Thursday, February 18, 2016

Andrew McLean investigates Objective Dressage Judging

Andrew McLean investigates Objective Dressage Judging | The Horse Magazine – Australia's Leading Equestrian Magazine:



“Each element on the scale needs a fundamental definition. Take rhythm for example – every trainer and rider has different view of its fundamental definition. My own surveys of judges and trainers say rhythm is about regularity, fluidity, fluency, evenness and many other qualities. But there is a more important definition: “the horse keeps doing whatever it has been asked until asked otherwise.” This definition is old, because even Grisone mentioned it 455 years ago – the trend continued through Baucher, Steinbrecht, and as recently as Decarpentry and Oliveira last century. Today many trainers will stress this point, but it isn’t given enough consideration in judging. If they did, the rankings would change.”

“I think this ‘self-maintenance’ definition should be paramount in determining rhythm where the judge can see that the horse is not held in its speed by rider but is trained to remain in gait, tempo and stride length/height.   The notion that the horse should ‘continue to keep going’, means that if the horse is seen to be held by the reins or rider’s leg in speed, straightness or outline, then it isn’t going ‘on its own’ – it isn’t in self-carriage and it’s bad for the horse’s mental well-being. Elements such as regularity are subsets of this notion. This has to be the fundamental definition of rhythm, for many reasons especially the horse’s mental welfare. It seems a relatively easy task to see whether or not a horse is going ‘on his own’. Also many issues that are seen as ‘contact’ issues are in fact rhythm issues (i.e. the open mouthed horse would run if you let go of the reins). Precisely sticking to a definition of rhythm as self-maintenance of speed would be a huge step in improving the welfare of dressage horses. It would significantly alter the positions of many riders at all levels of competition. It would make dressage riders better trainers.”



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