Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Worst judge comments -- Some Doozies!

Here are some pretty remarkable comments from dressage judges -- shared on a Chronicle of the Horse forum thread.

  • "Capable horse, incapable rider." 
  • For a horse competing at third level, "Horse would make a terrific FIRST Level horse" 
  • For chubby horse and chubby rider, "horse and rider in *very* good condition!" 
  • "Horse went better with previous rider." (my vote for most hurtful)
  • Weaving down center line ""like a drunken sailor." 
  • One judge said "above bit" for every  movement, but "The best part was the drawing she drew at the bottom of what my horse's headset looked like and what it should have looked like. "
  • "You must be a foxhunter." (rider was
  • In  collective marks comments, a "?" for gaits and a "no" for Rider. 
  • "This is not a timed event."
  • "Rider needs to learn to ride before she sets hoof back in my ring again." (my vote for most arrogant and out-of-line. If anyone is paying for ring-time it's the competitor.)
  • "Seek professional help."

I have never had hurtful comments on a dressage test score sheet. One of our lengthenings was deemed "Explosive!" when Harv reacted to a monster truck driving by at the Sussex Fairgrounds.
What remarkable remarks have you gotten?


  1. A good example of why I will never ride Dressage.

  2. Aw, Karen, you're missing out on all the good stuff. "Literature is strewn with the wreckage of men who have minded beyond reason the opinions of others." Virginia Woolf

    1. I should say, why I will never show at Dressage. I am trying to learn the principles and philosophies of dressage. My horse really doesn't like the ring. He is much more of an adventure horse, although I am trying to make him more balanced and fit through learning dressage.

  3. My favourite was "Excellent job with sensitive young horse"... when my gelding was 22 years old ;)

  4. oh lord I've never had anything that discouraging, but on an early test with my *spirited* mare I did get a comment of "brave riding!" I think it was a bit of a backhanded compliment as I doubt I looked very capable trying to just keep my mare *in* the arena....

  5. Yes, one judge remarked that Riley was a "lovely mare." :-)

  6. one of my faves? "Lines are supposed to be straight."

    I wish sometimes I could write back to the judges. To that remark, I might've replied, "oh, I was hoping squigglies would be good enough."


  7. I have scribed a lot and have heard many comments from judges followed by "Don't write that down." For the most part the judges' remarks have been helpful (at least from MY perspective, which is as an adult amateur rider on an OTTB who is willing but not ridden by someone who has even an INKLING of a clue. I learn something from every comment I write as I peek up to see what the judge sees). I cut the judge slack with comments I am not supposed to write down. That said, there is no excuse for writing truly hurtful comments. The horse and rider the judge is snarking about paid a fee and spent a considerable amount of time and energy getting to the show to ride for that person's opinion--and part of the fee paid is going into the judge's pocket at the end of the day when he/she turns in the expense form to show management at the end of the day.

  8. I was a reader for a friend on first level test one, i read ONE moment to slow & she made a note on the end of the test *reader reads to slow* uhh the rider paid for her to judge her & her horse not ME the judge needed to focus on the rider, if i was completely out of line i could see but one movment. Iv heard tests slaughtered..

  9. My trainer's horse came completely unglued and the only comment the judge made was that her top hat didn't fit properly :)

  10. Susan, that's funny. One of my first dressage shows was not that long after Harv had sinus surgery, and he was not wearing a noseband in the test. The judge barely remarked on my ride, she kept harping on the missing noseband.

  11. Riding a horse I had trained from a two year old: "Will make good pair when rider catches up to horse."

    When my horse bucked at the entry halt on a musical freestyle...entry music from Carmen--apparently the lyrics are, "Here I come into the field of battle." Judges comment, "Music well interpreted by horse on entrance." Loved that one!!

  12. I just went through the entire COTH thread, and I have to say, some of the comments people have experienced would be darn near enough for me to quit altogether. Telling a 4-Her she didn't place in HORSEMANSHIP, mind you (horse not even to be judged!), because her horse was UGLY??? Are these judges even HUMAN? I know that wasn't even about dressage, but good lord.

    On the other hand, I was glad to read that most of the time judge's comments are thoughtful, helpful, constructive and occasionally very humorous. It would be nice to get feedback, in writing - not used to that in H/J land! Being the sensitive type, though, I might be a bit scared of what they'd say.

  13. I rode my own horse in an intro test and then my at the time "trainer's" horse for a training level test. Supposedly this horse had been there done that and was completely use to the scariness of the show grounds. At home she was fine, of course, but I had not taken her outside. The horse flipped out in the ring, spooked at everything after I had a great ride on my horse. I just tried to get through the test alive and the judge ripped me a new one on every movement, even talking to the horse (yes I know there's no talking but just mark me down rather than make rude comments when clearly I couldn't get the mare past the judge's booth) At the end she wrote in big letters something about review the whole purpose of the test.

  14. That's true -- the best parts of dressage are not in the show ring...

  15. My personal favorite..
    Rode Training 1 at a championship show - it wasn't the championship class, just a ride-class. Judge barely watched - I know because she had her head down every time I glanced her way.

    A few rides later of other folks, it was our turn at the Training 1 championship class ride. The big one. I'd trained and competed all season to get to this class. I thought things were going on amazingly.

    Judge waited until the second to last turn before the end of the test, and rang the bell. I kept riding, thinking maybe she lost her place on the test - I had only one or two turns to go and I was at halt-centerline. She said, "Are you going to stop or not?" I rode up to her, and said, "Oh I'm sorry. What's up?" She replied, "Your horse is lame. Get out of the arena, you're done."

    So she ignored the entire first test (and apparently most of the championship test), and waited until we were nearly done to send us out. I was seriously disappointed, and confused. I couldn't even stick around to ask her what the problem was after the show. I picked up my ribbon from the first class, loaded up, and left.

    Most horrible show, ever. And a judge whose name I will remember (and avoid) from now on.

  16. Oh dressage!!! I've gotten two nasty comments before. Most recently at a schooling show a well known equestrienne was judging. She gave me a 34 on my ride (eventing) which would be a 66% in a normal dressage test. Decent right!? BUT not a single nice comment on the test. Every box was filled with stuff like "8, resistant"...what!?

  17. Best one was "poor turnout ... horse looks dirty." When I asked what on Earth that meant, since the horse was squeaky clean and well-braided, they gave me an in-depth description of how to give a horse a bath. Nice.

    I explained to them the horse is genetically a smoky black (he had a black sire and cremello dam). Even if he were kept in a dark stall all year, he'd change colors to a mottled, sooty "grulla" with a bleached-looking forelock and tail.

    They appeared nonplussed. All I got was, "Oh ... oops."


Hi Guys, Your comments are valued and appreciated -- until recently I never rejected a post. Please note that I reserve the right to reject an anonymous post.