(“Whether this is a dig at the judges’ integrity or just an acknowledgment of their human frailty is unknown.”)
Have you read the recent FEI Dressage Committee announcement that their dressage tests will no longer score the collective marks? Sorry, bad idea!
Their rationale ostensibly is that in international competition the current system gives the well-known riders some “bonus” additional high numbers post-test that inflate their scores. Whether this is a dig at the integrity of the judges or just an acknowledgment of their human frailty is unknown. Presumably without a specific movement replete with a list of requisite qualities demanded, the judges’ evaluation of more esoteric qualities like self carriage or impulsion will be swayed by their pre-conceptions formed from reputation and past history.
OK, putting all of that aside I really hope the USEF does not follow suit. The vast majority of the national level tests (meaning through fourth level) are not ridden in front of judges who know the riders or have some hidden bias or agenda.
Even in competition the tests are an important educational tool, and the collectives emphatically underline a performance’s strong and weak points. 7-6-5, 6-6-6, and 5-6-7, for example, all add up to the same total but they should convey a very different meaning to the rider or to the trainer when the student brings the test back to him afterwards. With no collective marks we would all still survive, but why remove a useful way for the judges to get their message across?