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USA Dressage - Scoring/Judging/Standards/Comments from people, etc.

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  • USA Dressage - Scoring/Judging/Standards/Comments from people, etc.

    The following is a quote from <someone>. Open for discussion

    But what concerns me the most for dressage in our country is the mind-set that prevails that says, “I am entitled to do whatever I want with my horse or with horses belonging to my students and clients, and nobody can tell me not to.” What I am referring to is the strong resistance that exists to any form of performance standards that qualify riders to compete at the various levels and to the lack of commitment from our community to expand our instructor certification program and establish a system where only certified instructors are allowed to participate with their students in some programs within our sport. The quality of riding at the lower levels over the past ten years has deteriorated dramatically and now it is the rule, not the exception, to see riders competing on horses at a level that far exceeds their ability and the horses are suffering for it. Horsemanship, as many of us learned it, at a time when it was the prerequisite for riding better horses and showing at higher levels, seems to be a thing of the past. I understand that our society has become one of entitlement and instant gratification but unfortunately neither of those mindsets serves our horses well.

    In our country, if un-athletic and/or inexperienced riders want to take their horse to a show and bounce around on its back while hauling on its mouth, they honestly believe they have the right to do so and that no one should stop them. After all – this is America. But the decision to do that impacts the welfare of an animal that cannot make a choice about whether or not it participates and therefore people have the obligation to make the right choices. Since it is evident that many people will not, I believe that at some level it needs to be legislated. I have seen all too clearly that simply having the judges punish those riders with miserably low scores does nothing to keep them out of the ring. They have no shame.

    What is needed to address these problems are incentives that reward people for learning good horsemanship, for investing the time and energy to develop a solid seat and learning how to use their aids effectively as they practice the more advanced exercises. It might well be that those incentives will be offered through programs that lie outside of the world of competition as we know it now and that they will be created and administered by organizations other than USEF and USDF.

    Q: How did we get to this lower level of horsemanship?
    A: It's a result of the current business model. It starts with the breeding. The quality of dressage horses today is incredible. These horses are really built to do the dressage tests we ask. Years ago, most horses were a Thoroughbred-cross and they were very tricky, which meant that people really had to know how to ride. But now we have these incredible horses and trainers have a business model of taking these young horses, making them rideable and then selling them as ready-made show horses to adult amateurs. If a trainer were to tell someone, 'You need a year of longing and along the way, you'll fall off, but you'll learn a lot and in a year or so we'll see where you're at and if you are ready to show," that trainer will see clients leave and go to the trainer who will say, "I've got this great Third Level horse and you can go right out there and show." That's where the business model has gone.
    Last edited by ToN Farm; Oct. 1, 2009, 11:33 AM.

  • #2
    I agree! I've seen some absolutely horrible riding at shows, and not only at the lower levels. I was a runner for a judge at a show judging a GP class. The rider was bouncing all over the place. The horse was very stiff - probably trying to save his back. I heard the judge on a few movements saying things like - isn't there supposed to be a piaffe there? I didn't see a piaffe, score zero. Wasn't that supposed to be a lengthened trot? I didn't see any change, score 0. There was supposed to be a pirouette there, all I saw was a circle, and that wasn't even round, score zero.

    Unfortunately, that person is not alone. It's the "I'm entitled" generation, but that generation is not related to age.
    Tranquility Farm - Proud breeder of Born in the USA Sport Horses, and Cob-sized Warmbloods
    Now apparently completely invisible!

    Comment


    • #3
      if judges will give marks appropriate to the performance then the point will get across

      i.e. if a movement was 'very bad' then it's a "1"; if it was just 'bad' then it's a "2"

      instead we often see judges wimpily giving '5's across the board to bad riders so that they won't be thought of as 'mean'

      performance standards are worthless without judging standards coming first
      Nothing says "I love you" like a tractor. (Clydejumper)

      The reports states, “Elizabeth reported that she accidently put down this pony, ........, at the show.”

      Comment


      • #4
        Tiki -- if the judge you cited actually gave those zeros then that is unusual
        Nothing says "I love you" like a tractor. (Clydejumper)

        The reports states, “Elizabeth reported that she accidently put down this pony, ........, at the show.”

        Comment


        • #5
          Actually the same comments would be accurate in other disciplines as well. Therefore combined training insists on riders qualifying. It was a CYA move. Unfortunately, dressage is dangerous only to the horse when performed poorly.
          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


          • #6
            I find it a kind of nationalistically biased view based on a false premise.


            But what concerns me the most for dressage in our country is the mind-set that prevails that says, “I am entitled to do whatever I want with my horse or with horses belonging to my students and clients, and nobody can tell me not to.” What I am referring to is the strong resistance that exists to any form of performance standards that qualify riders to compete at the various levels and to the lack of commitment from our community to expand our instructor certification program and establish a system where only certified instructors are allowed to participate with their students in some programs within our sport.
            I don't believe that mind set is why people resist the performance standards and the certification programs. I know for me, I resist the performance standard because I don't trust the governing body who is imposing it, and I can foresee a huge political morass that won't do anybody any good. I resist the instructor certification program because it is ungodly expensive and not good enough.

            The quality of riding at the lower levels over the past ten years has deteriorated dramatically and now it is the rule, not the exception, to see riders competing on horses at a level that far exceeds their ability and the horses are suffering for it.
            Totally disagree. Riders are no better or no worse. There are always more beginners. Maybe there are MORE beginners, and that's what he's seeing. I honestly haven't see a suffering horse in the last 10 shows I've been at. I've seen good riding, bad riding, all normal. The good riding tends to win, the bad riding tends to fail.


            In our country, if un-athletic and/or inexperienced riders want to take their horse to a show and bounce around on its back while hauling on its mouth, they honestly believe they have the right to do so and that no one should stop them. After all – this is America.
            In other countries, if athletic and experienced riders want to take their horse to show and haul on its mouth until its face is in its chest and its eyes are popping out, they honestly believe they have the right to do so and that no one should stop them. After all-- this is Europe.

            But the decision to do that impacts the welfare of an animal that cannot make a choice about whether or not it participates and therefore people have the obligation to make the right choices. Since it is evident that many people will not, I believe that at some level it needs to be legislated.
            There are no bad beginners. I firmly do not believe that bouncing on a horse's back and accidentally pulling on his mouth are really going to harm a horse. It's not pretty, but it's part and parcel of learning to ride. They will bounce just as badly on the longe line.


            I have seen all too clearly that simply having the judges punish those riders with miserably low scores does nothing to keep them out of the ring. They have no shame.
            Disagree, this is the Janet Brown Argument. Where are all those miserably low scores?

            What is needed to address these problems are incentives that reward people for learning good horsemanship, for investing the time and energy to develop a solid seat and learning how to use their aids effectively as they practice the more advanced exercises. It might well be that those incentives will be offered through programs that lie outside of the world of competition as we know it now and that they will be created and administered by organizations other than USEF and USDF.
            While I agree that any thorough, classical, non-competitive incentive program will lie outside the USEF and the USDF, do we need an incentive program? Good horsemanship is a rider responsibility. All riders should have the dedication and determination to educate themselves to become the best horsepeople possible. I think most will say that is what they're trying to do. Must we legislate that? Education, not legislation....

            Comment


            • #7
              I resist the performance standard because I don't trust the governing body who is imposing it.....I resist the instructor certification program because it is ungodly expensive and not good enough
              amen....there are certified instructors who I would never ride with and uncertified trainers who can actually ride and teach. This is too large a country to try and control this...and quite frankly I feel I am already paying a fair amount to my three GMO's, the USDF and the USEF. I get more from the GMO's than I do the USDF Region. The cost is going up again next year...and what will I get for that? More affordable education from the USDF? We can only hope.

              I would also like to add that in my region the quality of riders and horses has improved tremendously over the past 15 years....there was a dip in scores this year but I think that has more to do with the change in judging expectations??

