All posts by wcwdressage

Q: Do you judge riders at schooling shows by a different standard than you do at recognized shows?

BILL: The answer to this, for better or worse, is a resounding NO! Some judges seem to have a sliding standard and want to be “kinder” or “encouraging” to less experienced competitors. I am totally in favor of encouraging them—particularly with my comments on the test sheet or, if time permits, in conversation after the ride. But to jimmy the scores higher—whether at a schooling show or at a competition in a more remote part of the country—just confuses riders and trainers. A single standard that remains the same morning to night, professional to amateur to kid on a fat pony, and—as much as is humanly possible—week to week and show to show is the only good way to indicate to riders where they really stand and what progress they are making.

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Does your PB matter?

Peanut butter? No, in this case PB stands for personal best. Once again I want to
revisit the notion of why we go showing and what we get out of it. For a certain group
dressage IS showing, and showing means trying to win. For the moment we’ll set aside
the pathologies that develop when this segment of one’s character is taken to an
extreme. Other people show as much for the camaraderie they share with their
barnmates on a weekend of play and an escape from “real life.”

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Lines Disease

Many of us are followers especially in a circumstance that’s new to us, a
circumstance where we may lack surety or self-confidence. “If you don’t know where to
go, go where someone has gone before!” But this approach won’t always work to your
benefit. I remember judging a show back in the day when Training Level 3 included a 20
m half circle from B to E. This was an adult amateur class first thing after lunch, and the
ring had just been dragged. Not a single hoof print was evident when the first rider
began her test. Her novice half circle was more of an hyperbola worthy of Halley’s
Comet. Predictably those neat hoof prints like magnets attracted the next six adult
amateurs to follow exactly the same errant path.

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