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Anyone SUPPORT a "Qualifying System"?

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  • Anyone SUPPORT a "Qualifying System"?

    I have been following the Performance Standards Proposal threads and found myself wanting to share some thoughts and follow up with a question:

    After the Dressage Committee shared their plans at the USDF convention during the open meeting, the floor was open for delegates and attendees to respond. There was such little dissension that Janet Foy actually commented that she was surprised not to hear more comments from the floor "against" the proposal. For one thing, many of us who spoke up against various aspects of the proposal LATER (at the BOG) said nothing at that time because we were just trying to grasp the details and needed some time to digest it. However, one person spoke at that DC meeting and made a comment that I think was quite true. She said "The reason you aren't hearing much opposition to a qualifying system is because you are preaching to the choir." She went on to explain that many of us there are ready to implement a qualifying system because we are in agreement that it would benefit the sport in general, but she recognized that there would be riders who would NOT appreciate the proposal back in our home states. That room was filled with many professionals in the business. Not all of them want a qualifying system, but I would say that the majority were upset more about some of the details of the original proposal, not the concept itself (and of course, I could have misread the situation).

    My point in posting this is to say that I am curious to see if there are any people reading this bb who ARE in favor of a qualifying system. I have made myself very clear to the "powers-that-be" that I did not support the original proposal and wanted a system that was more reasonably attainable by the rider who only competes at 2 or 3 USEF shows a year and I adamantly opposed the requirement that riders must be full Participating Members of the USDF (rather than Group Members from being part of a GMO). Personally, however, I do support the idea of implementing some sort of qualifying system. I may be in the minority of my own GMO...I will have to continue to seek their input.

    On another note (and maybe I should put this part of my post in the other thread about the impact of bbs), I want to add that I think the bbs serve an important role in the horse community and no doubt that the response from the people on this bb had an impact on the dressage committee's decision to postpone. However, I personally believe that the greater impact was made by those who probably don't read internet bulletin boards. As soon as I returned home from the convention, I was immediately involved in an email discussion with GMO presidents from all over the country. The GMO Council of the USDF has representatives, like myself, that went home and started spreading the word to the GMO leadership. The Chairman of the GMO Council was instrumental in getting us organized. She prepared a statement of information for us that was circulated QUICKLY across the country. I immediately alerted my GMO (North Carolina Dressage and Combined Training Association) by publishing the proposal in our January newsletter complete with the DC members' contact info. Members, in turn, contacted the DC on their own. I imagine the other GMO Council reps did as I did and contacted the GMO presidents in their regions. I am a rep for Region 1 and I personally sent a letter to every single GMO president in the region. My point in this long paragraph is to say.... as valuable as the bbs are, after the Dressage Committee presented that proposal, many of us went home with plans to educate the masses and many of us did not go to the bbs to do this.

    I've had several people call me and email me to ask what they can do to influence the USEF rule-makers. My answer is... get involved at either the state, regional, or maybe even the national level. If the USDF has to vote on any of this at next year's convention, it will be people like myself who go there representing their GMOs and their Regions. The bigger the membership of the GMO, the more voting power it has.

    Now, back to the original intent of this thread....are there any of you out there who SUPPORT a qualifying system in the US? (I think I saw a couple of people anyway who said they did). And perhaps say why you support it. If you aren't comfortable posting publicly, please email me privately. I'd also love to know if you are a GMO member or USDF member.

    Jennifer Mitchell - johdug@aol(dot)com

  • #2
    I can't answer the question because there are no specifics. The devil is in the details.
    If the members present were largely pros, then maybe you need to have separate tracks for pros and ammies, at their option. There seems to be quite a divergence of opinion between the members attending the convention and others, if your observations are accurate. Food for thought there. Who should the USEF represent and how.
    Touchstone Acres Lipizzans, Standing N. Samira VI (Gray), N. XXIX-18(Black), more in 2014


    • #3
      Agree. the avenue of communication that's best are the official ones thru the gmos and organizations themselves.
      If the system were to improve riding, and be coupled with an education system to be put in place BEFORE qualification, and there were a different qualification avenue to allow those with school horses and limited horses to get experience riding the tests (something that cost no more than a 150 dollar clinic fee), I would be in favor, depending of course, on exactly what the system was. The devil IS in the details. The details make all the difference.

