Grumpy Old Bags

Grumpy old bag – judge bashing

It’s been a while since I’ve had a moan, but I feel the need to currently. I am increasingly seeing a lot of judge bashing online which in my humble opinion is totally out of order never mind in contravention of BE social media rules.

Dressage judges are volunteers, yes some get paid petrol costs and some £1 per horse (which lots refuse) but this doesn’t come close to covering their costs. They judge for the love of the sport and without them events couldn’t take place. The vast majority have undergone years of training at their own expense to be listed BE judges. At the lowest levels of BE some do not need to be listed but generally even if they aren’t they are very experienced.

Judge bashing comes in many forms, I regularly see claims of;  “my score should have been better”, “was the judge blind”, “I did a better test than XYZ, but got a worse score”, “the judge must have gotten out the wrong side of bed this morning”, “that horse has never had that score before”, “oh it’s so in so of course the judge gave them a good mark” and so on and so on and so on.

Yes judges are human and occasionally they miss a mistake or similar but it is not done on purpose. It should not be forgotten that judges want you to do well, most will start with a ’10’ and work down rather than a ‘0’ and working up. If you can’t understand why you are being awarded the marks you are, ask someone to video your tests so you can watch them back later.

Yes there are perhaps a few judges that should no longer be judging, or need some additional training, but complaining on social media will not change anything. Make an official complaint through the correct channels and something may actually happen. If you do have your test videoed and you strongly disagree with the way you were marked, and it was a BD listed judge then contact BD. They will happily investigate if you can provide video evidence of your test plus your test sheet.

Not only is it not good form to rant online you could actually find yourself in trouble with BE for doing so. BE have rules regarding the use of social media by members. Essentially members shouldn’t bring BE into disrepute. Bashing judges could happily fall in that description.

Many complain that the judge didn’t write enough helpful or nice comments. Until you have scribed you won’t understand how hard it is to watch a test whilst also commenting on it. Using the comment ‘tense’ isn’t a cop out, it’s an accurate representation of the horse infront of the judge. Tension affects the rhythm, tempo, contact and outline. The judge hasn’t got time to comment on all of those mid test but ‘tense’ can cover them all. I would challenge you if you don’t already to volunteer to scribe. It is hugely enlightening to see tests from a judge’s point of view. Not only can you see what they see but also the challenges they face judging.

I find the argument that judges should always write nice constructive comments odd as well. The judge is there to evaluate the combinations way of going during that 6ish minute test they are not there to teach them. They will always where possible be nice but sometimes it is a challenge, I have known judges resorting to comments at the end such as ‘nice plaits’!

A particular form of judge bashing that has frustrated me recently is riders actually looking at records of those placed above them looking for marks that are out of form for the horse and using that to claim the judge was marking erraticly. Now did those complaining watch the tests concerned? Both at previous events and that day? I’m guessing they had not and were simply trying to find excuses for why they didn’t have the best test. It is not uncommon for a horse to have varying scores on its record and this form of judge bashing is actually unfair to the riders highlighted (by name or not) in addition to the judges. I look at the horse I ride and our last four tests which range from 30.5 to 48.8 as a perfect example! She is very talented but suffers from tension which we are finally making notable in roads on overcoming. If someone looked at her history of tests they would see mostly high 30s and low 40s, so without seeing her latest test in the flesh may have thought her 30.5 somewhat generous. In reality her latest test she was the most relaxed she has been and had it not been for a couple of errors and pesky flies it would have warranted being in the 20s!

So stop ranting about your judges online, if you feel your score was unfair make an official complaint, otherwise  take a chill pill, volunteer to scribe, and work on you and your horse as that is the only score you can influence.

About the author

Katie