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It’s great news that Britain will host more international dressage competitions next year. This will provide opportunities for a lot more people to put themselves in front of international judges, as well as being easier on the pocket.

But I hope the great efforts made by organisers can tempt some of the foreign-based riders to the UK, so it does not become the same group of UK-based riders competing at every show. There’s stiff competition mid-season from the shows abroad, but hopefully the iconic nature of shows such as Windsor and Hickstead will help convince overseas riders to make a “tour” in the UK.

After all, we have lots of foreign visitors for Olympia so it can be done.

Judges need clearer guidelines

Details of a new scoring system are starting to emerge based on the judging regimes used for other subjective sports, such as ice-skating.

It’s a great idea to have more set guidelines for judges for deducting marks from a 10. With these clear guidelines, a more uniform marking method should develop for judges, who already have a very difficult job.

I guess that judging is as much of an art as riding and some would argue that the “art” could be lost using this method, but I think the benefits will outweigh the losses — it is so frustrating when there are large discrepancies in marks and it can leave riders unsure where to direct future training goals when judges seem to have completely different views.

I do hope that the collective marks are dropped too — they are unnecessary yet very influential at the moment.

Cracking the 70%

I had a great time at Rotterdam CHIO. It’s a huge show with a great atmosphere and the riders were lucky to have staff from the World Class program there, as well as the team chef Dickie Waygood.

I’ve been building Die Callas’ (Cassie) confidence this season and riding my tests conservatively — perhaps too much so, as my careful clear round and high 69% score in the grand prix clearly bored the pants off the support staff who wanted to see a bit more action in the special. As I was the last competitor in the class, they kindly waited for most of the day for me to compete before travelling back to the UK.

In the absence of a team psychologist, this mantle was seized by the dynamic duo of Andre Buthe (team vet) and Hayden Price (team farrier), who employed different approaches to ensure my optimum performance. These ranged from the blunt — “if you did extended trot instead of working trot you’d crack the 70%” — to the more sinister “No pressure Anna, but make it worth our while!”

But I can’t complain as their advice worked — I duly put my foot down and we scored 71.22%, a personal best this season.

The show at Rotterdam is fantastically planned with one small flaw — the unisex toilets in the stables were not the best, and had the urinals positioned right opposite the mirrors. I nearly gave myself an emergency tracheotomy fastening my stock pin when Edward Gal popped in before his winning test on Voice.

Ref: Horse & Hound; 16 July 2015