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What do you hope for when paying for a judge's opinion?

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  • What do you hope for when paying for a judge's opinion?

    First off, we're assuming you're in front of a good judge, not one who appears off their meds that day. (I have only seen that once, I wasn't showing, and there was a protest filed which the rider won. All my judges have been great.) I'm also asking about comments, not scores.


    Would you rather see a test full of comments which are consistent with all you're working on, and show you're on the right track, feeling what really needs work, and know what's happening, or a test which has some insights into things you didn't already know?

    Personally, I prefer having a test which mostly agrees with all I know so I know I'm on the same wavelength as the judge, but then has a few comments I don't quite understand, so I have to learn about what the judge is saying, figure it out, and improve with regards to that. I love getting different perspectives, and have a trainer who highly encourages clinics for the reason she also believes different opinions and perspectives help you improve. So I always hope there will be a different perspective from a judge from which I can learn.

    This year I've been almost disappointed that I agreed with and already knew every single thing my judges have said in comments on my tests! (At the same time, I've felt it meant that I am correctly feeling the moments of crookedness, rushing, stiffness, lack of impulsioin, etc., so enjoyed knowing that the judges' comments seem to indicate I'm on the right path.)
    Originally posted by Silverbridge
    If you get anything on your Facebook feed about who is going to the Olympics in 2012 or guessing the outcome of Bush v Gore please start threads about those, too.

  • #2
    Neither option, specifically.

    What I really appreciate is comments that reflect the movement's directives. If judges are supposed to be evaluating what they see in the performance on that day, not giving scores that reflect the story they think they can recreate from what they are seeing, the score should be based on the basic rules and prioritized by the directives.

    For example, "tight in back" might well be true, and it's probably not something that's escaped my own notice, but "loose through the back" doesn't appear as a directive (at least not very often). Box after box of "tight in back" "tight in neck"** tells me that the judge doesn't feel like working very hard.

    True, judges are counseled against "giving a lesson" in a test, but I still hope for comments that are as varied as the movements and relevant to the actual test.

    *Note: This example does not come from my own competition experience. Judges do get into a groove and I think "I'd like a rubber stamp for that phrase" from time to time, but my experience is that they are more attentive than that, with one outstanding example of the opposite.
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    • #3
      What I really appreciate is comments that reflect the movement's directives. If judges are supposed to be evaluating what they see in the performance on that day, not giving scores that reflect the story they think they can recreate from what they are seeing, the score should be based on the basic rules and prioritized by the directives.
      amen!

      What do you expect at a schooling show? I have been noticing some of the judges talking a lot to the competitors, giving pointers etc...which in some case has the rings running up to an hour behind by late morning.
      Humans don’t mind duress, in fact they thrive on it. What they mind is not feeling necessary. –Sebastian Junger

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      • #4
        Originally posted by AllWeatherGal View Post
        For example, "tight in back" might well be true, and it's probably not something that's escaped my own notice, but "loose through the back" doesn't appear as a directive (at least not very often). Box after box of "tight in back" "tight in neck"** tells me that the judge doesn't feel like working very hard.
        Did you see my TL2 score sheet from Saturday?
        Literally, it said "tight in back" FOURTEEN TIMES. There were 4 other unrelated comments.

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        • #5
          Honestly that all four hooves of the horse stay in the ring until directed otherwise and a lot less cute comments. Yes I know DD is adorable on the pony but was the pony straight? Were the transitions where they should be? Was that an oval, egg, square or circle? Were her hands up in her face that noticeable? Was the kicking madly while the pony pees appreciated for trying to get the pony forward? I personally deplore the high ho silver salute and though I couldn't disqualify her I would comment rearing does not exactly exude obedience. Sorry, we've got a show this weekend and I'm a bit panicky...
          Adoring fan of A Fine Romance
          Originally Posted by alicen:
          What serious breeder would think that a horse at that performance level is push button? Even so, that's still a lot of buttons to push.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Paddys Mom View Post
            Did you see my TL2 score sheet from Saturday?
            Literally, it said "tight in back" FOURTEEN TIMES. There were 4 other unrelated comments.
            Years ago (I don't really want to count them or think about how young and inexperienced I was--it's depressing) I had a test where I was riding with my hands higher. Not in my face, nor in my stomach, but about three inches higher than they really should have been. Okay, so it was wrong. We all know that. But if you look at the pics, it really wasn't terribly upsetting to my horse and he wasn't curled up or sucked back, etc. It was only something like First Level (beginning of his career).

