Linda Zang Takes Initiative to Arrange Review With Rider & Judges To Deal With Complaints

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Germany's Christoph Koschel on Tiesto. © 2015 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Germany’s Christoph Koschel on Tiesto. © 2015 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

WELLINGTON, Florida, Mar. 26, 2015–Linda Zang of the United States, a top ranked international judge, took a rare and possibly unprecedented initiative to review a Nations Cup performance with the rider and the ground jury using a video of the ride to deal with complaints over scoring.

The review of the ride by Christoph Koschel on Tiesto in the Big Tour for the German team in the Adequate Global Dressage Festival Nations Cup was arranged by Linda after judges were approached by Christoph and German team mate Michael Klimke. Michael rode Djamba Djokiba for Germany at Small Tour in the team competition.

Linda, president of the ground jury and recently appointed a member of the Judges Supervisory Panel that is a check on scores at championships with instant reviews of movements, disclosed that she had already set a meeting with Christoph,  the judges and Thomas Baur, the Global dressage show director and a member of the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) Dressage Committee to go over the individual marks while watching a video of the test.

Complaints had been voiced by some spectators over were differences in judging of the Grand Prix Special rides.

Disparities in the marks for Laura and Verdades, for example, were between 72.255 per cent from Janet Foy of the United States and 78.137 from Cesar Torrente of Colombia. For Allison Brock and Rosevelt the scores ranged from a low of 71.176 per cent from Elizabeth McMullen of Canada and a high of 77.059 from Linda Zang.

The review arranged by Linda, who rode for the United States at the alternate Olympics in 1980 and has been an international judge for several years, was praised by Robert Dover, the U.S. chef d’equipe.

Linda appeared at a news conference for the Nations Cup where she was asked about the controversy over the scores awarded by the five-judge panel.

She gave a lengthy description of how there could be disparity between scores from judges positioned at different locations around the competition arena.

Judges tried their best, she said, but “it’s a hard sport. It’s subjective and we can only see what we see with our eyes.”

The review of Christoph Koschel’s ride, she said, could be “a beginning, a good beginning” of a procedure-to deal with some judging issue.

“Maybe we’ll end up throwing trash cans at each other,” she said, “I hope not. But it’s a beginning.”

She defended judges as hard working and making their best effort.

The role of judges is under increasing scrutiny in a sport where their award of points are final and are not reviewed except at championships by the Judges Supervisory Panel.

Throughout most of the world, judges are unpaid volunteers although they spend up to five or six full days from the start of the horse inspection then viewing tests non-stop and discussing the results afterward. Judges at the top levels generally are paid in the United States but at relatively small amounts. The growing number of dressage competitions has increased demand for judges.