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  1. #1
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    Default Are we judged too 'soft' in the US?

    After reading people's replies to the Boekelo grant thread I was staring to wonder about the scoring here in NA. And as luck would have it I spent some time yesterday with a friend who scribed for the CIC*** at Plantation recently. So we got to talking and she shared her insights from scribing. At Plantation the judge, who has judged at the Olympics before, and she were talking about the increase in the severity of their marks versus what the riders are "used to" seeing all year.

    She mentioned that the competitors were given more than a few 0's and plenty of digits below 4. Why? Because the judge believes that the US riders are way too much in the horse's mouth and not nearly enough creating the energy and true submission from behind. Additionally she mentioned that many many riders were not nearly as accurate about transition locations, lateral work and corners as they should be.

    So my question becomes.... Have we created our own problems by "local" judges not scoring fairly against what a horse and rider actually perform? If you're on a Courageous Comet like mover, but aren't accurate, do you still deserve a 70%?
    If you're accurate but your horse isn't a fantastic mover should you be relegated to the middle of the pack or lower? If you've been on a team before should you get the "USET award points?"

    Thoughts???

    ~Emily
    "Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all." ~2001 The Princess Diaries



  2. #2
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    I was aways taught that accuracy was far more important than flashy movement. It is where you could "make up points". I still believe that. Flash is just the icing on the cake. Not all horses are going to have that wow factor, either by being born with it or having it developed. Accuracy, should always be rewarded above anything else.



  3. #3
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    I think the answer to your question is yes. It is simply evident by looking at the scores at home versus the scores in international competition. What I've been wondering is whether this is due to the judges being hired? I thought at FEI competitions that you had to have some international judges - so I'm confused by how the North American riders could have such score discrepancies. Are the "international" judges actually based in North America?

    Having said that, I agree in principle with snoopy. Accuracy and correctness should be rewarded more than flashy movement. Headley Britannia won three 4* with her sewing-machine trot, after all. But these days, if you want a top placing, you will be competing against good movers ridden to their best by top riders. Better bring your A game
    Blugal

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



  4. #4
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    Default

    Simply put, yes. Not having the privilege of being on the east coast, I'm an avid EN watcher for the videos. I am always disappointed at the scores I see given out for inaccurate riding and horses behind the vertical.

    I'm also a product from the school of thought that accuracy is more important than flash. It seems our judges are not from that school. While I think it truly does our riders a disservice, I also think think as top class riders, they should be held accountable as well.

    I would think that the difference in dressage quality is something that should be blatantly apparent to our riders. While I am not even close to being a world class rider, I always watch video of dressage (and the other phases) of our sport's top events... and it's apparent to me. Why not to them? If it is and the quality hasn't improved, why?

    Are our riders/coaches not watching video of the greats and comparing them to video of themselves? The difference in quality should be apparent, despite what a judge says... it's such an inexpensive tool to use and is so valuable.

    Is video utilized or not? I don't have any inside knowledge, so I can't say. That's just the obvious way to make changes to me. Grant it, I'm a simpleton.
    You know you're a horse person when your mother, who has no grandchildren, gets cards addressed to Grandma, signed by the horses, cats, and dogs.



  5. #5
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    Default

    For several years straight dressage tests (and judges) rewarded movement. Your 8 mover started every score with an 8 - and went up or down from there. Your 6 mover starts with a 6. This oozed over to the event judging. The straight D tests have moved back away from this - no more do you get double points for your fabulous extended trot of which there are 3 in the test. The double scores are on things like transitions and the stretchy circle (and still on the free walk) so your 6 mover can have a perfect transition, get an 8 and double it.

    This hasn't really come over to the eventing yet - at Novice the only double score is the free walk - in USDF Training test 2, you have 2 other opportunities for non-gait related double scores. It's also easier, I think, to hide tension when the horse is a big elastic mover, than when it's got a little choppy track trot.



  6. #6
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    Default

    Well, I am obviously showing under the wrong judges, LOL! Yes, we know which ones are more generous then others, but when I walk out of the ring, I know what I did right and wrong and overall, I feel the scores have been a fair reflection of such. Most of the time, I also DO see a correct and accurately ridden test score better than a flashy but less accurate test.



