American 5* judge Janet Foy has recently judged three U.S. Regional Championships and decided to write down a list of tips for riders on how to earn more points. Foy earned her USDF Bronze, Silver, and Gold Medals as a rider and is an FEI 5* judge, USEF S dressage judge, and an USEF Sporthorse R breeding judge. She has been a U.S. dressage team selector and is a member of the USEF International High Performance Dressage Committee.
"How To Lose a Lot of Points at Regional Championships"
After judging three different Regionals, I had to post this information. It breaks my heart to see riders who have worked so hard and spent so much time and money to get to a competition to lose points they don't need to lose! There is a theme throughout all parts of the country.
Here is the list:
l. If you are doing a freestyle then know the rules (ed.note: this refers to the U.S. rules, not FEI). Know what is legal and what is not. Over half of the freestyles I judged (a total of about 6 days worth) had missing or illegal movements. If you are doing a USDF Training-4th Level Freestyle Do NOT do a halt to canter transition. You will get a -4 . The rules clearly state that if the movement or transition is not in the technical test of the level it is not allowed unless specifically listed under the allowed list. If you don't like this then go to the USDF Convention and attend the Freestyle meeting. Judges are just following the rules. And I am sorry the you rode this freestyle this way 4 times and the other judges didn't notice. We are going to address this at our IDOC/USEF Freestyle Judges Forum at The US Dressage Finals. If you are in 4th level and you are performing a half pirouette, then you need to show a clear line of where you are starting it and where you are finishing it. Do not come down the quarterline and turn and then immediately head on the diagonal. This is a 3/4 pirouette and if you do it the same way both direction the judge will know it is intentional not just a loss of control.
2. If you are doing a Turn on the Haunches or a Walk or Canter Pirouette, please read the description of the movement in the USEF Rulebook. If you counter bend the horse you will lose points.
3. Many of our tests require the riders to find centerline. A shoulder-in on centerline means the hind legs stay on centerline.
4. If you have a half pass you should also have bend. Have never seen so many straight horses. Also, if you go more sideways and arrive early, judges do not give you extra credit, we actually take point off. If it says go to M, then go to M.
5. Shoulder in should be straightened when it is finished on centerline or coming into a corner.
6. If you have a free walk or extended walk the reins need to be long! In so many freestyles the judges are left guessing as to which walk is being ridden.
7. In training level when the 20m circles are at E and B you DO NOT TOUCH L and I. My scribe was very tired of writing inaccurate, 24 m oval on those tests.
8. The 15 m circles in First Level 3 should be placed so that there is an equal half on either side of centerline. I saw many 10 meter circles. Smaller doesn't give you extra points.
9. Downwards transitions. Coasting, vague, not shown. OK guys if you actually show a good transition back to working or collected gaits the judge will love you for it!
10. Diagonal lines. If the test says HXF then the horses shoulders should leave the track at H and touch the track at F. Many lost points with riders drifting and arriving on the long side at the RSVP letters.
11. Canter pirouettes at 4th 3 and PSG should not wander over the centerline.
12. If the flying change is after a medium or extended on the diagonal, then the change (and transition too) should be on the diagonal line. If you place the change on the rail you are making it easier and using the rail to help.
I want you all to ride more accurate figures and think about not throwing these points away. I haven't even mentioned corners and the correct bend but that's for another day!
by Janet Foy
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Janet Foy Running for USDF Vice-Presidency