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~*~anebel~*~ 09-26-2012 02:51 PM

USEF Rider Tests for 2013
USEF Announces Dressage Rider Tests | Dressage Daily

There have been so many many threads here asking about "what is dressage judged on?" and "why did that rider with her heels up/thumbs down win that test?". I've always remained that in reading the directives of the tests that they state only what the horse should be doing and how the horse should be going. However, we must always keep in mind that it is the rider influencing the horse and therefore the more effective rider on the same horse should score higher if for no reason other than a higher collectives score in the "rider" boxes.
Then there was the development of the dressage equitation rail classes, and now it appears that the USEF has taken this a step further by adding in tests judged purely on the rider.
It will be interesting to see if the judging of these tests is going to encourage a very correctly placed rider on a hollow horse whose way of going is not correct, or a rider with minor equitation flaws but a comfortable looking horse who is ridden effectively. I would hate for these tests to encourage the development of a "dressage equitation" type horse and rider who will not be able to be successful in the "normal" dressage arena.
It is said that the thought is that these tests will encourage riders on less than stellar horses as they will have a better chance of being in the ribbons, but in my experience a good rider on any horse is going to beat out any bad riders, regardless of how flashy the horse is. Plus riding a horse with more or flashier movement is inherently more difficult than riding a smooth or short strided horse and I wonder if this will also be a factor in the new tests.
I think it would be a better test of true equitation and effective riding to run the classes such that there is a pool of horses and riders at each level and the rider must draw a horse to ride that day and be allowed a 30 minute warm up only with the horse prior to the test, on that day. To have the rider on his to her own horse is, in my opinion, still only going to give the ribbons to the same people as the "regular" dressage tests should the equitation tests be rewarding effective riders.


Klassic Superstar 09-26-2012 03:09 PM

Wow! This is so cool! I'm with you completely and will be very intrested in seeing how this works out! I was grooming at Donida this year and so many 1st&2nd level riders had way to big of horses that they couldn't control or they just looked so beyond what they where capable of and it was really just embarsssing! With that said there where some mind blowing tests and amazing horses to watch float across the diagonals and watch the tempi's and see the scores! Just such a great learning exoerpaince! Now having groomed at the EI shows and such in my area, only at Donida the last two years it has taunt me and inspired me so much! This is my year to take my young green horse horse out for training level! And I hope to be able to ride in some of these rail classes and this new class you have mentioned! Thanks for sharing!

jaydee 09-26-2012 03:10 PM

When I was a child (in the UK) there used to be Best Rider classes at local shows - probably still are and this is what the dressage idea you are talking about makes me think of. All seems very amateurish somehow. Quite often a rider with a less 'correct' looking style will get the best performance out of a horse in any discipline and thats what is important to me.
I have seen and known many riders who are able to sit and look pretty and appear to get good resuts out of a well made horse they bought for the job - when they get an unmade horse they are often really awful.
I think all classes should be judged solely on the performance of the horse - a good rider, regardless of how nicely they position their legs etc will always get the best results.
There will always be people who can afford to buy the best horses - thats life, you have to deal with it but there are also some brilliant riders who have taken on difficult or cheap horses and turned them into starts - thats what should be encouraged.

kitten_Val 09-26-2012 05:59 PM

From my understanding those tests are not required but more up to the rider to take..? Personally I'd find it helpful to have a judge to go after my own butt, not just after my horse (even though I work with the trainer, the new pair of eyes can always find something).

I wonder how many people will be interested in such tests though. From what I see not everyone likes the critique on his/her own riding.

equiniphile 09-26-2012 06:32 PM

You know, a few weeks ago someone told me about dressage IHSA college teams, and since then I've wondered how it's judged. Surely not by typical dressage test standards, as the horse's way of going can only be influenced so much by the rider, and it's the horse that is ultimately judged. It would make more sense if these were rail equitation classes. Does anyone have any information on this?

Allison Finch 09-26-2012 06:40 PM

I have mixed feelings.

I have never been a fan of "pretty over effective" as is seen in many equitation classes. If I really believed all judges had the ability to see what a rider is doing and evaluate, appropriately, WHY they may be doing something...I might like it. I just have seen too many poor judges obsess over pretty instead instead of effective.

Sounds a bit too subjective, to me.

IslandWave 09-26-2012 08:44 PM

^ Yeah, you summed up what I currently feel, Allison. I don't know what to think.

Kayty 09-26-2012 09:37 PM


To me, as Allison said, it sounds like the judging will be far too subjective.
In Australian Showing (I guess o/s you would have it too) they have "Rider Classes", judged purely on the riders being "pretty" in the saddle. The horses used in these classes tend to be the types to go around with their heads in a false frame, and the riders are able to sit there and focus 100% on their position.
I think this entirely defeats the purpose in Dressage. We are CONSTANTLY altering parts of our position according to the feel we are getting from the horse and if it has to look messy for a moment, then so be it. The horse is the focus, and our position is there only to compliment the horse and get th best results from the horse. Obviously a rider in a chronic chair seat, or leaning constantly forward over the dashboard is not going to be as effective as a rider who can engage their core and 'feel' what is going on under them.

To judge this is very difficult, I don't think there is any point in calling this "Dressage" as competitors will start to forget about how their horse is travelling, and ensuring that they look "pretty" - in which case, go off and to showing horses, not Dressage.

gypsygirl 09-26-2012 11:58 PM

well seeing as form follows function, i think its a good idea. its also good for people who have horses that are not that suited to dressage.

DuffyDuck 09-27-2012 03:16 AM

If you have a school horse, or a school master, you can pretty much do anything on them and get away with it. I thought I was a fairly good rider on my old school master, good position, long legs and able to sit his very bouncy medium trot no problems.

Then I got Duffy, and the holes in my riding became more apparent.

It depends on the horse, the training, and the ability of that horse to compensate the rider rather than 'form follows function'. My poor old boy hid a LOT of my faults.

Where as I am not against these classes for new riders to get in to competitions, work on their seat and have the crit, I don't think they should be labelled "Dressage Rider" tests, but something that helps the rider towards aiming for dressage, SJ, XC. To label it as dressage is giving false impressions to the rider.

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