All posts by wcwdressage

At a schooling show I saw one of the riders talking with the judge during a break. They seemed to know each other. Is this fair to the other competitors?

BILL— What you are really bringing up here is the matter of integrity. In the world of judging we hear of certain biases. The hunter world is said to be very political, and in dressage international judges are known to favor their countrymen. And while it is true that judges may know each other as well as many of the competitors —whether the show is recognized or a schooling one— we are much more concerned about getting our numbers right in the eyes of other judges than doing them some kind of favor they know they don’t deserve.
Super stringent enforcement of a no fraternizing rule is just silly. Even though they are not supposed to do it, in major league baseball when a player hangs in through a long at bat and finally drops a single into right field, he and the first baseman will often chitchat for a moment before the next hitter comes up. That hardly damages the integrity of the competition!
That for some reason I should not be allowed say hi to a rider while standing in the show office or as she goes past the booth before her test is equally ridiculous. Discussing the horse or the test or the sale of some other horse is strictly forbidden. Being a normal, civil person is not! I have judged at the Morgan World Championships several times and have been struck by the goofy extremes they go to in order to enforce this rule, even to point of accompanying the judges to the restroom lest we nod to a competitor in passing. Saints preserve us! Doesn’t that seem like an insult to our honor?

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How to Deliver the News

(“nominally negative but not apt to spark someone’s ire”)                                     
You know that old line that proper mothers used to preach to us: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all?” Heeding that advice when asked about the techniques of fellow professionals is a good way to maintain the slender threads of civility which tie our ego-driven equestrian community together.

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Whiskers on dressage horses?

I recently went to a schooling show that offered hunter/ jumper and dressage classes. I am thinking of trying some dressage so I went to watch. There was a very fancy horse doing 4th level. I talked with the rider after and noticed the horse’s whiskers weren’t clipped. I asked if she didn’t clip because it was a schooling show and she told me she had stopped clipping years ago and really didn’t know anyone who clipped whiskers or ears anymore. Is this ok in dressage??

BILL— It is more than totally OK in dressage, even at the biggest recognized shows. At the moment there is no specific FEI rule, but in some European countries where dressage obviously is very popular, it is literally against the law to trim whiskers or inside your horse’s ears. This is a horse welfare issue, not an aesthetic one. A horse’s whiskers are part of his tactile sensory apparatus, and to deprive him of them seems unfair and unkind. Many top trainers in the US have a European background, so it seems perfectly normal for them to allow the whiskers to be natural. In the dressage world you won’t get a sideways look.

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