Appreciation for an encouraging dressage judge! - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 25 Old 02-21-2011, 06:35 PM Thread Starter
Green Broke
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Appreciation for an encouraging dressage judge!

Just wanted to share my appreciation for an understanding and encouraging dressage judge at the schooling show I went to yesterday

I was sincerely hoping that the she wouldn't think I was making a mockery of the show by bringing such a monster into the arena, and whilst we did very poorly score wise (deservedly so) she was kind enough to write some words of encouragement at the end of our second test, here is what she had to say:

"Good job to try and ride the test and well done keeping her in the arena. You are really kind to her and I think she has a lot of talent. I love your smile and attitude, be patient she'll be worth it. Good luck."

I just thought it was so nice of her to understand that we were at the beginning of a long road of training ahead of us and to be so encouraging. I guess she saw me almost laughing when Bobbie had a freak out midway through a 20m circle and just about careered out of the arena in a blind panic, we managed to stay inside by about two inches (no exaggeration). Also the smile of relief when I halted and saluted at the end of our erm...performance

For the record, someone scored lower than us on both tests (not quite sure how) so we managed to place fifth, but really the experience was what we were there for. In all honesty, Bobbie behaved better at this show than she did at the last one so I think we will get there in the end.

So a big thank you to all you understanding judges!

Anyone else want to share their stories of getting their horses over competition nerves?

All horses deserve, at least once in their lives, to be loved by a little girl.
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post #2 of 25 Old 02-22-2011, 12:04 AM
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Great to hear you got yourself some lovely judges :)
Usually I've had pretty good ones here, particularly with green horses. All you can do is smile and laugh it off when they crack a tantrum and I think judges appreciate seeing a rider that is willing to shoulder a crack up and just get on with it, rather than the rider's that go off ripping the horse apart for misbehaviour.
I've had some pretty rough judges too, but the decent ones certainly make up for the not so good ones! And decent judges doesn't mean that they're generous with scores as some riders like to think... I am with you Sarah in that the good judges are the ones that give constructive advice in your test notes, rather than those who simply go '4...4...4...4...' and don't say why or how to improve. I have looked back on a few tests where I've thought I would have pulled a 7 and the judge has given me a 4... its much better when they say WHY they have marked you down.

Then there's the judges that give you a 4 but in their comments for that movement give very positive feedback (very good free walk, lovely activity and looseness) and then you get a bad mark for it... those ones frustrate me!!!

Sorry, I got side tracked :P
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post #3 of 25 Old 02-22-2011, 12:57 AM
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Wayyyy back when I was showing (my competition rode dinosaurs), I had a really great experience with a judge.

I was showing my heart horse in a western pleasure class at a tri state show. Our competition was pretty stiff and I didn't expect to place very well. I had a hand me down saddle, a $500 horse and a bedazzled womens suit jacket for a show outfit. I ended up placing 5th out of 20 and was totally shocked. After the judge placed the class, we were excused. I came back for my ribbon and the judge was the one to hand it to me. She said "Your horse has talent and you ride very naturally. Keep up the good work and you will find your way".

Those few nice words kept me competing for several years. If I had a disappointing ride, I would always remind myself of that judge and how good it felt to be complemented on something I love.
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post #4 of 25 Old 02-22-2011, 02:55 AM
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So easy to build up esteem, and so easy to tear it down. Why does anyone choose to tear down?
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post #5 of 25 Old 02-22-2011, 07:41 AM
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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 07:48 AM.
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post #6 of 25 Old 02-22-2011, 07:44 AM Thread Starter
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Kayty - I am sure you have been in my situation more than once with a green OTTB, phew they can be hard work eh? How did your show go with your Bobbie? I bet you guys did really well, he is stunning.

Cori - What a lovely compliment, I bet you were smiling all day! Being told you are a very natural rider is surely one of the best things you can hear. Please don't talk about dinosaurs as I think we are the same age

Tiny - I agree, although I am the first to accept constructive criticism, (and there was plenty of that too) it is nice to see that professionals understand that everyone is at different stages of their training, and even to see through the scrappy moments to understand there is a horse underneath it all that will be day!

