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We Must Trust Our Judges (COTH Article)

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  • We Must Trust Our Judges (COTH Article)

    Okay, so I read the editorial/article that is so grandly titled "We Must Trust Our Judges." (Link: http://chronofhorse.com/article/we-m...ust-our-judges ) Seriously?

    First, Anne addresses mostly international judging. Really not a big problem for most people competing in dressage--since most are not at the international level. Her point on people just watching the score board couldn't be more wrong. Maybe there are some, and maybe she hangs out with them, but if I'm watching an international competition I don't care about the scores until the very end.

    Should we be critical of judges? Heck yes! It smacks of saying we should trust our elected officials (which I've seen a lot of lately--welcome to the USA reich). At least here in the USA we need to make sure we keep on top of those who are in a position of authority. We need to question their ability and their honesty (i.e., keep them honest with certain checks and balances).

    We put these people in a position of authority. They need to be monitored because history has proven that absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely.

    A point she makes that each competitor comes into the ring with a 10 in their pocket and is scored down from there is probably true--at the international level. Here in the US, they all hover around 5 and creep up only when necessary, and are also often not punitive enough in their scoring when it is deserved. Honestly, the older judges that I recall tended to end with a higher range of numbers/percentages in some classes, depending on the skill of the horses and riders. They weren't afraid of the low or the high scores. These days, if you don't stick to the middle you won't be hired back.

    The judges need to be watched and they need to be BOLD in their scoring. We need a way to ensure that the really good ones are promoted (which is one thing I agree with in the article). But I do find it terribly interesting that she also points to the old judges and says that like the good old ones, we need to get our competitors on the path to judging. Um, really? I recall when people who were national and international judges were NOT great competitors. They had some experience, but they were not always the best. The best do NOT always make good judges. As great riders are not always good instructors.

    We need to work with those who have a great eye, a bold personality (ones who won't fold at the first hint of unhappiness from a competitor or show management--if they know their absolutely right they need to stand by it and sink or swim), and not necessarily those who have the best scores or are willing to suck up to USEF officials to get that special pass to the inner sanctum. Using politics is wrong. Using simply a riders scores as a way to gauge judging ability is wrong. We need to take an approach where we view not only those who are uber successful as riders, but those who have some modest success and a great eye. Those who don't go out and party or kiss a** to get the currently requisite recommendations to become a judge. We need people who have a good eye, a desire to help the riders and who have a strong sense of fairness.

    These are not impossible to find. We need to stop homogonizing the judging, too, by telling them we're looking for a median or people who follow the crowd when the crowd is DEAD WRONG. Horses BTV through an entire test are wrong. It's almost as bad as the peanut rollers at AQHA shows who are doing hunt seat and winning. They are fighting an uphill battle to get judges back to following the directives, but it's really hard. We need to back our judges who DO follow the directives of dressage and yet, we are not to blindly follow them all. We need to review the judges. Educate them. And look outside the show ring for them (as well as in the show ring). I've known people who have physical issues and cannot get the scores, but have a dam* good eye and would make great judges--as they are already great teachers. (These are people who have trained students to the upper levels of dressage and used to be able to ride but no longer can and haven't been able to for years--long before the scores were tracked in a database.)

    Okay, that's JMO.
    "And I'm thinking you weren't burdened with an overabundance of schooling." - Capt Reynolds "Firefly"
  • Original Poster

    #2
    11 views and no comments. Hmm...maybe people don't have time to read the article.
    "And I'm thinking you weren't burdened with an overabundance of schooling." - Capt Reynolds "Firefly"

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Velvet View Post
      Should we be critical of judges? Heck yes! It smacks of saying we should trust our elected officials (which I've seen a lot of lately--welcome to the USA reich). At least here in the USA we need to make sure we keep on top of those who are in a position of authority. We need to question their ability and their honesty (i.e., keep them honest with certain checks and balances).

      We put these people in a position of authority. They need to be monitored because history has proven that absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely.

      _________________________________

      We need to work with those who have a great eye, a bold personality (ones who won't fold at the first hint of unhappiness from a competitor or show management--if they know their absolutely right they need to stand by it and sink or swim)
      So wait, "we" should be critical of judges, question their ability and their honesty, and yet hire judges who won't fold when they "know they are right" when a competitor or show management expresses unhappiness?

