A musing on dressage tests in bad weather conditions

willtowin

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Going with the topical theme of this horrendous weather...
If you were a judge and you were judging a section on a day where the weather was typically British (e.g. at one instant sunny and fine, the next hailing/deluge of rain/blowing gale) - would you take the weather conditions into account when judging?
Eg if one horse who was in perfect weather did a fairly nice trot circle and you give it a 7 - then the next horse comes along, in blowing wind and rain, and does a slightly more tense, less nice movement - worthy of a 6 in normal conditions - would you take the weather into account and give it a 7 or judge what you see and give it a 6?
Was talking to someone today who was at Aldon, she said her test had the worst of the weather, she got a 38 - horse's average marks are 29-33ish. She complained that the judge had not taken the horrendous weather into account, and that the judge needed to level the playing field by being more generous to the horses who had to perform in bad conditions. I on the other hand think that a judge should judge what they see, and weather is about luck of the draw.
Thoughts?
 

oldvic

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A judge can feel sympathy for them but they have to judge what they see - how can they say the tension was purely due to the weather? They can make an educated guess but that is not their problem. Also another horse could come in in bad weather and not react to it so then what would you do?
 

jess_asterix

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We live in England... We should just get on with it. Surely all horses are trained in the rain at some point so I think the judge should mark what is in front of them despite the weather.

The same could be said for extreme heat causing a lethargic horse... Where do we draw the line?!
 

jenbleep

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Judging should be based on what they see - blaming the weather is just an excuse!

I suppose the answer to this is ride out in all weather and practice :D Then you can only blame yourself for lesser than average marks
 

Nicnac

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I think the best example is Tina Cook at the Olympics who had the worst of the weather in her dressage test with the roofs blowing off the judge's boxes. I have never been so wet sitting up with the Gods hoping not to be struck by lightening!

Despite the weather her horse was totally focused as is used to working in all conditions, usually on grass.

So no, why should someone who has the worst of the weather get better marks than what they are actually showing the judge?
 

armchair_rider

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Are you sure the complainer wasn't Andrew Nicholson in a heavy disguise?

Agree with everyone else. It is a shame that some people get worse weather than others but it is down to luck and you couldn't really make allowances for it fairly - at leats not without a special set of rules, issuing wind guages etc
 

oldvic

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Are you sure the complainer wasn't Andrew Nicholson in a heavy disguise?

Agree with everyone else. It is a shame that some people get worse weather than others but it is down to luck and you couldn't really make allowances for it fairly - at leats not without a special set of rules, issuing wind guages etc
As he was upset at not being allowed to ride in the bad weather, that is rather uncalled for. He actually moans a lot less than most of the top British riders. Incidentally, he was also riding in the worst of the weather without a murmur.
 

TarrSteps

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Wasn't he upset at NOT going ahead when the weather turned? As it messed up his prep, which was not a universal situation?

He ran his whole lot around Tweseldown - successfully - when lots of other people did not so I suspect he would agree with the 'same for all, get on with it' approach.
 

Kikke

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If I was the one in the horrible weather I would hope they would take that into account but really they should not at all. Dressage is all about submission and horrible weather is the ultimate test isn't it.
I normally don't mind the weather in my tests but can get nervous when needing to halt in a test and the horse turning bum into the rain!:p
 

Chloe_GHE

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Judging is supposed to be objective so, no, it should not be adjusted for conditions.
I concur this is the logic but in reality the human element creeps in. If you are a judge in a damp windy judges' box watching dejected and soaked riders battle the elements the emotional side of your brain will no doubt have an impact, and make you feel compassion for them and the horrid situation and then possibly as a result be a little more generous, and a little less critical with your judgement.

Riders at the comp I attended yesterday in the prelim classes gained an additional 7-10% more from the judge in the outdoor arena (with a puddle down one end) than they did the indoor arena judge.....;)
 

Ahrena

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When I competed at Tweseldown BE last week, the stewards said judges were taking ground conditions into consideration. A bit different as it wasn't so variable apart from get worse throughout the day, but it was awful from the beginning.

I personally thought I had quite a backwards test as wasn't happy to ride as forwards as usual given areas of deep mud, and despite horse breaking into canter 3 times during trot work we were given a PB of 29. it wasn't just a kind judge either as plenty of scores in the 40s.

