Thank Yous

Emily Raynor receiving the Jim Kuhn Memorial Award at the 2013 CLD Awards Banquet

A thank you received from the Raynor family, Emily Raynor was recognized at the CLD awards banquet for receiving the James Kuhn Memorial award. Originally published in the February 2013 Reader.

Please express our thanks to everyone at CLD for such a wonderful evening. Everyone was so gracious and kind.  Emily was thrilled to be recognized and her award was so much more special because it was the James Kuhn Memorial award.   Thank you for making it a night to remember for her.

Cheryl Raynor

Editor's Response to "In Defense of Good Scores"

This piece was originally printed in the March 2014 Reader.

While the information outlining the changes to the awards program is fact, the remaining text is my opinion, and may not reflect the beliefs or opinions of the CLD board.

Kim Jones, Reader editor

I would like to directly address a few points covered in the anonymous letter to the editor. First off, the author expressed concern that CLD is going WAY down the wrong path, and seems concerned that the awards program is headed down a path where, “no matter how poorly one plays, one always gets a ribbon”. CLDs awards are hardly the equivalent of participation ribbons. I think it would be more accurate to say the board has made the awards program more inclusive to all of its members. All of the riders honored at the awards dinner earned their award whether the score was printed in the program or not. This club is supported by many riders of different levels and the awards program should be structured around the diversity of its members. If we have members who choose not to participate in the program, it is the boards’ responsibility to examine the issues and make changes for the good of the club. We have to take the opinions and feelings of each member into account. The accusation that the rules were changed “so you won’t be reminded of the realities of the game” is insulting to all of the people who work tirelessly to keep this club going. I have outlined below what changes were made to the program between 2012 and 2013.

  • It was decided to not print scores in the awards program.
  • The prizes were changed in an effort to cut spending and include more awards as follows:
  • In recognized shows, a high point saddle pad was given to open/novice, JR&YR/AA.
  • In schooling shows only one high point pad was given to the overall hi score.
  • In addition, if you won a hi point pad you did not receive an additional award for first place in your division.
  • A third place award was added for each division and level.

That outlines the changes made for the 2013 awards year. In previous years we were giving saddle pads as hi point for each level, and Champion awards were salad plates, then bread and butter plates were for Res. Champion, no 3rd place was given.

I meet a lot of people and I have never seen a more diverse group of people who can become instant friends due to one common interest, horses. Unfortunately, sometimes it would seem that our diversity overshadows the love we share for the horse and the sport. Why is that? Maybe it’s because we all put so much emotion into our riding, we work hard, we sacrifice, we get frustrated, we lose tempers, we get our feelings hurt, and so many other emotions. The anonymous author had it right no one knows exactly what we are sacrificing for this sport. We all have a different story. At times I ask myself why? Why do I do this? The answer is of course because I love it.

While I may not agree with everything in January’s letter to the editor, I am glad to see these issues out into the open for discussion. Having spoken with quite a few people on the subject there are clearly two sides to this discussion. I will admit to being a little guilty of some (not all) of the accusations that were brought up, Although, I can say, never in a context to hurt someone’s feelings. “I wish I had the money to buy a nice horse, take more lessons, etc. (sigh)” “That horse is really nice, I am definitely not getting a blue ribbon today.” (Usually followed by “Oh well I hope I get a decent score and some good comments.”) Dressage is for every rider and every horse. While we are judged on the correctness of each maneuver, we all have to realize some horses are better equipped to do the job than others. I recognize this and I do not begrudge another person’s ability to afford a nice horse. While we don’t know everyone’s story we do know how much work we all put into this sport. If we are going to discuss good sportsmanship, lets cover all the bases. Here is a situation I have witnessed on more than one occasion:

Rider A scores a 59% and is clearly a little upset that her ride didn’t go as planned. Rider B who scored a 70% approaches. Rider A genuinely offers their congratulations on Rider B’s success, and pays some compliments, Rider B responds lamenting about how awful the ride was or how the horse should have scored better. Or how so and so was distracting her by being too close to the ring. Or how the judge must be blind to have scored me so high.

These are actual comments I have heard at shows! In my opinion a 59% is not a bad score, but a 70% is fantastic! I have seen this type of situation many times, and I believe it creates sour grapes! It’s poor sportsmanship! We all know there is always work to be done, as dressage riders there is always a quest for perfection no matter the level of horse and rider. It would seem to me that the poor sportsmanship the letter refers to is on both sides of this invisible field and is creating bad feelings within our group.

