New dressage tests: what think we of the Harmony score?

I actually like the idea of “harmony” replacing “submission” :wink:, and otherwise agree with you!

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I have the opposite feeling about gaits and being penalized: I have always felt as if the ‘Gaits’ portion was rewarded twice. Once in every individual movement score, and once in collective remarks. A naturally elastic mover will just have that extra point or two every movement in my experience, all else being equal.

I have noticed that disparity in my personal horses, having a greener horse who is a great mover but not confirmed in the contact, and an older horse who is not the best mover but very educated; the greener horse always scores better even when I think I ride less accurately.

I wouldn’t mind seeing harmony replace submission. I always had a strong aversion to using that word to describe the partnership with my horse.

I have a (real) dressage show in 2 weeks. I’ll let you know.


Yes, that’s a good point.

My WB mare gets reliably good gaits scores (as did her dam), unless she is tense and behind the leg; mare problems :unamused:, but though she is a nice mover, she is not a “fancy mover” - being VERRRRRY long (neck and back) and slightly downhill with straighter hind legs. (I always joke that IF her front legs were an inch or two longer, she would be a completely different horse!)

In Area 2, you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting 8-10 UL pros at the local HTs on super fancy purpose-bred youngsters who are headed for the upper levels (unless they decide they don’t have the heart for x-country at the higher levels, in which case they are easily “re-purposed” as straight dressage horses - or maybe show jumpers), and most of these horses are born super supple, rideable, uphill, and with natural engagement. Even when slightly naughty (or green), they have such quality that the judges reward (perhaps over-reward?) them with high gaits scores, and the corresponding higher scores for all the movements. Of course the riders are no slouches either…

They have to really f*ck up in the test to get lower scores for individual movements; as you say, the baseline is higher so scores are higher, and the average movers are just not going to be in the same ballpark.

(Also, the judges tend to “look the other way” at small mistakes when a stunning horse with an UL pro is in front of them.)

Obviously if the overall picture is one of beauty and harmony, the “harmony” score should be high - but I suspect that if a super fancy horse is (for example) lacking submission (and I agree - I do NOT like that term, but I am also not a fan of “marginal” replacing “sufficient”!), is behind the leg, distractible, mildly disobedient, etc. - all of which should affect the submission or forward scores - the judges will still reward the pair with a good harmony score because of the overall impression.

Just spitballing here.


I see this too. As a scribe it always makes me scratch my head. You mean you really couldn’t tell that one rider was significantly better than the other, even if their test scores were similar? Good training can cover up a tactless rider, and an effective, forgiving rider can make up for not so stellar training, or a horse that’s not quite there yet.


I’m in Canada, but I’ve shown under International dressage judges at straight dressage shows, I have always been rewarded with good gait scores on my TBs. 7s and 8s almost always. I think with the gait score a lot of it is how free the horse moves through it’s body, so a tense horse will rarely score well on gaits because the freedom just isn’t seen.


Kind of related little article about this;

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I was JUST talking about this yesterday. My horse has normally been in the 20s. This year he has mostly been in the low 30s. Our guess it that perhaps we were getting a few “bonus” 8s in the collective marks (especially gaits) and now it’s just the one. So the collective marks could off set a 6.5 here and there. Just need to work harder now!

I like the collective marks, to see what the judge thought about each piece. But I suppose that’s just because that’s what I’m used to.

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With my last horse (an average mover), I would get in the mid-hi 20s when I showed in front of straight dressage judges. When I’d go to schooling or smaller recognized HT venues with local judges, we’d get low-mid 30s. Oh well…:frowning:

I hadn’t thought about that…my scores were slightly higher this winter than I was expecting. We used to receive consistent 7’s across the 4 collectives prior to the new Harmony mark.

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So are you now getting 7s for Harmony?

Not always! Got a 6.5 this past weekend with the overall marks being 6.5’s, 7’s and 7.5’s. I don’t feel that it was a tense test and I have a good relationship with my horse, I was happy with the test. That being said the judge was a little stingier with her marks than I have experienced with her in the past :slight_smile:

Things that make you go Hmmmm…


I don’t care for it. The collective marks were where you got the best and most useful feedback to take home and improve you riding and your horse. Instead it’s a feel good score. “I feel satisfactory about you and your horse” tells me nothing. Gives me nothing to work with.

