Dressage for the rest of us

Written for all of us who are leaping, running, resisting, inverting, testing the arena construction, and pushing the judges (who know they are suppose to say SOMETHING positive…) to think up new euphemisms for “oh my, that was awful” 

Compiled by C. Uhlinger from comments made on the Chronicle of the Horse Bulletin Board based on an idea by Jeannette Ford 

You know your dressage was bad when...

  · Riding the test reminds you of that old saw about swallowing a live toad every morning, so nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day; the test reminds the judge of the same joke, only she's not amused. 
· Half the riders in your division could have a stop XC and still beat you if you finish on your dressage score.... 
· You can see wrinkles ON TOP of your horse's neck because she's so inverted, and her braids are all touching on another even though they were nicely spaced when you put them in! 
· Your bridle tag number flies off and lands in the sand because you were wagging your horses head so hard to keep it down. 
· On entering the ring, even YOU see the goblins dancing beside C. They are still there when you leave. 
· At the end of your test, people don’t clap, they start breathing again. 
· Your horse apparently regards the arena fencing as an interesting cavelletti exercise.. 
· It gets really quiet and the crowd shows up to watch. More than one person videos…. 
· Your horse stops and eats during your free walk... 
· The judge and scribe start taking bets about how things are going to end... 
· The only thing the judge says to you as you are leaving the arena is "nice braid job." 
· Your horse enters, halts, salutes and parks. 
· Your horse enters, halts, salutes and pees. 
· There are entire sections of the ring you never get near. 
· It occurs to you to ask the judge not to watch… 
· The young mother next to the rail slowly steps in front of her child and they both sloowwwly back away from the arena.... 
· Judge jumps out of her chair and backs up when it becomes apparent that your halt at X is going to land you in her lap. 
· You realize you no intension of checking your dressage scores before cross-country, because why ruin the WHOLE day? 
· The Ground Jury interprets Article 1711(“Dangerous Riding”) in a way that enables them to apply it to your horse and eliminates you immediately following your dressage test. 
· As you're leaving the arena, you hear the rider waiting to go after you say to her coach, "Are you sure I'm not supposed to be doing Test D? That sure didn't look like Test C to me." 
· The rest of the competitors in your division come to you and thank you for making their tests look really good. 
· After your test, people comment, "Wow, that's the fastest dressage test I've ever seen." 
· Your scores range from 3 to 8 on the same test. You think the 3 was a gift from God 
· The judge gets tired of ringing the bell and just reads the test to you. 
· You'd rather take the point deduction for an error than take one hand off of the reins for a salute. 
· The photographer took 10 photos and you didn’t buy any of them. 
· The judge will not meet your eye on the final salute, but is talking to the scribe, and is STILL determinedly talking to the scribe by the time you exit the arena. 
· Your trainer has her/his arms crossed after your test. 
· Your trainer tries hard to act like he/she has no idea who you are 
· You walk up to the scoreboard and everyone becomes very quiet and leaves. 
· At the end of your test, the judge looks like a cat who has seen a monster from the 4th dimension. 
· As you enter the arena, your trainer mutters, "All right, Sunshine, just try to do something in there, and if you can't, I'll open the gate and let you out." 
· You get great scores for eventing (39!) unfortunately at a dressage show. 
· You think “a running martingale would help and save wear and tear on the baseball bat…” 
· Your horse joins the judge in the trailer. 
· During your halt at C, your horse sees the judges stand and a) leaves b) grabs for her lunch/score sheets and/or c) pees 
· After the test, your friend says, “How did the rest of the test go?? Did you ever figure out what REALLY happened??" 
· Someone on grounds starts a betting pool to see how long you will stay in the arena after you enter at A. Your coach (who has insider knowledge) wins the pot with a guess of 7.2 seconds. 
· When you go to pick up your test, the lady handing them out says “oh, geez, THAT one” 
· You have to clean arena dirt out of your horse's browband (or your boots) after the test. 
· Your OTTB realizes the dressage ring is in the middle of a racetrack, and the test subsequently consists of a perpetual extended trot with the elegance of a jackhammer. 
· Your SB realizes the test is in a stadium style indoor arena, expects organ music, and has a flash back… and flashes way, way back. 
· People cheer --- really cheer – when you finish. The EMT wanders back to her truck. 
· When you finish your final salute and the judge says to you, "You can breathe now," 
· The white plastic chain has to be repaired by hay twine after your horse has broken it in two places after seeing evil in the form of the letter “A.” 
· The judge comes out of the booth, and says, "What HAPPENED?" And the truth is you think, "Uh, nothing; this is par for the course….” 
· Your horse grunts with dismay when you ask for that canter after “C”; you’re pretty sure the judge grunted, too. 
· Other people ride in a 20/40 ring; you do your test in a 15/35 ring, because your pony is having nothing to do with the White Chain of Doom. 
· You get eliminated for leaving the ring @ A, while trying to do a 20m circle at C. It’s that “white chain of doom” thing again. 
· Someone you don't know starts a conversation with you a few hours after your ride and says, "Did you see the test that horse #49 did? OMG, it was horrific." Realizing that your horse's number is 49, your smile weakly and think, "No, I didn't see it, but I sure felt it." 
· Your trainer, KNOWN to never say anything nice, says "Well, I'm so proud of you for toughing THAT out!" 
· After your test, you vault off shouting "Loose Horse" and he takes himself back to the stalls while you hobble and snivel slowly behind... 
· After your test, you think about vaulting off, shouting "Loose Horse!" and walking home. 
· You finish your test, you nod at the judge, and she says, "I'm sorry.” 
· Your horse mysteriously leaps from E to H in one giant bound and you never find out why until you get the video and see an ENORMOUS grasshopper land on the horse's butt, spooking her into an explosion. This explains Judge's comment "bug on horse" which was assumed (up until that point) to be an editorial comment on the quality of the e rider.. 
· Your friend, who HAD been video taping, stops. Your “non-friend” fires up her camera. 
· People ask “is this the first time at this level?” 
· You disagree with the judge; alternately, you agree with the judge… 