              I need to look more closely at the performance standards before I can comment on it.
              Humans don’t mind duress, in fact they thrive on it. What they mind is not feeling necessary. –Sebastian Junger

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by ToN Farm View Post
                The following is a quote from his interview. Agree?


                But what concerns me the most for dressage in our country is the mind-set that prevails that says, “I am entitled to do whatever I want with my horse or with horses belonging to my students and clients, and nobody can tell me not to.” What I am referring to is the strong resistance that exists to any form of performance standards that qualify riders to compete at the various levels and to the lack of commitment from our community to expand our instructor certification program and establish a system where only certified instructors are allowed to participate with their students in some programs within our sport. The quality of riding at the lower levels over the past ten years has deteriorated dramatically and now it is the rule, not the exception, to see riders competing on horses at a level that far exceeds their ability and the horses are suffering for it. Horsemanship, as many of us learned it, at a time when it was the prerequisite for riding better horses and showing at higher levels, seems to be a thing of the past. I understand that our society has become one of entitlement and instant gratification but unfortunately neither of those mindsets serves our horses well.

                In our country, if un-athletic and/or inexperienced riders want to take their horse to a show and bounce around on its back while hauling on its mouth, they honestly believe they have the right to do so and that no one should stop them. After all – this is America. But the decision to do that impacts the welfare of an animal that cannot make a choice about whether or not it participates and therefore people have the obligation to make the right choices. Since it is evident that many people will not, I believe that at some level it needs to be legislated. I have seen all too clearly that simply having the judges punish those riders with miserably low scores does nothing to keep them out of the ring. They have no shame.

                What is needed to address these problems are incentives that reward people for learning good horsemanship, for investing the time and energy to develop a solid seat and learning how to use their aids effectively as they practice the more advanced exercises. It might well be that those incentives will be offered through programs that lie outside of the world of competition as we know it now and that they will be created and administered by organizations other than USEF and USDF.

                Q: How did we get to this lower level of horsemanship?
                A: It's a result of the current business model. It starts with the breeding. The quality of dressage horses today is incredible. These horses are really built to do the dressage tests we ask. Years ago, most horses were a Thoroughbred-cross and they were very tricky, which meant that people really had to know how to ride. But now we have these incredible horses and trainers have a business model of taking these young horses, making them rideable and then selling them as ready-made show horses to adult amateurs. If a trainer were to tell someone, 'You need a year of longing and along the way, you'll fall off, but you'll learn a lot and in a year or so we'll see where you're at and if you are ready to show," that trainer will see clients leave and go to the trainer who will say, "I've got this great Third Level horse and you can go right out there and show." That's where the business model has gone.
                AMEN AMEN AMEN AMEN...GIL NAILED IT!!!!!!!!
                Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive. Dalai Lama

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by merrygoround View Post
                  Actually the same comments would be accurate in other disciplines as well. Therefore combined training insists on riders qualifying. It was a CYA move. Unfortunately, dressage is dangerous only to the horse when performed poorly.
                  I don't think it is necessarily accurate for other disciplines. He doesn't need to cover his a** and he is correct.
                  Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive. Dalai Lama

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by ridgeback View Post
                    I don't think it is necessarily accurate for other disciplines. He doesn't need to cover his a** and he is correct.
                    Reading comp 101!

                    I in no way indicated that Gil needed to cover anything. Nor did I in any way disagree with him.

                    And were it not accurate for other disciplines,the USEA would not have tightened its qualifications.
                    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


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by ridgeback View Post
                      I don't think it is necessarily accurate for other disciplines. He doesn't need to cover his a** and he is correct.
                      I don't think merrygoround is referring to Gil Merrick covering his a**, but the eventing association, whatever that may be. I do agree with her that it is accurate for other disciplines. If you move up in Eventing and you are not ready, you can be killed. But as she wrote, it's only the horse that suffers when someone moves up the levels in dressage. You can bang on your horses back all day, at whatever level you choose, no one's going to stop you. Your scores will reflect it, but as Merrick wrote, some people are not deterred by poor scores. This is pretty blunt, but right on:

                      "I have seen all too clearly that simply having the judges punish those riders with miserably low scores does nothing to keep them out of the ring. They have no shame."