      If the system were to have the effect of forcing people to join more organizations than they want to, if it were to raise anyone's costs, if it were to require people in areas like S. Dakota and other large regions to put on more miles, if it were to cause a number of people to give up showing, if it were to cause people to 'points chase' and put more mileage on horses than is good for them, and if it were to create an extremely lucrative market for local professionals to make more money thru leasing of 'qualification horses' that would be leased for years and shown til they were in a state of ultimate sourness and high mileage, if the system was proposed not due to all those 30% rides at third level (those rides that don't seem to exist), but to for the main purpose of lining the USEF's wallet, and the lack of education programs with it and the tailoring of the program and the judging and coefficients to people with more expensive horses, I would not be in favor of it.

      The 'qualification horse leasing market' to me is the most odious. It would be relatively easy for someone with a little imagination to tailor a horse's training not to its correct and progressive development, but to its suitability as a 'qualification horse' (teach eons of counter canter and no flying changes, teach a sort of 'working collection' gait and drill its behind off on the 1st and 2nd level tests til it performs like a robot, shape the gaits to 'em easy to sit, instead of developing them toward more impulsion), and then work it into the ground leasing it to multiple people each show season.

      A restrictive rule would force the creation of this sort of thing. It would be a simple matter of who can pay how much.


      • #4
        The devil is in the details, as noted already.

        There is no way to implement a system like this without increasing costs and hassle, at least a little.

        So, to me, to make up for those costs, the system has to be designed to have intrinsic value in education and in interesting goals for riders, rather than being strictly punitive. It should be a rider education/reward/qualification program, and not just piggyback on scores we use to evaluate HORSES.

        I would rather have nothing than have a system like the one proposed. But, I could support a program that was structured to give more direct rider feedback.
        If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket


        • #5
          As you might recall, I did bring this topic up in both my Regional meetings at the Convention (Region 1, for those that don't know, Jennifer's Region also), just to get a feel for what people thought about the concept of a qualification system (and at that point knowing none of the details). One was, I believe, before the DC open meeting and one was after. In general, no one at those particular Regional meetings was very excited (it seemed to me, at least) one way or the other about the concept, so the reaction on the BBs did take me a bit by surprise. These are people like Jennifer who are at the Convention, either representing their GMOs and/or attending business meetings for the most part. They are not by any means all professionals.

          I totally understand that there are issues with the proposed system and that clearly some more thought as to HOW it should work is required. And of course as a Regional Director and USDF EB member, I am very concerned about the impact for USDF in trying to implement such a system. That said, I do support some sort of qualification system and I think if it were well structured and "gently" introduced, the majority of competitors would not find it a terrible burden (and I am not saying that the initial proposal met those criteria).

          You could argue that I am one of the professionals whose opinion differs for that reason (and I am totally grandfathered, so obviously I don't really have a personal stake in this at all), HOWEVER it absolutely does affect nearly all of my students and I think this is true for many professionals. So really, are our interests so different?

          One thing I'd like to bring up also - I think some people would like the USDF Regional Directors (or USDF as a whole) to come out strongly against any qualification system, supporting the majority of opinions expressed here on this BB and others. But as Jennifer points out, there are those who DO think a qualification system is a good idea and maybe are not speaking up as loudly as they could. My job is to represent ALL of these interests (if that is possible) and therefore I really can't take a position for or against - I can just try to facilitate discussion and feedback and education on the topic, and when all is said and done, if a system does pass, do the best I can to make a workable system for USDF.
          Alison Head
          Region 1 Director


          • #6
            Yes, interests are very different. As a trainer/instructor, if your students have to show more, you make more money.


            • #7
              Qualifying for a championship show or similar, fine.
              Qualifying to show at a "regular" show at a given level, no. Not necessary. Does nothing but increase costs and aggravation.
              "It's like a Russian nesting doll of train wrecks."--CaitlinandTheBay

              ...just settin' on the Group W bench.


