From Endurance to Dressage
I am a score stalker. If I know your real name, I've looked up your scores. It helps me to see what's "normal." While your scores are interesting, I particularly like to track my own scores. Are they trending up? Not right now. Are they following their usual pattern? For the love of all that's holy I hope so! You see, my scores tend to follow a predictable pattern. At the beginning of each new level, they start in the 50s, but they eventually creep over sixty percent and settle comfortably in the mid-60s. I can live with that.
Sometimes I even do searches of famous riders like Charlotte Dujardin (who has exactly two USDF scores) or Steffen Peters. Laura Graves actually has a 54% at Third Level if that makes anyone feel better. She also has an 85% at Grand Prix with 51 rides at that level. So yeah, who cares about a sucky score at Third.
I love looking at my data on USDF's site (or Centerline Scores) because it shows a journey. While I was poking around the other day, I realized that I've done 62 USDF shows with Speedy G. How is that even possible? I feel like we're still beginners.
Most of the time I visit the site to double check that my scores have been recorded correctly. While I was here most recently, I noticed something that I've never seen before. There is now a spot where your awards are highlighted! I am a sucker for any kind of sticker or atta girl, so this totally floats my boat.
When I clicked on the Second Level Rider Performance Award, a pop up window appeared showing my progress toward that award. How cool is that? I have two scores and need two more from two different judges. It sounded so much easier at the beginning of the year.
Another new-to-me feature was the USDF Rider Award Check. If you use Centerline Scores, you know that if you've earned any scores towards a medal, they shade in portions of the medal showing your progress. USDF doesn't do that. Instead, you can now click on the medal you're working toward, and a new window pops open detailing your progress just like it did for the Rider Performance Award. Here's what mine looks like.
I'm pretty excited. I am two-thirds of the way towards a bronze medal. That sounds so achievable to a regular person, but anyone with any dressage experience knows that getting out of Second and scoring those two coveted scores at Third Level is enough to drive you to the edge of insanity and maybe even push you right on over.
There is nothing new on the Tests page, but I like to study this page, too. I like to see how long it takes me to figure out a level. Speedy and I spent FOREVER at Training Level. It was mostly because of injuries, but I also hate to move on unless we're truly ready. I am not sure yet how long we'll be at Second Level. I suspect that if we stay here another year it will be because of my sitting trot.
I definitely won't feel comfortable about moving onto Third Level until this bar graph evens out a little. Those scores at Second are lower than I am happy with. The next USDF show we will do is the CDS Regional Adult Amateur Competition in mid-August. There is a CDS only show right after that, but that's as far as my show season has been planned.
It seems a bit strange to plan a show season based on some charts and data from a web site, but if my Rider Performance Award gets colored in this summer and my bar graph gets a little longer, I may call the season a wrap! We'll see how things go in August.
Check out your data (and mine while you're there), and let me know what you think.
I had no idea that my Soap Box Rant would generate as much interest as it did. I appreciated all of the viewpoints that were shared, whether you agreed with me or not. Emma over at 'Fraidy Cat Eventing even ran with the controversy over on her blog.
I am all about testing myself, which is why I show at USDF shows. I can't do things half-assed - it's all or nothing. I've used schooling shows as a way to introduce my horses to the sport or to a new level. I also did them to gain experience and learn the ropes myself. But in my opinion, schooling shows don't really provide the same level of feedback as a USDF-rated show. And feedback is what I am looking for.
I've shared this about a bazillion times already: I need reward programs that give me something to work towards. USDF participation does that for me. By being a member of the USDF and showing at USDF-rated shows, I can earn recognition for my progress. All I have to do is show up and perform to the USDF's satisfaction.
Many years ago, California's annual state testing of students was graded on a "curve." Twenty-five percent of the students were at the top, fifty percent were in the middle, and twenty-five percent were at the bottom. As a new teacher just entering the profession, I questioned the legitimacy of this. What if everyone scored 90% or above? How was it fair that those who scored in the low 90s were low performers?
Thankfully, California ditched that system of evaluating its students. Now, kids get a score based on the number of correct answers that indicates their proficiency level from Advanced to Far Below Basic.
I like that the USDF rewards its riders with the same kind of scoring. Everyone can earn a passing "grade" and be considered a high performer, but the opposite is also true. Every rider in the class can also earn a 50%. This is why I have become a score stalker.
