Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The dressage tests for 2011: Collective Marks

The collective remarks (as I'm sure most of us know) give an overall assessment of key traits in the horse's and rider's performance. There are some changes in the 2011 tests...
  • Gaits now have a coefficient of 1 rather than 2, which will level the playing field a bit for non-warmbloods horses who lack the big natural gaits; this serves to emphasize proper training of the horse/rider over the “fancy mover.”
  • There are now three scores for rider: position, effectiveness, and harmony. Harmony is one of those things we all recognize but it is hard to define. Of course someone asked the panelists to define it, and they  used words like “effortlessness” and “artistry” to characterize the traits of harmony. One judge said there is also an element of accuracy, since that helps to maintain the horse’s balance. 
As an interesting side note, the panelists noted that experienced judges found it challenging to assign the additional rider scores in the time frame typically allotted for judging. Imagine how it will feel to be an inexperienced judge!


  1. To me, harmony sounds like the horse is submissive and the rider knows how to get what she/he wants out of that submissive horse. So submissiveness and effectiveness both come into play. I wonder how it'll really turn out in judging?

    I love this series with little tidbits you're sharing one at a time - makes for the chance to really think about each. Thanks!

  2. I am liking this more and more, although I agree that harmony will be very difficult to judge.

    Dr. Ritter's thoughts on Harmony:

    He suggests that harmony is a two-way street.

  3. Very interesting. I like the concept of decreasing the value of gaits. Many good movers score big here even though they may not be working as well as a lesser mover.

    The rider scores are interesting too. More complex for the judges, indeed, but now they must determine more than a generalized evaluation of the rider but must, in a sense justify the elements that make that score.

    Now, a rider's position might not be classically elegant, but he/she might score well for being effective. And conversely so where an elegant rider who just sits there while the horse does all the work might lose a little credit.

    Complicated, indeed, but it's an effort to make the judges scores more accountable. And yes, I agree that some of the terms used might need some more explanation/definition.

  4. Blah - This will probably hurt my scores but I guess you can't make everyone happy.

    And no, I don't ride an expensive "made" horse. I ride an undersized warmblood with a bad attitude that was "too much horse" for his prior owners, and I paid peanuts for.

    Trouble I've run into with some judges is I think they want to see a horse that is completely submissive. However, I've learned my horse does not want to be my slave. He's happier with some spirit left. He's always scored well on gaits and movement, and my rider score is usually good. But we are often dinged on submission. So "harmony" sounds like another submission score to me.

    Oh well, can't please us all. I hope overall that this is good for the sport though. :) Truly I hate seeing a "made" horse being rolkured through its warm-up and then its out of shape owner thrown on its back as it goes into the ring. Maybe this is for them?

  5. Glad the rider score has been increased and the gait score has been downsized, although I have a horse with great gaits & I too, always get dinged on submission. Also, I'm a true believer that the gaits on a horse with naturally mediocre movement can be greatly improved through correct training and riding.

  6. I'm definitely in favor of the gaits change, and I ride a lovely WB mare. It always annoys me when a well-ridden off breed horse scores less than one of the rolkured-into-submission-by-trainer horses.

  7. Good comment "Bay Horse"! I love the color of the horse in the photo.

  8. I may have missed it, but who are the horse and rider in the picture? They are a lovely pair.


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