            The judge (who BTW was never invited back again and everyone left the show early ), could not stop obsessing over them. Every single movement she had a comment "hands too high" and nothing else. Seriously? If you give me a 5 (the reason people left is that winning scores at Training and First were generally around 50%, when all other judges would have been giving scores at least around 60% for those same winning rides) you really owe me a better explanation than my hands are too high and it's driving you friggin' batty.

            She was pretty high up on the list of the worst judges I've had the misfortune of riding in front of at a show. I really don't care about the overall scores--I was actually placed correctly, I just would like to know if she felt my hands were causing the horse to curl, suck back, etc. Just obsessing over them being too high was not good judging. She could have creamed me in the rider score and pointed it out as a reason for something else my horse was doing during the test. THAT would have meant something and would have shown good judging skills in the comments.

            They don't need to give you a lesson on a test, but I do believe they are responsible for helping you figure out what your HORSE is doing right/wrong and then what you are doing that's adding to the problem. (Example would be if the rider has the legs shot out in front and the horse is being driven to the forehand. They could point that flaw out and the connection between the two. Or if the rider is bouncing and the horse is hollow--so they get killed on throughness, etc.)
            "And I'm thinking you weren't burdened with an overabundance of schooling." - Capt Reynolds "Firefly"

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            • #7
              THE most important thing a judge can do is tell you what IS there, and then what is MISSING. Ideally with positive first and negative second: (making this up) ie case one: balanced three beat canter & correct bend, sl loss of attention: 9 OR ie three beat, counter bended at end: 6, OR correct bend but four beat canter:4

              And for those that said the judge does not have time, we do. (Kills the writer however....)

              Things like hands too high might be noted throughout or in the general impressions, but it is really only important as to what effect is (is the horse closing the throatlatch or dropping the neck) or is the rider jerking the horse upward? It has to be judged by ACTION/REACTION.

              Tight in the back imho a USELESS comment, although it might effect submission/impulsion/gaits. The question is what is the IMPACT of that? Short strides? Hollowing? What. I agree, NOT enough information.

              The rider SHOULD be able to just about guess the score, the question is they know the reasoning behind them.
              I.D.E.A. yoda

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              • Original Poster

                #8
                Tenseness and tightness in the back are THE #1 problem I have with my horse at shows - and I have definitely never seen it overused in tests. I've always had comments relative to the current movement, so I didn't even think of that as a possibility, that you would need comments relative to movements!

                The tightness was noted in cumulative for impulsion and submission in different tests, and lack of relaxation at stretches. The resulting crookedness was noted where that happened, the lack of lengthening, less balanced canter during counter canter, etc. - all things relative to the movements, caused by his tension, were mentioned. I would expect all of that from any judge referred to as a good judge, but hope for more beyond that... And get it, just not necessarily anything which enlightens me! (Though the judge I spoke w/ after a show gave me some good imagery to help try to remain soft even when my horse is misbehaving, as his misbehavior is pretty much a show-only problem.)
                Originally posted by Silverbridge
                If you get anything on your Facebook feed about who is going to the Olympics in 2012 or guessing the outcome of Bush v Gore please start threads about those, too.

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                • #9
                  That is a very good question.

                  I have to say, I really look forward to seeing the judges general comments on the back first. It's always encouraging when the judge says something positive (even if it's "nice turnout, or "cute horse" or "obviously a bad day, but keep up the hard work" etcetc ), no matter what the actual score was. I had a few "capable combo" type comments that helped me be less self-critical and more constructive in evaluating a test performance.

                  When I showed third level last year, I got "canter needs more jump for higher scores" fairly consistently. This elevated my work from learning to be exact at Third to trying to make Third more expressive.

                  I've also had a comment that started with "I'm sorry, but..." Uh, don't be sorry, just tell me what I need to improve, please.


                  As for the individual marks, it is true that often you kinda know what you should get and why, and it's nice to see that confirmed or a new dimension added.

                  Last year was my first real season of showing and the thing that surprised me most is that the difference in score between a test that I thought/felt was rather poor and one that I thought rather wonderful was minimal -- only 2-3 percentage points.

                  I am lucky to be able to fairly regularly clinic with an I judge, and she looks at my score sheets and offers opinions on the comments vs. the mark. For example a clean change in the right spot at 3rd level, even if it's not completely "through" would be a 6 since it's the first time changes are required. Yet I have received disappointing 5s for that as well.

                  I think the one thing to keep in mind is what said judge told me: The score is only an opinion of one person of 5 minutes in the relationship between you and your horse. How's that for perspective!
                  "Reite dein Pferd vorwärts und richte es gerade.” Gustav Steinbrecht

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                  • #10
                    To respond to this question I went back and read my score sheets from every ride I did last year. What I appreciate about the comments is that they accurately reflected what was going on for each element of the test. If I had a video of each test, I could watch the video and read the comments and know exactly what was right/wrong about each element. As it is, I can read the comments and almost feel how the test went all over again. (This has both its good and bad points - some tests were pretty, ah, *rough* shall we say! Not sure I really want to relive some of those moments!)

                    I especially appreciated this because I was green, horse was green last year and there was *so* much to work on that I don't think I could have accurately remembered what I did or didn't do (right or wrong) for each test unless I had the score sheets.

                    This year, I hope to get some new comments because I hope we are on the road to working out some of the old problems. New comments = new progress.

                    So, I hope for complete, meaningful, accurate, helpful. So far, so good on that count.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Bogey2 View Post
                      What do you expect at a schooling show? I have been noticing some of the judges talking a lot to the competitors, giving pointers etc...which in some case has the rings running up to an hour behind by late morning.
                      I expect a schooling show to run much like a "regular" show with relaxed attire and no ribbons or prizes.

                      It is the judge's responsibility to ensure that he/she stays on time and the show management's responsibility to ensure that timing is appropriately scheduled.

                      What you are describing is my idea of a "competition clinic" in which tests are scheduled to include discussion and mini-lesson time for a fee that takes the extra time into consideration.

                      Originally posted by Paddys Mom View Post
                      Did you see my TL2 score sheet from Saturday?
                      Literally, it said "tight in back" FOURTEEN TIMES. There were 4 other unrelated comments.
                      I didn't see your test, but I've seen the type Please take the time to complete a competition form that gives accurate feedback on the experience AND tell the show management that you won't ride for that judge again (if you really won't).
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                      • #12
                        My favorite was not written on my score sheet but was said directly to me! I was at a very nice schooling show at a well respected barn. I was riding a friends horse for her and we had an awesome test. We were the last ride of that division. After we finished our test I was brimming with joy at how well he did. The judge motioned to me as she wanted to give me a couple comments. She told me that my ride was wonderful, looked great, blah blah blah....BUT.......I was riding a morgan and she just didn't like them, therefore I would receive a low score. Any other breed and my score would have been much higher!

                        Seriously!!!!!!!!!!

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by CatPS
                          One that I got SO tired of seeing with my green QH at Intro & Training was "Hollow but obedient." Yeah, yeah... I get it. That's exactly why we're at a SCHOOLING SHOW!! Plus, telling me I had a hollow transition at Intro is not exactly helpful. If all our work is supple and obedient, I'm going to be moving up a level!

                          I do like getting helpful comments on the geometry... often a little tweak there can have a big impact on fixing bend and overall flow. I also really like to get comments on the straightness of my centerlines and square halts. Sometimes it's hard to know how these things actually look from the judge's perspective. Otherwise, just comments that speak to the directives.
                          Sorry, but you really are missing the point of showing if this is how you feel/think. You're stating that you don't like the helpful comment that your horse is hollow, thus the reason your score is low on the transition? This should make you want to go home and fix the problem--working on you and the horse to no longer have these issues appear in the show ring.

                          Comments on geometry? Seriously? You should have these down solid before showing at any level.

                          And then saying that you only want comments that speak to the directives? Yeah, well, the directives are for the movement and the horse should be soft and obedient in ALL your movements. A hollow horse is not soft and obedient. Schooling show or recognized. You are at a schooling show only due to money constraints or because your horse is green and needs to see more, but the horse SHOULD be trained enough to maintain it's head and be obedient and supple through the majority of the test.

                          This attitude (you're currently the poster child after your post...not saying it's only you ) speaks volumes for the reason so many people are getting such low scores at shows in the US. No home work. No real understanding of what dressage is, where it starts and where you hope to finish.

                          It's more about, "I just want to show because it looks like fun and I am sure I can get a ribbon!" Showing should be about putting yourself out there against the best you can find, that is training at the same level as your horse, and then see where you stack up and what you're missing/need to improve.

                          I'm really lost as to why this generation bothers to show and doesn't just buy ribbons to hang on their stalls. I mean, those sorts of comments help you LEARN how to get better scores. Showing and dismissing it by saying it doesn't fit what you think of showing is throwing the baby out with the bath water.
                          "And I'm thinking you weren't burdened with an overabundance of schooling." - Capt Reynolds "Firefly"

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                          • #14
                            I was with ya till

                            The damn generation comment. Just because my generation wasn't yours does not mean anything other than age. It's YOUR Generations JOB to make me appreciate the hard work, sacrifices, etc it took to become a good rider. If I go to the show and expect a ribbon that's YOUR fault for raising me that way either by example or bragging rights in between the up the hill in the snow what started out as 5 miles turns into 15 before I'm 20 BS. Or the back in my day we rode out and captured our ponies in the morning and were at Rolex that day.

                            Exactly how is it my fault the judge gave my child a ribbon for a pony that left the ring and should have been disqualified when it's YOUR Generation that's judging her? Are you afraid I won't agree with you? Are you really that afraid of being lynched by a bunch of women in floppy hats and flip flops after a lead line class? (Pure speculation here MY child would not actually be on a pony that would dare leave the ring without permission. Nor would I personally wear a floppy hat or flip flops near a horse. That's another thread entirely.)

                            So in the future would you PLEASE disqualify the child on the runaway pony, the high ho silver wanna be and suggest the high headed hollow backed quarter horse to maybe drop her hands before she gives herself a bloody nose instead of giving them ribbons? Pretty Please?
                            Adoring fan of A Fine Romance
                            Originally Posted by alicen:
                            What serious breeder would think that a horse at that performance level is push button? Even so, that's still a lot of buttons to push.

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                            • #15
                              And here is why a great instructor/trainer is so important to competitors -- to help interpret things in real time.

                              leila ... I sure hope you told the judge and the show management about your concern. I have been with judges who have scored kids very low, not because of runaway (yet) but stiffness, lack of bend, bla bla ... the basics, that just weren't there. And the judges worried that the kids would be upset and not get the help they needed understanding what/what.

                              Cat ... "Hollow transition" in a single box at Intro does tell you what the judge saw and actually IS right in line with the directives which, by a quick look at Intro A, indicate that "willing and balanced" is called for. Hollow is a symptom of unbalance.

                              In case I wasn't clear in my post, my complaint is about the SAME/identical comment box after box.

                              Judges are firmly counseled AGAINST giving lessons on tests, so they are limited by their guidance on how "helpful" they can be.

                              That's why you have (or need to have) an instructor -- to help you understand that hollow is a symptom of lack of balance and how to improve your horse's balance so he (?) doesn't become hollow in transitions.

