What the Quadrille Judge Looks For

Although the basic principles of dressage make for the best possible quadrille performance, judges acknowledge that it is very difficult for four horses and riders to perform “as one,” especially at the lower levels where the training is just getting started. It is even more difficult to assemble four horses that are at exactly the same level of training and ability, Therefore, your judge will have three PRIMARY considerations when evaluating movements:

  • Spacing — both longitudinal (one behind the other) and lateral (side-by-side) — within the group should stay the same. There is, however, no set, “correct” spaciong. Horses may be closer together or further apart depending on the experience of the group and the nature of the movements performed.
  • Synchrony reflects the team’s ability to perform with uniformity and precision as a group, whether changing direction or moving from one figure to another. Depending on the demands of the movement, the judge will look for transitions from one gait to another to be done successively at a certain point, or simultaneously as one.
  • Alignment — both longitudinal and lateral — is so very dependent on synchrony in the execution of movements and figures that the two are scored together in the Collective Marks.

These are the three considerations making up the judge’s “base score” for each movement. “Modifiers” (lesser considerations that can either enhance or diminish the base score):

  • Impulsion — the degree of energy adequate for the level — can have an overall impact on the performance. If a movement is “sluggish,” the judge may deduct one-half point to a point from the base score. If the entire performance is sluggish, it will be reflected in the Collective Marks as well. If impulsion is outstanding — the horses move equally energetically forward — it can enhance the base score of each movement and be reflected in the Collective Marks.
  • Submission — the degree of acceptance of the riders’ aids, adequate for the level — is not a major concern in a dressage, strictly “on the bit” sense. If the team’s submission to the aids as a whole is unacceptable, it could result in the loss of a point per movement and the Collective Mark for Submission will be low. If all horses are very well connected, it will certainly add to the base movement scores and result in a better Submission score in the Collective Marks.
  • Disobedience that is pervasive with one or more horses, or continues to disrupt a number of movements, will be reflected not only in lowered scores for those movements, but in the Submission score for the Collective Marks. An isolated incidence of shying (a dog runs across the arena, say) with quick recovery and no effect on ensuing movements, or one horse jigging all through the walk movement, will cost the team a point for that movement, but will not be reflected in the Collectives.
  • Performance as a Group considers the group’s ability as a team to perform the required movements with a uniform quality and in a harmonious, cooperative manner. For example, the trot can be ridden rising or sitting, but whichever is selected the whole team must be consistent. If, however, some rise and some sit, only the Performance as a Group Collective Mark will be affected. If some members of the group pick up the canter when called for, and others don?’t that movement’s score will be affected negatively, as will the Collective score.

Collective Marks are given for Submission, Impulsion, Spacing, Synchrony and Alignment, and Performance as a Group.

Glossary of Quadrille Definitions

Alignment occurs in two directions: in a column or file, or laterally.

Column Alignment: Whether single file or in pairs, refers mainly to centerline work. Alignment should be such that the judge can only see the first rider or (if in pairs) riders.
Lateral Alignment: Mainly seen when riders turn individually from the long side and go across the arena. The judge should be able to see only the nearest rider when alignment is good. It is the riders’ bodies that are aligned, not the horses’ heads.

A figure formed when riders are coming in pairs from opposite directions on the centerline, and at the quarter markers (10 meters from each end of the arena) perform individual 10-meter circles, making the E-B line the center between the circles.

Column or File
Used interchangeably to describe riding one behind the other, either single file or double file (in pairs).

Fan Formation
When coming down the centerline in pairs for a salute, the second pair splits and the riders fan out to come up along side of the center pair.

Degree of forward energy: Judged as to whether it is adequate for the level being ridden.

Lateral Quarter Line
The line that traverses the arena from quarter marker to quarter marker.

Refers to an angular line of travel from the centerline to the side or from the side to the centerline or opposite side of the arena, as opposed to straight across.

Pass Through
Refers to pairs approaching each other, making sufficient room to allow one horse to pass between the approaching two horses.

Quarter Marker
A point located 10 meters from the corner of the arena (one quarter of the arena).

There are two kinds of spacing, column and lateral:
Column Spacing refers to distance between riders when riding single file, or pairs when riding in a column. Exact distance is not specified — experienced teams can use nose-to-tail spacing while beginning teams may prefer more distance. Essential is that spacing is uniform throughout each movement. Spacing may be changed from movement to movement, depending on the gait or the pattern.
Lateral Spacing refers to the spacing between 2 or more riders when approaching the judge head-on, especially in the salutes. It would also apply in individual turns across the arena, but not easily seen by the judge at “C.”

Refers to connection over the topline (on the bit), but also general obedience–response to the aids.

Refers to all riders turning at the same moment in individual movements, such as: left and right individual turns; left and right individual circles and half-circles, etc. Everyone must start and finish at the same time. Alignment is very often dependent on Synchrony and that is why, in the Collective Marks on the test sheet, the two are scored together.

Thread the Needle
A movement in which riders coming single file from the corners of the arena cross each others’ path alternately on the centerline.

The foregoing was adapted from Primer for Judging Quadrille, created by Jane Escola, Kathleen Wyland, and Alexsandra Howard and produced by the California Quadrille Association, January 2002.

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