  7. #7
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    Default

    Just look at the scores that Mystery Whisper got in the US and the score that he got in the Olympics.
    "I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay."
    Thread killer Extraordinaire



  8. #8
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    Show jumping is our biggest problem internationally, and that, at least partially, has to do with fitness and scope.
    "Passion, though a bad regulator, is a powerful spring." -- Emerson
    www.eventhorse.wordpress.com



  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by vineyridge View Post
    Just look at the scores that Mystery Whisper got in the US and the score that he got in the Olympics.
    He didn't have as good of a test at the Olympics as I've seen him have before.

    Really...I think it depends on the Judge. But when you are riding in front off a large R or S judge as they are at most UL events....I do not think we are judged softly.

    I've not seen or heard from a rider who came out of their dressage test in an international competition thinking they should have scored higher other than Boyd in the Olympics....and I agree with him. I think his test scored lower because he was first up.
    ** The difference between genius and stupidity is genius has its limits. -- Albert Einstein **



  10. #10
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by wildlifer View Post
    Well, I am obviously showing under the wrong judges, LOL! Yes, we know which ones are more generous then others, but when I walk out of the ring, I know what I did right and wrong and overall, I feel the scores have been a fair reflection of such. Most of the time, I also DO see a correct and accurately ridden test score better than a flashy but less accurate test.
    Ha! I had the same thought!

    I agree, though, that it depends on the judge. I've watched a few LL tests this year that scored ridiculously well, but just weren't THAT good (pleasant, correct, and accurate, but not in the teens good). But I've also watched and ridden lots of tests that I think get scored harshly. I was quite surprised by my score yesterday. I rode a fairly consistent and accurate test, but got a little tension as it went on (which I blame on the fact that we circled the ring for ages and my horse went from floppy eared relaxed, then bored, then a little tired, and finally to pissy. Gee...thanks, judge). I figured mid to high 30s and got a 43. Granted, I didn't pick up my test to see the comments (by the end of the day, I just DID. NOT. CARE.), but was still surprised (the whole division was scored harshly, though. I was not DFL, which is often where I would end up with a score like that at prelim, but mid pack).

    Anyway, I just think it depends. Our big CCIs and CICs don't have winning scores that compare to winning scores overseas (unless they are led by someone from overseas). So, I don't think the judging, at least at the FEI level, is inaccurate. I just think we get a little blind to what is REALLY competitive internationally.

    Nationally, though, I think judging often times sucks.



  11. #11
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    I think there are a couple separate issues here.

    IMO it doesn't really matter at a HT if the dressage winner scores a 23 or a 38 (and I am almost always 10 points behind that . . .) if the horses are ranked correctly. I do see that the lower and/or more condensed the scores, the lower the dressage is weighted vs. the jumping phases (sort of like the dressage coefficient discussion) but that is so hard to police. As long as people are getting the correct feedback, I don't think it matters if their scores abroad are higher (if in fact they are).

    On the other hand, if we are rewarding the wrong thing (say, flash over training), then that could create more of a systemic problem, as people are selecting and training horses based to some degree on their event results. So, if we are buying the wrong horses, or training incorrectly to win in the US and then losing abroad, our judging/training might be in part to blame.



  12. #12
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    Two thoughts from the UK. I think it is crucial that the dressage element in eventing is just that: one element out of three. As such, an eventing horse, first and foremost, needs to be able to gallop and jump. The dressage is about solid basic training and that can be added on to an average horse. Therefore, I feel it is a mistake to assess an eventer on a dressage 'wow' factor.

    Second, it is really difficult to judge a small field fairly. In the UK the number of runners at most events is in the 100s. Even 4* are balloted. That just makes it easier for everyone (judges, trainers, competitors, selectors) to assess how far along the horses and riders are in their progress towards the top.

    How to fix the perceived problem in scoring? Maybe the guidelines for judges need to be re-confirmed so they recognise the difference between 'pure' dressage and eventing dressage. The demands on the horse is not the same, even if the basic principles - correct schooling - are common to both.

