Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Practice makes perfect

Or at least I hope it does! (Apologies for this not arriving yesterday as promised - a mad day made it impossible.) Much of being a dressage judge involves being visually agile. What on earth does that mean? Well, it means that with the relevant knowledge of the regulations and the 'Scales of Training' (from the German training system) it's necessary to be able to evaluate a certain exercise being executed by horse and rider in a matter of seconds - and give it a score out of 10 and a comment if appropriate! Sounds complicated? It does to me too.

Last weekend a national level dressage competition was held at the riding club where we were doing the course. And we were told that we could use it as part of our practical tests. I thought that it would be a good idea to get started on them as there are quite a few to do. The practical tests involve taking part in different areas of the organisation of a dressage competition and not just the judging part. But, two of the practical tests to be done involved 'writing' for a judge - which means that you fill the score sheet of the reprise with the scores and comments given by the judge. So as the judges at the competition were all very experienced I thought it a good idea to do this test.

I was lucky enough to be able to sit on both days and 'write' for an international level judge. A privilege indeed! Some of the reprises are more complicated than others to score depending on the level but with most (and once I got the hang of what I was supposed to be doing!) it was possible to watch the movements and then write down the score. How interesting to hear a judge score and comment on a horse and rider that you are watching! It is a totally different experience from being sat in the stand and watching. And also have the opportunity to ask questions and have an explanation of why.

'Did we all see that?'
In the photo all three judges are sat together for the Young Horse reprises (horse in the photo is a 5yr old mare) because they give a general score for each gait and look for potential rather then specific scores for each movement. How nerve-wracking for the horse and rider to have to pass the three judges together and half a dozen hopefuls!

I have to be honest and say that by the second day I was beginning to get an idea of what I should be looking for and at and mentally scoring moves and waiting for the judge to give his score to see how similar they were. If I was way off then I innocently asked why he'd given the score he had to see where I'd gone wrong! I found it interesting, enjoyable and mentally stimulating. I don't think that it's possible to judge well or properly in two days but I do think that practice (a lot of practice!) will make perfect. And I believe that having an active interest in dressage helps immensely.

There are plenty more practical tests to be done (I haven't received the full list yet) but I'll share the experience when it happens.

BTW, I just found out this afternoon that I passed the Phase 1 exam and the 300 questions on the regulations!!! Pleased beyond words!!!! So, on with Phase 2 and the practical tests - I'll make a dressage judge out of me yet!!

Hasta pronto!


  1. Congrats on passing!!! It looks like it was hot out there!

  2. Congrats on Phase One and good luck with Two. Hope to read all about it soon. :)

  3. Congratulations for passing! Sounds like you had a fascinating experience.

  4. Yay!! Congratulations!! Best of luck on phase 2!! :)