Observations Things I Learned Photographing from Next to the Judges' Booth

Over the summer, I was invited to take all the photos for the Stable View summer dressage shows. When I agreed to do it, I didn’t realize just how many people were going to sign up. I ended up taking photos of two rings of various types of horses at all the levels in ridden dressage. Normally, I wouldn’t take pictures from the end of the arena, but in this case, it was the only way I could photograph both rings and have decent-ish light. As a result, I was often near the judges’ booths for a good part of the afternoon. Overhearing the judges comments on each of the tests and the commentary in between was pretty enlightening. Here are some of the things I took away from listening to the judge…

Hi, can I have your horse?


Dressage horse

Meghan Benge

  1. If in doubt, do posting trot. 
    So many of the people that are allowed to do posting trot, do sitting trot. So many of the people that do sitting trot should do posting trot. This was something ALL of the judges that I listened to repeatedly mentioned about people as they were riding their tests.
  2. No one does the counter canter loop in Second Level Test 3 correctly.
    I admit, I don’t know how to ride this. I do know that it is not two diagonals instead of a loop. I also know it is pretty hard, so good luck!
  3. There are lots of rules about saddle pads.
    This I actually heard the TD discussing with someone. Apparently, there are lots of regulations about what can be emblazoned on your saddle pad. Probably should look that up before the show.
  4. You really should do shoulder fore.
    Going straight down the long side? You really should do shoulder fore, because almost all of the lower level horses go with their haunches in. It is super obvious when you can see it from straight on.
  5. The suitability of your steed does matter.
    One of the judges was super positive about adults on ponies as long as the mount suited them. Also, it doesn’t have to be a warmblood to score well, especially at the lower levels.
  6. They really are looking for something positive.
    Sometimes it doesn’t feel like it, but it is true.
Pretty pony

Perhaps a lot of this stuff is obvious to most people, but I am admittedly an idiot. I have never been a dressage scribe, so perhaps I could have learned this stuff by now if I had, but I can’t write that fast.

About Meghan

I am a photographer/graphic designer in Aiken, SC. I am owned by a herd of ponies. My dogs/best friends are Poppy and Amigo.