Lisa Anderson attended the USEA Dressage Session One Training Program for Prospective Eventing Judges in Ocala last weekend, and she found the program to be incredibly valuable and rewarding. Would you consider attending the program after reading Lisa’s report? Thanks for writing, Lisa, and thanks for reading!
From Lisa Anderson:
Last week, I attended the USEA Dressage Session One Training Program for Prospective Eventing Judges in Ocala, and I have to admit, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had heard good things, but it was a major effort to commit to four entire days away from work, horses, students, family, life! On top of that, I heard the words of an old friend and Advanced rider I’d spoken to a few weeks before — “You’re getting your judge’s license? I’d rather stick a fork in my eye!” — in the back of my mind. But, having already decided I want to go for my “r” and being that the session was mandatory, I packed my “judge’s clothes” and showed up.
To make a long story short, I spent the next four days fascinated with the subject matter and intrigued with every aspect of the program. Panelists Marilyn Payne and Trenna Atkins covered a massive amount of material, both in classroom and at Longwood Farm. The first two days, we watched lots of video and had much discussion about the basics: USEF rules, biomechanics, gaits, movements, methodology, terminology. We discussed the object and general principles of dressage, using words like calm, supple, flexible, confident and attentive. We talked about what judges should be looking for, development of methodology to consistently score the essence of the movements and to communicate clearly with appropriate, helpful comments.
We also spent two days at Longwood Farm actually judging tests in “real time,” much harder than I ever imagined and very different from sitting on the sidelines watching. Marilyn and Trenna reviewed each of our scores, and we dissected every comment. It became clear that there is a criteria for scoring those 5s, 6s and 7s, and we prospects got better at it. I realize now that I have a long way to go toward being a great judge. Before the session, I was a low 5, “must be better.” Now I would give myself a 6, “should be better,” and with lots of practice, I hope to move up to a 7, “could be better.”
I encourage experienced riders or anyone considering becoming a judge to participate in this program. Continue your education, or at least allow yourself a thorough and comprehensive reminder; I promise, you won’t regret it. I also recommend it to potential auditors who simply want to supplement their riding education. At the very least, you will have a greater understanding of what the judges are looking for and subsequently become a better rider, trainer, competitor and teacher. Far from sticking a fork in my eye, I feel as if the program was a tremendous learning experience and a great use of four days.