Dressage scoring

alexomahony

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*disclaimer - I'm not competitive, so please don't read this as though i'm a sore loser - i'm just curious to see if this is normal in dressage*

Does anyone else wonder where the judges head was at when you see dressage scores?

I'm by no means saying my test was world beating - it wasn't, my horse was quite tense throughout, made a fair few mistakes due to a lack of relaxation (couple of lovely, but unnecessary changes in the canter down the long side, a little behind leg due to being a bit spooky and slightly off center on first CL), and I scored 59% which I thought was a little harsh - our free walk was good, the trot work (I thought) was lovely, his second canter was nice and circles accurate and our final centre line was nice with a good square halt. I've felt in the past we've done worse tests and scored much higher!
I watched a couple of the tests after mine, and from what I saw, I expected them to score a lower % than me - one of the horses was being very evasive, avoiding the leg and trotting sideways at one point rather than moving into canter on the wrong leg, yet this combination got a much higher % than I did (everyone did)

I don't really do dressage - can it be similar to showing, where some judges just won't like a horses way of going etc?

Photo of said pony:

Sky.jpg
 
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splashgirl45

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it is very difficult to judge dressage and if your horse was tense through most of the test he would have been marked down for the tension on every movement even if he made good shapes etc.... if you can, offer to write for a judge and i am sure you will learn quite a bit. there will always be some judges who favour a certain type of horse but most judges just mark what they see in my experience of writing for many.
 

milliepops

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it is very difficult to judge dressage and if your horse was tense through most of the test he would have been marked down for the tension on every movement even if he made good shapes etc.... if you can, offer to write for a judge and i am sure you will learn quite a bit. there will always be some judges who favour a certain type of horse but most judges just mark what they see in my experience of writing for many.
agree with this. Doing some writing really helps to understand where the marks come from in a test as well. Often as riders we learn the floorplan and assess the test as a whole. The judge does this... but also allocates the marks in the boxes which sometimes mean that the score can work out differently to how you feel. E.g. if a transition has 10 marks all to itself and you do it late, or badly then that has a big impact, whereas if the transition forms part of another movement (e.g. circle then down the long side then trans) then it has less of an impact.
reading the test sheet to see where the marks really fall can help to understand the score given.
 
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Mine is quite tense in strange places, obedient but tense. She thinks dressage arenas are strange places.....

I've done accurate tests early in the spring and tho I managed to score 7s and 8s, her being tense made us get lower marks than those on forehand or going flat. I'm not fussed as am not a stressage diva and was doing it for education of B Fuzzy

Oddly, she is far more relaxed in a show ring, or just jumping :) Till I put another rider on, I'll just blame myself :)
 
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I do eventing. One week I got a 25.5, PB for me by a long shot!!!. I didn't even feel it was the best test we've ever done. Next week I did the same test at a different venue, had worked on the comments from the week before, felt it went a lot better but got a 36.8.
 

alexomahony

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it is very difficult to judge dressage and if your horse was tense through most of the test he would have been marked down for the tension on every movement even if he made good shapes etc.... if you can, offer to write for a judge and i am sure you will learn quite a bit. there will always be some judges who favour a certain type of horse but most judges just mark what they see in my experience of writing for many.
Yes I agree with this - I maybe hadn't taken into account that his tension was there throughout the full test, so therefore marked on every movement, whereas the other horse maybe only showed tension on some moves, albeit it much more dramatic. Thanks for explaining that - light bulb moment! :D

Yes great idea, I'll look at doing some writing over winter :)
 

alexomahony

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If you have a video of it I’m happy to take a look.

If you have noticeable tension throughout your marks will be limited to 6-6.5 throughout (low 60’s). Then deduct marks for errors/inaccuacies and it often results in a high 50’s score
Hey thanks so much for offering, but i'm afraid I was out alone so had no one to video :(
 

alexomahony

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agree with this. Doing some writing really helps to understand where the marks come from in a test as well. Often as riders we learn the floorplan and assess the test as a whole. The judge does this... but also allocates the marks in the boxes which sometimes mean that the score can work out differently to how you feel. E.g. if a transition has 10 marks all to itself and you do it late, or badly then that has a big impact, whereas if the transition forms part of another movement (e.g. circle then down the long side then trans) then it has less of an impact.
reading the test sheet to see where the marks really fall can help to understand the score given.
Thanks for this MP - I do believe part of my score was that I learnt it from a drawn diagram rather than a test sheet. Lesson learnt - it don't work! Doh!
 

alexomahony

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Mine is quite tense in strange places, obedient but tense. She thinks dressage arenas are strange places.....

