From the October 2017 General Meeting:
Speakers: Judges Ken Anderson (Dressage) and Andrea Meek (Hunter/Jumper)
As 10 year olds they grew up riding and jumping together at the old Red Barn (current day landfill). Interestingly neither aimed to be judges; they just substituted as needed and got so many referrals that they then took classes and got certifications!
Both judges provided handouts of judges’ scorecards with articles and detailed diagrams.
Compared Similarities and Differences
Both disciplines have scorecards reflecting constantly changing rules (see USEF and USDF), so it’s the judges’ and trainers’ jobs to keep up with current rules that apply to each competition year for achieving best scores and ribbon/award placement.
Hunters on the flat can be larger group classes with sliding ribbon placement, whereas over fences’ scorecards with symbols help judge arrive at final scores for placement. Andrea uses a stagger sheet to keep track of overall class placing, as she may see 300 riders and be judging 2-4 classes mixed together, called an open card. At smaller shows scores can be relayed verbally to riders who seek feedback for improvement. Over fences riders may circle before and after each course. Points are deducted for rails knocked (unless not caused by rider), refusals, wrong leads/cross cantering, breaking to trot during the course, awkward jumping approach/jumping form/landing (like leaving a stride out or chipping too deep to base of fence). Whips maybe carried in all hunter & jumper classes, but if used points are deducted. Judges look for even rhythm (not speeding up or slowing down), smooth and balanced way of going and jumping, suitability of horse for rider for safety.
Jumpers are only judged on performance = timed speed of fastest jumping course in order with fewest faults (rails down, new rule max 2 refusals before being excused).
Dressage has set test times for each individual rider/horse team, rider receives copy of tests with notes and scoring for each movement, dressage judge relays to a scribe who takes notes during test, whistle blows and rider has 45 seconds to enter the arena for the test, many take a nonjudged warm-up lap around the exterior of the dressage arena before entering. Note the coefficients of 2, those movements carry twice the point value. New rule under collective marks on back of overall test: gaits reduced from coefficient 2 to 1 to decrease chance of fancy breed outshining other breeds (coefficient 2 for impulsion and submission higher score). Up to 4th level and championship shows, tests can be read aloud to rider as test is being ridden. Refer to the pyramid of training: rhythm, relaxation, connection (main stumbling block, rider using too much rein with horse behind the bit/overflexed or not coordinated/follwing with “feel”), impulsion, straightness, collection. Remember you are riding to compete against yourself (improve your scores, be proud of high 60s+!) not competing against others! And don’t brag about blue ribbons when ridden poorly (50s) or in a class with few riders! Ken challenged everyone to ride the 2015 USEF training level test 1 he passed out, as all trained horses can do basic dressage.
Remember judges aren’t eagerly looking for you to mess up or for your horse to spook, so keep doing your best for the rest of the ride and you may yet win your class!