Some people play Words with Friends; I play Centerline Scores, and when I am really bored, USDFScores.com. Centerline Scores is by far my favorite because I don't have to be logged in, and I can find what I am looking for so much faster.
I do check USDFScores.com, but only when I am looking for something brand new, like right now. I am just about to die of impatience. My newest scores from the Mission Pacific show have not yet been posted to USDFScores.com which means that Centerline Scores doesn't have them either.
The reason I am doing 40 checks a day is that I can't apply for my USDF First Level Rider Performance Award until the scores have been officially recorded with USDF. Hence the score stalking.
The truth is, I stalk scores for a lot of reasons. I check my own, of course, but I check everyone's. If you've ever ridden a dressage test at a USDF-rated show, I've probably checked your scores.
It's not that I am particularly nosy (okay, a little); it's more because it helps me chart my own progress. Is everyone moving up levels faster than I am? Are my scores in the correct range? Am I showing enough to get where I want to be?
I know it shouldn't matter what everyone else is doing, but I live in a Dressage Desert. I don't have other riders that I can talk to and compare notes with. I ride by myself All. The. Time.
By stalking scores, I can see what's happening in the dressage world. I can see that my 62% at First Level Test 3 is holding its own. My 66% at Test 2 is looking pretty good. But I can also see that riders with whom I've been riding are moving on without me. That gives me a kick in the pants.
I get that they might have better horses and more frequent training, but that doesn't stop me from wanting to try harder. I don't begrudge those riders a single bit of their success, and in fact, I am thrilled for them. That doesn't stop me from wanting to be right there with them though.
Score stalker. Yep, that's me. Check mine out; I won't be offended. But if you do check, don't look too closely at those pale yellow scores, and thankfully, there aren't any orange or red ones.
Are you a score stalker too?
At my final salute in the RAAC class, I was a bit startled at the lack of any applause. There were bleachers along the long side, and while they weren't packed, there were at least ten to fifteen people seated there during my test. I don't expect a standing ovation, ever, but a smattering of gratuitous hand-on-hand noise was at least somewhat expected. I know I always applaud.
As I turned to walk out on that long rein, my heart crumpled. I knew (or thought I did, anyway) that the test wasn't great, but I didn't think it was that bad either. I walked back to the barn feeling rather dejected, but I didn't have time to check the score board because there were only about 30 minutes between the RAAC class and my second ride, which was in the regular portion of the show in Ring 2.
I'll admit it, I beat myself up a little bit. I didn't cry or boo hoo, but I let myself know that I am just a mediocre rider with no talent on a very forgiving, if not very fancy, horse. I didn't know about the 72.600%, and I didn't let myself think about the great scores that we earned just a few weeks prior. I let the lack of any applause dampen my enthusiasm and tell me what kind of rider I am. I won't make that mistake again!
Speedy G took a long drink back in his stall, for which I was thankful. I may not be an extraordinary rider, but I will proudly put my horsemanship skills up against anyone else's and feel quite confident that I will hold my own. In that arena, I rock!
I got on and walked over to the warm-up for the River View ring. We tootled around for a bit, chatting with some of the riders and enjoying the nice weather. My expectations were low so my motivation was not particularly engaged. The ring steward gave me the sign so we ambled over to the ring.
The test rode well enough, but I made a few slight errors when I let my attention wander a bit. Our stretchy circle was back to being kind of sketchy which really dinked our score (5.5 with a double co-effient), but the rest of the test was about where we've been this season. It was what I expected.
The judge awarded us with a nice, middle of the road 64.400%. It's a good score, and one that I usually really appreciate. We didn't earn any 8.0s, but we did pull off seven 7.0s, seven 6.5s, four 6.0s, and then there was that single 5.5 for the stretchy trot. These are good, solid scores. Had I not talked myself out of being a competent rider though, I might have scored closer to the high 60s; lesson learned.
It wasn't until an hour or so later that I finally had time to walk up to the score board to see our RAAC score. VG's husband saw me coming and pulled me aside to tease me about my scores before I could get to the board. When I finally made it close enough to read them, I was pretty shocked. And then when I saw this score, I was even more pleased. I didn't think it was going to be much above 60%. So in all, we earned some pretty nice scores to add to our Centerline Scores data bank. And I think our average went up a scooch!
For the weekend, we earned ...
I do have one more post I'd like to write about this show. A couple of funny things happened, and I became aware of a few things. So, one more show story tomorrow ...