I was so happy to hear those words, it nearly brought a tear to my eye! We scored terribly on some of the movements, OK most of our movements but I wasn't there to win, I just need to get her out and about.

I was warned that Bobbie wouldn't make a riding horse and she has turned out to be such a beautiful riding horse, although she sure made it tough for me in the beginning. I just know I will get her through this next hurdle but unfortunately until that time I have no doubt we will have a few untidy performances!

Oh and I had two seperate people come up and ask what type of Warmblood she is, thanks to her over the top trot which was on display all day. Surely a huge compliment for a thoroughbred

All horses deserve, at least once in their lives, to be loved by a little girl.
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post #7 of 25 Old 02-22-2011, 07:48 AM Thread Starter
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SLC, you and I posted at the same time. It is true, the bad comments are the ones that help you improve and there were plenty of them written throughout my test I can assure you! And not couched in lovey dovey terms either. Those type of comments are the REASON I need to do more shows - to continue to improve. I could quote all of those but it would be incredibly long and probably boring for everyone else to read, it really only bears significance to myself and my trusty steed.

And don't worry, I am capable of understanding the score and related comments as they apply to my test. I always keep me scored tests to refer back to later and improve on the areas that need it.

The note she wrote that I quoted was written at the end of the test in the 'further comments' section. She didn't need to take the time to write that, but she did and I really appreciated the encouragement.

All horses deserve, at least once in their lives, to be loved by a little girl.

Last edited by sarahver; 02-22-2011 at 07:51 AM.
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post #8 of 25 Old 02-22-2011, 08:02 AM
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Well perhaps then it would help someone else to know that the 'good comment/bad score' is a message just as much as other combinations of score/comment are.

At the seminar, only 1-2 out of 75 (mostly very senior, experienced) people in the room understood the meaning of 'good comment/bad score'.

Too, in many decades, I've heard complaints related to score/comment combination more times than I could possibly count, at shows, after shows, in person, emails and on numerous bulletin boards, so much so that I would hazard a guess that the non-understanding of score/comment is far more broad than the understanding of it!

So perhaps the information will help someone else who hasn't your experience and knowledge.

Last edited by slc; 02-22-2011 at 08:05 AM.
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post #9 of 25 Old 02-22-2011, 08:22 AM
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"So easy to build up esteem, and so easy to tear it down. Why does anyone choose to tear down?"

If someone's self esteem is torn down by what happens at a horse show and what a judge says, they have far bigger problems than how they ride.

Self esteem is not something that can be affected by the current events of the day. Self esteem runs in a place that is unaffected by the day.

If something is 'torn down' by the comments of a dressage judge, that is not self esteem at all, but an overabundance of ego and narcisism, which comes crashing down each time something doesn't go the way the person wants.

When a person feels 'good' only when things go the way they want them to, that's not self esteem, that's something very, very different.

A person with self esteem, takes the comments of the judge and says, 'good, I've gotten some information from an expert! Now! How can I put this information to use?' A person with self esteem can completely blow a test and score a big fat zero, and laugh and say, 'well, tomorrow's another day!' A person with self esteem, turns 'failure' into success, by applying effort and dedication.

I have a friend with real, true, self esteem. When something goes a way he did not wish, he calls it, 'divergent results', LOL, and tries again.

Last edited by slc; 02-22-2011 at 08:31 AM.
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post #10 of 25 Old 02-22-2011, 08:23 AM
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Originally Posted by sarahver View Post
The note she wrote that I quoted was written at the end of the test in the 'further comments' section. She didn't need to take the time to write that, but she did and I really appreciated the encouragement.

I don't judge anymore but when I did I always wrote something encouraging at the bottom of the test.

If the test was overall a good one I tried to select specific areas that could be improved the easiest with a comment that directs them to where or what should be worked on and if I had the time maybe even suggest an exercise or method to accomplish it.

When I had an overall bad test I made it generally mostly encouraging and briefly pointed out areas of concern.

I never in all the time I judged I never wrote a discouraging remark.
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