions -- two separate comments stemming from the same test flaw. I'm not sure if judges are supposed to diagnose like that, but even so, doesn't sound MEAN to me.

If I got that comment, I'd be bummed and would go to my trainer to work it out, but I wouldn't feel victimized. This is JMO but I actually don't love the generic kind comments when I can tell I'm the 800th rider of the day to get the same canned statement. I'd rather not get "nice pair!" right next to "too bad he bucked you off" or whatever.

:yes:

Equa
Aug. 9, 2011, 08:47 PM
Dressage judges should NOT write comments relating to anything other than what they see before them, in the arena, that day. They should not make prediction or presumptions.

Sometimes I really hate the glass-half-empty nature of dressage people.

mjhco
Aug. 9, 2011, 10:23 PM
Dressage judges should NOT write comments relating to anything other than what they see before them, in the arena, that day. They should not make prediction or presumptions.

Sometimes I really hate the glass-half-empty nature of dressage people.

And this is why it would be good to see the EXACT quote from the test. How much has been paraphrased? How much as been read into a straight forward comment?

If a judge was indeed breed bashing, a letter should be written to USEF to go in their file, schooling show or not.

Else, the comment needs to be taken for what it was intended.