                      ETA: You beat me to it merrygoround.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by merrygoround View Post
                        Reading comp 101!

                        I in no way indicated that Gil needed to cover anything. Nor did I in any way disagree with him.

                        And were it not accurate for other disciplines,the USEA would not have tightened its qualifications.
                        Wow lets not get so snarky there Merryground
                        Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive. Dalai Lama

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I think it sounds like the usual hot air.

                          It goes along with all those "how much better things were in the good old days" emails that come around.
                          I totally disagree and I think it's a lot of baloney.
                          I've seen uneducated riding in all parts of the world and in all disciplines. Dressage is no better nor worse than any other.
                          Nor is American dressage any better or worse than European dressage, its just a lot more expensive to do.

                          From my perspective (2 continents, 6 countries) its just the same here as there.

                          But our horses are a lot better fed!
                          MW
                          Melyni (PhD) PAS, Dipl. ACAN.
                          Sign up for the Equine nutrition enewsletter on www.foxdenequine.com
                          New edition of book is out:
                          Horse Nutrition Handbook.

                          www.knabstruppers4usa.com

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I think that if what he wanted was horse welfare, he would be much better off going after the trainers that have reputations for being hard on horses. And if he really wants people to demonstrate that they know how to ride, how about requiring some scores on a horse that has never shown at that level before?

                            Because seriously, trying to tell me that a beginner rider is more harmful over the long haul than the trainer who beats a horse into submission until it would do the test with a blind orangutan in the saddle is just not really going to work. And everyone knows of at least one, probably more, of those trainers in the dressage world.

                            And when anybody higher up in the dressage organization decides to pick on the people honestly trying to learn the discipline as harming the horses, rather than the monsters in their own midst (and no, certification tests would NOT weed it out) it sounds, as Melyni said, like a bunch of hot air.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              FWIW I would say I agree to some extent with his general concept- specifically the concept that we are seeing more bad riding and more shortcuts overtly taken without much thoght for the horse. I admit I have not been going to dressage shows for very long, but if you are riding in 1st, 2nd, or 3rd level adn up, I would hope you can control your hands and seat to greater and greater extents. I have seen riders in all of these levels jerking on their horse's mouths and bumping on thier horse's backs. maybe it was a bad day, but regardless it was not a good thing. The judge at the last show I entered actually addressed this issue with several riders- all riding at 1st level or above. (Though I don't know if this is a particularly American problem or limited to dressage as a discipline. I ride jumpers too and have seen some pretty awful hunter jumper riding and some pretty interesting shortcuts taken there as well.) I don't know if incenitves are the right thing though....perhaps stricter judging standards (as in, if you show no trot lengthen at all it is a zero) and really good comments from judgesw to help educate people. I don't know though, really.

                              I also agree with those who say that they do not trust USEF and USDF to administer any incentive program and am not sure one is needed. I know I already find the USEF and USDF fees rather expensive and do not feel that I receive a benefit from them comensurate to my fees paid to them. Just my thoughts off the top of my head...could be totally off base.
                              My blog:

                              RAWR

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Ambrey View Post
                                I think that if what he wanted was horse welfare, he would be much better off going after the trainers that have reputations for being hard on horses. And if he really wants people to demonstrate that they know how to ride, how about requiring some scores on a horse that has never shown at that level before?

                                Because seriously, trying to tell me that a beginner rider is more harmful over the long haul than the trainer who beats a horse into submission until it would do the test with a blind orangutan in the saddle is just not really going to work. And everyone knows of at least one, probably more, of those trainers in the dressage world.