I've done accurate tests early in the spring and tho I managed to score 7s and 8s, her being tense made us get lower marks than those on forehand or going flat. I'm not fussed as am not a stressage diva and was doing it for education of B Fuzzy

Oddly, she is far more relaxed in a show ring, or just jumping :) Till I put another rider on, I'll just blame myself :)
Mine's the same - I hired their SJ/XC arena after my test as he was much happier to be in there and get rid of some of his energy!
 

alexomahony

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I do eventing. One week I got a 25.5, PB for me by a long shot!!!. I didn't even feel it was the best test we've ever done. Next week I did the same test at a different venue, had worked on the comments from the week before, felt it went a lot better but got a 36.8.
it's really odd isn't it - a bit like doing your driving test... I'm pretty sure the worst test I did, was the one I passed!
 

milliepops

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Thanks for this MP - I do believe part of my score was that I learnt it from a drawn diagram rather than a test sheet. Lesson learnt - it don't work! Doh!
the printed tests sheets also give the directives so you can see what the judge is particularly assessing for each movement too. I do think they are more useful than the diagrams but I know some people find them easier to learn from.
 

ihatework

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it's really odd isn't it - a bit like doing your driving test... I'm pretty sure the worst test I did, was the one I passed!
The more you do the more you roll with the variations.

I remember last year my horse did 2 x BE90’s in fairly close succession. He did 2 pretty similar tests, generally good but certainly not perfect. One judge had him leading the section on a 33 (67%) and the other judge had him leading his section on 23 (77%). So 10% difference for very similar tests. Personally I’d have had him somewhere in between (high 20’s) for both - so one judge marking high and one low.

I understand how confusing it can be for people starting out. Me I just smile and crack on.
 

DressageCob

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If your horse is tense unfortunately it affects every movement, and the collectives which are worth x2. Some venues publish the lists of results including the collective scores, which can be useful to look at. Someone might make some mistakes so get penalised for that during the test, but then otherwise the horse is relaxed and working properly, which will be reflected in a higher collective scores.

I know what you mean. My big cob doesn't make mistakes (he always strikes off on the correct leg, doesn't break the canter, is always obedient etc) but can be very tense in the arena. He's getting better, but sometimes can go around with his jaw tense, his neck tense which means we can score far lower than people who make mistakes but who otherwise are working correctly in a soft frame.
 

Fanatical

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Have you read your score sheet? You may have got 7's or 8's for the good bits and 4's and 5's for the bad bits. Then the other people you watched may have consistently been on 6's leaving you on a similar score to each other - or them getting a better score. Judges can only judge what they see on the day in front of them and no, they don't have a type and mark certain 'types' down. Judges want to give good marks.
 

alexomahony

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The more you do the more you roll with the variations.

I remember last year my horse did 2 x BE90’s in fairly close succession. He did 2 pretty similar tests, generally good but certainly not perfect. One judge had him leading the section on a 33 (67%) and the other judge had him leading his section on 23 (77%). So 10% difference for very similar tests. Personally I’d have had him somewhere in between (high 20’s) for both - so one judge marking high and one low.

I understand how confusing it can be for people starting out. Me I just smile and crack on.
Love this! Same- I felt like it wasn't a bad test at all - I wonder if the judge wondered why I was smiling so much at the end haha

I plan to do this same test a few more times to get it spot on then play with a few more prelims before heading to do some novice test as his medium paces are coming on swell!
 

alexomahony

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If your horse is tense unfortunately it affects every movement, and the collectives which are worth x2. Some venues publish the lists of results including the collective scores, which can be useful to look at. Someone might make some mistakes so get penalised for that during the test, but then otherwise the horse is relaxed and working properly, which will be reflected in a higher collective scores.

I know what you mean. My big cob doesn't make mistakes (he always strikes off on the correct leg, doesn't break the canter, is always obedient etc) but can be very tense in the arena. He's getting better, but sometimes can go around with his jaw tense, his neck tense which means we can score far lower than people who make mistakes but who otherwise are working correctly in a soft frame.

Yes this is exactly what I think happened which I didn't understand before - time to work on relaxation without him feeling lazy! It'll be a fine balance!
 

alexomahony

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Have you read your score sheet? You may have got 7's or 8's for the good bits and 4's and 5's for the bad bits. Then the other people you watched may have consistently been on 6's leaving you on a similar score to each other - or them getting a better score. Judges can only judge what they see on the day in front of them and no, they don't have a type and mark certain 'types' down. Judges want to give good marks.
Hey yes I have - it was very much a pattern of 'nice but tense', good paces, would be better with more relaxation, and inconsistent contact due to how tense he was. I can't remember the numbers, will have a look when I get in my car and reassess with all these responses in mind :)
 

