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.
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?
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.
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?