Wednesday, July 12, 2017

What they want

To be clear, dressage is new to me.  It's kind of weird and super subjective.  I get that.  But sometimes, you get a score and you damn well know you got screwed over.

That got a 57%, including a 5 for submission.  That test right there.  A 5 for submission.

I'm so confused.

Yes, his nose is in front of the vertical.  I made that choice.  I didn't want him to curl and he was tucking his nose in the warm up.  He was forward and straight and it felt very relaxed and nice.  He never once tried to break and none of the movements felt dicey.  Yes, the leg yield was a bit shitty, but the movements were all there and willing.

She said we didn't have enough bend on that lengthen trot movement.  What?  Seriously, what?  No comment on his actual lengthen (which I was proud of because he actually pushed), just a comment about his lack of bend at H and K.  I got 5.5s on every circle.  Not enough bend.  She said we don't have the connection required for the level.  I got a 5.5 for rider with the word 'subtly' underlined.

Now I feel completely lost.  I was feeling so good about that test when it was done.  He was so relaxed and willing in the ring of death.  I thought I had my 60.  He didn't over bend and throw his shoulders around, he didn't swing his haunches in.  Yes, he was ahead of the vertical, but geeze.  It's First level.  I thought his improved impulsion was more important.

We scored lower than my last test where I felt so bad and felt like the test was barely hanging on.  We scored five points lower than his test with Trainer A where he tried to break in the canter.  It's not like I was expecting a 70 or anything.  60 is supposed to mean you did it.  You completed the test and no one gasped or ducked or thought you weren't going to manage it.  We got beat by a horse that spun on center line and was braced through the neck due to tension for the entire test.  But by the gods, his nose was vertical.

I guess I really don't know what they want.


  1. A bad score is a bad score. They happen. I've known pros on $$$$$$ horses to get the one off bad score here and there. There are lots of very technical reasons as to why usually, but at the end of the day, it was one person's opinion at one time in one place. Next time will be someone else's.

  2. The thing is, judges can't read your mind. They don't know if you've made the conscious choice to allow your horse to remain in front of the vertical. I will 100% agree the test looked very calm, very relaxed, and I don't have a clue what she means by no bend because your circles look absolutely fine to me. But (and please don't take this the wrong way - this is just my point of view) there does appear to be a lack of contact - most prominently displayed in the free walk, where he offers you basically zero stretch into the bit. She might have gotten fixated on that and decided to ping you for everything else extra harshly. To be honest, and for lack of a better term, I've never seen another horse with an above the vertical headset in a First Level test - that's a Training level headset. But the judge doesn't know that your horse curls or attempts to evade the bit, so she's probably just going off the norm without putting much thought into it. I'm not an expert nor a judge though - just my two cents.

  3. Dressage is a tricky sport! The judge just sees the 1 moment of time and has no idea where you started or what horse you're dealing with that day. They only judge what they see and sometimes you can be very happy with the test but it does t score well. My coach always says winning isn't about the color of your ribbon, it's about the feeling in your tummy :) If you felt that was a winning test then it was. You have your own victories to celebrate and one day it will all line up and your victories will also be reflected in your scores!!

    And maybe this thought will give you some clarity on your test- I've always heard that when judges are judging the 3rd test of the level they're also looking to see if your horse is ready for the next level. So they are looking to see at 1st 3 if your horse is ready for 2nd 1. I agree with Hawk too, your test looked like a really lovely training level test. But you know that you were dealing with curling issues so it was a successful test for you. And that's what you should be proud of :) It will get easier!!!!

  4. There's nothing quite like one bad test/judge/show to rip you down. Been there, done that. Hopefully you get some constructive feedback at your next show to make you feel like you're still on the right path. Trust your training and your instincts. You gave him the ride he needed that day and there's nothing wrong with that.