With so many individual traits, how do you judge who is the best of the best? How do you decide who are the winning combinations that have been selected by their country to represent them? In this article we give you a tour through the different tests you will see this week, as well as the judging criteria.
During the World Championships, the combinations performed in highly specialized tests that show the best of the horse and rider in effortless gaits. All in all there are seven of these tests, all with a different program focusing on various gaits. Icelandic sport is a judged sport. In every test, up to 10 qualified judges assess, evaluate and judge what they see on the track. Let’s go on a short tour of the different tests.
Five gait: F1
Showing all gaits: walk, trot, canter, tölt and pace. The rider decides in which order he/she performs the gaits.
Four gait: V1
Showing walk, trot, canter, and tölt in two different speeds: slow tempo and fast tempo. The rider decides in which order he/she performs the gaits.
Showing slow tempo tölt, speeding up and slowing down in tölt, and a fast tempo tölt. The order of the elements is always the same, the rider changes the rein during the program.
Showing any tempo tölt, followed by slow tölt, finished by the most spectacular round of tölt with a loose rein. The order of the elements is always the same, the rider changes the rein during the program.
Pace test: PP1
Besides speed of pace, the judges mark the riders on the correctness and harmony of the transition to pace, the quality of the pace and the correctness and harmony of the transition to a slower gait. The marks as well as the speed of the pace are part of the calculation of the final mark.
Pace race, 250 meters, P1
A long distance timed race. Two riders at a time come out of starting boxes and race each other over 250 meters.
Pace race, 100 meters, P2
A single rider races 100 meters against the clock with a flying start.
Judging the gaits
When judging the riding, the judges look for five key elements in each combination they judge, regardless of the test they’re in:
Riding skills and connection
Beat and balance
Suppleness and relaxation
Outline and movements
Correctness and precision of the test
These elements form the basis of the prime-judging criteria: the harmony between horse and rider. This means the rider should handle the horse with fairness, delicacy and respect; be its true leader rather than its dominator. At all times the rider must put the horse’s welfare first and guard its health and safety. The horse should be able to fulfill its tasks with pleasure; be calm and supple, but also confident, attentive and keen.
While the judges assess each combination, they observe all the key elements. Each of these elements is marked on a scale from 0 to 10. To help the judges in a fair assessment of all five key elements, firewalls have been placed between the requirements and/or restrictions for each key element. Those firewalls cannot be crossed and will guide the judge when determining the range of possible marks. By active use of these firewalls, all the different key elements are balanced out and in the end the best combination wins fairly and squarely.
Do you see what I see?
One of the most discussed topics during a World Championships is, of course, the marks. Marks of the judges can differ per combination. Also, what the judges mark can differ from what you think you see from the grandstands. One of the reasons is perspective. Sitting at different places means what we perceive is different. Sometimes these differences result in varied marks.
If you want to mark along with the judges in the track, there is a great Guidelines app (iPad only) available. This tool will help you as an Icelandic horse sport enthusiast to judge horses’ performances (look for the Guidelines app by Doug Smith in the iTunes store). Want to know more about the tests and gaits? Everything you need to know about rules and regulations can be found on the FEIF-website.
Enjoy the tests!