From the Judges Box
Some students wonder why the judges comments seem so negative on the test sheets. The rider should understand that the U.S. Federation and the USDF now require judges to make comments on every score of 6 or below, and they are encouraged to comment on every score. After all there is a reason an 8 was not a 9 or a 10!
This is meant to be constructive critisism to help the competitor understand the requirements for the movement and how to improve the score. Remember, each box states exactly what the judge is looking for and should be known by each competitor. In addition, always read the criteria at the top of the test to focus on what is required at the level in which you are competing. The biggest difference always occurs when the rider starts to work at second level. This is the biggest jump in the levels, a horse can score very well at first level and suddenly seem to have poor scores when he moves up to second level. The shift in training is that at second level, the judge must see true carrying power shown in travers, renvers, and half pass. In other words, your horse must show the beginning of collection.
Riders should always show at a level below the one training at home in order to ride a confident successful test. Preperation is key!