Horse “not ready for dressage?”

oldie48

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Today I wrote for a BD judge at an unaffiliated RC comp. I've never ridden an intro test so it was interesting to find out what she was looking for. Basically accuracy, rhythm and suppleness in that order, didn't matter where the head was really and riders who tried to fiddle their horses heads down at the expense of rhythm, lost marks. At prelim she was looking pretty much for the same. Her remarks were accurate but not unkind. tbh I think you had a very poor judge, throw the sheets in the bin and keep taking your horse out!
 

ester

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I'd suspect this wasn't a BD judge. I'm also in the stayed in the boards, finished the test = success camp.

There's so many alternative ways of saying it- there's plenty of tests that go pretty wrong and the say the same thing twice is just lazy.

Horse a bit overwhelmed today, too much tension today etc etc.
 

Bionic Boy

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This is quite sad as it can put people off trying again. The judge would know it is a low key unaffiliated event and should be more encouraging in the comments. Take away your own positives and forget about the judge.
 

Melody Grey

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It’s exactly this type of unhelpful commentary that puts people off low level competition and really needs to be stopped. There’s ALWAYS a positive to be had and it’s a real reflection on them (and their professionalism or lack thereof) that they weren’t able to find a word of encouragement.

I’d be more than happy with what you achieved on a first time out- next time will be better :)
 

criso

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My first test with current tb was on grass and the sight of bright white boards against bright green grass meant we did our entire test about a meter in from the boards. We also spooked at the judges car and span and attempted to leg it out of the arena.

The judge was lovely and positive and gave me a well sat and horse very tense but quietly ridden. Maybe we weren't ready but with my spooky horse the best approach I've found is to take him out to lots of different places so there are going to be some shocking tests until he learns to relax in those circumstances.
 

Fjord

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That seems very harsh from the judge. I've done some absolutely s**t tests where I forgot how to ride and my mare forgot how to horse and the comments have always been at least vaguely encouraging. I'd ignore this one!
 

SO1

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I have had some really harsh comments when starting out 14 years ago. Including things like "pony taking advantage and lacks sparkle but there is a small glimmer of hope". I never let it get to me if I knew we had not done a test that was worthy of good marks, I have even got a 4 for riding once despite completing the whole test.

Normally however the comment were you need to do X to get better marks.

The judge does not know your horse is not normally like that. You might want to try dressage anywhere you can compete from home and send in videos to BD judges, might be a good way to get your confidence back.

I had plenty of negative comments when first starting out and then eventually improved and ended up winning the RC dressage league on my native pony against all the warmbloods.
 

Sussexbythesea

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Another who thinks the comment is totally unprofessional. Sounds like she’s not ready to judge a dressage test yet! Comments should be constructive and encouraging.

Please please don’t let it put you off continuing schooling, training and having a go, sadly there are always people out there who are ignorant to damn unkind.
 

Laurac13

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Well done for entering, first competitions are always scary and tense it sounds like you did yourself and your horse proud. 😁 Ignore the stupid judges comments they sound like they don’t know what they’re talking about!
 

Gloi

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Everyone has bad tests. I had one where pony screamed for his friend all through it and all she said was "inattentive" and one where the only gait not four time was walk and just got "needs to work on rhythm".
Just don't let her put you off . Onwards and Upwards.
 
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My first ever dressage test when I was child I was slatted in a very rude way. Op it sounds to me that the person judging your test isn’t a proper judge just a riding instructor.
 

Bonnie Allie

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I write/pencil regularly for dressage judges. There are some absolute witches judging dressage.

A minority of them have not had a professional background in the outside world where they have had to learn communication skills. What we would all consider standard constructive feedback is well over their heads.

Ive had to call a couple on some really poor behaviour such as making personal comments on someone’s body shape. Obviously it wasn’t intended that I write that down but the fact it was said out loud was appalling.

Well done for getting out there with your wonderful horse.

If you get an opportunity to be a writer/penciller take it. You learn so much from the really good judges and you get to see first hand that not everyone is perfect in the arena.
 

hock

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Yer chalk this one upto experience. It’s a prelim UA test the judge needs to have a word with themselves. I think the comment says far more about her than your partnership. UA can be great but I scored 82% once on an unexploded ticking bomb that I refused to do the next test on as I was terrified. You live to fight another day and you know the more you do the more settled your horse will become, tension is the thief of rhythmn after all.
 

