Whoops, everyone has bad rides mate!!! The thing that seperates the decent riders from the rest of the pack though, is that those who WILL succeed do not blame everyone else around them, but instead look at their tests, look over the test video, work out what's going wrong, go home and work on it.
As others have explained, dressage is marked on individual movements. So even if you get a 0 on one movement - say a 20m canter circle and your horse just trots faster and does some kind of funky looking square shape, they are still perfectly able to get a 10 on the next movement if they do it perfectly.
Its great that Cinny went around the arena without bucking or giving any 'naughtiness' like the other horses, but a quiet, 'ok' test isn't what wins dressage. If you look at horses like Valegro and Totilas, they are very VERY hot headed horses. There's plenty of shots and videos floating around the internet of Valegro on his back legs in a full vertical rear.
As I think Allison and Maura have already covered, you need to read the course directives and description on each movement. Anybody can pull the horse around to the markers and do the movements with the horse in an inconsistent contact and on the forehand. Its the basic work that is the hard bit.
I think I am understanding a lot better now. Naughty on 1 thing but good on others, still good overall score. Quite but not quite right, points off for each thing... So even a horse that is hot still does very well. I actually see Cin as more the "hot" type just not on the bit or in control yet but he is oh so sensitive.
My lack of connection is my fear of giving him connection since he already has issues from the past in regards to his bit, ingrained in his head. I need to find more balance with that...and we have been very very slowly. Like I said in a previous thread, I am now getting blisters because of more contact. That doesn't mean he has what he should have, but it's a start. If I have him at a halt in the arena and gently pick up the reins more and more to get contact, he will resist for about 5 seconds and then drop his head into the bridle and chew. Only 4 months ago if I did the same thing his head would have shot up so hard I'd be scared of my nose getting busted. At home at a walk I can get the head down/chewy connection but not with other gaits. It's progress though.
I also have to be very very careful with leg pressure... basically just barely tickle him with the stirrup, anything more and he will lunge forward as if I have just smacked him on the butt HARD with a whip. I NEVER allow anyone on him with spurs, and only OutOfTheBlue has been allowed to use his snaffle, anyone else who rides uses my rope halter/hackamore. Steering him is 95% seat, same with halt.
I know writing those out has probably bored you. But writing them just now has made me realize just how fare I have gotten with Cman....Wow.