      To me these things seem in direct opposition to each other. Perhaps you could explain who is this "we" you speak of? Apparantly it is not someone who competes or manages a show - is it the spectators then? The sponsors? The owners?

      The point that I found extremely depressing in the article was when she said they have to base order of go on rankings because they will lose money otherwise. Anytime you forfeit fair in favor of money, the "sport" is already lost.

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        Checks and balances. Having people who rep the USEF and go around to shows and watch the judging to see if it's following the directives.

        Having a judge who will stand up, meaning one who will state their opinion strongly and if it's dead wrong, get the USEF to watch them and retrain them or fire them. If it's right, get the USEF to back them fully.

        I don't want judges who cater only to show management and a few wealthy competitors. I want ones who are in it to support the sport and who (hopefully) know right from wrong riding and will score appropriately. Whether it's popular with the locals or not.
        "And I'm thinking you weren't burdened with an overabundance of schooling." - Capt Reynolds "Firefly"

        Comment


        • #5
          I think the article is comprehensive and well written, and Anne covers so many of the contentious issues surrounding judging. One comment I found especially interesting was this:

          “Lately, due to the lectures by Dr. Wolframm, the ire of the trainers and riders has somewhat changed its focus from pronouncing all judges corrupt imbeciles to saying that the system is useless, and that it’s impossible for any human to successfully process the information available and come up with the correct score. Instead, according to Dr. Wolframm, the judges invent “shortcuts” which exclude some of the details of the movement and focus on specific features.”

          I think all dressage judges, judges-in-training, trainers, and competitors should be required to read Malcolm Gladwell’s “Blink.” In a nutshell, he talks about the massive amounts of information humans can process quickly AND accurately and make correct decisions based on the input.

          Like anything else, the longer a person spends doing a particular activity, the better and faster they will become at it. So, Wolframm’s presumption that the use of shortcuts by judges means they “exclude some of the details of the movement” is erroneous. For those of you who teach, think about those moments when you are watching a rider, and you are able to predict what is going to happen in the next stride or two based on the rider’s aid (or lack of) in a critical moment. Like judges, you have a strong foundation of knowledge from which to form a quick and accurate opinion. This isn’t to say that sometimes the rider won’t quickly and adeptly make the correction needed or that the horse won’t just deliver a gift by doing what is required in spite of the rider but, in most cases, the experienced judge will pick up on that, too, and score accordingly.

          There is no such thing as completely unbiased scoring when it comes to a performing art. Undoubtedly, there is some truth to the idea of the “halo effect,” prejudice created by the starting order of horses, and the nationality of judge and competitor. However, I think that having seven judges helps to mitigate any ill effects, and the riders usually are placed appropriately.

          I also think Anne hits the nail on the head when she comments that competitors like judges that give them the scores they want. That’s just human nature, but it puts the judge in a tough spot and, as Velvet points out, makes them fearful they will not be invited back to judge. For regional and national shows, I think this may be the crux of the problem. If show organizers hire the judges who are forthright and fearless regarding using the entire range of scores, they risk losing competitors. If the judge uses the range of scores, s/he risks not being rehired. Vicious cycle for sure.

          Comment


          • #6
            Ann's articles are always good. As Velvet stated, she is mostly focusing on International competition.
            relying on previous experience of a rider/horse combination, the reputation of said combination, or even the order in which they appear in the starting order.
            Those that think this isn't being done locally live in a dream world. Local/regional show competitors, judges, and trainers all known one another. Some even are close friends. When 'so-and-so' enters the ring, if they are a local favorite, their scores always reflect the halo factor. A newcomer to the ring, especially an unknown AA, certainly does not start off with any 10. Sour grapes from me here, because I think most competition is just one big clique-fest.

            Comment


            • #7
              We choose to participate in a judged sport..........Yes, I'm glad that the judging is being tweeked on the international and national levels. Constant progress in the judging and oversight of judging is good for the sport and the riders. BUT! this is a judged sport and if someone doesn't like being judged, then that's a problem. I absolutely disagree that most judges get involved in favoritism, especially on a local level. Judges are human and can only process what the human brain is capable of. I believe the vast majority of them honestly try to be as unbiased as possible. Of course, perfection is impossible--for the judges and for us as riders.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by opel View Post
                I absolutely disagree that most judges get involved in favoritism, especially on a local level.
                You can look at the scores when a local is being judged by a local and then compare them to when that local is being judged by some "I" judge out of the country. I think you are naive here.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Well said Velvet.

                  Also, the judge should be competitor/horse type blind, and score according to the directives.

                  The underlying reason for the 'grumbling' that AG refers to is BECAUSE there seems to be an ignoring those directives, and not using the range of scores. Also it seems that rather than following the fei guidelines of 'protecting traditional from methods of the day' (with accordingly low scores) that tyeir is more intereste in the latest call to the 'globalization' of dressage.

                  And the more the rules are modified to 'fit the day' (especially the latest changes which are en masse from the fei), the more the appearance become problematic.
                  I.D.E.A. yoda

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    It is true that at the local level some judges do practice the Halo Factor. Actually it sometimes seems that new judges are afraid to score what they see both for unknown AA's and especially for known non AA's.

                    And there is STILL a fear of giving very high scores to anyting but the Pro's even when it's GLARINGLY OBVIOUS the moves deserved those scores. It's as though the some Judges CAN NOT ACCEPT the fact that there can be perfection or close to perfection at any level by ANY RIDER on ANY BREED, SIZE, COLOR, BRANDED OR NOT HORSE!!
                    Summit Sporthorses Ltd. Inc.
                    "Breeding Competition Partners & Lifelong Friends"

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I'd appreciate a judge who uses the scale more fully, even if it means a lower score for me. A sheet full of 6s and 7s, when I *know* some moves were better than others, feels kind of like I wasted my time.
                      You have to have experiences to gain experience.

                      1998 Morgan mare Mythic Feronia "More Valley Girl Than Girl Scout!"

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        There is a new concept that all judges at all viewing points should end up with the same score. This is a BIG difference from Niggli (one time head of the fei) who said that there SHOULD be a difference, that the judge should take a stand and give a reasoning, and that likely the person with the harshest scores was the most correct! It seems to me that the rubberstamping of scores are almost bearing their heads in the sand. When Lette (under whose leadership the landslide started) said that the horses have to be a 6 or higher if they are international competition, that to me was problematic. It already sets a bottom. YET when Linda Zang helped to compile the booklet with scores 0-10, it is clear that things like impure gaits should get a 4 (no matter where). Imho FEI riders in particular should be held to a higher standard, and the numbers should be used 0-10 just as if they were doing national levels.
                        I.D.E.A. yoda

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I know that opinions can vary but it's always abit frustrating to see show results and note that the mean and average scores for the same classes by different judges vary significantly. I know there are good rides and bad rides by the same horse and rider but we all know there are some judges that tend to score higher and some that are real "b" busters.

                          But again - I DO NOT understand why we have a 0 to 10 range and we end up with some judges who rarely if ever give scores 8 or above - even when the movement should receive it.

                          Plus - very often the remark doesn't seem to match the score AT ALL.
                          Summit Sporthorses Ltd. Inc.
                          "Breeding Competition Partners & Lifelong Friends"

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            My frustrating part about dressage tests is always getting the 5 and 6 judge. I have videos that show the same test a year apart with my horse snorting around with its head in the air hardly staying in the ring to going quietly mostly on the bit.

                            I also like getting "nice centerline square halt 6" umm ok?
                            http://weanieeventer.blogspot.com/

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Based on the words sq halt/nice center line it should be 8/9/10...not just a 6. You ALL must go the organizers and $#*(&$#. REQUIRE more. You might NOT agree with it, but you should have INFORMATION!
                              I.D.E.A. yoda

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Velvet, did they let you out again, already?

                                NJR
                                Your beliefs don't make you a better person, your behaviour does.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  This topic is timely, considering the thread I started last week or so wondering about the judging I'd witnessed at a recent USDF show.

                                  I agree with some of AG's points--judges have often been "come down on", yet at the national level I have not heard (at least loudly) of any training, continuing ed, etc. for judges to improve or re-educate themselves. I don't expect judges to be robotic or infallible, but I would like some consistency and basic adherence to the directives for the level.

