Arie Harmoen talks to Christopher Hector

By Christopher Hector

Given the evolution of dressage judging over the past decade, it was interesting to interview Arie Harmoen and discuss his view from the judge’s box during the recent FEI-WBFSH World Breeding Championship for Young Horses which took place in Ermelo, the Netherlands.

Arie Harmoen was for many years the head of the KWPN stallion licensing committee and he is keenly in demand as a young-horse judge. This year, he was sitting at ‘C’ for the five-year-old WBCYH.

What did you think of your five year old horses?
I thought the five-year-old horses was the best class of the whole competition. I liked them as a group better than the six-year-olds – the top was high, but the second half was also better than the six-year-olds. The seven-year-old age group is a very hard class, the test is very hard, to do a lot of transitions, and flying changes and pirouettes... For the seven-year-olds this is the first year they’ve been able to do that. But the five-year-olds, in my opinion, was the best class.

I watched the whole of that class, and I found it a bit worrying, the test says 'medium trot' but they nearly all went for an extended trot, and they were getting good marks for extended trots... So do we re-write the test and say, go for as big a trot as you can? Or do we really want to see medium and medium is not extended...
The first rider who does that, the judges have to say, ‘no we want medium trot’, the signal has to come from the judges...

But it didn't...
I guess we can discuss this, but for the riders it is difficult to say, what is medium? What do the judges like to see – so they try a little more expression, and a little more, and then they have extended trot, but still I think the riding is much better than it was five or 10 years ago, more friendly, more harmony.

I thought a lot of the horses in that class, the movements were rather manufactured, rather artificial...
I think rideability and the natural way of going is better than five or 10 years ago...To read the complete article you need to be a subscriber

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