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2019 Equestrian Blogger Gift Exchange

For the fourth year in a row, I participated in the Equestrian Blogger Gift Exchange, which Tracy so kindly hosts (and has for seven years)!  I love choosing gifts for a fellow blogger, trying to find just the right thing to match their likes and interests.  And it is definitely fun to come home from work to a surprise package of horsey things for me!


This year, I received my gift quite early!  Thank you so much Eventing Saddlebred Style for the two surprises this past week!  She must have been checking out my Pinterest board I indicated I have, as these are both from my "want" category haha.

Plus, this is a new-to-me blog, so as soon as I finish this entry, I plan to tag along as a follower.  I like adding to my reading list, even though I have been terrible at commenting lately.


The cute little fox mug just makes me laugh.  I definitely cannot bring it to the middle school where I teach hahahaha, but I have already used it here at home a few times!

And the teal lead rope is aw…

SMDA Recognized Show - July 14, 2019

Ellie and I tried her first recognized show in July.  It was quite an interesting experience; I don't know why this has been such a weird year, but sadly it has!

I signed up to ride Training 2 and 3, paying the little extra to have T3 count as a qualifying score.  It didn't really matter since we cannot do enough rated shows this year to qualify for a USDF award, as I want to do horse trials and other things on weekends when the rated shows are scheduled.  But I wanted it to "count" just in case because you never know lol!

I didn't get any media as I went by myself.  Training 2 went great!  Ellie warmed up well and we had a really solid test.  She was calm and rideable, and I honestly thought we had done quite well!  The judge didn't agree and we scored a 62.241%, for third in a class of five.  Not a terrible score, but it seemed lower than the performance.  I figured it was just a difference between normally doing schooling shows and this was rated, so the score would be lower anyway.  Well...
Training 3 was a trainwreck!  But not because of Ellie.  It was fairly warm out, so I kept our second warm-up pretty short, with just a little bit of trot work and canter in both directions.  Again, Ellie seemed really ready.  The show was running ahead of schedule, but I choose to go in early because Ellie was ready and it was warm.  Everything started out well, but then I somehow blanked on the free walk, so the judge rung us out.  Fair enough.  Somehow I had ridden the Training 3 free walk from the previous test (which, by the way, I have not ridden since 2011!  WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON WITH MY BRAIN hahahaha!)  The judge sounded really annoyed at me when she told me how to start over, but I thought maybe I was imagining it.  I can be sensitive to how people speak and the tones they use, but I tried not to get too flustered.  I was admittedly embarrassed and annoyed at myself for frigging up a dressage test AGAIN, as I have never gone off course in a test until this year.  

So, we start again and I end up with a SECOND error.  OMG.  I truly had no idea what had happened when she rang the bell, other than I was supposed to canter between A and F after the serpentine, but I kinda forgot and picked it up just past F (I think I thought I had to canter between F and B, not in the corner).  I was like whoops this will be marked as a late transition, but instead she rung me out for an error.  Sorry, but that seems REALLY harsh.  So I am thinking aw, man, I better finish this goddamn test before I get a third error and get eliminated hahaha.

But here's the thing.  Not only did the judge apparently think my late transition by a few meters was enough to give me a second error, but she also took it upon herself to start SCREAMING at me.  She actually stood up in the booth and screamed that two errors meant I was now eliminated, how I should know my tests better, and that while she could allow me to finish the test anyway even though she was eliminating me, it would put her behind schedule.  

Let's remember that she was actually running ahead of schedule, but whatever.  Oh and let's remember that the rulebook states the first error is a 2 point deduction, the second error is a four-point deduction, and not until the third error is the rider eliminated.  

What. In. The. Actual. Fuck.

I was so incredibly stunned by her tone and her unprofessionalism.  I just stood there on Ellie, at about the letter I, listening to her rant and not exactly understanding why she was so angry at me.  I didn't even bother to argue that actually I wasn't eliminated until a third error, because I have learned that crazy people who are yelling don't actually want to listen to facts.  When she demanded I leave the ring, I just turned Ellie and walked out.  I didn't say a word.  

Now, I have no problem with the fact that I clearly have started having difficulty memorizing tests, though I thought I knew T3 pretty well, and with the point that the errors are all on me.  I do think a late transition shouldn't count as an error, but who am I to argue with an "S" judge at a rated show.  I also am not pleased with her deciding to eliminate me after only two errors, but let's be real; after the way she treated me, there was no way I wanted to ride in front of her any longer.  And I probably will avoid this judge in the future because holy moly!  The judge had no acceptable reason to act this rude and downright mean.

