Dressage has judges and for the biggest competitions there are seven judges! For the Olympics and World Equestrian Games (WEG) the seven judges are placed around the arena.
As you can see the judges are placed around the arena in those white cubicles one on each long side, three at one end and two at the other end. This is totally different from skating where the judges sit on one side of the arena and not very far apart. For dressage the judge will be sitting with a scribe who records the scores for each movement and the judges comments.
The tricky part is that since the judges are in different positions they may see different things from their particular Point Of View. For example:
For the trot and canter movements it may be difficult for the judges, at the end of the arena, to evaluate the quality of the gait when the horse is moving directly toward them or away from them. Judges on the side have a better POV for this.
But all the judges for the International competitions have enough experience to make assessments even though their POV may not be ideal for some of the movements. However….there have been times in some major competitions where the judges scores have differed widely. For this reason the Dressage Judges Working Group has recommended to the FEI that when the scores are displayed, the scores of the judges on the sides of the arena should be displayed next to one another . This way people looking at the scores will know that those judges saw or did not see something that the judges at the end of the arena saw differently.
And just so you know…judges cannot say: “I’d like to sit at the side of the arena at E or B” or “I’d prefer to be at the end of the arena.”This is dressage and the judges sit where they are told to sit. 😃