I love how quickly Centerline Scores updates their data! I've "chat" with Jay Stevens, creator of CenterlineScores.com, a few times and know he works hard to get new data entered as quickly as possible. If you don't participate in USDF-rated shows, Centerline Scores probably isn't a very useful tool for you (yet!). In case you haven't been to the site, here's how it works.
Enter a horse or rider's name. I'll let you enter Hilda Gurney or Steffen Peter's name as they're much more interesting to play around with.
Here's what you get when my name is entered.
The first thing that comes up is a nice summary page. Beside my name, at the top, is listed the highest score that I've received at the highest level that I've ridden. Next comes my USDF show experience (excluding Introductory Level Tests), and my median scores at Training Level. I am working hard to raise that number.
Even though Sydney has been shown, I haven't taken him to a USDF-rated show so only Speedy G's name appears (G Ima Starr FA) as the horse I am currently riding. My "medals" are translucent since I haven't earned any scores at First Level. As you earn medal scores, the medals darken in chunks until they are completely filled once the final score is earned. Maybe I'll get that first little "chunk" on the bronze next year!
Beneath all of that is a place for USDF Rider Awards. I have an entry here with my USDF Rider Performance Award, but there's definitely room for more.
If you go to the horses link, you'll get a page that lists each horse you've ridden and the minimum/maximum score he earned. My horse list is really small since it's only Speedy that I've shown at USDF-rated shows. Here's what that page looks like.
My Levels page is equally small since the Introductory Tests don't appear (bummer, as I have some USDF scores in the 70s for Intro), and I have only shown Training Level. I am a little bit surprised to see that in just over a year I have ridden 29 USDF-rated tests.
The next two links are the ones that I find the most helpful, Tests and All Scores. The Tests page shows the minimum and maximum scores earned at each test of the level. Since I've only shown Training Level, I only have scores for Tests 1 - 3. I can see what my lowest score was at Test 1 and what my highest score was at Test 2 and how many times I've ridden each test.
The All Scores link shows all scores earned (accurately) since 2003. There are some scores that go back to 1993, but the data is incomplete. This doesn't concern me however, as I was busy doing endurance races during those years and finishing high school before that. As short as it is, my list is too long to fit in a single screen shot, so here's the list pieced together.
You might notice that the colors for the scores change. The highest scores are dark green (even into the 80s) while scores in the 50s turn yellowish. Scores in the 40s are a light red.
Centerline Scores is a great tool for analyzing your score results. When I feel discouraged, I like to visit the site because it clearly shows me that we are making steady progress. I can see medals in my future; I see a lot more green scores than yellow; and that 67% next to my name looks pretty good right now.
I am back on the Centerline Scores thing. I know many of you don't care about scores, but I do. Scores are feedback for me; they tell me how I am improving and where I still need to focus my energy.
You already know that I show at a variety of show types: unrated schooling shows, California Dressage Society (CDS) rated shows, and USDF/USEF shows. I choose my shows based on a wide variety of criteria: price, distance from home, time of year, etc. While I value the comments from all judges, whatever the show rating, I recognize that the most critical, and hardest earned, scores come at USDF shows. which is why I love Centerlinescores.com.
Jay Stevens, the creator and mastermind, designed the site just for me; I know it. I love how I can track my progress at USDF shows through his multiple "windows." Lately, I've been watching my scores grow at Training Level Test 2 and Test 3. Granted, there aren't that many scores to compare, but even so, there is a small pattern of improvement emerging.
My favorite feature of the site is the Lifetime Median Scores percentage. For a while, my median score at Training Level was hovering at 59%. My goal has been to push my median to over 60%. I am curious to know why Jay chose to show median scores (the score in the middle) rather than mean (the average). My median score is 60.893% while my mean score is 60.387% - very close to one another.
I would guess that it is because an outlier score (an overly high or overly low number) would tip the mean up or down which could create a number that doesn't really reflect a typical average. For example, if you scored 60%, 61%, 63%, and 80%, your mean would be 66% but in actuality, you were mostly a 60%ish rider. Using those same scores, your median would be 62% which seems more in line with your typical scores.
In order to raise my median score of 60.893%, I need to earn scores higher than 60.9%. This goal fits right in with my goal of eliminating the 5s from my score sheets. A sheet filled with 6s and 7s will easily be in the 65% range - that kind of score will push my median ever upward.
About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2023 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2023 Show Schedule
2023 Completed …
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: