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Spinoff: Judges comment box

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  • Spinoff: Judges comment box

    I'm not a rated judge, so I won't bother adding to the tail braiding discussion.

    However, I thought it was interesting that there were quite a few responses stating that the judge's comment box wasn't an appropriate place to make statements about turnout, etc. So I am curious, what do you expect of the comments in that box?

    a couple of thoughts:
    1) it was mentioned to me by several people who went through the "L" program that they were instructed to "always say something positive, even if its just about their turnout"

    2) one judge who I scribed for expressed frustration because she could only comment on the movements she saw in such a limited fashion, there wasn't enough time/room to make all the comments she would need to "fix" the issues she saw.

    3) judges are really limited in how much time they have to fill out general impression scores and the comment box.

    Your thoughts?

  • #2
    1. This is a good thing! It cheers up the rider who might have had the worst ride ever! I haven't seen much harsh comments, maybe a few at the higher levels when the rider#horse were clearly out of place in the competition. And even then...

    2. As frustrating as it might be, it is not the place nor the time for the judge to 'give a lesson' at the show. (The young horses classes are a bit different, you get to speak with the judge at the end of your test)
    They have to give pointers and that's it. It is up to the rider and the trainer to analyse the results and the comments.

    3. It goes fast! Or it is quite tiresome.... It is a hard job!

    As for me, I made friend with a few judges at the shows. They don't usually mind being bothered with questions from riders and on the opposite, are eager to talk about all the details of dressage competitions and judging.

    A good way to learn is to scribe.
    ~ Enjoying some guac and boxed wine at the Blue Saddle inn. ~

    Originally posted by LauraKY
    I'm sorry, but this has "eau de hoarder" smell all over it.
    HORSING mobile training app


    • #3
      1. Saying something positive is nice, but I'd rather get overall impressions. Sort of a summation of the root of any issues noted.

      2.Judges are not supposed to teach, just describe what they saw.

      3. If they run out of time, the show runs late. No one else is in charge of the bell - If a judge knows they always need more time, they could ask management to schedule at the high end of the window rather than the low end.


      • #4
        It is always nice to have a good comment before what needs work. Bengt Ljungquist taught the following... good before what needs work i.e. correct bend but four beat canter=4 or ie three beat canter but fell in on part of circle

        2) The judge must be a mirror of what the rider is doing, they are not there to fix the rider or horse per se.

        3) Yes,judges are too limited in time to ride useful general impressions. And the worse thing is the little boxes for writing comments for an entire circle/transition vs a huge size box for a less important test movement. And now the attempt to have have all the movements on one side of the page so the scribe doesnt have to turn it over. As a competitor go to the td if all you get is a couple of numbers and little comments. There IS time for way more info than most people are given.
        I.D.E.A. yoda


        • #5
          I agree that one nice comment is much appreciated! And I also appreciate judges who can fill up the back page with comments. But that is not always possible!

          However, as you stated about one judge was frustrated with all there is to fix a few words to sum up the problems or at least the worst ones: (elegant horse but tense, needs more reach over top line, work on better accuracy on figures and corners, needs to be more elastic) should be enough for a riders, together with the comments for each movement to paint a clear picture.

          I think most riders know going in what their trouble areas are and what they are good at. Sometimes you just get caught up in the moment (please, PLEASE don't blow up at the fallen flower box!) and are a little surprised (did not touch E in circle) at the comment.

          I can speak for myself and my clients that over the many years I have been showing dressage I have rarely gotten a comment that was totally off base.

          I usually receive a positive comment (nice team, lovely horse) followed by what I think the judge likes to see more of and therefore will score higher on (bigger steps, more relaxation, more swing in back, more engagement and thrust).

          As a trainer I have the things that I really like to see and things I don't and things that I don't feel one way or another about. I can only imagine judges feel the same way and because we are all human each has a slightly different take.

          I will also say that many people video their rides. If you wait a coupe of days before you watch it (let your emotions run their course), with the test in hand, you can often see more clearly what went right and what needs improving. Now, if you really want to cringe, look at pictures and videos of yourself from when your first started to ride and show until now!
          "I am a sand dancer... just here for the jumps!" - Schrammo


          • #6
            Comments that address the collective remarks and that focus on the performance they just saw. A number of judges circle and underline words in the directives to indicate areas of improvement, which is a great shorthand.

            I think all three of your points are valid and correct ... many judges would like to be able to "say more" which makes sense because many of them are, or were, instructors and trainers for years before they got their licenses.


            • #7
              I always look at the back of the test first. I like to see the collectives and comments. Most judges I've ridden for have underlined areas in the collectives that need work, which helps streamline any comments in the blank area.

              I do like the "positive comment then constructive comment" structure. And yes, I've had those rides where the comment section simply said, "Your horse has a beautiful tail." *sigh*


              • #8
                Originally posted by oreobob View Post

                2) one judge who I scribed for expressed frustration because she could only comment on the movements she saw in such a limited fashion, there wasn't enough time/room to make all the comments she would need to "fix" the issues she saw.
                I think that is one of the things the new Rider Tests are supposed to address.

                chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).


                • #9
                  Well, the show where the extent of the comments were "So cute!" and a particular bit I ought to buy? Also with ridiculously high scores for the tests I rode? Let's just say I won't be riding under her again (it was a schooling show, I don't know that she's even a rated judge).