                              The remark about arrogant, obnoxious people ... well ... many of those apparently arrogant, obnoxious people are simply introverts and an awful lot of them are frickin AWESOME riders who have a lot to share if we ask and listen.
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                              • #16
                                My reason

                                I'm not big into showing but have started doing a few schooling shows. I do it NOT to compare myself and my horse with others competing at that level. I'm not really even doing it to see where we need to improve because I know there is a ton to improve on. (eventually this will be a goal of schooling shows) I do it because I have done everything I can think of to expose my homebred to new things and I think we both need to now get exposure to the showing atmosphere, me to help me with my concentration away from home and her for the same reason. We've done training barns, trail rides, sensory clinics, etc but none of them really approximate the showing atmosphere.

                                We've done a grand total of one schooling show. The judge was on with her comments and scores but I pretty much knew what we did wrong before getting them back. She absolutely should have made those comments. That said, it may have been helpful to know if we did anything right.
                                Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Goethe

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                                • #17
                                  After I rescued the runaway child on the pony. Lord knows her momma was useless standing there squawking worse than a parrot I handed her the name and number of DD's trainer. Hi Ho Silver ugh.... unfortunately that child is the daughter of someone (No idea who) important. Thankfully we only deal with her at a few shows. I did complain to the show secretary on the hollow backed QH and she was not competing against DD. I DO LOVE the judges we get for most of the shows because they are fair, consistent, and really do a wonderful job. I also audit a fair amount of the clinics with these judges because they are really good. Mind you I'm not a trainer simply a mom trying to understand the system. I'd put my trainer against most of the BNT but she only sees DD once or twice a week and I see her every day and can reinforce the work and be more helpful for the homework we get between lessons. DD shows because she enjoys it and for her it is a competition against herself to get a better score than last time. If she gets a ribbon great, if not she usually knows why and congratulates the ones that did get ribbons. Nothing makes me happier than seeing the girls discuss their tests and trying to figure out why they got a 6 on the walk there but a 7 on the walk here.
                                  Adoring fan of A Fine Romance
                                  Originally Posted by alicen:
                                  What serious breeder would think that a horse at that performance level is push button? Even so, that's still a lot of buttons to push.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by NightBefore View Post
                                    My favorite was not written on my score sheet but was said directly to me! I was at a very nice schooling show at a well respected barn. I was riding a friends horse for her and we had an awesome test. We were the last ride of that division. After we finished our test I was brimming with joy at how well he did. The judge motioned to me as she wanted to give me a couple comments. She told me that my ride was wonderful, looked great, blah blah blah....BUT.......I was riding a morgan and she just didn't like them, therefore I would receive a low score. Any other breed and my score would have been much higher!

                                    Seriously!!!!!!!!!!
                                    That is just wrong! I hope you told the organizers. I definitely wouldn't ride for a judge who said that (I have Morgans, too!).

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                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by NightBefore View Post
                                      My favorite was not written on my score sheet but was said directly to me! I was at a very nice schooling show at a well respected barn. I was riding a friends horse for her and we had an awesome test. We were the last ride of that division. After we finished our test I was brimming with joy at how well he did. The judge motioned to me as she wanted to give me a couple comments. She told me that my ride was wonderful, looked great, blah blah blah....BUT.......I was riding a morgan and she just didn't like them, therefore I would receive a low score. Any other breed and my score would have been much higher!

                                      Seriously!!!!!!!!!!
                                      Whaaaaat???? Oh man, somebody would have gotten a blistering letter about that!

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                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by NightBefore View Post
                                        My favorite was not written on my score sheet but was said directly to me! I was at a very nice schooling show ... <snip> ... she just didn't like them, therefore I would receive a low score. Any other breed and my score would have been much higher!
                                        This is why I think there is a world of difference between a judge and a Judge. I may be going out on a limb here, I just cannot believe that any USEF licensed judge would say that.
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