The Score for the Rider

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The most interesting change in the 2011 USEF (and USDF) dressage tests is the score for the rider under the Collective Marks at the bottom of the test. (The other three Collective Marks are for Gaits, Impulsion and Submission.) Previously that score for the rider was one score with a coefficient of 3.? It has been changed to three separate boxes: one for Seat, one for Effect of Aids, and one for Harmony.? (The USDF Intro tests separate those three boxes a bit differently:? Seat, Effect of Aids, and Geometry/Accuracy.) This has been a constant source of discussion among judges since it went into effect in December for two main reasons:? We now have to give six scores plus comments in the brief amount of time we have between tests, where previously we gave four.? We also have to distinguish between the score for Submission, with emphasis on the horse, and the score for Harmony, with emphasis on the rider, although the two are clearly related. Breaking the rider score down into three boxes is a very good idea because it gives the riders more bang for their buck, so to speak.? From the judge?s perspective, we're glad to be able to provide more specific feedback.? However, we're doing so the same (or less) space of time.? We have two minutes from the time one rider finishes their test at X until the next rider enters at A.? We have to determine the six Collective Marks, make comments on those marks, write a summary comment at the bottom of the test, check over the test for any problems, perhaps be a traffic cop if the two riders aren?t getting themselves in/out of the arena area in a timely manner, grab some water, etc.?? If anything disrupts the flow of the time schedule, such as an error in the test or a discussion with the TD, the schedule gets even tighter.? The pace as a whole has picked up this year, since the tests overall are shorter and more tests can be set inside a standard 8-hour block of rides.? A few years ago, a normal day was 50 rides, but that's now more like 60, meaning more of those sometimes-frantic 2-minute slots between rides. The other interesting problem is that all the Collective Marks previously had a vocabulary of adjectives printed on the test, where the judge could quickly indicate a specific area of difficulty.? The three new boxes don't have that vocabulary, so if judges want to make full use of those boxes, we have to write out comments, which takes more thought and more time.? The rule book specifies that any score of 6 or below on the test must have a comment, so writing that comment for the judge is not just a preference but an actual requirement. Judges have been trading emails and discussing some shorthand comments that can be made quickly and clearly in those three rider boxes.? Here's the list that I've been working on.? This came out of notes from the judge forum I attended last month and was tweaked by email buddies. This list is still very much a work in progress, just food for thought at this point.? I'm sure the discussion will continue: SEAT: Posture ? Ear, shoulder, hip, heel alignment.? No hollow back. ?Alignment ? Vertical in both dimensions.? Shoulders level.? Ribs in middle with no sagging on the sides. Stability ? Firm seat, stable core, quiet hands/forearms. Elasticity ? Elbows/arms, shoulders not stiff. Weight (especially in lateral movements) -- Balanced with no leaning. Following the movements (Hands and seat at walk and canter). USE OF AIDS: Subtle ? Hands must not stop motion.? Do they assist in achieving the criteria/geometry' Effective ? Do the half halts ?work?' Correct Basics ? Shown in the training of the horse:? Forward, straight, through, steady, elastic rein contact, possible connection appropriate for the level of the horse and the task at hand. Accuracy ? Ring figures and transitions. HARMONY: Fluency ? A seamless test. Calmness ? Relaxation, limbs swinging freely from top line. Willingness ? No resistances such as head tossing, tail swatting. Trust ? A solid relationship. Presentation ? A pleasure to watch. Empathy ? Tact in application of the aids. Teamwork.? Strong Foundation ? Rider can ride both the test and the horse from the security of a stable position.