    One reason for the improvement in eventing dressage is the professionalism of the modern sport. More of it happening and better horses running.



  13. #13
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    Default

    To the initial question, I have to say "yes!"...particularly at the higher levels, I think the judging is too soft over here compared to Europe.

    I am sure I've ranted about this before, but it stands to reason that EVERY time we go across the pond for any competition, our dressage scores are significantly lower than everyone else's AND significantly lower than what the same pairs are scoring here.

    So...what to do?

    Not that I have all the answers, but I'll say what I always say...our eventers need to learn to ride REAL dressage! This idea that there is a big difference between Eventing Dressage and Straight Dressage is bogus.

    Obviously at the Olympics, they are running at very different levels...3rd-ish vs GP...but that doesn't mean that the QUALITY of the 3rd-ish level dressage in the eventing competition should be less than what you would see in a quality 3rd level pair at say, a CDI. These are still Olympic horses, albeit at a lower level, and the quality of their training and the tests they produce should be on par with a winning 3rd level horse at a big show!

    Unfortunately, with few exceptions, in our country the upper level event riders (and really, the whole eventing community) have taken the view that embracing and learning to ride true, correct dressage will somehow diminish our ability to run and jump over large solid obstacles...I call BS on this!

    I don't think that the "fanciness" of the movement should be a determining factor in the scoring, but SURELY the relaxation, swing, connection, throughness, accuracy and correctness of the overall connection SHOULD be the thing that makes the difference!?

    This is a product of CORRECT dressage TRAINING, not fancy gaits, and not because your horse shouldn't be an XC machine...until we grasp and pursue the idea that an amazing XC horse can ALSO be a lovely dressage horse--and until our riders CHOOSE to learn to ride and train that way on the flat, we will continue to have our butts handed to us on the first day. And while, yes, it is just one of 3 phases...it is the ONLY phase in which we can gain points rather than just lose them through errors...

    OK...rant over

    Just to note, some examples of upper level riders who ride better than average dressage...Clark Montgomery, Sinead Halpin, maybe Becky Holder (need to go watch some video)...the best one we sent to London was Will Coleman...compare any of our riders tests to Michael Jung, Ingrid Klimke, or William Fox-Pitt...
    TPR!
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by echodecker View Post
    I think the judging is too soft over here compared to Europe.

    our eventers need to learn to ride REAL dressage@! This idea that there is a big difference between Eventing Dressage and Straight Dressage is bogus.


    CORRECT dressage TRAINING, not fancy gaits, and not because your horse shouldn't be an XC machine

    until we grasp and pursue the idea that an amazing XC horse can ALSO be a lovely dressage horse--and until our riders CHOOSE to learn to ride and train that way on the flat, we will continue to have our butts handed to us on the first day. And while, yes, it is just one of 3 phases...it is the ONLY phase in which we can gain points rather than just lose them through errors...
    (bolding mine) and I agree, agree, agree

    I'm a dressage rider with an eventing background, and I'm an avid eventing fan.

    My personal feeling is that in the US now, we have good riders on flashy, big-moving horses, and we hope to start out with a great dressage score and move onward from there. What we end up with is decent (sometimes) dressage scores, which are lost on the xc or in the rails in stadium. And then of course, even a very nice horse can get a completely mediocre score in dressage due to the riding or just being off that day. I don't think this approach is smart.

    What I'd like to see instead is real jumping horses, cross-country horses, and teaching their RIDERS to ride and train VERY GOOD dressage.

    We've seen time and time again, how riders like Dibowski, Ostholt, Jung et al. can ride a LETTER PERFECT dressage test on a less-flashy horse, and then show the HORSE'S real prowess over the jumps.

    Our riders just need better dressage foundations. And they need JUMPERS underneath them. IMO, the US has gone the opposite direction since the introduction of the short format. It's wrong-headed, it doesn't work, and it shows in the results.
    In order to think outside the box, one must first know what is in the box.



