DRESSAGE JUDGE BLOG No. 25 Should a ride a fault free harmonious test or go for the big marks even if know I am get some really low marks after taking a risk?
DRESSAGE JUDGE BLOG No. 25
Should a ride a fault free harmonious test or go for the big marks even if know I am get some really low marks after taking a risk?
As in many cases, the answer to this topic is not black and white and obviously, it has been the center of many debates.
In my personal opinion, a proper answer will have to take into consideration the level of the horse-rider combination, the experience they both have in the show ring and the kind of competition they are showing and the answers will vary in each case.
For top international combinations, with lots of experience and big competitions, we all know that nowadays they have to take controlled risks in order to get the high marks, otherwise they will not be in the ribbons.
It is also true that everybody enjoy watching combinations that take risks and those combinations should be rewarded by the judges accordingly.
However, the question that we should ask ourselves here is: When a rider doubts if he can control his horse after a big risk (let´s say a huge extended trot that can´t be brought back to collection or that may cause to much anxiety for the rest of the test, or a pirouette that is so small that the horse is likely to fall back into the walk), should he go for that?
My answer would be that if you are afraid that after a big risk, your horse will lose rhythm, suppleness, relaxation, connection or any other of the important steps of the training scale, my advice will always be to maintain the harmony and avoid tension. Rhythm and relaxation are at the base of the dressage training scale and the judges will always reward harmony and cooperation vs. Tension, tight back, or a bad connection.
As Lilo Fore once said in an article: “…harmony can be achieved only when the horse is balanced and comfortable and the rider has developed the ability to give clear, effective aids. It is a meeting of minds, a mutual understanding that the rider is the leader and will move the horse’s body in a way that maximizes his comfort and freedom of movement. In order to facilitate this, the horse must trust and comprehend the rider’s cues so that he becomes suspended between her quiet, accurate aids. A pair that is connected in this way looks as if they are moving as one. It is the ultimate depiction of balance and the high-wire act of dressage.”
Therefore, go for 9s and 10s only when you are sure that harmony can be maintained.
A final piece of advice: if you want to take risks and show some extravagant movements, take those risks at home while schooling but do not wait until the day of the show.
In a future Blog, we will talk about the same topic but for the creation of choreographies in freestyles.