Muddywellies

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I totally understand where you’re coming from, and like I said, this post isn’t meant to be a “wtf how dare a judge criticise my riding!!!” I would have actually really appreciated constructive criticism, because I do genuinely want to do well and improve. But like I said, I didn’t enter a large competition for horses who know dressage-there were plenty of little ones on lead ropes with us, and I thought it was so great to see everyone getting involved in dressage, and I think the general idea is that we were all there for a fun day to work on our riding. I agree that neither of us are ready for affiliated, competition dressage (or even a more serious unaffiliated show). I didn’t score below a 5 on the test, with 2 6’s, which made the comment even more surprising, as clearly my riding was at least “sufficient,” and I was totally happy with the scores, I just hoped for some more feedback.

no, I don’t believe it’s the judges “job” to make me a better rider, and I didn’t go in there hoping for a lesson. But it’s in the BD handbook for judges to be “supportive and encouraging,” and it’s accepted practice to keep and study your sheets from dressage tests as a form of constructive feedback.
I agree with you. At this level it is part of the judges job to encourage you so that you feel motivated, train and improve, and return next time. Very rude unhelpful comments from a judge who probably hasn't ridden a test in their life so ignore it and crack on. Let's hope in 12 months time you do a test in front of the same judge 😁
 

tristar

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i sincerely hope this does not make you nervous in future comps, how very mean, if you say something negative it should be counteracted by what to do about it.

the first time i went in dressage my spooky horse jumped out of the arena and back in, i was not put off as i have no ambitions and he soon learned how to show his lovely movement off and behave

you know what you have there and how it rides, all you need is some ring craft, and a little practice so you can soon look back and laugh!
 

Polos Mum

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Maybe next time keep an eye out for who the judge is and avoid events she is judging.

I find some like my type (small hairy) and some what velegro at riding club prelim - so I pick and choose judge
 

vhf

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Hi all,
Did my first ever dressage comp with my new boy today,
I wasn’t expecting a score in any respectable range, seeing as his head was in the air and he was wobbling around, but all the judge wrote for both our tests was “Not ready to do dressage.”
How sad. some of the best feedback I've had has been from my worst tests. Usually judges see it as a chance to inject a little humour, perhaps they had had a bad day for some reason. One of may favourites (for a hot mare at her first outing) was 'Lovely collected canter, would have loved to see the other paces'... it was accurate, encouraging and funny, so actually made me feel better about a disastrous outing where I'd really hoped for more.
 

LegOn

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Sorry just out of interest - was it an actual dressage judge even??

A yard in our local area does what you describe and holds a 'yard' show for the liveries and anyone else local but the judge isnt an actual judge - its the yard owner! Sometimes they get a local high level dressage rider to do it as a 'guest'!

They do the opposite though - people come out with 90% on school ponies and its very encouraging but a little unrealistic for those who then went actually out competing to be very disappointed with their scores! So there is a happy medium!!!!!!!!!
 

Leandy

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It is as shame the judge was not more encouraging. It is emphasised in BD judge training that feedback should be positive and constructive so a BD judge should try hard to say something encouraging. I suspect this was not a qualified BD judge. That said though, don't forget that the judge is judging solely what they see you do today. They don't know he can go nicely unless they see that in the arena in front of them during the test. They can only mark and comment on what is in the arena in front of them on the day. But it doesn't matter, your horse had his first outing, you both did it and survived and next time you will be better. You don't need the sheet to tell you what you need to work on to get a better result at this stage so just keep on going. The main point is to get the horse prepared so he is able to do some semblence of the work he does at home. At that point you would hope that the test sheet will be more helpful to you in giving pointers as to how to achieve higher marks.
 

Annagain

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10 December 2008
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As others have said, first dressage test:

Obective 1 - survive warm up (tick)
Objective 2 - get into arena in one piece (tick)
Objective 3 - stay inside boards (tick)
Objective 4 - remain seated at all times (tick)
Objective 5 - be pleased with your horse. (giant tick)

That's 5/5 in my book! There are so many ways to re-phrase the judge's unkind words. I think I'll go with:

"Well tried. Keep going and your marks will improve with experience."

The more you do it the easier you will find it and the less tense the horse will be and you can then reflect the lovely paces and attitude he has while schooling in your tests.
 
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