  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kadenz View Post
    My personal feeling is that in the US now, we have good riders on flashy, big-moving horses, and we hope to start out with a great dressage score and move onward from there. What we end up with is decent (sometimes) dressage scores, which are lost on the xc or in the rails in stadium. And then of course, even a very nice horse can get a completely mediocre score in dressage due to the riding or just being off that day. I don't think this approach is smart.

    What I'd like to see instead is real jumping horses, cross-country horses, and teaching their RIDERS to ride and train VERY GOOD dressage.
    I very much agree! This is what I've been trying to say, but am not sure if I've been clear! We are trying to do well on Day 1 with good movers and then crying b/c they aren't the best XC horses. So then people say...you have to get a good jumping horse, so your Dressage will suffer...

    The REAL situation is that we don't know how to train GOOD dressage, so we are hoping to get by on the horses talents instead of learning to ride and train them correctly on the flat and let their jumping talents shine...
    Last edited by echodecker; Oct. 15, 2012 at 02:23 PM.
    TPR!
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    www.goodhorse.org



  16. #16
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    I totally agree with Echodecker and Kadenz that basic dressage is essential.

    In terms of the judging - be fair to the horse and what it is aiming to do. It is not presently possible to equate a pure dressage horse with an eventer. Different job, different horse BUT absolutely the same basic principles in the dressage. The riders, however, should be able to turn in a good test.

    There is a good deal of comment from judges here in the UK that top level event riders have reached a level standard with the top dressage riders. Ruth Edge as an example http://www.ruthedge.com/

    Is it now show jumping that is becoming more influential? This seems to be where competitions are now won or lost. Burghley comes to mind.



  17. #17
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    I think that SJ is becoming much more influential at the top levels (for those riders who have already mastered the good dressage training and riding required to be on top on Day 3).

    However, in the US, I think that we are still stuck in the start box (so to speak), having not yet embraced the level and quality of dressage riding/training we need to get into the Top 10 on Day 1 or Day 3...so our ability to ride clear on SJ is inconsequential...
    TPR!
    Thoroughbred Placement Resources, Inc
    www.goodhorse.org



  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by echodecker View Post
    The REAL situation is that we don't know how to train GOOD dressage, so we are hoping to get by on the horses talents instead of learning to ride and train them correctly on the flat and let their jumping talents shine...
    Yes, exactly. I completely agree.
    In order to think outside the box, one must first know what is in the box.



  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Willesdon View Post
    In terms of the judging - be fair to the horse and what it is aiming to do. It is not presently possible to equate a pure dressage horse with an eventer. Different job, different horse BUT absolutely the same basic principles in the dressage. The riders, however, should be able to turn in a good test.
    The 4* dressage test is pretty trying - it's like the nastiest of 2nd Level, plus single flying changes and halfpass. It's honestly a true test of a horse and rider. Sinead Halpin's test at Burghley showed that, although a very technical test, it can be beautiful to watch. Her counter-canter work in that test absolutely, positively rivals the BEST 2nd and 3rd Level dressage horses in the nation.

    What we should NOT expect (and the tests do NOT call for it) is Grand Prix-level engagement, collection, and throughness, in what is essentially a 3rd(ish) Level test. We (and I'll say it's judges as well as riders and trainers) seem to be looking for an FEI dressage-potential horse, and I believe that's unwarranted, even/especially at Advanced eventing.

    We need to stop looking for an FEI-dressage potential horse and hoping we can teach it to jump. Other way around: any horse athletic enough to jump around a 4* xc course can manage the dressage, under a good rider.
    In order to think outside the box, one must first know what is in the box.



  20. #20
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    On this, I speak for complete ignorance and would like to learn.

    I've been reading the dressage rules and have some questions.

    In pure dressage, the "quality of the gait" is at least 50% of what each gait is judged on in each movement that judges a gait. Gaits also have their own separate collective score, as does impulsion. The wording in the USEF Eventing dressage tests is identical to the wording in the Real Dressage tests.

    How does the judge separate the judging points for the collectives from the judging points for movements that call for judging the quality of the gait?
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