A Nod to Courtesy

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We’re deep now in the season for regional championships. I’m headed to Lamplight near Chicago this week for the Region 2 regionals. It’s always interesting judging on a panel, rather than by myself as usual, and also often thought-provoking to be judging from the side rather than at C.

When there is more than one judge, you still salute only the judge at C.

When there is more than one judge, you still salute only the judge at C.

Having a judge watching them from the side is clearly a different experience for some riders. The salute can be a dead giveaway for this when a rider tries to salute both judges during the halt at X, because the custom is to salute “the president of the jury,” in other words only the judge at C. Often a rider also nods toward the judge on the side, after nodding toward the judge at C and while the hand is still dropped. Maybe these riders aren’t aware of the usual custom, or maybe they think it’s just sort of rude to ignore the second judge.

Look at it this way, however. What would the rider do if there were three judges or five judges, as seen at major shows or even seven judges (two behind the rider), as seen at the Olympics. If the rider tried to acknowledge them all, it would be the equivalent of a dressage bobble-head doll and make the rider dizzy, not to mention the judges.

Actually, when the rider nods to a judge on the side, it creates a bit of an awkward situation, because the side judge can’t acknowledge the salute – that’s the job of the judge at C. The side judge really can’t do anything more than possibly a nice smile in return. If you really want to extend a courtesy to the side judge, a nice “thank you” as you leave the ring will more than suffice.

While you’re at it in a test with two judges, remember that a side judge is in a much better position to evaluate some of your geometry than the judge at C. The side judge can tell if you land on top of X or several strides before or after. The side judge can clearly see the size and shape of half circles, loops and serpentines and especially the roundness of circles. For example, a Training Level 20-meter circle at B or E should not ooze all the way to I/L, which would make it a 24-meter oval. And, 10-meter circles placed at R/S/V/P need to look more like oranges than lemons.

There are a few things you can sort of disguise when there’s only a judge at C, but when there’s also a judge on the side, you can run out of places to hide.

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