                                  I wish there was more transparency, a la scoring, at the national levels. Just this weekend I saw a stiff, older horse with its tongue out the entire ride score a 64% at 3rd level. Honestly, I again was scratching my head. Rather than scream FOUL! I wish there was a way I could find out what lead to that score (did the judge find the walk work, entrance, and final halt compelling, did they not notice the tongue, etc.) so that I could align *my* knowledge base with the number I see on the scoreboard. (And please don't tell me to scribe--I do that several times a year, but can't scribe every show )

                                  At this same show, I got another good score at Second/3, and again I thought it was high for our effort. The footing was deep, and so I did not push the mediums (in fact barely got any trot mediums) for 6s for the movement and the transitions in/out. Nope, they were not "satisfactory", they were barely "sufficient". Could you argue that my horse's gaits (he got a 7, when he's really put together correctly I get 8s), modified that up? Maybe, but what does that say--if your horse is fancy a crappy medium will earn you a 6? That seems like a dangerous precedent.

                                  I'll also buy that the vast majority of what judge's see at thelower and mid-levels may well be lackluster, inspiring strings of 5,6,7 in a lot of tests. But then I *hope* those judges sit up and recognize an 8,9,10 and give it when deserved (as well as the 2,3,4). The funny thing is, when I compare tests of mine, the overall score from most of my "well ranged" tests with that of my "poorly ranged" tests, the scores are largely the same. Which then begs the question--what the he!! does that mean??!!??
                                  From now on, ponyfixer, i'll include foot note references.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by ideayoda View Post
                                    There is a new concept that all judges at all viewing points should end up with the same score. This is a BIG difference from Niggli (one time head of the fei) who said that there SHOULD be a difference, that the judge should take a stand and give a reasoning, and that likely the person with the harshest scores was the most correct! It seems to me that the rubberstamping of scores are almost bearing their heads in the sand. When Lette (under whose leadership the landslide started) said that the horses have to be a 6 or higher if they are international competition, that to me was problematic. It already sets a bottom. YET when Linda Zang helped to compile the booklet with scores 0-10, it is clear that things like impure gaits should get a 4 (no matter where). Imho FEI riders in particular should be held to a higher standard, and the numbers should be used 0-10 just as if they were doing national levels.
                                    Yes!!!

                                    It should be obvious that a judge viewing a horse/rider from one angle will have a different perspective and perhaps score than one viewing from another angle.
                                    also horses are horses when a horse throws a tantrum at a request for piaffe, that gets a 6? Not!! It should get a zero or at best a 1.

                                    A jiggy free walk? A non-happening halt?? Nail them!!

                                    As far as processing the movements in all their component parts. The minds eye should have an ideal, especially for judges at that level. Is it forward, round, rhythmical, is the horse reaching though in the context of its level of collection, is the bend correct, are the hindquarters trailing, are the changes straight, all of this and more the eye should see and the mind process. Most of us do it all the time teaching (our students hate us ). When the eye perceives a deviation from the ideal, then the score goes down.
                                    Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                                    Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Please take my opinion with a grain of salt. I never competed in Dressage and the kid is 8 and we're doing Intro A &B . But she has been actively showing for the past couple of years. (3 shows non rated a year)
                                      I dearly love the judges in my area. Went to a schooling show this past weekend and DD got 64 & 62 for Intro A. She's been getting that score for the past couple of shows from different judges on the same horse. What impressed me and pleased me more than anything was the comment (Lag on left fore tense through shoulder.) Square halt, but resisted need more sit. Bless the scribe that got those comments!
                                      Read the article and I agree. I also know blind judging is just not going to happen unless we hook up the machines and then is it really art or a machine getting the job done?
                                      As for those demanding more comments from the judge what do you want a book about each movement? I get the frustration with every box saying the same thing but I also understand the judge just doesn't have time to dictate a lesson. Judge for the past weekend left the tense through shoulder at the bottom and starred it then starred where it was an issue on the movements. It was walk work that showed it the most actually.
                                      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


                                      • #20
                                        Merrygoround, you have to remember that the halt is not a movement/score by itself. It includes the entrance, centerline, and transition out of the halt. If everything but the halt is excellent, the judge has to take that into account and give credit for what was good. Or, using Anne Gribbons' article in which she says you start with a 10 and then deduct points, this rider with the bad halt could still score a 5 or 6.

                                        Although judges are only human and do make mistakes, competitors have to become more educated about scoring. I think the halt example I just mentioned is evidence of the lack of understanding so many people have and why they didn't understand how AVG could get such high scores when her horse was not immobile in the halt.

                                        Comment

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