How is dressage judged? - The Horse Forum

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post #1 of 10 Old 12-08-2013, 09:41 PM Thread Starter
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How is dressage judged?

Sorry, I don't know anything about dressage but whenever I see people do dressage I'm like "oh that looks cool", but somehow the judges figure out something wrong with it. HOW? What do they look for?
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post #2 of 10 Old 12-08-2013, 10:38 PM
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Dressage is judged as a series of separate movements according to a scale:

0 - not performed
1 - very poor
2 - poor
3 - fairly poor
4 - insufficient
5 - sufficient
6 - satisfactory
7 - fairly good
8 - good
9 - very good
10 - excellent

There are directives listed at the top of the test, and with each movement which become increasingly more difficult as the levels progress. For example in training level the horse is expected to be "accepting the bit", and in first level they must be "on the bit".

An example of how a movement may receive different scores in training level on a 20m trot circle.
If the horse is misbehaving/cantering/bucking depending on the severity they can receive between a 1 and 3. If the horse canters the whole circle, technically the score should be 0 (as a trot circle was asked for), but most judges will give a 1 or 2.
If the horse is against/above the bit very vigorously, a 4 is given.
If the horse is above the bit, or if the circle is very wonky, and rhythm mistakes, a 5.
If the horse is accepting the bit to a satisfying standard and the circle shape is good, or if the horse is accepting the bit well and the circle is wonky, with decent rhythm, a 6.
If the horse is accepting the bridle and the shape is good with a fairly good rhythm, a 7.
If the horse is showing a good acceptance of the bridle, good rhythm, good shape, and 8.
If the horse is truly round and through with a very good contact, rhythm and showing great swing and lovely forward motion - this is when the 9 and 10 get pulled out!
Of course now there are half points which are more helpful to those on the lower end of the scale. If it is between scores, a half point is awarded. I see mostly 5.5 and 6.5.

So - "satisfactory" will never get you a 10. It must be exceptional. The difference for me in the scores is below 3 is verging on scary/naughty/being rung out, a 4 is sketchy as, a 5 is almost there, a 6 checks all the boxes, a 7 is nice to watch, an 8 is a pleasure to watch, a 9 is just absolutely lovely and a 10 takes your breath away.

Hope that helps explain!

They say money doesn't buy happiness -- well happiness doesn't buy horses!
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post #3 of 10 Old 12-09-2013, 09:20 AM
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First, they have STUDIED pictures and performances that ARE as perfect as possible, then studied the not-so-good ones, and had a basis for comparison. Then, they go to judge's seminars, then, they sit alongside judges during shows. ALL the time, STUDYING.

Anabel, that is a great explanation of the scoring!

Additionally, there is a TALENT to seeing the difference , and being able to score a slight difference, since they cannot compare one ride to another.

Nancy
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post #4 of 10 Old 12-09-2013, 09:46 PM
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The tests are written for each level, and each level progressively has different sets of exercises and movements.

The horse/rider is judged according to the rules/directives listed here for the TRAINING of the horse: https://www.usef.org/documents/ruleBook/2014/08-DR.pdf
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post #5 of 10 Old 12-10-2013, 06:48 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone. Dressage is cool. I wish I could do it.
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post #6 of 10 Old 12-10-2013, 07:27 AM
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Do you have a horse?
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post #7 of 10 Old 12-10-2013, 07:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jbarring View Post
Thanks everyone. Dressage is cool. I wish I could do it.
That's the beauty of it. Anyone can work towards at least basic dressage improvement, and if you put forth the effort it'll really improve both you and your horse. Even if you have a completely non-English horse, dressage aspects can be applied to improve your riding. Quite literally, the word dressage translates to "training".
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post #8 of 10 Old 12-10-2013, 10:40 AM Thread Starter
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I don't have a horse. I ride jumper hunting at a barn. I've only been doing it for 5 months.
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post #9 of 10 Old 12-10-2013, 11:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jbarring View Post
I don't have a horse. I ride jumper hunting at a barn. I've only been doing it for 5 months.
I don't see why that has anything to do with it. There's no reason why you couldn't apply dressage basics in your lessons. You'd probably just call it "flatwork" Of course, there's a difference between just letting your horse plod along on the flat, and actually making them work. Jumping is not just about jumping- keep in mind that there's a lot of area to cover in between those fences, and dressage will help you a lot there!

Edit: Never mind, you were replying to the post asking if you had a horse. Well, anyway, the above still applies!
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post #10 of 10 Old 12-10-2013, 12:17 PM
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Perhaps they have a horse more schooled in dressage! You can still study and learn, then develop the feel when you get to school on a horse.

Nancy
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