Honing Our Vision

This is being written mid-way between Tucson and Lexington KY. I judged a show in Arizona over the weekend, and now I’m headed to Kentucky for a USEF dressage judge forum. The dressage community in the U.S. is fierce about education for its judges, even after the extensive training programs we all have to do to get licensed in the first place. We’re all required to do a two-day forum at least once every three years, or we lose our license. Many judges go more often. I go every two years so I don’t take a chance on getting stuck the third year, plus I really enjoy comparing notes and thoughts with other judges. There’s a meeting for judges at the annual USDF convention, and a continuing education program for graduates of the “L” program that trains people to judge schooling shows. Local forums are also held locally in many areas each year. Almost every time I judge, I have some sort of observer or apprentice judge. This weekend I had two, an apprentice for the “r” USEF license and an observer from the L program. It adds to the work I need to do when judging, because there’s paperwork involved (of course),and reduces the down time, but I think it’s important to be available to anyone training for a judge program. The overall goal is to have consistency with among judges from show to show and the judges using a similar vocabulary with their comments — if someone has the same quality ride at two different shows, the aim is that they have a similar score and similar comments. The point standard is actually international, not just unique to the U.S. Presumably, a U.S. judge could go anywhere in the world and play in the same sandbox, whether in Europe, Asia or anywhere else. When we judge, every rider is measured against that same international standard, not against each other. With this point system, the placings take care of themselves. From a rider’s point of view, the color of the ribbon isn’t as important as the actual score — a green ribbon with a high score is better than a blue ribbon with a low score, because the rider should know his training is on the right track. Anyway, after two days of looking at DVDs, and live horses, and talking about judging morning, noon and night, we’ll all be pretty bleary eyed. But it will be worth it, and we’ll feel energized about the year ahead. Resolution Report: So far, so good on this trip. Lost a pound despite socializing in restaurants. Met my goal.

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