The Point Is

My state saddleseat association has a year-end points system that confused the stew out of me at first. Having spent the spring wrestling with it, I can appreciate the internal elegance. The deal is that every show gets an A, B, C, or none designation. Points are determined from this.

C show: first is 8 points, second is 7 points, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, eighth is 1 point, & 0.5 points for participation with no ribbon.

B show, values doubled: 16, 14, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, & 1 for showing up.

A show, values tripled: 24, 21, 18, 15, 12, 9, 6, 3, & 1.5.

The tricky bit is that the designation is not determined until the show is over. It depends how many other barns from our state came to the show. Two barns – C show; three barns – B show; four or more – A show.

Confused yet? Here’s the theory behind it.

One option would be to count any ribbon earned at any show anywhere. Saddleseat shows tend to have the same classes, e.g. ASB Country Pleasure Driving. It would be possible to combine the results. However, since it is a state association, there is the feeling that year-end awards should be earned competing against other state barns, not splaying all over the map each doing our own thing.

A second option is to chose, say, ten shows that count toward points. Anyone who has ever sat through a rules meeting at any horse show association can picture how smoothly that does not go. Every barn has their own reasons for going to this or that handful of ten shows. Everyone agrees on eight shows. Reaching consensus on the remaining two is, at best, unharmonious.

So, the system outlined above, weird as it sounds, combines the best of both: freedom of choice and intra-state competition. Every barn goes where it wills. For instance, my instructor likes the show in South Carolina. No one else in the state does. We go. We ride. We have a lovely time. However, my three ribbons do not count for the in-state, year-end awards. The Tennessee ribbons count double since three barns came to the show. If two in-state barns attend the World’s Championship in Louisville, it’s a C show. Individual classes are not the issue. Barn X may compete in Three-Gaited, while barn Y competes in Five-Gaited, and Barn Z competes in Academy. Three barns – B show.

I’m looking good so far, but I’ll believe it when I’ve have an award clutched in my fevered fist. You see, I tend to fall afoul of year-end award systems. One year, I was consistently hanging onto the bottom rungs of the Top Ten only to be shoved into 11th by a late rush from another competitor. They gave me the Sportmanship Award that year. The moral high ground is all well and good for the state of my soul but the competitor in me wants big fluffy ribbons and gaudy trophies. Previous Horse and I almost won a jumper year-end, hi-point award. While I won the division several times, it was not held often enough to qualify. I wouldn’t have minded so much if I had realized the rules from the beginning. As it was, I basked in seeing my name on the top of the points reports only to have the entire division disappear off the page at the end of the year. Bitter? Moi? Grudge-holding? Jamais.

What year-end awards have you won or watched slip away?

Categories: Horse Shows, Horses

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