Things didn’t go so well when the judge comments..…. 

· “Nice horse (who of course is 11, 14 or 19 years of age) with lots of…er… potential. 
· “Will settle down as he matures (and of course the horse is 11, 14 or 19 years of age) 
· “I can only assume this horse jumps well.” 
· “Very entertaining" 
· “Should salute facing judge." 
· “He has a lot of enthusiasm, but it doesn't seem to be for dressage..." 
· “Gaits unclear” 
· “Interesting to see how that all turned out” 
· "Nice job staying on!" 
· “Impulsion” “Needs impulsion” “More Impulsion” “Some Impulsion” “Any impulsion would be appreciated” “Is that supposed to be a trot?” 
· “Needs more bend” “work on bend” “does horse bend?” and “horse should not be looking to outside of arena”) 
· “Behind bit” “Really behind bit” “See if you can get his chin off chest” 
· “Incorrect bend” – and you didn’t realize there was a correct bend for the movement called “bucking like a maniac” 
· “Did you mean to ride the entire test in shoulder-in?” 
· “Nice gaits; all five of them” 
· "Slow down, there IS NO FIRE HERE!" 
· “That was your first time doing this, wasn't it?" -- and it wasn’t 
· "Naughty, naughty horse……but quite athletic." 
· “Patient rider" -- to reward you for refraining from beating your horse in public 
· "This horse doesn't like mornings, does he?" 
· “Brave rider," "Good job staying on," “Who knew you have to be that brave to ride a dressage test?” 
· “Disobedient" in every box for every movement 
· "Would make a nice parade horse." 
· "Too much to list here - ask your coach" 
· ‘I was interested to see what would happen next. That was exciting” 
· "Keep your chin up dear, it will get better"... 
· “Circles are meant to be round” 
· “Everyone who rides has days like this.” 
· “Airs above the ground are best left to the Spanish Riding School” or, as we all know, the Kiss of Death comment, 
· "Nicely turned out pair." (Which is code for, oh god, I have nothing nice to say about that travesty; I guess the braids are OK) 

Or when the judge…

· Turns to the scribe and giggles 
· Strikes up an animated conversation with the runner as you do your second movement 
· Stands up as your horse approaches her in explosion mode and says "JUST LEAVE" 
· Realizes you are having trouble getting your horse in the ring and decides to take a bathroom break in the hopes you can work it out by the time she gets back… 
· Gives you a '1' on your final halt, with the comment "stopped for that many seconds, maybe." 
· The judge leans out of her car and say, "You do know that's really bad, don't you?" 
· Asks for a copy of the video she noticed your groom filming because she is teaching a judges' seminar the next weekend. You know why…. 
· Mutters to the scribe "God, I wish all these people would just STOP doing that!" 
· Makes a comment to the scribe and then hisses "don't write that down! "