              • #8
                No, I disagree for 2 reasons. The first is that I don't make money from my students at shows (but that is just how I personally run my business). I have only students in training, and showing is pretty much part of the package. Any money I do make is a very small amount. Certainly not enough to get excited about or to cause me to support a proposal I didn't otherwise think was a good idea. I also have students that don't show at all and are happy to train at home.
                The second is that for the most part my students won't show more. We already show at what we consider is a reasonable number of shows for us and our horses. We might show DIFFERENTLY, but I don't see "point chasing" as something we would be interested in. We'll wait, we'll qualify as best we can, we might do more unrecognized shows or more clinics or other fun activities until ready to move on. I don't see being motivated to hurry through the levels.


                • #9
                  Do you have pilots without a license
                  Yes i am pro a qualifying system
                  If wishes were horses, beggars might ride -- John Ray


                  • #10
                    I am in favor of a qualifying system in concept. My concerns are if it can be carried out in a reasonable and fair manner, and at limited expense to the rider. I do like that the concept presented that the rider's skills and not the horse's gaits would earn the score. Lots of people buy higher level horses and do relatively well only because the horse knows what its doing, not because the rider is skilled.

                    Perhaps only qualified riders could ride level 4+ at the higher rated shows, leaving non-qualified riders to ride them at local shows. This would allow those who aren't serious contenters to try their skills. There are so may ways things could be handled. We'll see how it all develops...


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by RonaldGroen View Post
                      Do you have pilots without a license
                      Yes i am pro a qualifying system
                      Are you implying that an unranked rider is likely to crash into the judge's stand?

                      For the love of Pete, it's *horseback riding*, not neurosurgery...
                      "It's like a Russian nesting doll of train wrecks."--CaitlinandTheBay

                      ...just settin' on the Group W bench.


                      • #12
                        First, I would like to see better judging. This would come based on being required that the judge had been able to train a horse up the levels and get the scores which any new system would require...not just riding that level, but training an unbroken horse up to that level, and getting the designated scores. Then, I would like to see a reasonable number of scores and shows needed to achieve "passing" the level test, not this monsterous number that has been bandied about...reasonable numbers. When I say that the judge should train the horse from the beginning, that is just what I mean. Not this business of sending the horse out to a bronc rider for three or four or five months first.


                        • #13
                          A new qualifying system has to make sense, to date this one doesn't. My thoughts:
                          - propoal is "due" out the Summer of 2008
                          - voting is in January 2009

                          This gives all the GMOs a chance to collect show data this year on what's going on at Third Level. For the sake of argument say the show season starts in March. The organizer of a USDF-recognized show has no longer than 14 days from the show to get info/results into USDF. So, get the same template together in all GMOs and collect some add'l info that does not need to be passed on to USDF right away:

                          - who is taking Third Level tests, broken down by numbers/percent: trainers, judges, ammies?

                          - are the horses: (a) clients' horses the trainer or judge is riding that will put in a poor test regardless and has nothing to do with quality of rider (b) ammies who have routinely used the training scale and are showing with the same horse and now have reached third level (c) ammies who are clueless, buy a further advanced horse and just decide to just show up at Third level and wing it.

                          - in addition, GMOs should ask the DC or BOG now for the data/numbers used to arrive at their proposal to date.

                          I know this takes co-ordination, and I know it's do-able to collect the 2008 show season data with a March start date. It is not do-able to collect a response AFTER the proposal arrives out in the Summer, especially if it's the end of summer or the proposal is released later than expected.

                          Does this help? Short answer is I never understood the REASON for the qualifying at Third, or why it isn't something like a proposal that trainers can no longer warm-up a rider's horse after a certian level: this would put riders in the USA on a more equal playing field with each other, require "better" riding skills, as well as be more in line with the euro model.


                          • #14
                            I agree with some sort of qualifying system, simply because the quality of the freestyles improved drastically once the qualifying system went into effect.


                            • #15
                              I support the idea of the qualification system that will set a clear standard that we can strive for, system that will raise expectations and quality of dressage in the show ring. However, I'm disappointed how new qualification system was presented and I'm opposed to such difficult qualification standards.