I suppose in that scenario given everyone was in the same boat, they marked kinder as not to put unnecessarily harsh marks on the horse's record as it just isn't physically possible to have the same quality of work in deep mud as it is on good going. But again, the difference being that everyone was in the same boat.
 

oldvic

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I concur this is the logic but in reality the human element creeps in. If you are a judge in a damp windy judges' box watching dejected and soaked riders battle the elements the emotional side of your brain will no doubt have an impact, and make you feel compassion for them and the horrid situation and then possibly as a result be a little more generous, and a little less critical with your judgement.

Riders at the comp I attended yesterday in the prelim classes gained an additional 7-10% more from the judge in the outdoor arena (with a puddle down one end) than they did the indoor arena judge.....;)
That may be with inexperienced/lower level judges but, with experience, you learn to feel compassion but stay detached in your judgement which is how it has to be.

TarrSteps, that is absolutely correct. The warm up was timed to the minute, as it has to be with Nereo who is not straightforward, and he was going better than ever during Tina's test, just before being held. This wasn't a local gymkhana.
 
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Chloe_GHE

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That may be with inexperienced/lower level judges but, with experience, you learn to feel compassion but stay detached in your judgement which is how it has to be.
Yes this was only at BD Prelim level where as I understand it there's more of a range when it comes to judges' level of experience?...
 

welshone

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I was at Aldon yesterday and the girl I help was working in when the hail storm hit. She had to do her test in pretty horrific weather but just got on with it, luckily her and the pony have done a lot of hunting! But another pony that was due to do its test a couple befor her was unsettled by the weather and connections tried to get her moved to a later time. This did not happen and she had to go in on her time, as it should be. It would have been most unfair if she had been allowed to move her time, it is the luck of the draw what the weather is like, I would definitely have objected if she had been allowed to go later when the weather was better!
 

morrismob

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TarrSteps, that is absolutely correct. The warm up was timed to the minute, as it has to be with Nereo who is not straightforward, and he was going better than ever during Tina's test, just before being held. This wasn't a local gymkhana.[/QUOTE]

Just to play devil's advocate surely a horse at this level whether it be a local gymkhana or the Olympics, be so well trained that a hold in time does not affect him in the ring. As in normal everyday eventing I rarely have seen dressage, sj or xc go at the alloted times ? None of our horses are straight forward:D
 

oldvic

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TarrSteps, that is absolutely correct. The warm up was timed to the minute, as it has to be with Nereo who is not straightforward, and he was going better than ever during Tina's test, just before being held. This wasn't a local gymkhana.
Just to play devil's advocate surely a horse at this level whether it be a local gymkhana or the Olympics, be so well trained that a hold in time does not affect him in the ring. As in normal everyday eventing I rarely have seen dressage, sj or xc go at the alloted times ? None of our horses are straight forward:D[/QUOTE]

In normal everyday eventing the dressage is to time unless something has gone wrong (riders forgetting tests, being slow to get to arena, etc., it is the other phases that can be variable. In a normal event there isn't the same pressure to get it right - there are more events that year. Even the big events you only have to wait for the following year. With an Olympics it is every 4 years. The horses are very well trained but they are also fit to "run for their lives" which makes a huge difference to their rideability. To do an exceptional test at that level there is very little margin for error as you have to ride to the maximum - even Valegro nearly lost it at the end of the music. When you are asking for maximum the horse can only give it for a certain time so you build to peak as you go in. In the final 10 mins before you go in you are building to that peak. It is too late too stop but too long to keep going. 10 mins is about the worst amount of time to be stopped as less and you can probably last and more means you haven't increased the power so you wait to start that build up. Event horses don't necessarily find it physically easy to work at full power as their conformation and musculature is also for galloping and jumping which reduces the margin and factor in a quirky temperament and that you and the horse are soaked through from riding in in the storm so then trying to keep the muscles warm while not expending more energy and it is very easy to understand the frustration.
 

