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Challenge to Event Organizers

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  • Challenge to Event Organizers

    To the Editor,
    After just having read through several Chronicals of the Horse that refer to the change in American Riding and how we must do better. Coming from the eventing camp, I am motivated to send this suggestion out: Why don’t we ask our dressage judges to return to an age old check and balance that says “a score of 4 or less will be given to any movement with the horse’s head behind the vertical”? This was somehow lost in the early eighties. I remember the first judge that came in that required that I ride with my reins as short as possible to get high scores. So I did - just to win, but still felt it was wrong. Now, years later, it seems the fashion, the lower levels seem to be filled with riders mimicking second level incorrectly (by headsetting their horses) but still being rewarded with high scores by the judges. Then they take the horse cross country with this headset. I see it as a recipe for danger. I would like to see Training and First Level competition return with no horses behind the bit winning.
    I work with children and the basics. I have found that when I invite a “dressage” instructor in for a lesson, the first thing they often do is shorten the kids reins up as if they were doing upper level dressage instead of teaching figures and transitions to shorten the horse’s frame and improve his balance. This produces either a horse with an abruptly arched neck (beautiful to the untrained eye) or one with a hard mouth. I think this lower level problem is “trickling up” the levels. If we have judges who insist on better training, without rushing the horses front end collection. We will have better safer riding all the way around.
    Finally I commend those judges who I know are out there, who are excellent because they are not afraid of giving lower scores where they are needed as constructive criticism, for our sport, our collective safety and our horses’ happiness. I challenge organizers to invite them back.Thanks for this forum

  • #2
    Sorry, but $ and entry #'s will always win out.
    There are a few Events/Dressage shows that I won't attend due to the Judges they use.
    I have asked them why do you use Judge X- the answer;
    She/He is nice- nobody wants a nasty old biddy who gives low scores.
    And for the majority of riders I believe thats true-
    Just listen, how many times do you hear- We don't go to "Dressage" shows they don't like the way event horses go, or my horse is just an average mover so he won't ever score above a 5, I know that and just keep moving up.
    At these little events and local dressage clubs-the truth is people ride like crap and get rewarded for it.
    But entries are full because they want to hear how wonderful they are, not ride correctly.
    The same goes for most local trainers, someone tells these riders they are good enough to show.

    Comment


    • #3
      I will say that I experienced two ends of the spectrum (well, not extreme ends since I didn't have a range from 20 to 50+ in my scores, but still). One show, the judge was a dressage judge and gave poor scores to horses going in a training level outline (showing novice). The only horses who scored well were horses which show in straight dressage shows at 2nd/3rd level. Another show, I was so frustrated with dressage judging by that time that I had given up before I even went in for my test. I didn't care about where my horse's head was and I just focused on forward and relaxed. He went around looking like a proper training-level dressage horse. We were rewarded greatly for this and got our best dressage score ever

      So, I will say, there ARE judges out there who are scoring the way you describe. That show I scored well at, I was disheartened during the warm-up because all the other horses were in higher level frames. It's obvious, through the judging, that this judge did not find that appropriate and scored accordingly.
      "Last time I picked your feet, you broke my toe!"

      Comment


      • #4
        First, when I asked on this board how important the dressage judge was in selecting an event, most people said they didn't even look who the judge was. So I stick with more local people I like and find fair when I ride. When I ran schooling events I would not bring back judges that people complained were "mean". But as I tell my judges for the schooling dressage shows I run - I don't care what the score is just keep your comments positive.

        I agree though about the holding with too short reins comment. When I started with my current trainer I wasn't allowed to pick up my reins for a month. And since building the strength to carry himself he has developed a true medium trot. But everybody loves the high head like they were doing upper levels. Isn't it pretty?! Drives me wild, you know what they need to do is add the trotting on long rein back in the test. That would show how many of those cranked in horses are not on the bit.

        Forgot to say - I try to go to recognized dressage shows at least once a year. It keeps my confidence up. For instance this year my horse got a 63 in first level when he hadn't broken 40 all year in BN. Mostly for behavior issues which they are more like to ignore at a dressage show!

