Now that is an interesting question. The rules are very clear that should a rider at a competition have a question for the judge, they must first ask permission to do so through the steward or technical delegate. An excellent tactic, in that it usually means there will be some emotional involvement and the presence of a third party may allow for some coolness of thought. However, in my experience, riders do not ask judges anything. I believe it is the general perception that to talk to a judge and ask a question about a ride/score would result in horrible consequences to a rider in future competitions…and that is unfortunate from both the rider’s and judges perspective.
Clearer understanding and more open communication needs to be developed between competitors and judges. Riders have a difficult job in presenting their riding skills and their horse’s ability in a stressful situation. Judges have a difficult job in that the quality of what is being presented must be analyzed and commented on in mere seconds. Sometimes, the parties are at odds, one with the other.
Riders need to know that most judges appreciate their efforts in the ring. If a rider feels strongly enough that a movement was unfairly scored, they should be able to approach a judge, via the steward, for an open and, hopefully, unemotional dialogue. Judges are not always right, but most make a tremendous effort to be fair to a competitor and will certainly not hold it against the rider in future. In fact, it will improve the level of awareness for both rider and judge.