morrismob

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Just to play devil's advocate surely a horse at this level whether it be a local gymkhana or the Olympics, be so well trained that a hold in time does not affect him in the ring. As in normal everyday eventing I rarely have seen dressage, sj or xc go at the alloted times ? None of our horses are straight forward:D
In normal everyday eventing the dressage is to time unless something has gone wrong (riders forgetting tests, being slow to get to arena, etc., it is the other phases that can be variable. In a normal event there isn't the same pressure to get it right - there are more events that year. Even the big events you only have to wait for the following year. With an Olympics it is every 4 years. The horses are very well trained but they are also fit to "run for their lives" which makes a huge difference to their rideability. To do an exceptional test at that level there is very little margin for error as you have to ride to the maximum - even Valegro nearly lost it at the end of the music. When you are asking for maximum the horse can only give it for a certain time so you build to peak as you go in. In the final 10 mins before you go in you are building to that peak. It is too late too stop but too long to keep going. 10 mins is about the worst amount of time to be stopped as less and you can probably last and more means you haven't increased the power so you wait to start that build up. Event horses don't necessarily find it physically easy to work at full power as their conformation and musculature is also for galloping and jumping which reduces the margin and factor in a quirky temperament and that you and the horse are soaked through from riding in in the storm so then trying to keep the muscles warm while not expending more energy and it is very easy to understand the frustration.[/QUOTE]


I am not disagreeing as such but do feel that we are riding animals not machines and therefore are capable of some area of discord or should be. Whilst I haven't been alongside riders that competed at Olympic level I have close to hand at the highest this country offers and seen small things go wrong. Riders deal with it differently maybe he deals with it by being vocal as it keeps his adrenline up and therefore his focus, whatever works for the combination is fine by me. Watch the 100m finalists deal with false starts or Formula 1 drivers deal with a slight delay on the green light, they are in machines and it has a huge impact but in both cases the best come out on top.

To me the beauty of the eventing world is that it doesn't matter at which level you compete the weather is the weather delays are possible for many reasons but the horses should be fit, capable and obedient.
 

oldvic

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I am not disagreeing as such but do feel that we are riding animals not machines and therefore are capable of some area of discord or should be. Whilst I haven't been alongside riders that competed at Olympic level I have close to hand at the highest this country offers and seen small things go wrong. Riders deal with it differently maybe he deals with it by being vocal as it keeps his adrenline up and therefore his focus, whatever works for the combination is fine by me. Watch the 100m finalists deal with false starts or Formula 1 drivers deal with a slight delay on the green light, they are in machines and it has a huge impact but in both cases the best come out on top.

To me the beauty of the eventing world is that it doesn't matter at which level you compete the weather is the weather delays are possible for many reasons but the horses should be fit, capable and obedient.

It is because they are not machines that it is a problem. A machine doesn't have a mind of it's own and it is a totally different scenario to deal with a false start as there is only 1 mind and body and physical energy is not wasted. However I do agree that it affects people in different ways - Niklas Lindback was the other rider that was delayed and he was reduced to inconsolable tears. Those after Andrew hadn't started their warm up so were ok. These reactions are not to keep focus, indeed are more likely to have the opposite effect, but more frustration at a decision that moved the goal posts.
Nobody could help the weather but they could help how it was dealt with. The horses are fit and capable but they are high couraged and need to have their own mind to be top XC horses. Dealing with that mind is a very fragile balancing act as they can be as volatile as a volcano.
 

Mickeymoo

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I'm a low level competitor, but I'm riding almost every day in rain, sleet and snow - whatever the weather throws at me.

I've got my first event in 3 weeks, my money is precious so I'm not having my horse strop because its raining and ruin the day, he will just have to get on with it. :)

In answer to the question, no I don't think judges should compensate. I hope mine doesn't.
 

oldvic

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I'm a low level competitor, but I'm riding almost every day in rain, sleet and snow - whatever the weather throws at me.

I've got my first event in 3 weeks, my money is precious so I'm not having my horse strop because its raining and ruin the day, he will just have to get on with it. :)

In answer to the question, no I don't think judges should compensate. I hope mine doesn't.
If only life were that simple!!!
 

morrismob

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It is because they are not machines that it is a problem. A machine doesn't have a mind of it's own and it is a totally different scenario to deal with a false start as there is only 1 mind and body and physical energy is not wasted. However I do agree that it affects people in different ways - Niklas Lindback was the other rider that was delayed and he was reduced to inconsolable tears. Those after Andrew hadn't started their warm up so were ok. These reactions are not to keep focus, indeed are more likely to have the opposite effect, but more frustration at a decision that moved the goal posts.
Nobody could help the weather but they could help how it was dealt with. The horses are fit and capable but they are high couraged and need to have their own mind to be top XC horses. Dealing with that mind is a very fragile balancing act as they can be as volatile as a volcano.

I am enjoying this discussion but a false start is so hard to deal with and to think only one mind is being dealt with is of detriment to those athletes, it is everything to them all they have worked for years just for a few seconds our sport is different but at the same level and we should be able to deal things not quite going to plan, the whole reason they are at the top of their sport.

