07, February, 2019

This blog post is copied from one I put in our Facebook group 4CYTE is better than hindsight. I don't intend to do many straight copies here, but this one is something I'd like to share with the world at large. The group is open to all horse lovers, so feel free to click the link above and ask to join. 

Dressage. The only test where you get excited about 70%.

Made you smile, right? I mean how true is it? Where did our obsession with the magical 70% mark come from? And should we let it go?

I truly mean 'we' in these questions. 70% is the magical mark that Dressage NZ considers a rider is good enough to be sent to the Olympics or WEG. Where the FEI considers 66% a CoC, the powers that be in my home country have always set the bar higher. On my list of dream horse qualities, a 70% GP is right near the top. As dressage riders we're different from the other disciplines where only 100% will do - a showjumper doesn't want a horse than only clears 7 out of 10 fences and an eventer is looking for a horse that will go double clear - at least 9 times out of 10.

7 just means 'fairly good'. I'm more interested in being excellent! Earlier this month I was doing a self assessment on various aspects of my life, numbered 1-10. It's surprising how often the number 7 comes up as a choice. Ask yourself just about anything and 7 is the default answer. How happy am I, how healthy am I, how good looking is my partner, how clean is my house... just random questions, but most of us will answer anything we don't feel strongly about either way with a 7. Interestingly the person running the quiz asked us to redo the quiz without the option of a 7, which forced us to really think about how we felt about stuff. Suddenly if we're forced to choose between a 6 & an 8 it becomes harder to answer even the most trivial of question.

While 70% is quite possibly a decent enough overall score to be aiming to ride, the danger is that if we have that in our minds, we ride for the 7, and ultimately end up falling short in some movements, bringing our marks down to the 'ok' 66/67%. It's like in the rugby video I posted yesterday, safe will keep the coach happy, but it's not going to bring the crowd to their feet. Personally I'd rather a test full of 8's & 9's and if we get a 3 or a 4 in that because a movement went pear shaped, then we learn for next time. The top riders in the GP are now hitting the 80% mark on a reasonably regular basis, is it time for those of us down the line to be changing our thinking about what is possible as well? And if we're getting the higher scores in the individual movements, one day it will all come off, we'll have the quality as well as a clear round, and magic will happen.

I've only broken the 80% barrier twice - Frankie debuted on 83% and a couple of months later scored a massive 88%. Definitely a career best, but in doing so, I've certainly raised the bar in my own mind. 'Aim for the moon, even if you miss, you'll land among the stars.'

The rugby video I reference above is here:

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