FROM THE JUDGING BOX WITH MARY TIDMARSH

 

Mary Tidmarsh is well known around Badminton & beyond as a List 3 dressage judge. But for the maryduration of the Mitsubishi Motors Grassroots Championship and the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials she will have a different view of the competition – from the judges box. As one of the competition’s dressage writers, Mary gives Eventing Worldwide an inside view on the role and why dressage has become an all important part of the competition.

Mary Tidmarsh is well known around Badminton & beyond as a List 3 dressage judge. But for the duration of the Mitsubishi Motors Grassroots Championship and the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials she will have a different view of the competition – from the judges box. As one of the competition’s dressage writers, Mary gives Eventing Worldwide an inside view on the role and why dressage has become an all important part of the competition.

How did you get involved with Badminton?

I’ve been involved in Badminton for some 15 years now. I became involved when Isobel Reid was asked to be the Ground Jury judge, so she was in the centre box for the dressage. She asked me if I would write for her because she was my tutor at the time, and knew I understood dressage and the criteria of the required movements. It started from then and I have been involved ever since.

Describe what is involved in your role?
The job mostly is to hear what the judges say and get it down correctly. More importantly the score that they have given. You have to be on the ball because things happen very quickly – a horse might play up, it might nap or may miss a movement – and you have to help the judge by being there so they can check they are correct in what they have seen. It’s a long day and being able to concentrate for long periods is the greatest thing.

What do you enjoy about being in the judges box?
Every time is different because all of the horses fulfil the movements in slightly different ways. It’s not a question of making patterns around the arena, each movement has a purpose and it’s interesting to see how riders interpret what they are doing.

Why do the marks differ between each of the judges?
Each of the judges look at the test slightly differently. They have different expectations. And each of the boxes is in a different position and from M you get a totally different view of a movement from the judge who is at C, particularly in the lateral work, the work on the track in front of you or across the arena. Something people watching don’t understand is just how different movements can look from different angles which is why you end up with different marks at the end of the test.

Why is it so important to have a guinea pig rider?
The organisers select a guinea pig who is very capable and to watch them at the start of the dressage is a very good yardstick of how the judges view things and what they expect. Once the guinea pig has completed the test, the judges get together and discuss how they viewed the test so they ensure they have the same expectations for the riders to come.

Why is the dressage phase so important?
Dressage is a presentation of how well your horse is trained and disciplined. It is also about enhancement of a horses natural paces, therefore its ability, flexibility and fitness. Sometimes horses are not best suited for dressage because of their temperament and ability to remain calm and disciplined. Obviously some horses enjoy the jumping phases but obviously not the discipline of displaying certain exercises. Some riders are more subtle in covering up mistakes or are able to correct them in a way that shows that the movement isn’t quite right but shows that the horse is willing.

Has getting a good dressage score grown in importance?
I think having a good dressage score depends on the cross country course itself, and also how fit and well the horses are prepared. The importance of dressage has changed since they took away the Roads and Tracks and Steeplechase phases. In the beginning people didn’t realise just what an effect the dressage had on the competition. Riders are now more sophisticated in their approach to the horse and how they get ready for a three day event, particularly the dressage.

Who are the nations to look out for in the dressage?
I think the British, Germans and New Zealand riders are pretty even when it comes to the preparation of their horses for the dressage. A lot of these riders are based in the UK which probably means we set the scene.

Sarah Carless

Eventing Worldwide will bring you all the latest news from the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials via www.eventingworldwide.com and @EventingWWNews on Twitter.

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