A machine, if you ask any motor sport person, lives and breathes and is probably more high maintenance than a horse. Yes a top level event horse needs a brain and to able to think somewhat for itself but it has to enjoy what it is doing and be able to follow its riders lead at all times other wise it cannot win and survive. You're right it is as volatile as a volcano but we must be able to harness it as other sports people do or we cannot sustain as a sport from the pure amateur ( as the poster after has said so well) , to the top level. We must cope somehow with things not going to plan because IMO that is sport.
 

TarrSteps

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There is a bit of a difference between coping and winning though. ;) No one is saying a horse will implode if things don't go perfectly - and some will obviously cope better than others - but on the day, even an unexpected blip can make a huge difference. In this situation, with regard to weather, everyone accepts that is out of control. It's the DECISION about the weather that was upsetting. Rather as if a few cars in an F1 race were held for rain while others we not.

Similar discussions came out if the decision to run one event last week. Some thought it should be abandoned so they could get their money back, others felt conditions were not optimum but within expected parameters. Should people who HAVE prepared for inclement weather be effectively discriminated against, or at least have their choice removed? This goes to the original topic - should horses that have been trained to be consistent in bad weather (not necessarily victorious) be prevented from demonstrating that?

I know we are going off topic but to the "one mind" comment . . .if a car false starts does it really drive differently afterwards? Is it affected in the way a horse is by "mental" aspects of the game, irrespective of the driver's reactions?

I'm not sure about the "following the rider's lead" bit either. "Going where they are pointed" yes, but there have been some fantastic horses that have been more or less equal partners in the decision making processes. Murphy Himself and Opposition Buzz come to mind. :)
 
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morrismob

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I know we are going off topic but to the "one mind" comment . . .if a car false starts does it really drive differently afterwards? Is it affected in the way a horse is by "mental" aspects of the game, irrespective of the driver's reactions?[/QUOTE]

We are off topic, :D, but yes a formula 1 car or even those at a lower level are very much affected by a delay as it is a highly tuned machine and yes it is affected by its driver as a highly tuned event horse is affected by its rider. It is not a mental way as a horse maybe in the strictiest sense but very much in a physical way but it adds up to the same result.
 

TarrSteps

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I think the mental aspect was the point, though. A horse, irrespective of the rider's influence, can be so affected by a delay or similar that it is then impossible to get things back on track.

I am genuinely curious. . . so if there is, say, a rain delay in F1 it would reasonably be expected that many of the cars would not perform as expected merely because of the time lag? What are the mechanics of that? (I'm not doubting, genuinely curious.)

A false start in a running race certainly does affect everyone in the race, usually the false starter most of all. But the runners are all in control of their own mental states. I really do not believe that is the case with horses - we can train and affect them, sure, but at the end of the day they are sentient and not entirely reactionary. I am interested in the statement that machines can "think" and react in ways that simply cannot be predicted or controlled, even theoretically! I may not get in my car tomorrow! :D
 

oldvic

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Maybe the films of Herbie the Beetle are real after all!!! While off topic, it is related in that it is about how competition horses react to different conditions and our expectations of them. In an F1 race a false start is the same for all the cars as they all have the same delay. In individual horse sports the luck of the draw comes into play. A rider can prepare mentally to be ready at x time and take whatever is thrown at him but a 10 min time delay means the horse gets tired muscles that then lose their elasticity. You are then going from F1 to banger racing.
 

morrismob

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Ok a car cannot think like a horse, we can agree on that. However a race car is affected by delayed starts or weather. A race car is "set up' for a certain race in a certain heat ( temp) or wet or dry situations. The technical aspect comes for getting those situations right. Sometimes the weather on a race track changes by the minute thus affecting the car it, is the drivers ability and use of his and his teams human brain to allow for that, much harder than you might think.

A horse is trained by humans, yes it must have courage, ability to think but ultimately is governed by us humans, you ever seen a event horse take itself around a course jumping the fence in the right order let alone dressage or sj without a human to govern it ?

I am being extreme but my whole point is we must be able to cope and therefore allow our horses to cope with the unexpected otherwise IMO we cannot grow as sport and I really want us to and not be left behind because there was sudden rain or thunder etc. Horses are so much more capable than the race car or the 100m athlete and as their partners we should be able to prove this.

;)
 
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