Ok, I saw a lovely ride by Fox-Pitt...comments online were flawless ride. Scored in the 40s. Amy who I thought did not looked as refined as most---in the 30s. How is this?
Then lovely rides from others...and then a guy named shane had TONS of tense moments(a very unhappy horse) got a 53 or 58??? How did some riders score in the 70s? I thought Shane didn't look all that great and others looked better.
It is all dependent on what the judge sees, how they interpret it, exactly what happened. It depends on how many times the horse misses parts of the test and the like.
I am not remember names right now - but a gray horse had an error (Dag Albert, if I remember correctly), but did the rest of the test fine. That is only two points off.
A dark horse (was that Shane?) had a long moment where he was not accepting the bit, but if he was still doing the movement, he would not get a zero. He did the rest of the test excellently, which makes up for that one movement.
Another rider (chesnut, being ridden by a woman?) had lots of mistakes, so I thought the score of 70 was just right.
We aren't always going to agree with the judges....that's all I know.
Not that I am an expert...but dressage tests are judged movement by movement. It appeared that Shane's horse was only stuck during one or maybe two movements. He did have a rather nice test overall, and could have scored much higher in other movements than some of those other riders. Also, if a horse is a better mover than some of the other horses, and comes under themselves more, they generally get higher scores regardless of the flow of the overall test...although that is important too. Also, if the horses are not spot on in the changes or letters, or crooked in other areas, they get marked down too. The judges at each end of the arena probably have a better visual than we do...although the videographers have been doing a great job giving us different views of the rides.
Anyway, not sure if I really helped at all. I did scribe a few weeks ago for the first time at a local show, and it was definitely an eye opener for me! Judges can be very picky about certain things...and everything has to be just right to warrant a higher score.
Sometimes the horses that look nicest to the 'untrained' eye are not the most correct. (Not saying you're 'untrained', I'm just assuming for the sake of the question that you're not a dressage rider.)
The judges are looking for very specific things... a pair might look harmonious but lacks in other technical aspects.
A horse that looks pleasant may have appeared flawless but not had the required impulsion or engagement. Perhaps he had another flaw, such as coming behind the bit. Perhaps the majority of the test was good but they really flunked a movement or two, and a significantly lower score here or there is definitely going to affect the overall percentage. *Especially* if the movement that flunked had a coefficient (some movements are only performed once but counted twice).
And don't forget the collective marks - those scores that aren't tied to a specific movement, but are overall impression scores marked after the test is completed. Those have coefficients as well. There are scores for things like overall quality of gaits, obedience, and rider position/aids. If something was lacking, such as impulsion or engagement, or the horse performed technically well but appeared tense throughout, or the rider's position gets a lower score, etc etc... getting a so-so score on those heavier marks will negatively affect the overall score.
Melanie Smith Taylor said at some point during TV coverage that the judges were probably being less forgiving with scoring earlier on as they had much yet to see.
Appropriate or not, this is what she said.
Also, remember that the dressage phase of eventing is converted from the percentage score to a penalty score, so lower = better.
There are two sets of scores that they're talking about.
During the ride, they'll say, 6, 7, 8, 9 etc. In this case the high score is better, just like regular dressage. They've given out some 9's and I seem to recall Lucinda Fredricks, the leader, got a 10.
Once the ride is completed, there's a formula to take the percentage (say 75% in the case of a very good ride, 55% in the case of a poor ride) and convert it to penalty points. At this point, the low score is better. In the 30's and you're in the hunt. David O'Connor laid down a 29 at the Sydney games with Custom Made, which I think is the only time someone beat 30.
Note that the USEA score conversions are very simple, just the inverse of the percentage: ie 70% -> 30 penalties. The FEI tests use a different formula that I don't recall at the moment.
If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket