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  1. #1
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    Nov. 20, 2007
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    Unhappy Elimination in dressage

    My daughter and her horse were entered last weekend in a preliminary rider division. She entered the ring, went down center line and tracked left (1st movement), did a 10 m. circle (movement 2) and as she went into shoulder-in (movement 3) the horse threw up his head and the judge blew her whistle and she was told that her horse was obviously lame and eliminated them. There were a number of knowledgeable people watching the test, none of whom could see any lameness - maybe resistance and tension. As soon as they left the ring she went to speak to the T.D. and asked if she could see the veterinarian which she did. The vet. watched the horse jog and did not see any lameness. I had my vet. our last Monday when they returned home for a thorough lameness examination. He also could not find any lameness. I believe it would have been a better decision for the judge to let her complete her test and then send them to the vet. to check for soundness. As I read the USEF Rule EV 134 8 there is no appeal against the dressage judges decision - on the other hand I don't believe the horse had a 'marked' lameness. These two dressage movements cost us $245 in entry and grounds fee plus all the other expenses entailed traveling from Va.



  2. #2
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    I'm sorry for that. That would really suck. IMO though the judge was probably playing it safe. With all the things surronding eventing right now I believe the dressage takes is going to make or break people in the higher levels. If a judge believes that this horse is possibly lame or tense or disobident then they have the right to DQ them so they don't injure themselves on Xcountry. Thats the way I understand the new wave in eventing. Which isn't all that bad but it does suck for just a little mishap to turn into DQ for nothing.
    Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole



  3. #3
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    That was a hasty decision. The movements completed could all have produced some tension in a horse/rider. The judge should have waited and confirmed her suspicion when she could see the horse traveling straight. Tense or disobedient does not get a DQ. If that were so, there would be no eventers.



  4. #4
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    May. 29, 2008
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    That sucks! I understand what your feeling. Happened to one of the riders in my barn. He was eliminated for lameness at the 1* in Virginia a couple of years ago. The mare was a little stiff because he insisted on riding her in a dressage saddle that didn't quite fit her. However there was a horse that was noticeably lame that was allowed to continue. It sucks, but I think it is a new trend to try and keep things safer.



  5. #5
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    Have you considered bringing this up with the organizer? Just a, "Hey, thought I'd let you know what happened."

    I did this once (different circumstances) years later when I became friendly with the organizer. She said she wished I'd talked to her at the time, as she had no idea of the incident, and would have done something to make it right.
    Blugal

    You never know what kind of obsessive compulsive crazy person you are until another person imitates your behaviour at a three-day. --Gry2Yng



  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Equibrit View Post
    Tense or disobedient does not get a DQ. If that were so, there would be no eventers.

    "Dogs give and give and give. Cats are the gift that keeps on grifting." –Bradley Trevor Greive



  7. #7
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    May. 12, 2008
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    Something similar happened to me many years ago at an unrecognized event. The dressage judge stopped my test and eliminated me for lameness. The vet for the show was an acquaintance of my trainer and stopped to say HI while she was watching my test. So at the time I was eliminated, the vet was watching the same thing (from a different angle) that the judge was watching and saw no lameness.

    My trainer talked to the TD, with the backing of the vet and I was allowed to continue. I had done about half the test so they scored it as if it were the full test, with no penalty points for the movements not accomplished. By that time the damage was done, though and no matter how many times my trainer assured me that my mare was not lame, I was worried.

    Cross country had two stops and stadium finally eliminated me over a scary rolltop that I was half afraid to 'convince' my mare was not scary due to possibly lameness (I tend to be a very worried mother...).

    I really appreciated the TDs efforts and would prefer the rule for one day events is that the judge send the competitor to a mandatory vet check instead of elimination - sometimes the ground is just uneven and the horse takes a mistep or gets a rock in their shoe or is a little tense....

    But rules are rules and we must abide by them.

    Then again, I got eliminated in stadium jumping at a recognized horse trials because my mare and I had a miscommunication which resulted in a refusal and rider fall. Elimination... In this area we usually do stadium before cross country and I was SO looking forward to that cross country round...I was SO upset!



  8. #8
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    Just a few months ago a girl from my barn was eliminated from the dressage ring for lameness. The judge whistled her in, explained the situation and asked her to trot one time around the outside of the arena so she could get one more look at the mare trotting. The horse was slightly off and they were excused. My point is that perhaps the judge could have waited just a minute more to see if it was a rein-lameness or just tension. Unless of course there was obvious lameness. But being that a vet watched the horse jog shortly after the test and found nothing it seems it may have just been some tension issues.



  9. #9
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    But from what I've read and understand that if a horse is disobedient and/or tense to a certain standard they can DQ them now because they don't deam them safe for jumping at that level. This is what I read in a mag. this winter and was said by David I believe. I'll have to find that article
    Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole



  10. #10
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    I fail to see how a judge could determine a horse was too lame or tense or disobedient to finish the event based on TWO dressage movements (down center line and one 10m circle) ~!



  11. #11
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    A judge can only see right then and there what is in the ring, and there's not much choice. The gaits need to be square - if not, they are required to eliminate. The horse's welfare is and should be paramount. I have never judged or scribed that a lame horse wasn't one hundred and ten percent obvious. The judge sees from the box, what you see from the side isn't the same view. It's their call, and that's as it should be. It's a competition and you present your horse to be judged for the competition; if they are not right to play that day, that's the judge's call and they are the "buck stops here" person for a reason. A vet can only examine after the fact. A vet does not "judge" a horse in competition (unless they are also a judge!
    It's still a tough call. I've been eliminated for lameness, (a flower pot blew over into the ring during the test, my horse spooked and grabbed a quarter, that was that) I think everyone who plays this game for a while has had a tough call. It's really for the horse, and if they are off, that's off - there is no gray area. A 10m circle and shoulder in are pretty quick indicators of squareness, too, unfortunately.
    "Passion, though a bad regulator, is a powerful spring." -- Emerson
    www.eventhorse.wordpress.com



  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by webmistress32 View Post
    I fail to see how a judge could determine a horse was too lame or tense or disobedient to finish the event based on TWO dressage movements (down center line and one 10m circle) ~!

    I don't know about tenseness, but I do think that lameness could easily be quite obvious within two movements. A horse doesn't need to be on three legs to determine lameness to me, and to any good judge who has some time as a horseman, and has gone thru a rigorous education program; gaits and movement are drilled into dressage judges.

    Also, don't forget, the judge is often watching on the warmup circle, too, and even tho you are not supposed to form opinions until entering the ring, many get a first impression from that warmup, altho I rarely get more than a quick glance or two since I am usually writing comments on the previous test.
    "Passion, though a bad regulator, is a powerful spring." -- Emerson
    www.eventhorse.wordpress.com



  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by retreadeventer View Post
    A judge can only see right then and there what is in the ring, and there's not much choice. The gaits need to be square - if not, they are required to eliminate. The horse's welfare is and should be paramount. I have never judged or scribed that a lame horse wasn't one hundred and ten percent obvious. The judge sees from the box, what you see from the side isn't the same view. It's their call, and that's as it should be. It's a competition and you present your horse to be judged for the competition; if they are not right to play that day, that's the judge's call and they are the "buck stops here" person for a reason. A vet can only examine after the fact. A vet does not "judge" a horse in competition (unless they are also a judge!
    It's still a tough call. I've been eliminated for lameness, (a flower pot blew over into the ring during the test, my horse spooked and grabbed a quarter, that was that) I think everyone who plays this game for a while has had a tough call. It's really for the horse, and if they are off, that's off - there is no gray area. A 10m circle and shoulder in are pretty quick indicators of squareness, too, unfortunately.
    What she said....but I would recommend that you have your vet watch the horse being ridden in the movement (10m circle) in the dressage saddle. Jogging in hand or lunging may not show what the judge saw.
    * <-- RR Certified Gold Star {) <-- RR Golden Croissant Award
    Training Tip of the Day: If you can’t beat your best competitor, buy his horse.
    NO! What was the question?



  14. #14
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    Default humm

    I think that the judge should have let the test go on and then recommend that they see the vet to be able to continue. I have seen a few "bridle lame" horses that really appear to be lame because they just dont want to do dressage that day and tensness is really tough, they could be a cool as a cucumber for jumping. At least let them finish the test is my opinion! As someone else said if it is for tensness there would be no one going on to jumping
    Cindy

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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Firefox View Post
    I think that the judge should have let the test go on and then recommend that they see the vet to be able to continue. I have seen a few "bridle lame" horses that really appear to be lame because they just dont want to do dressage that day and tensness is really tough, they could be a cool as a cucumber for jumping. At least let them finish the test is my opinion! As someone else said if it is for tensness there would be no one going on to jumping
    I agree. In the Old Dominion endurance ride a long time ago I was pulled by the vet and told my horse was lame, he let me go on with the consideration that he would pull me at the next check if she didn't get sound. At the next check she was totally sound and he let me go on. She never had another unsound step in her life.

    What if the horse stepped on a rock, spooked at something etc totally unfair IMO. Let her finish with the "you must see the vet" statement.
    RIP Kelly 1977-2007 "Wither thou goest, so shall I"

    "To tilt when you should withdraw is Knightly too."



  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Firefox View Post
    I think that the judge should have let the test go on and then recommend that they see the vet to be able to continue. I have seen a few "bridle lame" horses that really appear to be lame because they just dont want to do dressage that day and tensness is really tough, they could be a cool as a cucumber for jumping. At least let them finish the test is my opinion! As someone else said if it is for tensness there would be no one going on to jumping
    But strictly speaking that scenario is against the rules.....the rule (EV134.8) says:
    "In case of marked lameness, the judge at C, after consultation with the other judge(s) if appropriate, will inform the competitor that he is eliminated. There is no appeal against this decision." (By other judges they mean other dressage judges in the case of events that have more than one judge for the dressage test).

    Notice it says "WILL" inform the rider - not "may"; and "no appeal". The language here is rather stark and clear (unlike many other rules!). I think they want to make sure that the lameness is clearly evident and that there is a black and white decision that must be made on the spot. Also use of "marked lameness". To me that means a horse that is clearly not square - not even - not putting same amount of weight on each foot.

    If they wanted to allow the horse to continue, or if they wanted the benefit of the doubt to enter into it, the rules would say "after consultation with vet," etc. and they don't. I think they set it up this way to avoid that gray area of opinion, and the potential of letting a horse continue on in competition when they are not fit to do so.

    However, the question comes in on the "marked" part. I could see a tense horse being stiff and stepping funny in the shoulder-in, to avoid knocking themselves, but they should have been square at the trot on the entering center line or any other straight part of the test. If I were unsure, I would have let the horse continue to confirm my suspicion, or see if my eyes were tricking me. As a judge you can ring the bell anytime during the test, you have about four minutes to make up your mind. (And if you are watching the horse prior to its entering the ring, even longer actually). But the judge has to decide if it's marked lameness or not, no one else. (It does not sound like, in this case, the judge took a very long time to decide that.) Certainly I would give a horse that looked a little tense a bit more time simply to watch the footfalls and see the general attitude. Tail swishing, head bobbing, ears back, etc. also will let you know a horse is quite annoyed or unhappy or sore, not just the specific gaits. You know when a vet trots a horse off, they have far less than four minutes - more like 10 seconds -- to make an analysis on the gait. I think it's the dressage judges call all the way.

    And we all know a sore horse isn't going to get sound between dressage and the next scheduled test in the day without divine intervention or some very good imported painkillers.

