Dressage Controversial discussion alert! Do you think judges over inflate 'famous' rider scores?

shortstuff99

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Side controversial alert, sorry the video is via dressage hub.

Werth recently competed Bella Rose for the first time in 18 months winning the GP special with over 80%, however the test really wasn't that good with a lot of errors. This brings up the discussion of do judges sometimes over score famous riders?

I think they sometimes do, whether it is conscious or unconscious I'm not sure of. This is where I think a system of judging like gymnastics of ice skating would help with this.

What are your thoughts?

https://fb.watch/5hk1z8FjAN/
 

windand rain

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It is called the halo effect it is impossible to avoid unless you deliberately mark lower to counter it. Therefore to beat them is quite an honour
I think in showing where it also happens that the pro riders are better prepared and wise to all the tricks of the trade (no I dont mean cheating)
 
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honetpot

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I think they sometimes judge what they expect to see, and some perhaps do not want to give a 6, when everyone else is giving an 8.
It's the same in showing the pro rider not only covers the mistakes, but dares the judge to mark them down, or the judge thinks X is riding it, so it must be good.
 

Fern007

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Most definitely.

A local trainer and dressage judge had 6 of his pupils in a class he was judging. He was heard to say ' well that's the first 6 placings sorted!!
 

ycbm

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Most definitely.

A local trainer and dressage judge had 6 of his pupils in a class he was judging. He was heard to say ' well that's the first 6 placings sorted!!
Did he place them in the first 6 places? That sounds like a joke to me.

My own trainer explained to someone complaining that she had placed me first, that the horse was, because she trained us, going exactly as she wanted to see a horse at that level going, and therefore I was likely to be placed quite high.
.
 

Mrs G

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I’ve often thought this too; I’m no dressage expert so if I see mistakes they must be quite obvious but then they get huge scores!
Equally though I feel judging at lower levels is often so harsh - ordinary dressage folk never seem to get such high scores even though there must sometimes be combinations who nail a particular movement or do a beautiful, accurate test at whatever level they are competing at, but how often do you see a 9 on a test sheet or scores in the 80’s plus - other than with the super famous pros?
 
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Spirit2021

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This is going to sound crazy but I often wonder are these judge being payed to give better scores. If you think normal dressage is bad try watching paralympic dressage It’s so rigid .
 

shortstuff99

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This is going to sound crazy but I often wonder are these judge being payed to give better scores. If you think normal dressage is bad try watching paralympic dressage It’s so rigid .
I don't think they are being paid (well I certainly hope not!) But it must be very hard to give low scores to a rider who has a lot of power.
 

Kahlua

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Yes 100%. It’s why I think the spectator scoring is interesting at these competitions. But at the end of the day is takes the “C” judge being brave to not give away free marks, because then the other judges start to question the marks they are giving away. Werth is a master, but she got 7 - 7.5’s in the extended walk at Hagen and the horse hardly overtracked. She also got 8’s and 9’s if I recall correctly on a final extended trot in a GP where she was pretty obviously doing a small rising trot. It caused an uproar on the International Dressage Riders page.

But it’s not even just the top level riders (Olympics), it happens the whole way through the levels. If a judge likes you, your horse, and/or both of you, knows you from clinics or protocol days, you will inevitably get a few extra marks even if things go a little wrong. Rider bias is not supposed to be a thing, but it absolutely is, no matter the level.

Edited to add: it reads like I’m picking on Werth here, I absolutely respect her as a rider and trainer, and could only dream to have her skills and successes. It’s just she happens to have had a few things recently that support the OPs point 😅
 

windand rain

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At low level it is a matter of perception too even at intro level you get judges who will mark differently if the horse is a hairy cob or a fancy warmblood because they perceive the warmblood to be more athletic. The cob often does the better test by bein accurate and correct while the fancy horse has legs flahing everywhere and going very badly. Even seen such a horse stand bolt upright at the halt and not hit a single marker beat a nice controlled cob that did a steady test hitting every point with correct circles and half circles
 

Caol Ila

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Yes.

I don't even play a CDI dressage judge on TV, but I've watched plenty of international competitions where a Big Name Rider rides a test with lots of tension and/or mistakes, yet still scores higher than Less Important Rider, even if the latter's horse appeared more correct, at least to my totally pleb eye.

