I admit that I have a bit of a hard time caring about year end awards. Back in the day (gosh, maybe 15 years ago now) when I was caught up in the oh so competitive world of our local h/j circuit, I definitely cared. Gotta show in the same divisions all year so you can get more points, definitely always do the under saddle even if you only get a low ribbon because every point counts, look through the points the second they’re posted online, and so on and so on and so on. It only took a couple years of that for me to realize how absolutely idiotic it was. If you went to every single horse show you’d end up racking up enough points to get a year end award pretty much default, and what did that really prove? You’re good at filling out a show entry?
You’d also see people entering tons of classes, trying to rack up rider points. There’s a time at which you cross the line into excessive and I’ll go out on a limb here and say that 20+ classes in a weekend is well beyond that. Sometimes it was just… ridiculous. I’ve seen people make some seriously bad decisions for themselves and their horse just in the sake of trying to rack up as many points as they can get, and it left a sour taste. When I really thought about it the whole thing just didn’t sit right with me, and I’ve never chased points since.
And while I definitely don’t think you see this situation as much in eventing – after all, you only have one opportunity for points per show – I have seen people enter more shows than they otherwise might in order to try to get more points. The whole “quantity” method of point tabulation has never seemed like the best way. It feels like we’re rewarding the wrong thing. I felt like I’d always rather see some kind of average, or a different way of doing the math that didn’t just go for sheer quantity.
It seems I’m not the only one that thought that way, because this week USEA announced that they’ll be changing the way they tabulate points, going from a basic quantity method to a “quality” method. It’s a bit complicated and intricate (details here if you want to read) but basically it calculates only the rider’s top 6 results, and they have to be MER’s in order to be counted.
I definitely like this method better, although I still think it doesn’t really dissuade the folks who want to show their horses’ legs off in order to get more points. They could still just go to tons of shows in a quest for getting the best “top 6 results” they possibly can. Then again, I think (hope?) those types of people are few and far between in this sport. It does, however, kind of even up the playing field a bit for the people who can’t afford to show as much, if their performances are good. If you only show a handful of times a year but hit it out of the park every time, you now actually stand a chance in the year end points against people who are showing every other weekend. This points method isn’t foolproof or perfect, but it’s definitely an improvement, IMO. It seems more fair all around.
It’s interesting to think about how this method might work in the h/j world though… would it? Theirs is far more complicated, given all the classes and the fact that they have no such thing as MER’s. And at the end of the day would it even really change anything with the true pointchasers? Meh… I’m not sold on that one.
I won’t even pretend to understand how the dressage world does its awards, I feel like they’ve got special prizes and awards for literally every scenario. Ride a one-eyed Bashkir Curly that never scores over 50%? There’s probably an award for that, and it likely includes a wine glass. (Joking, dressage people, don’t get mad at me. Ok I’m not really joking, y’all seriously love your awards. And wine.)
What do you think of the new changes? If you’re not an eventer, do you think something similar could apply to your discipline, and do you think it would be better or worse?