American retired 5* dressage judge Lilo Fore is deeply worried by the FEI's latest decision to remove three of four collective marks at the bottom of the dressage score sheets as of 2018. The National Federations voted in favour of this decision at the 2017 FEI General Assembly in Montevideo (URU) after an official round of consultations with NFs the previous months.
However, now that the decision has been taken, a majority of dressage experts - mainly judges and riders - are waking up and realizing the consequences of this decision.
"I did not know it is already a done deal, most of my colleagues of course knew about this being on the table but not that it was going to be implemented without many national Federations and judges national and international (their opinions) to be more considered," Fore explained. "Unfortunately we were sleeping at the wheel so to speak, focused so much on the Hi/Lo."
In all reality, the proposal to drop the collectives was a published fact and not a secret point on the agenda of the Dressage Judging Working Group (DJWG). IDOC president Hans Christian Mattthiesen confrimed that IDOC had discussed the scratching of the collectives in their 5* judges meeting. "IDOC wanted them (DJWG) to follow the recommendation from the 5* group to keep the collectives with coefficient 1," he stated.
Fore agrees with judge Dietrich Plewa's statements that highlight the importance for judges to reiterate and summerize a test performance with four more marks at the bottom of the sheet.
"I am in disagreement to drop these important collectives and I am also speaking as a rider/ trainer not just a judge," Fore stated. "The collectives are playing an important part of our score system. Yes, every movement has the collectives in mind we have below the test line, Yes, we are judging the Gaits, the Impulsion, the Submission throughout, we are also judging the rider’s aids with every movement they perform with their horse so while should that score then remain and the others should not?"
Fore believes it would have been a better idea to drop the Rider collective score and keep Gaits, Impulsion and Submission as these are "the meat of the whole performance."
"In the collective marks we replay and judge the whole presentation. Each movement has its given score but in the collective mark we can give to the horse and rider our appreciation when the test is more than just the test. We can tell the rider how we liked the forward desire of the horse, not having to be pushed but it looked easy on the seat and leg aids, rather then "yes it moved, it had impulsion but it looked slightly less harmonious of the rider’s aids" but one couldn’t truly say it had not enough impulsion or not really say unwilling BUT. The Collective Mark give us judges a place to highlight when we see a performance which has that extra something or gives us a chance to say YES, your are on the right track but it should look less strained to get that job done. We are now giving the extra reward at the bottom of the test for this HARMONY to a rider who gives us goose bumps."
Fore believes that he FEI should give its experienced FEI judges more credit and listen to them "with more respect and wait for all opinions to come in and then make a decision and I believe my thoughts were most of theirs."
I am deeply worried also for the FEI Children tests, Junior test, Young rider tests are also placed of course into this category and now have no help of ours as the collectives are removed where many times we are able to help this young generation with our input at the bottom of the test. During the test we are more policing the performance, no time to get into details as it should be, but at the bottom with our comments and also marks we are able to be helpful and give them our experience with gentle reminders and corrections or praise for their performance.
Fore raises a plea for more in depth consultation with the experts as in the end all dressage officials strive to be united under the same banner: "making this sport what it should be, support correct training of horse and rider through all levels, making sure that the best team will come to the foreground and help the ones who are not yet totally understanding what this sport means to all of us."
"What has the judges world come to? We, the judges do not claim to be perfect but who/what is? We do know we care for the sport, for our riders to be successful with well trained horses, no one of us are machines, but we have been around the block once or twice and we care and I believe our opinions should be more taken into account and be considered," she concluded.
Photo © Astrid Appels
FEI General Assembly Approves DJWG's Proposal to Remove Collectives from Score Sheets
Dressage Judging Working Group Makes Recommendations for 2018 Rule Amendments
Full Reports of the Dressage Judges and Officials Working Group
Omaha Riders Request More Info from Dressage Judging Working Group and Better Rider Representation
Lilo Fore Named 2017 USDF Hall of Fame Inductee
Lilo Fore Retires as FEI 5* Dressage Judge
I-Judge Lilo Fore Signed for 2011 USDF Adult Clinic Series