Okay. I need to come clean about this.
The way the vast majority of people do their dressage salutes drives me absolutely crazy.
You may argue that since I am very distinctly in the minority here, I'm in the wrong. You may even be right.
I don't care. Seeing a quick, careless, sloppy salute gets under my skin immediately and fills me with irrational anger.
Please note that I did say "irrational."
What do I mean? Here are a few examples. Please note: the riders here are more or less a random sampling, and many of them are really lovely riders. I'm only using them to talk about their salutes, not their general tests.
Do you see what I mean?
That quick, hurried flip on an antsy horse, before it's even settled. The "get this over with" attitude toward the whole thing.
I see it in almost every single test I scribe for, and I do a fair amount of scribing - probably more than your average rider. (I have problems saying no.)
Here's how I was taught to salute:
Ride your centerline.
Halt. Wait a beat for your horse to settle and square, and while doing so, seek out the judge's face and make - if not eye contact - then at least a moment of connection.
Lower your head. Wait a beat.
Lower your right hand. Wait a beat.
Return your had to the reins. Wait a beat.
Raise your head, and in the moment that follows, re-find the judge's face and get your horse ready.
Does that sound really long? It's not. By "beat" I don't mean even a full second, but I do mean a pause. Take a breath. Let yourself settle and have a moment of space. The whole thing takes perhaps twice as long as one of those flippy salutes, but by that I mean it takes perhaps 2-3 seconds, total, rather than a fraction of one second.
To me, a quick flip salute like the majority of riders do presents two major disadvantages.
First, it's disrespectful. The point of a salute in the dressage test is to acknowledge the judge, and his/her role in what's about to occur. It always makes me think of the (mostly apocryphal) gladiator salute. ("We who are about to die salute you!" though maybe that's not very cheerful?) It's a sort of mutual gesture of partnership. You present yourself to be judged, and acknowledge that the judge will be evaluating you. Giving it the space it deserves is only right. (Though, judging by how many people blast through it and the pretty good scores they're still getting, most or all dressage judges don't care too much!)
Second, it's a built-in deep breath. Dressage is stressful. Riders are often nervous, frightened, worried - you name it. Going down the centerline is one of the biggest pressure moments in all of equestrian sport. Why blow through the one moment in the whole test where you can relax for a split second? Take that moment of zen. Appreciate it. Then get on with the business of riding the test. Don't waste it!
So there. My soapbox moment. I realize this is a really small thing to go crazy over, but it really fills me with an all out of proportion amount of frustration.