                  Otherwise, I appreciate an uplifting comment before the lesson in how I could have done better. Although it seems I'm going to have to rethink my stance on "capable", it seems judges see it as a compliment, whole I'm inclined to cringe a bit when I see it.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by webbcutey View Post
                    Although it seems I'm going to have to rethink my stance on "capable", it seems judges see it as a compliment, whole I'm inclined to cringe a bit when I see it.
                    Agreed! I was taken aback at first, too. However, as a scribe, I can only recall seeing it on tests that are well-littered with 7s or better.


                    • #11
                      I agree with video taping your rides as much as possible. It pains me to watch some of my rides but it really helps to read the test at the same time as watching the videos. Last year a bunch of us would meet a week after a show, put together a pot luck dinner and watch our videos together/ read our test comments. It was fun and educational.

                      I must say that I have been very lucky in that the past three years that I have been showing regularly I feel like I have been scored quite fairly and have gotten good comments from the judges. I also tend to get similar comments from different judges so I know that they really are my weak points! Needs more forward, relaxation, leaning off to left of saddle, etc.....sadly still working on all of those points
                      Read about my time at the Hannoveraner Verband Breeders Courses:


                      • #12
                        I've lived through 3 show seasons now, showing Intro and TL, on an Arab, and I have to say that judges have been kind and fair in their comments. To take it even further, if I go back and watch my 2011 TL rides, which were somewhere south of awful, I have to say that the judges were entirely too kind. Or maybe it was easier on their psyche to be as positive as possible rather than want to take the score sheet, grab it with both hands, and tear it in half in frustration at the awfulness of it.

                        I am fortunate that my dear husband tapes most of my rides. It's been eye opening to watch the ride with the test in hand (and also to go back even 6 months once we started getting our act together and see the improvement)

                        Judges are saints. I don't think I'd have the patience!!!


                        • #13
                          I'd prefer more direct communication in the comment section. If it was a good ride, say so and maybe point out the best part. If it was not a good ride, then cut to the chase and tell me what you didn't like. Then again, I'm more of a blunt kind of person in general....

                          "Cute pair" or "Cute horse" or "nice turnout" are not comments I want to see.


                          • #14
                            I too have gotten capable or has potential (that one my 20 year old OTTB! HAHA!).
                            My most cringe worthy was in the rider comment "Workman like"
                            I am sure it was a compliment.......

                            I re- found this thread which is always good for a laugh... and some helpful ideas for this thread
                            Last edited by ctab; Feb. 7, 2013, 11:06 PM.
                            "I am a sand dancer... just here for the jumps!" - Schrammo


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Oberon13 View Post
                              I've had those rides where the comment section simply said, "Your horse has a beautiful tail." *sigh*

                              Or the horse carries the saddle well !!

                              Kind of like the singing talent shows when the judge says 'you look really nice, that's a good look for you' ....
                              The cue card kid just held up an empty cue card. For a minute there I thought I had lost my sense of humor. --- Red Skelton


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by ctab View Post
                                My most cringe worthy was in the rider comment "Workman like" I am sure it was a compliment.......
                                Now ... do you want "workmanlike" with 7s for rider or "frolicksome" with 4s for submission?

                                Thanks for the thread reminder, too!


                                • #17
                                  On an (inattentive, not submissive) dressage test at a Horse Trial-
                                  "She must be a good jumper"

                                  chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).


                                  • #18
                                    I peniclled (scribed) for an FEI judge last weekend - we did elementary (2nd/3rd level), advanced (high 4th level) and Grand Prix.

                                    There are transition marks in all the tests - the elementary and advanced were two pages the Grand Prix three pages long.

                                    I am (pride here) a good penicller and the judge specifically asked me to drive to the event to pencil with her but there is little time. She always commented when she made a low mark and rarely when she made a good mark - one comment to me was that there is little time to make the rider feel good, you can always show the test to your coach who should be able to tell you why you got the good mark but the judge must say why you got the bad one.

                                    There is definitely no time to give a riding lesson. Of course the judge filled in the collectives herself but told me it was pretty much a reference to the training scale - ie if you don't have a & b you're not going to get c.

                                    The sad thing was that the comments in the elementary were almost identical to the comments in the GP and you could tell it was somewhat irritating.


                                    • #19
                                      I am an "L" graduate with distinction who has been officiating at schooling shows for almost 10 years now.

                                      I can't speak for every "L" graduate or judge, but I can say that I try to give positive comments and constructive criticism. Most of the people for whom I have judged--both show organizers and riders-- say they like my comments and enjoy my positive attitude.

                                      For me, the terms "capable" and "workmanlike" are positive comments that mean the horse and rider are doing a good job. I often remark, when I do have time to actually talk to competitors right after they have ridden a test, that a good, well-ridden lower level test has "a workmanlike quality to it." What I mean is that it is very consistent and accurately ridden. It flows very well.

                                      Most horses who are shown in the lower levels at schooling shows would not be characterized as brilliant. My mare, who I have shown successfully through 4th level at recognized shows, is not considered brilliant. But she is capable, and we are competent at the level at which we are competing. She is an appropriate horse for me. I would never consider the words "competent", "capable", or "workmanlike" as slights to my horse or my riding.

                                      I guess what I'm saying is to try looking at all of it in a more positive light! Ths sport is hard enough without looking for ways to feel bad about yourself and your horse!


                                      • #20
                                        Directive to Australian Judges in the December Judges update from Dressage NSW

                                        9). Complaints - this year there have been complaints, mainly by parents, regarding judges talking to the riders after the Test has been completed.
                                        Please be careful how you phrase comments directly to a rider as they are frequently misinterpreted. Also remember you are a judge at the competition not a coach.

                                        Damned if you do and damned if you don't.