Peter Storr on Badminton’s dressage: ‘Consistent judging, quality riding’


  • Top-level judge and British Dressage’s judges’ director, Peter Storr, on the judging at Badminton, which riders impressed, and the test’s tricky movements

    THE dressage judging at Badminton Horse Trials, presented by Mars Equestrian, impressed me over the two days. The judges marked what they saw – the leading competitors in the top five deserved their scores. I didn’t see anyone being overmarked just because they were a “name”.

    They also stayed consistent. Anne-Marie Taylor had a different view of the arena, being at B, and marked lower than the other two, but she stayed on her line. As a team, the judges came up with the right results.

    The rider who impressed me most was Mollie Summerland. Her good riding and correct training possibly deserved a few more marks.

    Laura Collett was definitely the winner. London 52 demonstrates great quality in his basic way of going, but with her riding she deserved every single mark. When I’m judging, I can be a bit wayward in my marking on something really good and I’d have seen 80% in that one.

    Tom McEwen showed beautiful riding, correct position and sensitivity. Toledo De Kerser just lost some points on his tense walk. Kitty King and Vendredi Biats make a lovely picture and she didn’t throw a mark away. Ros Canter continues to impress – she’s a diminutive rider on big horses, but again she has good basics and rides positively.

    Oliver Townend was clearly disappointed with his score on Ballaghmor Class. He’s such a competitive rider, but this time he didn’t present the horse in an uphill enough frame for really high marks – he tended to fall a little behind the vertical at times.

    France will have their work cut out to win team gold at home at Paris 2024. Their horses tended to be on the forehand and lack sufficient collection to perform the movements of this test, which is at advanced medium level. They now need to embrace a modern approach to dressage and develop collection.

    Stretching down

    HORSES who were ridden correctly from the leg to a forward-thinking hand and who presented a correct, harmonious outline came to the fore.

    The dressage test, five-star test B, flows and asks enough questions without seeming over-complicated.

    Riders have to execute trot half-pass and then change the bend into an 8m circle the opposite way, which is a real test of whether the horse is supple to both sides. Often, riders didn’t finish the half-pass correctly – they just faded out and didn’t have the horse ready to turn to the new direction.

    The halt, rein-back and canter transition tests whether the horse is on the aids and relaxed and is particularly tricky at Badminton because it’s near the stands.

    It’s good to see the stretch in canter included, but we need more clarity on what the judges want. The rider should allow the horse to stretch down on a long rein, with the poll below the withers and the nose slightly forward – the same outline as a long-rein walk. Too many people just rode the horse overbent.

    The standard is ever increasing. Now, I don’t come to Badminton and think it’s a different level to pure dressage. Some horses find the occasion too much and tension creeps in but in general, I see quality horses and riding.

    • This exclusive column is also included in our 20-page bumper magazine report, which will be on sale Thursday 12 May

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