Fix-A-Tests Are Great Show Alternative

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I conducted a fix-a-test clinic/schooling show on Long Island a couple weeks ago ?I do a bunch of these each year in different formats.? The usual fix-a-test ?show? sets half-hour or 45-minute segments.? The rider performs a test, then the judge works with the rider to find how the test score can be improved, and finally the rider performs the test a second time at the end of the session.

This clinic was held way out near the tip of Long Island (or it seems that far when you're driving it) at Blue Ribbon Farm run by sisters Marie Banks and Alice Peterson.? Alice and Marie have been huge supporters of Lendon Gray?s Youth Dressage Festival, so I have made the effort to get out to their farm each spring, even though I am pretty useless in Long Island traffic ? I maintained for years that I couldn?t even find Long Island and, if I did, that I didn't know for sure I was there . . . once I ended up in Yonkers, and, yes, more than one person said ?Lost in Yonkers'!?? It has always impressed me hugely that Alice and Marie regularly trailer on/off the island for shows and make it to meetings at Lendon?s in Bedford NY even though it's a four-hour round trip for them.

Alice and Marie follow the format for informal schooling shows that I first encountered at Lendon?s Gleneden Farm a decade ago.? Each test is assigned a time slot, say 10 minutes.? The rider does the test and the judge talks to her briefly.? Then the next rider does her test in the second time slot.? The first rider then comes back in the third time slot and rides her test a second time.? Alternating rides this way, a lot more tests and riders can be scheduled in a day than you could in a regular fix-a-test clinic, so it's more like a schooling show.? it's also very flexible ? you don't have to run the tests in order.? If the rider wants to do two different tests, or just ride once or ride the same test twice (the usual pattern), it's no problem, especially when the riders are doing the normal USEF/USDF tests.? Usually ribbons aren?t involved, but if the facility wants to include ribbons they can be awarded on a percentage basis, say blue for above 70%, red for 65 to 69% and so on.

I used to accuse Lendon of judge abuse, though.? She would assign 8-minute slots, and she had such a wide variety of riders with a corresponding wide variety of tests that it kept me (and my scribe! hopping.? I might go from a Training Level test to Grand Prix, to a Junior test, to a couple walk/trot tests, and back to FEI in the space of half an hour.? This format works better in 10-minute slots than anything shorter.

There is a lot of comment online that recognized shows and clinics can be so expensive.? I think this particular fix-a-test format is a great schooling show experience with some clinic aspects that is both cost-efficient for the riders and easy to organize.? It would be a great idea for dressage barns and USDF GMOs to adopt as another alternative to shows and clinics.