I filled out a USDF complaint that afternoon and as I wrote:  This is not the Olympics.  I am an adult amateur riding a Training level test at a level 1 USDF show on a young mare I trained myself.  This is not how judges should be treating ANYONE, this is not how to encourage participation in the sport, especially at rated shows.  I have no problem being told I need to memorize my tests better, but I am NEVER ok with being yelled at in the manner this judge chose to yell at me.  I am not talking about using a loud voice to be sure she was heard; I'm talking full-on berating screams.
well, at least the Training 3 isn't on there lol

I walked out and stood there dumbfounded while a volunteer asked to check Ellie's bit and fly bonnet.  I was like, Oh my god, that judge just screamed at me and I was eliminated for only two errors.  I don't think the volunteer really understood, but it didn't matter.  It felt surreal and I really couldn't process what had just occurred.  I took care of my horse, loaded her up, and drove home.  I didn't even bother to pick up my test.  

Once I started telling friends and my instructor, a ton of stories about this particular judge started emerging.  No one was surprised she treated me this way.  A friend of mine was at the same show later in the day with students and told me he overheard the judge yelling at other riders as well.  

The stories I have been told are crazy, how she had once jumped out of the booth and chased a rider all the way back to stabling to yell about something (this was told to me by the actual rider who was next to ride in that ring, who had to wait over ten minutes for the judge to return.  WTF!).  About how she had a meltdown at a pony club dressage rally because the D rated riders didn't know how to ride.  About how the only written comment at the end of a test was "Rider needs to wear lipstick".  

So, needless to say, our first rated show was incredibly weird, but I am sure in the future it will go much smoother haha.  I will memorize my tests and maybe ought to teach someone how to be my reader LOL!  And you can be sure I am not only never showing under that judge again, but I also am not going to bother showing with this organization again either.  After a few years of BS, this was the last straw.  At least I can say Ellie was perfect and I am super proud of how far she has come. 

Whew!  Onwards and upwards, kids! 😁

Comments

  1. WOW, that is not right! I'm so sorry you had that experience, and I'm curious to know what the USDF says about it.

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    1. I have yet to hear a word from USDF and sent the complaint through the competition evaluation on July 14. *sigh*

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  2. WTAF?! I would have done the same thing as you. Actually, no. Not now. I’m so tired of all this crap that I would probably have berated her and then gone to the show office. Not that I’m saying you should have done any of that. I’m really not just honestly. If you don’t want to judge don’t. I’m sorry that happened. I would tell you that here she’d never be invited back. It’s beyond inappropriate. I’m so pissed on your behalf.

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    1. Looking back, I wish I had called her out and said NO, I am not eliminated for two errors. But I was so incredibly shocked at what she was doing that I totally froze and went mute. I couldn't even process what she was doing to the point I couldn't even think! It was a strange feeling. I am just so sad to think that she has done this for so long and how many others she has treated so terribly! :-(

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  3. Ummmm... how the hell is this person still allowed to be a judge? Holy. Crap. Absolutely unacceptable. You are a bigger person than I am. I would be putting the name all over the entire internet. (And then I'd probably be shunned from the dressage community, but... meh.) Glad you filed a complaint. This is ridiculous and I'm sorry to hear that's how your first rated show with Ellie went. I'm so angry now...

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    1. Totally unacceptable! I am sad to think she has acted this way towards riders for so long. It is tricky because she is from Maine and now lives in Vermont, so although I am not a professional, I hesitate to call her out as we are in the same region. :-(

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    2. I hear you there. The horse world is too small even without drama. Ugh. How aggravating that you haven't heard back about the complaint yet :( That's disheartening.

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  4. i'm so sorry, that's so incredibly frustrating. officials like that drive me f*ing nuts. we had a similar situation at our recognized event recently where a volunteer who's been in the game for a long time and is pretty sure she knows all the rules and needs to additional input, thankyouverymuch, eliminated a rider incorrectly too. and like, why tho. it's so so so counterproductive for the integrity and future of these sports. bleh. more reason to keep encouraging the next generation of judges and officials!!

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    1. Exactly! I mean, if I deserve to be eliminated, by all means I want the rulebook to be followed to a "T". But to act so unprofessionally is discouraging.

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  5. Wowwww. That's nuts! I would have gone to the TD just to feel like I had complained to someone who understood the gravity of the craziness. I guess you can only go up from there for your next rated show? Congrats on the 3rd at least!

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    1. Yeah, I thought about going to the TD but it just didn't seem worth it in the moment. It wasn't like I was going to be able to salvage Training 3 at all and the judge wasn't going to suddenly be a nice person because the TD told her to be haha. Plus, I really just wanted to get the hell out of there at that point. Our next rated experience will be much better I would think!

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  6. I'm glad you turned in a complaint - we really shouldn't have to suffer that kind of abuse from judges! Ellie and you are such a star team! Lots to be proud of every outing!

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    1. Thank you! She really is coming along well and thankfully I am not allowing a crazy judge dictate my self worth LOL!

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  7. What a psycho!?!?! I think it showed great restraint that you did not go to the office and demand your money back! It didn't take me long to track her down on http://www.dressagedetective.com/ and look up her average as a judge (low, but not crazy low) and then her average as a rider where is seems across the board judges I know and respect are not giving her high marks as a rider so she needs to get over herself!

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