What is in a dressage score?

What is in a dressage score?

As dressage riders we have all had that experience of going into the ring and feeling like we rode an awesome test, only to receive our test sheets and be disappointed with the score.

Sometimes it may be that what we were feeling and what the judges saw were two different things, but there are other factors at play in this situation.

The scoring of a dressage test can be a strange and unpredictable matter. For me, there are a few things I take into consideration when I get my score back

I tried to explain this issue to my non-horsey partner, after experiencing this very phenomenon last year. His response was rather wise and thoughtful. He reminded me that the judge can only mark what they see on the day and that they have no idea just how far you have come. Our coaches have probably all told us something similar to the first part of this idea. The second part  really made me think.

Today, I went out to a local, unofficial club competition and rode an elementary test for a 65%, the same score I received for this test when we last rode it about 6 weeks ago (the same weekend that I had my first medium start). I was happy enough with this score, although parts of today’s test felt far better. I quickly realised that there were a few things this score didn’t show. For instance, that I have recently had to ride through some really sticky stuff with Nonie.  She has decided that it would be far easier if I carried her around the ring. The score also doesn’t show that this time I didn’t have my mum there to warm me up.

the score given to a dressage test can depend on many factors

I also think its important to consider that while there are judging guidelines, the reality is that things will always be a little murky when humans are involved. While some judges may score on the generous side, some will be sticklers for correctness marking in a more conservative manner and others may find some things inexcusable and mark accordingly. It may in fact be very misleading to compare scores from different judges.

I often find that while the scores may vary the comments are usually fairly accurate. I always take time to read and understand the comments. Its helpful to consider these comments. Do they come up regularly? If so do these comments speak to a larger issue? Can you develop some goals around these and incorporate them into your training plan. Take time to recognise the progress that you have made. But most importantly never allow one score or even two or three to define your riding.

Thank you to Jordan Wicks Photography for capturing these beautiful images.

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