        Comment


        • #5
          The last year Jumping Branch ran Brian Ross NAILED everyone for being btv. It was great! All the big name pro's were not the ones with the best dressage scores that weekend and they were livid!

          Comment


          • #6
            So Brian Ross is one of those we need to promote!!!! Anybody have any other judges with strong constitutions to recommend?

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by mg View Post
              I will say that I experienced two ends of the spectrum (well, not extreme ends since I didn't have a range from 20 to 50+ in my scores, but still). One show, the judge was a dressage judge and gave poor scores to horses going in a training level outline (showing novice). The only horses who scored well were horses which show in straight dressage shows at 2nd/3rd level. Another show, I was so frustrated with dressage judging by that time that I had given up before I even went in for my test. I didn't care about where my horse's head was and I just focused on forward and relaxed. He went around looking like a proper training-level dressage horse. We were rewarded greatly for this and got our best dressage score ever

              So, I will say, there ARE judges out there who are scoring the way you describe. That show I scored well at, I was disheartened during the warm-up because all the other horses were in higher level frames. It's obvious, through the judging, that this judge did not find that appropriate and scored accordingly.
              Thanks for the feedback and remember those good judges names and thank the organizers please. If you have time WATCH your class or an entire class, check the scores, and see how the judgeing is going regarding BTV. EVERY time I have taken the time to do this the BTV horses with immobile heads are on the top of the heap, especially when juniors are competing.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Ltc4h View Post
                Sorry, but $ and entry #'s will always win out.
                There are a few Events/Dressage shows that I won't attend due to the Judges they use.
                I have asked them why do you use Judge X- the answer;
                She/He is nice- nobody wants a nasty old biddy who gives low scores.
                And for the majority of riders I believe thats true-
                Just listen, how many times do you hear- We don't go to "Dressage" shows they don't like the way event horses go, or my horse is just an average mover so he won't ever score above a 5, I know that and just keep moving up.
                At these little events and local dressage clubs-the truth is people ride like crap and get rewarded for it.
                But entries are full because they want to hear how wonderful they are, not ride correctly.
                The same goes for most local trainers, someone tells these riders they are good enough to show.
                congratulations! I think you have hit the nail on the head and it is making for some poorly prepared unsafe jumping.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Getting out the ol' flame suit here...

                  How about dressage judges that look at how the horse moves overall. Obviously, nose pointed out, not on the bit is incorrect at many levels, and so is chin on the chest. But I've ridden some TBs in particular who free up their toplines and swing through the back only when they are a bit behind the vertical, and a bit low in the poll.

                  I'm hoping it's a stage (at least that's what my dressage guru tells me). But while I strive for the perfect, relaxed, balanced horse it is frustrating to have judges look no further than the headset.
                  They don't call me frugal for nothing.
                  Proud and achy member of the Eventing Grannies clique.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I'm with Frugal A. The overall frame of the horse, it's obedience, suppleness, and rideability are quite important. I have recently ridden a horse with a tendency to go behind, yet he was a beautiful mover with all the heart in the world, wanted to do the right thing, yet green. As we worked our way through the year he got better and better at taking the bit comfortably and finished our last horse trial with a super dressage score. There were moments of behind, but the rideability of the horse was so super -- I was so happy with the way he went, I could care LESS what the judge was seeing or not seeing.

                    My feeling is this:
                    You must teach a horse to go into the contact and just riding around not learning how to hold your hands, or feel a horse's mouth, doesn't teach that to either rider, or horse. The contact is the way, the truth, and the light of an event horse. A tad behind the vertical now and again during the course of a test should not automatically make an otherwise kindly ridden horse go to the bottom of the class. It is about educating all of us to see what the judges see, and getting even our beginners to understand how a horse must be ridden to be balanced, supple and rideable no matter where we school -- foxhunt, trail ride, dressage arena, etc. And not about where the nose is, and not about what judges seem to be placing or not placing, and not who organizers hire.
                    Proud & Permanent Student Of The Long Road
                    Read me: EN (http://eventingnation.com/author/annemarch/) and HJU (http://horsejunkiesunited.com/author/holly-covey/)

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