USDF Glossary of Judging Terms
(This is not the complete list; only those terms most related to the horse
score in vaulting are listed here.)
- Lack of evasion, resistance, or protest;
acquiescence. Used in reference to the horse's unresistant willingness to
allow the maintainance of a steady contact, the application of aids, and/or
the placement of the rider's weight.
- Energy, vigor, liveliness - referring especially to that of the hindlegs.
- The lining up of the horse's body parts from tail to poll.
- Relative distrubution of the weight of horse and rider upon the fore and hind
legs (longitudinal balance) and the left and right legs (lateral balence).
The horse is in good balance when the weight is distrubuted evenly left and
right, and sufficiently toward the rear legs that it can easily manage the
task at hand. Loss of balance means the sudden increase of weight onto the
forehand and/or to one side.
- 1. A footfall within a gait. A hoof, or pair of hooves virtually simultanosly
striking the ground. By this definition the walk has four beats, the trot has
two, and the canter three.
2. The emphasized beat (as in music). By this definition the walk has two
beats, the trot has two and the canter has one beat.
- Behind the Vertical
- The head position in which the horse's nostril falls behind the imaginary
vertical line dropped from the horse's eye (i.e., toward the chest). The horse
may or may not be behind the bit.
- The laterally arced position in which the horse's body appears to form an
even curve from poll to tail. Examples of faulty bend are: bending only in
the neck, only at the base of the neck, or bent the wrong direction.
- The marked accentuation of the rhythm and (musical) beat that is a result of a
steady and suitable tempo harmonizing with a springy impulsion.
- The posture of the horse, most easily evaluated when the horse's profile or
- State in which there is no blockage, break, or slack in the circuit that joins
horse and rider into a single harmonious unit. The unrestricted flow of
energy and influence from and through the rider to and throughout the horse,
and back to the rider. See Throughness.
- Forced or compelled against the will, resulting in undue sustained muscluar
contraction. E.g., the horse may be constrained to bend, or flex, or to move
forward at speed.
- Limited by constraint, restraint, or sustained muscluar contraction. Held
together, forcefully shortened, or physically tight.
- The straightness of the action of the limbs (e.g., faults would be
winging, paddling, ringing hocks). Not the same as Purity. Dressage judges deal with Correctness only
indirectly; that is, to the degree that it affects the purity or quality of
the gait. Breeding class judges address Correctness directly.
- The horse canters on one lead in front and the other lead behind. Same as
- Same as Cross-Canter.
- THe ability or tendency to stretch and contract the musculature smoothy,
giving the impression of "stretchiness" or "springiness".
- Increased flexion of the joints of the hind legs, during its
weight-bearing phase. This causes a relative lowering of the quarters/raising
of the forehand, thus shifting more of the task of loading-bearing to the
hindquarters. A prerequisite for upward thrust/impulsion. Engagement is
not flexion of the hocks or "hock action" in which the joints of the
hind legs are markedly flexed while the leg is in the air. Nor is
engagement merely the length of the step of the hind leg forward toward the
horse's girth - that is reach of the hind leg.
- Avoidance of the difficulty, correctness, or purpose of the movement, often
without active resistance or disobedience (e.g., tilting head, open mouth,
broken neckline, etc.). Bit evasions are means of avoiding correct contact
with the bit.
- Articulation of a joint so that the angle between the bones is decreased.
Lateral and longitudinal flexion are commonly refered to as flexion "at the
- Thrust. Releasing of the energy stored by engagement. In dressage,
impulsion is associated with a phase of suspension such as exists in trot and
canter, but does not exist in walk. Therefore, impulsion is not applicable to
the walk. [Note: It may be enlightening to compare the original French with
the later English translation of the FEI scoresheets under "Impulsion." The
English translation translation of the French reads, "the desire to move
forward," whereas what the French actually says is, "the desire to carry
himself forward" ("Le desire de se porter en avant").]
- Willingness to perform the movement, transition, or figure asked by the
rider. May demonstrate resistance or evasion, yet
still be obedient (e.g., the horse may perform a series of flying changes
without mistakes and in the right place, but is behind the bit, tilted in the
head with mouth open and tail swishing, reluctant to cover enough ground,
etc., thus he obediently performs the task, but not necessarily submissively,
- On the Aids
- Well-connected, on the bit, in front of the leg, and responsive.
- 1. The variation within the gait; e.g., collected, working, lengthened,
medium, extended. The variation in meters per minute occurs ideally because
of the change in stride lenght, with no change in tempo.
[NOTE: The FEI Rules for Dressage are at this time without
any specific term for what in English (per Webster) is correctly called
"pace." Further, the FEI translation of the French l'allure was
"pace," rather than the more exact English translation of "gait".]
2. A gait in which the lateral pairs of legs move in unison (also called
"amble") - not a dressage gait.
- The highest point of the horse's skull (the occipital crest). In common
dressage usage, flexion "at the poll" refers to the
longitudinal or lateral flexion of the joint immediately behind the poll.
- Correctness of the order and timing of the footfalls of the gaits.
- The quality of a gait refers to its freedom/amplitude, elasticity, fluency,
etc. Not the same as Purity or Correctness.
- Physical opposition by the horse against the rider. Not synonymous with
disobedience nor with Evasion. Can be momentary or
- The characteristic sequence of footfalls and phases of a given gait. For
purposes of dressage, the only correct rhythms are those of the pure walk,
pure trot, and pure canter (not those of amble, pace, rack, etc.). [NOTE:
Rhythm is sometimes used mistakenly to mean tempo; this
usage is not consistent with the correct English definition of "rhythm" (per
Webster), nor with its normal usage in the music world.]
- Amplitude (reach and roundness) of movement.
- State in which the horse carries itself without taking support or
balancing on the rider's hand.
- 1. Parallelism to required line of travel (e.g. haunches neither left nor
right of centerline)
2. Alignment of body parts appropriate to the task at hand (e.g. not a popped
shoulder or twisted neck).
3. Directness of line of travel (e.g. not weaving).
- Compliance. Throughness and Obedience. The yielding of the horse's will to that of
the rider, as revealed by a constant attention, willingness, and confidence in
the attitude of the horse, as well as by the harmony and ease displayed in the
correct execution of the movements, including correct bend, acceptance of and
obedience to the rider's aids, and a balance appropriate to the task at hand.
- Pliability; ability to smoothly adjust the carriage (longitudinally) and
the position or bend (laterally), without impairment of the flow of movement,
or of the balance.
- The moment or phase of the trot or canter in which the horse has no feet on
- Beats per minute, as would be determined by a metronome. [NOTE: Some
Europeans use the term "tempo" to refer to what in English is more correctly
- The supple, elastic, unblocked, connected state of the horse's musculature
that permits an unrestricted flow of energy from back to front and front to
back, which allows the aids/influences to freely go through to all parts of
the horse (e.g., the rein aids go through and reach and influence the hind
legs). Synonymous with the German term "Durchlaessigkeit," or
"throughlettingness." See Connection.