From Endurance to Dressage
Yesterday, I shared my opinion about USEF's proposed changes to GR 1304.1.3. After I gave it some more thought, the proposed change made me even madder because of what it insinuated about dressage judges. Fortunately, there has been enough of an uproar from the dressage community, and maybe others, that USEF is doing some quick reevaluating - if the social media chatter is true. Either way, I am still annoyed at USEF.
According to the rule proposal's language, "The conflict of interest rules for officials should match regardless of the division. By creating special exceptions based on the division or type of license, level playing fields are varied across the breeds and divisions."
First, if there are special exceptions, and I am inferring that it is within the dressage division that there is the perception that "special exceptions" exist, it should make everyone wonder why other divisions need policing regarding the behavior of judges, trainers, and riders. Is there so much sneaking, bribing, and backdoor deal-making between officials and everyone else that every interaction between trainers and riders and judges must be scrutinized and prohibited? If so, shame on those other divisions. But let's not throw out the baby with the bathwater.
While my experience in the dressage world is pretty localized to Southern California, I don't see conflict of interest being the problem that GR1304.1.3 suggests it is. Dressage judges go through a rigorous training program designed to educate them about bias in order to standardize, as much as possible, the scoring process. If USEF believes that dressage judges are so easily swayed by money, it is the fault of the system under which dressage judges are trained, and should be corrected at the source, not once judges are doing their jobs.
Requiring a General Rule which prohibits judges from entering into financial transactions with trainers and riders suggests that dressage judges can't be trusted to score with impartiality and objectivity. If dressage judges were going to routinely score with bias, subjectivity, or favoritism, we would already be seeing it. And if there are some judges who are known to score riders with a propensity for favoritism, then those judges should be dealt with accordingly.
A General Rule which ultimately bans judges from teaching private lessons is ridiculous and unnecessary (subsection n). A General Rule which prohibits riders from showing under a particular judge because her parents or trainer has had a financial transaction with a judge is ridiculous and unnecessary (subsection l). Rework the General Rules if necessary, but please consider that what is fair and best for one division, may not be fair and best for EVERY division.
USEF Member # 5149384
And that ends my soapbox rant for the week. Probably.
About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2023 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2023 Show Schedule
2023 Completed …
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: