Monday, May. 27, 2024

Observations: The Pan Am Selections And The Scoreboard

Dear Rita,

The USEF Dressage Festival of Champions was a well-fought competition this year for our Pan American Games Selection Trials. I think this is the best team the United States has ever selected for the PAG. We can be very proud to send these horses and riders to Mexico next month: Steffen Peters with Weltino’s Magic, Heather Blitz with Paragon, Cesar Parra with Grandioso and Marisa Festerling with Big Tyme.

PUBLISHED
Haddad-Scoreboard.jpg

ADVERTISEMENT

Dear Rita,

The USEF Dressage Festival of Champions was a well-fought competition this year for our Pan American Games Selection Trials. I think this is the best team the United States has ever selected for the PAG. We can be very proud to send these horses and riders to Mexico next month: Steffen Peters with Weltino’s Magic, Heather Blitz with Paragon, Cesar Parra with Grandioso and Marisa Festerling with Big Tyme.

Our strengths are clear. Steffen rides an excellent technical test that cannot be topped in its precision and correctness. He rides the most out of Weltino’s Magic in every movement. Heather rides with grace and accuracy on Paragon, who exudes wow-factor in his international gaits.  Cesar marks out an unbeatable trot tour with Grandioso that racks up enough points to carry them through the weaker canter tour. Marisa rides with breathtaking competence and organization on her eye-catching Big Tyme. Any one of these riders could beat the others on a given day.

A strong team.  Guadalajara or bust! And good luck!

The Grand Prix Championship shook out as predicted with Steffen Peters and Ravel the clear leaders, followed by Tina Konyot on Calecto V. I watched the entire Grand Prix championship—all three tests—and the winner was fairly chosen. But the predictability of the outcome irks me to no end and leads to the obvious question: In what other sport can the winner be consistently predicted from the starting list before the competition begins?

Ravel and Steffen are our strongest combination—ever—in the United States. They are to be revered. But they are human and equine and they can make mistakes. They did make mistakes, especially in the freestyle, but they got world-class points anyway. LIKE TOTILAS MADE MISTAKES AT THE GERMAN NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS AND WAS GIVEN WORLD CLASS SCORES ANYWAY.

Aargghh. This problem is not endemic to America, but it is endemic to dressage. In a COMPETITION, shouldn’t the score (if not the placing) at least reflect what is actually happening in the arena on that day?

We need to work harder to make the judging of our sport fair and accurate. I agree with Wayne Channon of the International Dressage Riders Club—our judges are well educated and do the best job that they can, but the system they are using allows too much room for preconceived ideas about the score they are about to give. The last great test of the competitor, the last great score of the pair, looms too large in the vision of all who observe the test. Riders at the top of the sport are given too many points when they make mistakes. Lesser-known riders who ride an uncharacteristically good test are not given enough points.

Those of use who observe our sport every weekend know this. Which brings me to my one and only criticism of the USEF Festival: Why is the scoreboard positioned in full view of all the judges? We know that our system is flawed. We are working to fix it. In the meantime, why encourage more subliminal bias by displaying a running score for the judges to see?

ADVERTISEMENT

I don’t mean to imply that the placement of the scoreboard in the main arena at the USET is done with an ulterior motive. It just needs a bit more thought from the organizers.

We have had this discussion over and over again in the IDRC and the IDTC [International Dressage Trainers Club]. A scoreboard that displays the real time running score for each rider against the current leader’s score is necessary and beneficial to maintaining transparency in the judging of our sport. But the purpose of such a scoreboard is NOT to keep the judges informed about how each rider is doing against the competition.  The purpose of the scoreboard is NOT to keep the judges informed about how they are performing in relationship to their colleagues. It should be positioned so that the SPECTATORS are informed—only.

Therefore, the scoreboard should not be visible to the judges. Put it behind C—either move the scoreboard or turn the arena around. Better yet, provide small low screens behind each judging booth that reflect the individual scores of all judges for each movement as well as the running scores. These panels are visible to spectators only and the judges not at all.

The CDIO Aachen has used these types of panels during competitions, and the main scoreboard is not visible for four out of five judges in a normal competition. (Oh crikey, now we have seven at major championships!) The shows at Fritzens in Austria, at Falsterbo in Sweden and several others have done the same.

Competitors appreciate this effort by the organizers. The majority of us believe that a running score that is visible to the judges is unfair.

Having said that, everything else about the 2011 Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF Dressage Festival Of Champions was top notch! I had the unusual pleasure of being a spectator rather than a competitor during the show. Every day I watched a lot of tests, studied the scoreboard, trained on Winyamaro and Cadillac and got some excellent insight on my riding from Robert Dover, who attended the Festival. I also got to talk to some of the vendors at the trade fair and chat with many of my fellow competitors.

The Theault truck was a big hit at the show, and Stuebben sent a representative to showcase the new Genesis Special design. Healthy Horse Boutique offered margaritas during an interesting evening presentation on supplements in the Trophy Room at the USET.

Marian Nilsen, owner of the newly founded HH Boutique, has come up with a great idea for supplementing horses. She has loaded wholly organic ingredients into cookies that can be hand fed. The treats are made from recipes geared toward inflammation and stress management and toward the management of digestive problems. Both Cadillac and Winyamaro love them!

For more information on Cookies With A Clue, go to one of these two websites:

ADVERTISEMENT

www.healthyhorseboutique.com or www.cookieswithaclue.com

Cadillac and I got to be guinea pigs for the Grand Prix Special. It is always a pleasure to ride at the USET! 

I’m Catherine Haddad Staller, and I’m saying it like it is from Gladstone, N.J.

Training Tip of the Day: Look for a simple delivery system and quality ingredients without unnecessary fillers in choosing supplements for your horse!

InternationalDressage.com

 

 

 

Categories:

ADVERTISEMENT

EXPLORE MORE

Follow us on

Sections

Copyright © 2024 The Chronicle of the Horse