A Judge’s View From C Symposium and Clinic

Debbie Riehl-Rodriguez directs the First Level group of demonstration riders in various movements from the First Level tests.

By Judi DeVore

The weather gods were with the April 15-16 Judge’s View from C Symposium and Ride-a-Test Clinic, supported by USDF through the GMO Education Initiative Grant and Grand Valley Dressage Society. Two days of near perfect spring weather at the Stirrup Cup Farms facility in Delta, Colorado with the fabulous Debbie Riehl-Rodriguez as our instructor made the event receive rave reviews from the thirty-five participants in attendance. 

The first day, Debbie reviewed all of the 2023 USEF test changes in the morning, and then instructed the participants in what judges look for on various movements, using a diverse group of horses at each level. 

We had excellent demonstration riders that were able to show differences in gaits and certain aspects which may be penalized (a lateral walk) or where you can gain more points (showing more suspension in the trot). She also helped to clarify why accuracy with test riding is so important. Not riding accurately avoids the difficulty of the movement. For example, a circle larger than 10 meters avoids the difficulty of the movement by not showing the proper amount of bend a 10 meter circle requires, and therefore is scored lower.

Third Level demonstration horses and riders L-R: Susan Schneider and Fiderworld; Percy and Julie Burt; Believe WS and Megan Bretey

The second day was broken into 30-minute ride-a-test sessions, where riders could ride the test of their choice and receive feedback on critical aspects that could improve their test scores. Nearly all participants riding tests from Introductory to Third Level chose to have Debbie give them a lesson on the areas they could improve rather than try to ride the test a second time during their 30-minute slot. Everyone was so happy with the instruction they received, and more than one exclaimed it was the best clinic they’d ever attended. 

Many thanks to USDF for their GMO Education Initiative Grant, and Grand Valley Dressage Society’s support to help make this valuable event affordable for our members.

Leave a Reply