This piece was printed in the February 2014 Reader and was originally printed as a comment to the website.
I had the pleasure of reading the letter to the editor entitled “In Defense of Good Scores.” Many of the issues addressed in that letter I have heard before, both in CLD and in the stinging comments to and from “dressage queens” everywhere.
It’s not magic or martyrdom - I present myself to a judge because I want to know how I measure up – not against you, or anyone else for that matter, but myself. My score is a reflection of how I did. It says nothing about anyone else.
Others may care about their scores only in relation to whom they beat. Those individuals are missing out on the big picture. Good clean competition is a source of learning and joy, as the USEF says. It encourages us to work hard, strive mightily, play fair, and toughen up to disappointment. In its most elementary form, there is only one winner, and many losers. On the other hand, it depends on how “winning” is defined. My husband, Jon, went to the United States Military Academy at West Point for college. Over the doors to the sports facilities is a quote by Teddy Roosevelt. I have always admired it and print it here:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
It distresses me in a visceral way that as a group, we are not banding together to find joy in each others’ accomplishments and satisfaction in pursuing our passion. After all, we share a love and devotion to horses. Having friends and acquaintances who enjoy the same activity as me enhances the fun, provides shoulders to cry on when necessary, extra hands for work required, and people who share the happiness of a great ride and who understand our crazy devotion to this animal. It is way more fun to encourage each other in a positive way than to find reasons to be disrespectful of others’ accomplishments. Let’s open our hearts and minds to supporting our club and each other. We will all benefit.