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Real Performance Standards September 10, 2008

Posted by mikeschaffer in competition, dressage, equipment.
Tags: , , ,

While the goals of the proposed performance standards may be admirable, there are problems with the approach and better methods to accomplish a more useful result.

The first problem is there are  costs both to the organizations and competitors.  These costs will be shared by everyone, however, the standards are only intended to deal with the problem of a tiny minority.  Further, for this tiny minority this system may not work.  Someone who can afford to purchase and campaign an upper level horse they can’t ride well can, in all probability,  afford to purchase or lease  a 2’nd level horse that they can get scores of 55% on.  After getting enough of those scores, there is nothing to stop them from again riding advanced horses badly.  The entire new system is now useless, however, the costs and paper work remain.

In order to avoid these pitfalls and still accomplish the goals of raising the standards of dressage, there are two alternatives that don’t require any additional financing or record keeping and are without question “fair” in that they apply to all riders.

I. The “Two Finger Rule”

The “two finger” rule would require the cavesson (and flash if so equipped) on all horses in all dressage classes (or perhaps all classes below 2’nd level)  to to be adjusted so the steward can easily slip 2 fingers under it.  (As a practical matter there may have to be a wood or plastic dowel of particular diameter to provide a consistent measure.)

The advantages of this rule are:

1. It doesn’t cost a cent.

2. Since it affects all riders at all levels it is inherently fair.

3. It will teach new riders that a horse properly accepting the contact does not have to have his mouth held artificially closed.  This  will assist young riders in learning to ride their horses forward and out to the frame instead of pulling the horses head  backwards into a frame.

4. Provides an objective standard in scoring as  every movement in which the horse has his mouth consistently pulled open should not be scored more than a “4″.

II. Earn Your Spurs Rule

This rule would eliminate spurs in all dressage classes below 2’nd level.

The theory here is that if  riders can’t ride these  walk/trot/canter tests without spurs they’re probably doing something very wrong and won’t be able to progress up the levels anyway.  Again, there is no cost involved and it is 100% equitable since it applies to ALL horses ridden in all dressage classes below 2’nd level.

Tight nosebands and spurs at low levels are incompatible with the entire concept of “free forward movement” which is at the very core of dressage. Is there any member of the Dressage committee that could not ride a training or first level test to a respectable score without spurs or a mouth clamped shut?

These rules would go a long way to fulfilling the educational function of the committee.  Yes, because these rules will affect the all riders there will be a tremendous amount of shouting about them. I submit those who scream the loudest are the ones who will benefit the most in fairly short order.

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