I can't believe that there is no awareness of the basic rule of marketing:
-For every customer who buys, you need 10 people who look
-For every customer who looks you need 10 who are interested (eg., 100 contacts)
-For every customer who is interested you need to reach 10 (eg., 1000 contacts)
So, for every purchase, you need 1000 contacts....same concepts for dressage.
For US dressage to improve at the upper levels, we should be ENCOURAGING people to look at the discipline at the lower levels to fill the pipeline.
Interestingly, Denny Emerson reaches this same mathematical conclusion in the Jan. 11 issue of the COTH, (p.13) where he talks about the ratio of starting eventers to elites:
"So, 25 out of a sport of 25,000 translates to one rider out of 1000." He had previously stated that these riders, "...with the right horse, might have a valid chance of getting on a US team for a 4-star championship, the Olympics, or World Championships."
He was discussing the impact that the short course has had on eventing and was computing the number of starters to the elites.
Dressage will either continue to grow by growing the "starter base" by welcoming people into "the tent" or become more elite as Denny muses in his column on eventing.
What often happens in drawers is the sharpest knives are so over-used they become either dull or lost from the drawer.
You can take that straight from the mouth of a butter knife.
I am not at all sure that 1st, 2nd, third level is where elite riders developed initially, or even mainly.
I agree. Just as I don't believe the training, first, and second level tests are valid indicators of success at FEI for the horses, I don't believe they are for the riders either. Third level I will have to think about. But, in most areas, hardly anyone shows at third level.
I disagree with the qualifying rule, for amateurs and pros. This isn't like eventing where horses or riders might die if they are showing at too advanced a level. It's more like hunters where they just lose if they are showing at too high a level.
For the pros, if we want to be more like the Europeans, we might consider more deeply the idea of rider and trainer licensing, which addresses the real issue of incompetence. For me, the education of the trainers is much more important than any show scores. Scores are just not a valid indicator of the quality of training nor are they necessarily a predictor of success at the higher levels. They are a valid indicator of success in the show ring.
Qualifying scores work better for predicting success if you are judging something objective: time around the course, height of the fences. They don't work very well if you are evaluating something subjective: style around the course, or one judge's opinion of a pirouette.