                                And when anybody higher up in the dressage organization decides to pick on the people honestly trying to learn the discipline as harming the horses, rather than the monsters in their own midst (and no, certification tests would NOT weed it out) it sounds, as Melyni said, like a bunch of hot air.
                                I find myself agreeing with your thoughts; perhaps I misunderstood the original quote (my reading comprehension has been atrocious today). Some of the harshest riding I have seen recently was from a "trainer." I take issue with her far more than with someone riding a training level test who genuinely has no idea what they are doing and is just out doing his or her best. I applaud the effort of a begginer even if they are riding terribly because they do not yet know any better and are trying to improve; I chastise a trainer who rides using short cuts and harshness (bad riding in general whether intentional or not) because by having the title of trainer that person is purported to know better and may or may not be planning on changing his or her methods.
                                My blog:

                                RAWR

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  But, he forgot to include what has happened in western/hunter eq as well. What is rewarded (by judges) will be repeated. What JB makes comments on represents many judge's feelings, but their feelings and their scores (often too high) do not match. A judge certifier once said if the combos were really given what they should be the scores would have alot of 4s (or lower), yet that is not the standard they pass on. They pass on equivocation which allows for trainers with incomplete methodologies to hang out their shingles. GM is correct in many of his observations.
                                  I.D.E.A. yoda

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    If a trainer were to tell someone, 'You need a year of longing and along the way, you'll fall off, but you'll learn a lot and in a year or so we'll see where you're at and if you are ready to show," that trainer will see clients leave and go to the trainer who will say, "I've got this great Third Level horse and you can go right out there and show." That's where the business model has gone.
                                    I do somewhat agree with this....there are a lot of people who think a trained dressage horse means "easy to ride". It is not...especially if you do not have a solid foundation on how to ride dressage.
                                    Humans don’t mind duress, in fact they thrive on it. What they mind is not feeling necessary. –Sebastian Junger

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Flashbacks.....

                                      This is deja vu.......methinks this indicates another run at performance standards for dressage.

                                      Mr. Merrick needs data to define the specific problem.

                                      His statements are all assumptions based on anecdote and opinion.
                                      BASED ON DATA from 2007 and 2008:
                                      • In the 2 years analyzed, only 0.03% of the scores are 40% or below
                                      • In 2008, 14 scores out of 43,590 (0.03%) scores scored in the 40%
                                      (insufficient) or below
                                      • In 2007, 2 scores out of 6,077 (0.03%) scores scored in the 40%
                                      (insufficient) or below

                                      Thus, in 2007 and 2008, approximately 97.5% of riders earn scores of “sufficient” or better.

                                      One of the rationales for implementing the Performance Standards included anecdotal evidence that large numbers of riders were earning scores of less than 50%. The analysis disproves these statements.

                                      We recommended that the argument of this epidemic of “bad/insufficient riding” be dropped as a rationale for the implementation of a Performance Standard Program.
                                      "....in 2007 and 2008, approximately 97.5% of riders earn scores of “sufficient” or better."
                                      Where is the all the bad riding?

                                      Judges are NOT giving out test scores that overall reflect BAD riding (10% to 30%).

                                      If the riding is really all that bad as claimed by Mr. Merrick, then it is the responsibility of the JUDGES to award scores to the individual test movements under some variant of "bad" (fairly bad, bad, very bad) such that the whole tests sends the message that this was BAD RIDING with overall test percentages below 40%.

                                      http://www.pvda.org/Lists/Articles/A...ta-Summary.pdf

                                      http://www.pvda.org/Lists/Articles/A...20APPENDIX.pdf
                                      Do not confuse motion and progress. A rocking horse keeps moving but does not make any progress.
                                      Alfred A. Montapert

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Bogey2 View Post
                                        I do somewhat agree with this....there are a lot of people who think a trained dressage horse means "easy to ride". It is not...especially if you do not have a solid foundation on how to ride dressage.
                                        If this is true, how are all of these people who don't know how to ride getting through their tests?

                                        It just doesn't jive with the supposed prevalence of people who are chugging along without ever learning how to ride. And so many of his comments were geared toward pushing the HORSE too fast, rather than the rider- and I've never seen a program requiring horses to qualify before moving up.

                                        Comment

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