Thursday, September 27, 2012

New Niche for RC?

So the Dressage bulletin boards are just abuzz with the new "Rider Tests" for Training, First and Second levels.

Evidently these tests will be added to the shows so that the rider, not the quality of the horse, will be judged.. no scores for gaits or submission.
"How can we compete against THIS!?!?"
"Oh... we're not? Whew"

Which is all well and good in theory, but really, how does one separate the horse from the rider... especially in dressage? There's always a huge outcry of "they just won because their horse is fancier"... which I find is true only in rare cases. Because, let's face it... don't we do dressage to improve our horses' gaits? Ergo, the better rider will be on the 'fancier' horse because s/he can get more suspension and cadence out of that horse than a weaker rider. Conversely, a horse with natural cadence and suspension will look less talented/frustrated/uncooperative with a poor rider, where a talented, more advanced rider may make the horse look brilliant.  So we can conclude, in the end, that dressage scores aren't based solely on the quality of horse that you're riding but the quality of riding that's occurring. Makes sense, right?

Now, I rather like the idea of adding what is effectively an equitation class. I want to know what position mistakes I'm making and this could be an effective training tool. The training and first level tests are well written and more challenging than the existing tests (which would be perfect practice for the championships, am I right?). The second level test is written a little bit like the author has never actually ridden a dressage test, but no biggie.  And, in my opinion, if you have more horse than talent... just skip this class.

Of course there's some internet squawking about using these rider tests to initiate a 'qualifying system' to prevent the unwashed masses from moving up the levels before they are ready. This is America, Land of the Free, where we hate it when people try to tell us what to do. Just look at the ruffled feathers over the helmet rule when it was imposed. Now no one thinks twice about trotting down the centerline in their helmet.  Moral of the story: Change is hard, right?

Of course, I'm not undualy worried about a qualifying system. I have scores in the mid to high 60's through third level, and if that's not good enough, Delight's tearing up the levels earning high 60's to low 70's. We can qualify, no biggie.
But what of people who have done their time in the trenches, so to speak, and don't have a TL-2nd level horse available? Will they get grandfathered in? Would that be fair? Life is so hard...

Obviously, the biggest question here is how fair would it be for me to ride RC in these classes? I mean, this class was designed for him! A horse with average gaits who is easy to sit, obedient, calm and very well schooled... We could rack up some serious points in these classes.
And are there any year end awards for this?
That's right. Just send that ribbon this way....

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