British National Judges Convention 2017

January 4, 2017

On April 18th I made my way to Addington Manor to watch a full day of Dressage & Judging. I enjoyed the day, learned some things, was happy to see my judging marks + comments matched with the judges 90% of the time and I got to see some more advanced horses too up to Grand Prix.

The judges for the day were Peter Storr, Isobel Wessels, Sandy Phillips and Laura Tomlinson. The format of the day was that we were presented with a partial test, in which we could add our marks and comments, which was ridden for us at various levels. Then we would hear the judges comments and their marks with explanations, along with a discussion on why some of those marks different amongst these top level judges. After the discussion the judges would take turns, one of them per session, to attempt to coach the horse/rider into some improvement.

For me the format worked pretty well. The day moved along pretty quickly due to the format, and we got to see a lot of errors and corrections. I did not agree with all of the suggestions and thought in some cases that there was too little focus on the errors the rider’s were making which contributed to the problems being shown by the horse.

Of all the judges I particularly liked listening to Peter Storr who was clear, logical and referenced the rider a number of times. He talked about the importance of the rider’s core, made some really good remarks about poll being too low and of one of the horse’s poor response to the stop aid. I have listed below some of the comments, points and tips made by the judges during the presentations.

Poll To Low – some good references to the poll being low in a number of cases. This is almost always attributed to problems in the way of going – the horse lacks engagement, is pushing weight onto the forehand, is tense and also lacking forwardness. Peter suggested that for visual reference that the rider should be able to see the top of the head peice being level… as if you could balance a glass of water on it.