I have never ridden under any dressage judge that was not encouraging and positive. As far as I have seen, in many, many years, not one of them has been negative and un-encouraging. I've always had an immense amount of respect for them.
They WILL, indeed, tell you what you may not want to hear, but that can make the difference between you improving or not improving, so I see it as positive.
If you get a comment like, 'Rider needs to improve seat to improve communication with horse' or 'Not ready for this level', or '****FORWARD!!!!!!!!!!!!**** you should be glad the judge cared about your progress enough to tell you the truth!
I looked at showing as the equivalent of about 100 dressage lessons, for a bargain price, compressed into a two day period, and for much of my riding career, this was with a much more knowledgeable person than I could afford to go to weekly.
The trick is, learning to understand the score and comments.
Of course at schooling and club shows, you get untrained, or inexperienced judges many times (not always!). They often don't write good comments. You get what you pay for, most of the time! You go to a recognized show with a passel of big R, S and the occasional O judge, it makes a difference!!! The test papers I got back from Axel Steiner, Michael/Thom/Sharon Poulin, Hilda Gurney, those are pretty valuable pieces of paper!! Compared to clinic or lesson prices for those guys, they're a he** of a deal!
Re: good comment, bad score.
We just went to a judge's seminar last month.
The 'good comment with the bad score', at least for THAT (S) judge, means they don't see how the score could be improved. In other words, there are some natural limitations at work.
Example, Extended trot, '4', 'nice tail'.
Example, Extended canter, '6', 'steady rhythm'.
The 'bad comment with the bad score', means they see how it could be improved, and the comment tells you exactly how the score coud be improved.
Example, Lengthening at the trot, '3', 'MUST SHOW MORE DIFFERENCE'
Example, Circle, 20 meters, '3', 'needs round circle, bend needs to be to INSIDE, needs to accept bit'
Generally, people make the mistake of not reading carefully. They don't look carefully enough at the general impressions section of the test, and correlate those marks and comments to the rest of the test. Instead, they barely glance at the paper, just trying to see which score or comment is 'good' and which is 'bad', but not taking in the message.
For example, the 'NEEDS TO SHOW MORE DIFFERENCE' type of comments up in the separate marks, are supported by comments and scores in the general impressions - such as, 'Rider needs to develop a more supple and strong position in order to allow this horse to move as he is capable'.
That S judge told us her dream is to have a test with all 8's and BAD COMMENTS.
That means, the judge is telling her how to get 9 and 10!!!!
Remember, if you don't understand your test paper, ask the judge to explain it to you! Don't ask someone else later!!!!
The judge is there to help you. They care about how each and every one of us progresses, and how we ride. Certainly, be polite in your questions, and don't stomp up yelling, 'You must be out of your head!!!' LISTEN - and learn.
Last edited by slc; 02-22-2011 at 08:48 AM.