Dressage scoring  No. 17. How do scores on the technical side on the freestyle score sheet relate to scores on the artistic side?”

November 17, 2017

Dressage scoring  No. 17.

Question from a follower of my Webpage: “How do scores on the technical side on the freestyle score sheet relate to scores on the artistic side?”

In my opinion, the answer to this question is not as easy as it seems.

My first reaction, according to national and international guidelines is that obviously “All artistic marks are more or less depending on the quality of the technical execution. It is especially important that the artistic marks for 1. Rhythm, Energy and Elasticity, 2. Harmony between Rider and Horse and 4. Degree of Difficulty should correlate with the technical score.”

But what should we do with the music score? And my answer is that we would have to take into consideration different possibilities and that the answer is not black and white.

If the pair shows a lot of resistances and a poor or very poor execution, my answer is that even if the music was very good, (suitable, seamless, cohesive, and appropriate) it is virtually impossible that the rider could have had followed it and could have had a good interpretation and therefore the music was probably not fitting very well. I cannot imagine with an unsatisfactory technical execution, a rider can be able to show phrasing & dynamics, or a music that is appropriate for the rhythm and tempo.

We would also have to take into consideration the national and international rules. In the FEI Tests, music and interpretation are on the same box, but for instance under USDF Rules, there is a different box for each: music and interpretation and therefore the effect may be quite different and the answer could also be slightly different.

As a consequence of the foregoing, in the case that we see a fairly good technical execution, my answer would have to be different, because it could be possible that the rider shows us a good or very good music and judge accordingly. And also, if the interpretation follows the criteria of the guidelines, the judge can probably score, good or very good or even higher, because the judge can use upward modifiers if the rider was able to stay with the beat at different paces, more that 6-point phrasing and accordingly for each additional phrasing and music dynamics.

It is personal opinion, that in some cases, even if there must be a correlation between technical and artistic marks, we can and should give higher and separate credit for the mark of music and interpretation. At the same time, we may see a good or even very good technical execution, but if the music and its interpretation are unsatisfactory, we should mark accordingly and use the full scale. Otherwise there would be no reason for doing freestyles.

I understand that the above statement may lead to discussion and therefore all comments are welcome.

I cannot finish this Blog without mentioning that even though this is my personal position, it is based on the USDF Guidelines prepared by FEI 5* Judge Janet Foy and on the conclusions and remarks made by FEI 5* Judge Gary  Rockwell and Freestyles Specialist Terry Gallo in last weekend IDOC/USDF Freestyle seminar, held in Lexington.

Image borrowed from “The Chronicle of the Horse” Image uncredited.