                              Current proposed qualifying scores are not based on any of the existent USEF or USDF standards. Current proposed points to qualify to move up to the 3rd level belittle the scores needed to earn USDF Bronze Medal, they also belittle the scores needed to qualify for the USDF Championships, and belittle the scores needed to earn USDF 2nd Level Rider Performance Awards. Scores that are needed for USDF championships, scores that are needed towards USDF Bronze Medal, and scores that are needed for USDF 2nd Level Rider Performance Awards are all lower in % and lesser in the amount than the new proposed 3rd Level Qualification Rule calls for.

                              I would be glad to see the new qualification system based on the existing scores that needed for
                              1) USDF Championships Qualifying scores: aka 2 scores of 61% on 2nd level
                              2) USDF 2nd Level Rider Performance Awards: aka 4 scores of 60% on 2nd level.
                              3) Towards USDF Bronze Medal: aka 2 scores of 60% on 1nd Level and 2 scores of 60% on 2nd Level.

                              If the USEF creates a new rule based on the existent rule, it will be easier to track the scores and it will be easier to introduce this new rule to the membership as well. I also think it's important to make sure that riders can earn their scores riding only 2 tests. That will make it affordable and give it a reasonable time table.

                              Introducing a dressage levels qualification system is a correct direction, but it needs to be introduced for the right reasons and it needs to affect negatively only riders who are not spending enough time on the correct dressage basics, rather than negatively affecting people with a limited income.


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Dressage Art View Post
                                I support the idea of the qualification system that will set a clear standard that we can strive for, system that will raise expectations and quality of dressage in the show ring. .
                                We already have something to do that--it's called a score sheet.
                                "It's like a Russian nesting doll of train wrecks."--CaitlinandTheBay

                                ...just settin' on the Group W bench.


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by slc2 View Post
                                  Yes, interests are very different. As a trainer/instructor, if your students have to show more, you make more money.
                                  I'm with Alison...I disagree, slc2.

                                  Personally, I do not compete in a big way, nor do my students. And to tell you the truth, I would welcome a system that helps keep an over-eager student from competing above his/her ability. It is hard to convince them sometimes that they aren't ready to move up when they are so sure that they are! So...if my students aren't scoring as they need in order to qualify, my guess is that we would show with a different strategy, or maybe even show a bit less, but certainly not more. I don't know if a qualifying system would hurt the horse show business or not, but if riders were not allowed to move up before they were ready, I would hope that the quality of riding would improve at the shows. Just like Ange said, the quality of freestyles improved after qualification was required.

                                  For years, I have defended dressage to people from other riding disciplines who tell me that they don't like dressage because they judge it by too many bad rides that they have seen. Some of these riders think that dressage is all about the "crank and yank" and they have seen far too many riders who can't sit effectively having unpleasant looking rides. I have said, "not all dressage is like that, I promise" more times than I care to admit. And this is not just in the tests that score extremely low, of course.

                                  As president of my GMO, I will be looking for input from the membership so that I can accurately represent them (just as Alison must do as she represents an entire region). Because I know that there are plenty of people across the country who do support a qualifying system, I just wondered if there were any of them visiting this bb.

                                  I agree with those of you who want to see a qualifying system that focuses on the rider's actual ability more, and not so much on the scores that may be inflated because the horse has such fancy gaits. I don't know how they can accomplish this, but I hope they find a way.

                                  Jennifer Mitchell
                                  Last edited by JennNC; Jan. 19, 2008, 05:24 PM. Reason: clarification


                                  • #18
                                    This is probably one of the most well-thought, constructive threads I've read regarding the proposed qualification system. As a Region 1 GMO member (PVDA and VADA) and USDF/USEF member, I think it is time to begin some sort of further qualification system in this country, but in no way can we institute anything similar to what exists in Europe. Geographics and logistics alone would make this impossible.

                                    IMO, it would be detrimental to go from "ground zero," so to speak to what was originally proposed. And like the proper training of the horse and rider, such a significant decision requires a great deal of time and an incredible amount of thought, input, etc., before even beginning to implement such a program (definitely agree with the "devil in the details" wording because it's so true). Research, input from members, proper and thorough preparation, etc., can either make or break such a program -- and possibly its horses and riders. Also similar to the proper training of our horses and riders, IMO, the program should approach a qualification system in phases and smaller steps (like to call them "little victories") and build upon a solid foundation which will maximize the chances of success for all involved.

