Contestant evaluation criteria:
This competition is about dressage riding technique and performance … and more! Robert is looking for an assistant. So, yes, technical dressage knowledge and ability is a prerequisite, but so, too, are the characteristics of successfully working with “clients.”
The basic daily routine during the competition consisted of handling “tasks” as assigned by Robert. These tasks are referenced in each episode as Robert not only outlines the task, but what he is looking for in performance.
Understand, Robert is all about “perfection.” This is the goal he expects each contestant to share and to reflect in each day’s effort. Nothing less is acceptable. This stated, Robert recognizes that perfection is earned and earned over time. So, steady, daily improvement is a criterion by which each contestant is evaluated.
Another major consideration is the ability to follow instructions. Personal expression is an asset, but only if a contestant demonstrates the ability to execute as instructed. This criterion is a reflection of Robert’s demand for “discipline” … in all aspects of dressage. Obviously, the performance of dressage is a discipline, but so, too, is basic stable management, knowledge and care of equipment, respect for others – from fellow contestants to clients.
Next, Robert expects the competitor to be “thoughtful about riding.” Yes, he is looking for that special “raw talent,” that seemingly innate ability for dressage riding. However, equally important is the rider’s ability to think, to interpret and to appreciate all which takes place between horse and rider.
Specific to the characteristics that permit Robert to “accept” one of these contestants as his assistant are: personality, the ability to interact with people (all kinds of people … from the true client to the stable hand), respect … for one’s self as well as others, poise and confidence (not arrogance!) Further to the assessment of a contestant’s ability to work as an instructor is “catch riding,” the ability to perform/demonstrate on any horse, not just one’s own.
In summary, the criteria by which contestants are evaluated are a blend of tangible and intangible. Accordingly, this competition is about more than dressage riding ability, it is about life.