Personal disfigurement seems to be all the rage these days. . .
(“Witches, plastic spiders, and ghosts were everywhere.”)
BILL–That’s an interesting question, especially because just recently I was on the panel that judged the Region 1 Dressage Seat Equitation Semi-Finals. There are two good online resources which speak to this question: The USEF rulebook has a section within the Dressage Division which is quite explicit about what we should look for. In addition there are the Dressage Seat Equitation Guidelines for Competitors and the Guidelines for Judging Dressage Seat Equitation Classes prepared by Lendon Gray which detail what really matters and how we arrive at a numerical score.
(“Fifty-five and stay alive!”)
(“Arabs used to take the brunt of it before Friesians.”)
(“You might wonder if this dang horse will ever get it!”)
BILL– I’m going to fall back on the “That depends” answer here. Without any clear-cut guidelines (unlike the blood on the horse rule), how it is treated depends on the judge’s perception of what all is going on in the horse. There are a few judges (a minority) who will punish the first sound of grinding fairly severely. The majority will look at it in the overall context of the horse’s countenance and how he is behaving. This would apply to tail swishing as well. If his mouth is not gaping, if he doesn’t look rigid or locked, if it doesn’t appear to stem from problems with the rider’s hands, then it usually won’t hurt you too badly. Eric Lette, when he was chairman of the FEI Dressage Committee, spoke of “happy grinding” where other than the noise it made, it seemed to imply no other resistances. He pointed to some horses who ground their teeth when peacefully standing in their own stall. He felt it was unreasonable to punish a horse for a harmless habit.
(“those moments or for those horses where we hear the music of the spheres”)
My trainer gave my working first level horse a schooling ride last week. She did lots of bending, counter canter, half passes at trot and canter in a very demanding way. She also worked a couple of changes which involved some rough handling. I rode him yesterday and he seemed very edgy.
(“Please, God, let them already know what I’m talking about!”)