                                    This is a huge country, and IMO, in no way, can we implement such an undertaking within the next two-three years. By doing so could very well (most likely) destroy those important and essential aspects we say we are trying to preserve - the correct training of our horses and riders and to provide for a more level playing ground for our competitors, which are largely adult amateurs.

                                    I agree that judges should also be held more accountable, as well. Get rid of the politics and personal venues which run rampant whether admitted or not. IMO, who owns what horse (and type/breed of horse) and who is riding what horse should not matter (but it does), and what judge one is riding before. I wholeheartedly agree that all judges who wish to remain judges should have trained a horse(s) themselves (clearly demonstrating their knowledge, skill and training) from the ground up - meaning from backing to GP. I have heard all too often from competitors who enter the "L Judges" program that they are doing it so they can get in with the crowd -- in hopes of getting better scores themselves (the "I can play that game" type of thing...). Some are not interested in what is really important -- definitely missing the forest for the trees... That said, thankfully, there are many who enter these programs with a genuine thirst for education and the desire to make a positive difference in the judging world. So by no means am I making a blanket statement here -- just that sometimes people do things for the wrong reasons.

                                    Like anything else, way before implementing any new program in the business world or otherwise, ideas and proposals must be dissected many times over and include the extremely valuable input of those who are "out in the trenches" - in the real world. Most businesses fail if they try to grow and get large too quickly, making hasty decisions. Those businesses who strive for a slower, more consistent growth (a more methodical, well thought out plan), have a much better chance to succeed and remain in business. Since the proposal at hand will have such an incredible impact (and domino effect), it might behoove the powers that be to to "hurry up slow"... While we not specifically talking about the business world here, many of the processes and steps are very similar.

                                    I'm for logical, fair and "achievable" goals for our horses and competitors. Thanks for starting this thread. Very well stated thoughts.
                                    \"HAPPY HOUR\" & Hawk\'s Run Trakehners

                                    \"The only price of admission is curiosity.\"
                                    Proud Member of Team Barbaro!


                                    • #19
                                      To Commander Cody; I would be in favor of a qualifying system if a rider has the opportunity to qualify with two scores under separate judges. In other words at only two shows. Oh yes, and only if NO ONE was allowed to be grandfathered in. After all, it would be so easy for all the upper level riders to requalify. I do believe one of the committee members said it should only take two shows to earn all the points needed, right? So the levels would just go boom, boom, boom. No problem.

                                      To Bold Jax; I've never seen an unrecognized show here in Florida that has had any classes higher than 3rd level. Most have one class per day titled "2nd level and up". The judges are generally small "l" or "r" judges at these shows. Once someone is showing 3rd and up, they pretty much have to go to recognized shows.

                                      For the love of Pete, it's *horseback riding*, not neurosurgery...
                                      Thanks, Ghazzu. My sentiments exactly. What a way to take all the fun out of a sport. Regimented, regimented.
                                      "We don't ride the clock. We ride the horse." Reiner Klimke.


                                      • #20
                                        I can't answer the question of whether or not I support a "qualifying system" until I review the DATA. I am still not clear on the reason for such a system. The problem has not been identified and defined. It is my hope that problem definition can be accomplished within a couple of months. It is entirely unclear to me right now who thinks something is "wrong" with dressage in this country, why they think that, and whether that is an accurate characterization.

                                        I am a psychologist, and am trained in making data-based decisions. Although I know it is human nature, I am weary of people (on both sides of this issue) making statements and decisions which will have far-reaching consequences based on their FEELINGS or VIEWS or PERSONAL ATTITUDES. This is not about my own personal "qualification" and I think people should look at this not as whether or not you personally will get to ride at PSG, but as a broader question.

                                        I can say, after looking at some initial data, that it appears that the majority of low-scoring rides is NOT at 3rd OR at 2nd level. They are at Training and First levels. Whether this has relevance to the "problem", I don't know, since I don't know for sure what people "think" the "problem" is.

                                        To be continued.