Sasanaskyex

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I was out alone so had no one to video :(
If you can get someone to video you it's sooo helpful to see why you get the scores you did. I have been asked to video for a stranger before when they were on their own and I'd always be happy to do it if I wasn't competing. I have often thought my marks and comments were harsh but it is often obvious when you watch it back.
 

oldie48

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UA Prelim? TBH at that level the judge is looking for the first scale of training "rhythm", tension really affects that, then suppleness, most tense horses will show a lack of suppleness and third is contact, which you have already mentioned. I absolutely understand where you are coming from but having owned a horse who was very tense in tests and was always beaten by horses that, to my eye, were bumbling aound the arena, behind the leg and not on the bit, I sympathise but I think I now have a better understanding of why! Keep going and good luck!
 

alexomahony

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UA Prelim? TBH at that level the judge is looking for the first scale of training "rhythm", tension really affects that, then suppleness, most tense horses will show a lack of suppleness and third is contact, which you have already mentioned. I absolutely understand where you are coming from but having owned a horse who was very tense in tests and was always beaten by horses that, to my eye, were bumbling aound the arena, behind the leg and not on the bit, I sympathise but I think I now have a better understanding of why! Keep going and good luck!
I'm glad I'm not the one - and after reading the marking criteria that's much more apparent. It's all about learning ah?! Onwards and upwards :D
 

Bernster

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Others have already put it better than me but thought I’d add that tension and as a result, loss of rhythm, has been one of our major issues in dressage (UA) too. Our scores have increased by 5-10% when I get him softer and more supple/through, so it does make a big difference.

The trick for us has been getting the right degree of ‘go’ without rushing, softening the neck (where he holds a lot of the tension), lateral work in the warm up, and me trying to be more relaxed during a test (hah).
 

alexomahony

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Others have already put it better than me but thought I’d add that tension and as a result, loss of rhythm, has been one of our major issues in dressage (UA) too. Our scores have increased by 5-10% when I get him softer and more supple/through, so it does make a big difference.

The trick for us has been getting the right degree of ‘go’ without rushing, softening the neck (where he holds a lot of the tension), lateral work in the warm up, and me trying to be more relaxed during a test (hah).
Yes Bernster - I think I get lulled into pushing him on too much and therefore he is rushing and becomes tense and looses rhythm. To me a 'dressage-y' trot feels very slow, and almost too relaxed - this is something I need to get over and realise that not everything needs to be a hacking/hunting trot!

My warm up wasn't great either - it was chucking it down, so I did the bare minimum which I know wasn't going to help anyone. Hoping next time, the weather will be kinder to us and we can do some quality work before the test, and hopefully during!
 

scats

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I tend to get quite hung up on something if it doesn’t go quite right. So if I messed up a canter trans and the canter was a bit on the forehand as a result, I come out feeling quite dejected. Often my score is still relatively high because the rest of the test was good, but it’s always the bad bit that I focus on.

Saying that though, I have had judges mark me for things that have not happened, and completely miss things that have happened. For instance a few months back, Millie broke into trot during her medium walk. Even my mum noticed it was a mistake and mentioned it later (mums not horsey and has no idea about dressage). I fully expected the judge to pick up on it and mark us accordingly, but we got a 7 and a ‘good rhythm’ comment.
Yet something later on we got marked down for that I genuinely don’t think we did and on watching video back still couldn’t see.

I’ve always said that Millie is a marmite horse. She has a weirdly deep body and her markings are all dark at the back end so she gives the appearance of being big behind which can make her appear on the forehand even when she actually isnt.
 

HazuraJane

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Have you read your score sheet? You may have got 7's or 8's for the good bits and 4's and 5's for the bad bits. Then the other people you watched may have consistently been on 6's leaving you on a similar score to each other - or them getting a better score. Judges can only judge what they see on the day in front of them and no, they don't have a type and mark certain 'types' down. Judges want to give good marks.
If you have time and opportunity, try to 'shadow scribe' at a schooling show. It cleared up a lot of 'grey area' for me, just sitting there without saying a word and taking in what the judge said to the actual scribe. Judging, I learned, is extremely objective. Very little by way of subjectivity, from my experience.
 

TWMD

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I do eventing. One week I got a 25.5, PB for me by a long shot!!!. I didn't even feel it was the best test we've ever done. Next week I did the same test at a different venue, had worked on the comments from the week before, felt it went a lot better but got a 36.8.
100% this, this could be me! It's difficult to gauge performance on just the 1 score, you need to have a feel for how your horse normally goes and then you will know what a 'good' and a 'not so good' test feels like. You will inevitably get a range of scores from different judges, because dressage is subjective, so try not to get too hung up on scores :)

Also, I'm not saying your test was bad at all, but I always forget that what things look like and what they feel like can be completely different! Maybe get someone to video you next time? :)
 
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