    Sorry to go on so long but lameness to me is very important. I agonize over keeping my own horses as sound as I can. I have had organizers read me the riot act for belling lame horses at starter trials, fearing the loss of income from the stable of the rider, etc. and I've had to argue marked, three-legged lameness with parents and trainers. I'm from the school of "It's only a little lame" is sort of like only a little pregnant. I saw a horse fall with a kid once in stadium; a horse I SHOULD HAVE held my ground on in dressage, because it was tender in the corners and about half the test was not square. I belled her about 3/4-way thru, and an argument ensued. They let her ride again in front of another judge later. The horse's pastern let go on landing over a stadium jump. That organizer believes me now.

    At the recognized level I think you have to be less about "oh, let the kid go on and have fun" and more about raising the bar for awareness and keeping horses (and riders) safe and sound on a more critical, more discerning level. The stakes are higher.
    Last edited by retreadeventer; Feb. 21, 2009 at 10:43 AM. Reason: importance of knowing when a horse is lame
    "Passion, though a bad regulator, is a powerful spring." -- Emerson
    www.eventhorse.wordpress.com



  17. #17
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    A friend once had a horse (Novice level) stumble as he was entering at A. He took a handful of funny steps, and she was DQed before getting to X. She turned around and walked out of the arena--completely sound. I understand the logic, as did she--she was a good sport about the whole thing--but it was frustrating--who hasn't misstepped and taken two or three funny steps when really there's nothing wrong? If the horse hadn't obviously stumbled at A it would have been easy to understand. But give the horse a few strides to work out of it--at least let him get to X. In general I like the rule, but it is frustrating when it is misapplied.



  18. #18
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    It may well be that the dressage judge has a more sensitive, finely tuned "eye" for gaits & lameness than any veterinarian. I think relatively few veterinarians are as good at detecting lameness as some non-veterinarians I know.



  19. #19
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    Retread, I'm with you, with a caveat...

    If a horse looks a little lame/off on the centerline/turn/first circle (note I said a little lame) I don't think there is any harm in watching it go on for at least a few more movements for a more thorough examination. If it is just tension or a misstep it should clear within a few movements.

    Now, anyone who knows me will back up that I am all for the horse--no if's or but's about it, however, sometimes a horse coming into the ring changes with the footing, or steps on a rock, or hits itself, etc etc. If it is going to trot out of a sting in a few moments what is the harm with getting a better evaluation of it?

    If the horse is head bobbing lame the judge has no choice at all and must eliminate.

    I've had the misfortune to have a horse whack itself behind in a (regular) dressage test in half pass--the thing hopped off on 3 legs, I thought it was seriously injured and withdrew from the test. 3 minutes later he was fine, never had a bit of heat or swelling, etc, and we went on to show the rest of the weekend with good marks.

    Unless my horse was markedly lame I would be very annoyed at being pulled up the early in the test....

    I know that generally judges do the best they can with what they're watching, but I also think that it costs a bundle to go to a show and it doesn't hurt to give the competitor the benefit of the doubt and let the horse do at least a majority of the dressage test, if there is any ambiguity in the paces, completely sound, no question, head bobbing, no question, short strided, a few iffy steps, take another look.



  20. #20
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    At a dressage show- sure why not - at prelim level eventing - not so much. A few funny steps in the dressage ring may be the first indication that the horse has a subtle soundness problem, not so subtle by the end of the cross country. Would you want to be the judge that let that horse go on to injury itself or the rider on xc? No matter how how inconvenient, expensive or frustrating it is, I would be thankful that another pair of eyes is looking out for me, my kid, my friend.... if they were mistaken...so be it, nobody was injured. Especially after last year - it really needs to be about safety.
    * <-- RR Certified Gold Star {) <-- RR Golden Croissant Award
    Training Tip of the Day: If you can’t beat your best competitor, buy his horse.
    NO! What was the question?



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