I have no problem with what the judge did here. The Collectives, which used to be called the General Impressions, are just that. They sum up the ride in three numbers (leaving out the rider score for the moment). When a student brings a test sheet back to her instructor, “6-7-7” conjures up a very particular image. (I’m guessing that rider score would be fairly high also.) Here, the judge is saying the horse may not be the best mover, but he’s being presented in a way that amplifies whatever natural talent he has. Collectives which read “7-6-5” call to mind a decent mover showing signs of tension or acceptance issues. The 6 for Impulsion is probably related to the lack of swing in his back or lack of suppleness—both qualities you find in the fine print in the Impulsion block.
Looking at another example, if the bottom of the sheet has “8-7-7” and a high rider score, it’s fairly easy to tell what the judge thought of the test.
The point is that the Collectives aren’t just an average of the marks in the body of the test. The judge can use them to send a message to the rider or the trainer, pointing them to the areas which, if improved, would raise the overall score the most.
Picturing a hypothetical gray Arabian (ridden by Daniele’s hypothetical ten year old child), I imagine a very consistent ride—fluid, relaxed, obedient, and with a round topline. Lots of 6s and 7s in the body of the test, the kid’s little legs not causing the horse to generate much thrust, but the rest of those qualities causing each block’s mark to rise above a 5. Then the test is over, and the judge is writing the Collectives. “Where was the pony getting a ‘pass?’” the judge asks herself.
“7-5-7” sends a more distinct message than “6.5-6-6.5.” It adds up to the same 19 points but it gives the rider better feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of her performance.