Jean-Michel Roudier has been an ‘O’ judge since 2005 but when he speaks about dressage he has the same enthusiastic approach he had in 1987, when he took up his first international judging courses with Lette, Niggli, Mechlem and Withages. In a short interview, Dressage.it reports his answers…
Where do you live?
«I live in France, in Nantes, a city south of Britany».
How and when did you meet horses? And where and why dressage?
«Nobody in my family has interest on horses, but I always liked the horses and wanted to ride. I started when I was 10. The husband of my teacher was an international dressage judge, and became my mentor. So, I started scribing in national and international shows early, at the same time, riding (every morning during my studies)».
When did you become a dressage judge?
«My first experience was when I was just 18, at the lowest level, replacing at the last moment a judge who did not come… I had during the first years a strong support from my mentor».
What does dressage mean to you?
«The dressage is for me above all the search for perfect harmony with the horse, in a gymnastic which magnificently develops the qualities of the horse, like a dancer, a gymnast».
How did you career develop?
«I was very lucky, I started to judge at the national level at 24, and international at 31, I benefited from the extraordinary experience of judges, riders, coaches who shared their experience. The Fei quickly named me in championships, challenges that I probably did not miss, since I was appointed almost every year in European or World championships … Judging is a permanent questioning, a search for rigor, improvement with humility»
Do you have any worries when you are going to start judging a class?
«Yes of course! The fear of making a mistake! Whatever the level! It is the rider who undergoes the consequences, and I am always respectful of everything that has been necessary for the rider to reach the competition…».
«Dressage is my hobby! Professionally, I am medical doctor, radiologist and quite busy, but also, I am very busy with my judging, and also I love sharing my experience, riding (but now, just for pleasure because of a strong back-pain), and training a little bit. I also love exhibitions, art, concert, …. They are not enough days in a week!».
Any suggestions to the FEI regarding judges?
«Maybe trying to impose a more efficient turn-over in big competitions and not only championships. There are some good judges who don’t judge enough…».