The video in shortstuff's link was obviously a compilation of the worst parts of that ride. Still. Either the bits I haven't seen must have been truly exceptional for it to get an 80%, or the judges just don't want to hammer Werth with low scores, because politics.
 

tallyho!

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I've always had this weird thought that there should be anonymous competitions, judged by non-horsey people who have had training on correct movements only. It'll never fly, I know that - but it is possible.
 

Goldenstar

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I can’t get the link to work so can’t comment on that .
However a compilation of clips would make it hard to judge you really need the full test next to each mark to understand a score .
There certainly was a tendency for top riders to get better scores on young horses while completing at the low levels eventing against the rest of us .
So I do think having a profile does help sometimes .
On the dressage bred types in the real world that WR mentions I don’t see this I have an ID and a big cob out and about at the moment and we are not seeing any negatively and are being very fairly judged . In fact I think the judges are extremely open minded with on non standard types .
The judging at the lower levels is better than I have ever seen .
Blue ( Blue is an ID /Clydesdale is out at Intro ( still have not got a party canter organised ) on Sunday seeing the arena etc there was a beautiful black warmblood with lovely paces a bit up a height ( natural, young horse having one of his first outings but not wild ) Blue beat it to win the class because he showed better rhythm
Sometimes a horse who is a big mover making errors will beat a more normal type because it may be scoring in a big range .
Those of us competing non dressage bred types do have to embrace the fact that’s it’s easier for dressage bred horses to get up off their fronts and bend their ribs and Sometimes that will get you beaten .
 
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HufflyPuffly

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Having been on the scoring team at an international comp, no they don’t inflate scores for names.

The best in the business just ride better, so they squeeze every mark they can from a test. The rubbish bits still score rubbish but they pull the score back up with accurate riding and making the good bits great 🤷🏼‍♀️.

It’s also worth reading the FEI marking system as it explains a lot about why certain moves score certain ways (the piaffe being one of them that can score highly even if it doesn’t look classical).
 

scats

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I think it’s difficult to make a judgement because that complication is obviously an edit of all the things that went wrong. If we saw the whole thing, despite the mistakes being there, they might not look so glaringly obvious. If someone created an edit of all the bits that went really well and scored highly, you could turn the narrative on this quite easily.
 

CanteringCarrot

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Still though, an entire test, both the good and the not so good, should be judged movement by movement. If one has a keen eye, mistakes are glaringly obvious regardless if they're sandwiched between two really good movements/moments. I would think that an experienced judge would be able to make astute observations.

Isabell Werth is certainly no slouch, but I can't help but feel like her name gets her some scores sometimes. I know that I don't necessarily like the "type" of horse that she likes or the exact style, but there are sometimes pure errors that are overlooked a bit. It's not that she got one 6.5 and made up for it by getting several 9's on other movements. I would think we all know that scoring can work that way. It's sort of...basic.

ETA: Someone (maybe on here) did go into an explanation on judging movements before...like if x part of the movement wasn't perfect but y and z were, then the score would still be reasonably high. So the movement wasn't perfect but still scored quite high. I'm probably really butchering this though.
 
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ycbm

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I think it’s difficult to make a judgement because that complication is obviously an edit of all the things that went wrong. If we saw the whole thing, despite the mistakes being there, they might not look so glaringly obvious. If someone created an edit of all the bits that went really well and scored highly, you could turn the narrative on this quite easily.

I found this comment

Their performance was namely not totally free of mistakes. The fact that they were still awarded over 80 percent, was primarily due to the outstanding piaffes, passage and half-passes. There is hardly room for improvement there which was reflected in the scores she was awarded for these exercises.
If those got 9s and 10s then the faults were marked down to 6s and 7s.

Qualification round for final is here, I can't find the winning one.

https://m.facebook.com/watch/?v=1460510454119127&_rdr
 

honetpot

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Having been on the scoring team at an international comp, no they don’t inflate scores for names.

The best in the business just ride better, so they squeeze every mark they can from a test. The rubbish bits still score rubbish but they pull the score back up with accurate riding and making the good bits great 🤷🏼‍♀️.

It’s also worth reading the FEI marking system as it explains a lot about why certain moves score certain ways (the piaffe being one of them that can score highly even if it doesn’t look classical).
This is true. Some movements come very close together, it looks like one movement, but there can be three marks, the delay in marks being put up even at international events sometimes does not make this clear.
 

ycbm

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