(“It’s an easy movement to screw up.”)
Recently I was judging an Open Intermediate division of a horse trials. If you are not familiar with those tests, they are roughly similar to a second level test at a dressage show.
There were quite a few very good rides but one in particular stood out, and in the Collectives I gave it nine for Submission. Afterwards several people asked what made it a nine. My answer:
First of all he was up and round and carried himself. He was also quite a nice mover and well-balanced in the canter. All that would routinely earn him an eight. But there was more.
The test has four simple changes—canter to walk to canter. It’s an easy movement to screw up: an off balance downward transition, jog steps, tension in the walk, a hollow depart, just to name a few. For simple changes I seem to give a lot more sixes than any other score. This horse earned an eight four times. He also had two lovely transitions back from medium canter, each occurring in just a stride, and a smooth, relaxed reinback. Furthermore all the shoulders-in/travers were fluid and without resistance.
Judges always wish for those rides which they honestly can call “a pleasure to watch.” This was truly one.