a quick lunchtime post; sorry about the sandwich crumbs – lunch at my desk…
Sunday went like this… after the earlier than planned start:
‘Dressage is a subjective sport.’
This has been stated by many people (myself included, on a number of occasions) but the truly subjective nature of dressage was best summed up by the brilliantly talented Three-Day Event rider, Andrew Nicholson.
Andrew was competing at Badminton Horse Trials (where three judges mark each test and their score is flashed up on an electronic scoreboard) one year.
The marks for two of the judges for Andrew’s test were unsurprisingly similar, but the third judge’s marks were so low that the crowd booed and whistled.
Andrew walked in to the offending dressage judges box and told her to â€œstick your dressage marks where the sun don’t shine.’
Brilliant Andrew! Well done – and thank you for making many an Eventer smile.
On Sunday morning this particular poacher flip-flopped and turned gamekeeper; I assisted with the dressage competition at Bromsgrove Riding Club.
I turned up slightly early, checked the arena for size and that the markers were in the correct positions and then clocked in with the secretary.
A familiar-looking car pulled up as I was introducing myself. The driver got out and walked over to us and was introduced to me as our dressage judge – my colleague and companion for the morning.
We got in the car and drove to the ‘C’ end of the arena where we parked, made ourselves comfortable and I got out the sheets we’d been handed.
The tests we were officiating on were:
* D1 (Pony Club) Walk & Trot
* Prelim 7
* Prelim 10
* Prelim 13
* Prelim 18, and
* Novice 33
The first thing I noticed was that the first five tests were to be ridden in a 20×40 arena whilst Novice 33 was a 20×60 test; I pointed this out to our collecting ring steward.
The competitors started coming through on time.
As we sat, observed, commented and scribbled my companion and I talked about what we were looking at.
She was an immensely experienced and able judge; her scrutiny was detailed and total.
And I learned a lot from her.
In the break between the first two classes she asked what I did with my horses. I told her what Vinnie and I have been doing this year.Â When I mentioned ‘local dressage and combined training’ she asked if she’d ever judged us.
I admitted that she had – on at least five occasions (hence why I’d recognised her car when she’d arrived).
Between each class we chatted about horses and how to improve their way of going; during classes we discussed what we were looking at and awarded marks and comments accordingly.
She stated several times that she was inclined to be generous with her marks as this was an unaffiliated competition; she wanted to encourage competitors, not put up barriers.
After the last Prelim class my colleague moved the car while the arena was resized and the extra markers were brought in.
There were only two competitors in Novice 33 so our day was over by 12.15.
We shook hands, said we expected to bump in to each other again (later that day I noticed it would be sooner than expected!) and I drove to the yard.
I sat in the living accommodation of the lorry, ate my sandwiches, drank a hot chocolate, read, got changed, prepared the lorry for a trip, then loaded tack.
Vinnie looked pleased to see me.
I fetched him in, groomed then loaded him then we set off for Bissell Wood where we were going cross-country schooling.
The plan (cunning or otherwise) was to see how things went at Bissell Wood and, if everything went well, go and compete at a Hunter Trial at Hilltop the following weekend.
At Bissell Wood things started off very stickily (does that word exist?). We schooled over various jumps and things gradually became more fluent, our partnership improved but the bottom line is that we’re not ready to compete over fences.
It was early evening when we got back to our yard, Vinnie had treats, lots of praise, a good grooming and got turned out.
Later a couple of us were joshing around andÂ Young LauraÂ looked me straight in the eye and announced with a poker face that she had an itch. Honestly, that girl! I don’t know what it is but she and I seem to enjoy winding the other up.
Later that evening I fished around on the interweb and found a dressage competition for next Sunday; two tests that Vinnie and I have done recently so they would be interesting benchmarks.
It was only after I’d submitted our entries that I realised the dressage judge for both classes would probably be the person I’d sat next to in the car, judging at Bromsgrove all morning.