The other side of C

   Do you think the judge is a distant, perhaps scary person up there on the podium? Just out to critique you and your horse and tell you all the things you did wrong? For some disciplines, that might be true. For Cowboy Dressage it is not! We try to make your ride down center-line a positive one, even if things go wrong. Be assured, the judge has been on both sides of C. We know what it feels like to get nervous, go blank and all of a sudden don’t remember where you are in the test, or have your horse turn into a tense powder keg as soon as you enter at A.

The ride is between you and your horse on that particular day. Be happy about a good ride, but don’t be discouraged if it is less than stellar. Read the judge’s remarks and work on the things that went wrong. If nerves are a problem, either yours or the horse’s, do an easier test at the next show, even if you can do a higher one at home, until the show environment becomes second nature. When your horse is tense, this will affect every movement and can bring down your scores considerably.

Yes, the judge is there to tell you what you need to improve, but hopefully in a way that makes you want to go home and practice more, not in a way that makes you feel discouraged and helpless. I always try to be approachable to the competitors and encourage anyone with questions to find me during a break, so I can clarify if something doesn’t make sense. I find that most competitors that feel they have been judged unfairly, simply don’t realize how much goes into each movement and score.

Let’s stay with our hypothetical, tense horse for a moment. So, the rider is supposed to do a 10m jog circle at E and the horse is jogging and the circle is fairly round, but she ends up with a 5 for the score and the comment might simply state “horse tense and hollow”. The rider is upset, because she figures, she rode a pretty nice circle and she should have gotten a 7. She doesn’t realize that the horse’s way of going is a big part of the score. If he is tense his gaits may change, making them stiff or stilted. His back may tense and hollow bringing his head up. This will affect soft feel and harmony between horse and rider. Depending on how pronounced the tension, you might get a 4.5 or 5.5, if it is very mild you might still get a 6, but it can Not be a 7. Now imagine this same type of scenario throughout the whole test. The rider thinks she is getting an overall score in the 70′s and when she goes to get her test she end’s up with low 60′s or even in the 50′s. That is a big difference, and one between a fairly good ride and a marginal one that needs improvement. So it’s not surprising that she is upset. She doesn’t understand all the other aspects that make up the score. A 7 means the movement was done fairly well, all the requirements are there but not yet perfect. 8, 9 or even 10 means the movement had all the requirements and they were done with ease. I will attach a list of all the scores from 0-10 below! A low score is never going to make you feel all happy and bubbly inside, but if you understand what went wrong and what you have to do to prevent it from happening again, you can look at it as a learning experience and move on!

I’m here, ask questions and most of all have fun! :-)

10 = Excellent

9 = Very Good

8 = Good

7 = Fairly Good

6 = Satisfactory

5 = Marginal

4 = Insufficient

3 = Fairly Bad

2 = Bad

1 = Very Bad

0 = Not executed