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SEN System Article Generates Interest

Editor’s Note: In a recent issue of Saddle Horse Report, we included an article about the SEN Judging System currently in use in equitation competitions across the country. We appreciate your response to that article and have reprinted a few of those letters here. In response to the requests for a reprint of our earlier article describing the SEN System, we have posted that article to our web site at Additional information about how SEN works can be obtained at If you have comments or suggestions about the SEN system and want to share them, please write us a letter to the editor at Saddle Horse Report, P.O. Box 1007, Shelbyville, TN 37162 or email us at

Dear Editor:

I read with interest your editorial about the SEN system of scoring that Lynda and her son have developed. In large part, it is based (through Nealia McCracken) on the system of scoring that is used in dressage competition. In dressage, for every element of the test, the judge states a score and some kind of comments to go along with the score. Depending on the element and the level of the test, some scores have a higher point level assigned (the score will be “x2”). And, the judge does not write the scores and comments but rather, a scribe does what that title implies - s/he writes down everything that the judge says so that the judge can continue to watch the test.

I was concerned by some of the comments in your editorial that blame is being laid at the feet of scribes and scorekeepers for the mistakes found within the SEN system. Since I have scribed both at dressage competitions and at St. Louis - for both the Shatner and the Medallion finals - I can assure you that any mistakes made should not be blamed on the scribes. For instance at St. Louis this year, Jason Molbach and I teamed up and scribed/posted results for both Fran Crumpler and Tom Sworm. Jason and I double checked each other, both manually and with a calculator, and had we mistakenly transcribed a number, either Fran or Tom would have known it. AND would have corrected it.

Perhaps a better test of the SEN system and a proof of its efficacy would be to take the paper scores that the judges turned in at Indianapolis, St. Louis and Kansas City and have an independent group of show secretaries, exhibitors, trainers, tabulators run the numbers through the system that Lynda has developed. Then, everyone can see whether the system works; how the system works; and more importantly, whether there are any problems that need to be ironed out.

I am thrilled with the thought that, as in dressage, a good element of a test or workout can be judged independently (or at least more independently) of the total test and credit can be given where credit is due. However, we should be cautious of wholesale adoption of a system without first understanding if it has any potential bugs or flaws. Yes, I’m from Missouri - that means “show me.” And I would appreciate the opportunity to be given to those who will have to use the system to make sure it’s as good as it’s purported to be before we all just jump on the bandwagon.

Thanks for your time.
Janet Thompson

Dear Editor:

Thank you for Christy Parsons’ excellent article on the benefits or and problems with the SEN scoring system.

Her article mentions a previous article in March 2000 issue [of Saddle Horse Report] which explained the SEN system in detail. Would it be possible for you to make that article available on the web site? I think many of us could use a “refresher” course in how SEN works.

Julie Witthoff

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