This weekend I took my lovely WB who typically scores 25-20 in BN dressage and I got a 36 (I was expecting about a 29/30) and I got a 6.5 on harmony. Granted there were extenuating circumstances–my truck was broken into over night at the hotel, the secretary moved all my times so I could get the truck towed and still ride–so I wasn’t in the best frame of mind. (But very very happy for the accommodation and the chance to ride!) I missed some needed half halts, but the horse was correctly connected, lifted through the back and relaxed. It was a workman like test, that I certainly left points on the board but it wasn’t a bad test.

My daughter took her 5 year old very green draft cross who has never been in a proper dressage ring, moves like a draft cross, doesn’t come round yet or have canter transitions yet (really isn’t strong enough to canter a 20m circle) and got a 42 and 6.5 in harmony at Starter.

If both rides were 6.5 I really have no understanding of the score or what I’m suppose to do to improve it.


I haven’t competed in an event yet with the “new” scoring system, but I think I’d prefer what someone suggested upthread… swapping “submission” out for “harmony” but still keeping the collective marks for gaits, impulsion and rider. I feel like having just “harmony” is barely is even worth having a collective score at all, since they basically always end up factoring into the individual scores for each movement, too.

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I am not sure I like the harmony score with the x2 coefficient…it doesn’t give as much nuance as 4 different scores. As subk said, there isn’t as much ability for the judge to highlight what work on.

I got a pleasant 7 today with my baby 4yo in his first ever test at an unrecognized event. It matched with the rest of the test, mostly 7s with some 6.5s to earn 31.3. I suppose the test was fairly harmonious for BN, and my horse was quite obedient minus a few gawky moments close to the judges stand.

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I remember a discussion thread a while back that led me to the conclusion that the gaits collective mark really doesn’t seem to be as relevant in “eventing” dressage as in “straight” dressage. It seems to me that if an event horse can effectively complete the dressage test with correct if not fancy gaits, the gaits really shouldn’t receive the extra weight of a collective mark. But I think separating out rider, impulsion, and submission/harmony as collectives might be more relevant than a single harmony score.


I’ve done three dressage test this year so far (two at a schooling show, 1 at our first event of the season) and got a 6.5 harmony score in all of them. Our test at the event was wildly improved. I get its a different judge, different venue, etc. but to get a 6.5 when my horse was inverted for half the test, falling in, lazy into transitions, and then get a 6.5 when my horse was crisp/accurate and really nicely connected through his neck and back with the exception of a few moments of distraction - it was a little discouraging. My comments were “pleasant ride, encourage horse to stay steady in the contact throughout.” Absolutely agree with this, but also still left a little confused about the score. I last evented in 2016 with the more broken down collected marks, and it was much easier to assess where we left points on the table and what needed improvement.

(Also, very selfishly, I am now competing on a horse with very nice movement so I would love to have his gaits scored :laughing:)


I’ve had ok movers and excellent movers and I like the “Gaits” score. Gaits can be improved! It takes a long time to build correct strength over the back for something like a TB, but it might be the single biggest indicator of improvement and correctness over time. It is a shame to ignore it.

I would also counter the argument that gaits are “not important in eventing” with a reminder that the difficulty (and art) in eventing is finding and training a horse to excel in diametrically opposed disciplines. Just like we don’t want XC to be like show jumping in the grass we don’t want dressage to stray from the classical standards so it will be more friendly to our other disciplines.


I think a single harmony score is a bit odd. If it reflects the rest of the test, which arguably it should, then it doesn’t affect the score or provide useful feedback. If it doesn’t reflect the rest of the test, then what does it mean?

I’m not exactly complaining though because my eventer’s idiosyncratic trot that always brought our gaits score down (5-6) doesn’t seem to be affecting the harmony score as much. I only have a small sample size so far though (2 recognized events and 1 unrecognized). We have been getting 6.5-7 on our harmony score with overall score in the low 30s.


How were the other scores of the day? Were they all in the same range?

I think its important to note these things when we look at scores too. Some judges just don’t give away 7s I find.

I believe this was also brought in because it was found some judges were marking horses down in every movement for tension when really it should have just been dinged in the collectives. This way they mark the movement but only doc marks for tension etc in the Harmony score.

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