The last paragraph of the letter to the editor where it said:

“So perhaps those of you worrying about high scores need to think about what to do to improve yours, if that is a goal for you. Lower scores generally mean you have some work to do. (At least that’s what I read in Dressage Today!) Maybe its time to catch a ride on someone else’s horse to see how it goes and pick out what problems follow you because they are generated by you? Let a professional take a ride on your horse and give some tips. Take a lesson from someone who can be your eyes on the ground? After all, the definition of insanity is to keep doing what you are doing with no change in the results (and even worse, being mad about those who ARE seeing change). If/when this insanity passes, I hope we can get back to good sportsmanship and being proud of good scores – regardless of who receives them!”

It would seem that the writer is unfairly judging others on the scores that they receive. Scores can vary due to a multitude of reasons, including a bad day, a spook, horse or riders first show, a rider error, or just the fact some horses have more natural ability to do the job at hand. It doesn’t necessarily mean they are poor riders that need serious help. The problem is that some members of this club feel that seeing a 10+ pt gap between their good score and someone else’s great score, in the awards program is discouraging. It is their right to have an opinion, it’s the board’s duty to find a solution that makes the majority happy.

As far as the advice the author gives, speaking from my own experience, I can tell you that I have to be frugal about how many lessons I can afford, thus minimizing my “eyes on the ground” and “seeing what problems follow me” from horse to horse. I have difficulties taking one lesson a week, let alone three a week, and there are many other riders just like me. So I guess I’m insane, sometimes I feel like it, as I continue to pursue my passion for dressage even though I don’t have the financial ability to do it as the author described. I will continue to ride and show and do the best I can because I love the sport.  I encourage everyone out there to do the same as this is a sport for every horse and every rider, no matter the level of rider or the caliber of horse.

Thank you to the anonymous author for sharing your perspective. You certainly got people talking. I know I will be more careful with my words, as I hope we all will be. Here in my own words, I have tried to combine my own perspective and the sentiment expressed in discussions with various members of the club who read the original letter to the editor. I hope I have given a voice to the opinion of those, that for various reasons, would otherwise not be heard.

In closing, here is some advice everyone can use no matter your scores, your money or not, riding a free horse or a $100,000 horse:

  • Stop wasting your energy on things such as bad attitudes and discouraging past events.
  • Allow yourself to fill your life with positive people, upbeat attitudes, and encouraging memories.
  • Give your time and energy to ideas and people who support you, uplift you, and inspire you.
  • Let go of bad memories, or things that drain you of your happiness.
  • Do the best you can, be objective about your riding and your scores.
  • Give people time to process their disappointments, and take time to process your own disappointments without bringing other people down.
  • When you feel like you are in a rut, change your expectations and go back to the basics, many times we make our own misery by expecting too much.
  • Take a lesson if you can and appreciate the fact that you can, as it is a luxury to some.
  • Encourage those who need it. Congratulate those who deserve it. Be tolerant of those who may be having a bad day. More than likely they aren’t trying to bring you down.

This is my goal. Good luck to all in 2014.

Response to "In Defense of Good Scores"

This piece was printed in the February 2014 Reader and was originally printed as a comment to the website.

Dear Editor:
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.

Pinky Noll

Response to "In Defense of Good Scores"

This piece was originally printed in the February 2014 Reader.

Dear Editor:
In response to the anonymous January letter to the editor I wanted to explain why changes were made by the board of CLD.

We are a club with many different types of members and we try to be inclusive to all. It does not matter if you were a grass roots rider or an elite rider we try to accommodate all. Many of our grass roots riders are getting perfectly good scores but somehow that score does not look nearly so good once it is displayed next to another very high score.

Our club is blessed with having many very good and competitive horses. Not everyone can afford to own a dynamic moving horse. And a dynamic moving horse will, of course, score higher on every movement within the test. Not just at the bottom of the score sheet. This is how it should be but if you are not riding this type of talented horse or perhaps a less main stream breed your scores will reflect this. That is part of the reason only open competition scores are used and not breed restricted.

Also we have been asked to print the horse and rider names so that our program can be a keepsake. It is hard to say "this is me" when all that is listed is a string of numbers. Grandma wants to see your name. I do not know that we need any extra suspense with just numbers but that is up to the membership to provide feedback on. We are on the board to serve the membership and if they want names; or scores; or a blue-eyed, grey horse award then we try to make it happen. I do not personally have a problem with my scores being printed but some people do. We do not make random changes we attempt to provide for what our membership wants.

Marilyn Weber

In Defense of Good Scores

This piece was originally printed in the January 2014 Reader.

So why are good scores something to be ashamed of these days? Case in point: the latest CLD awards banquet handed out high point awards for both schooling and recognized shows at all levels, but the scores were excluded from the program, ostensibly because the CLD board voted to have it that way this year. But I ask again, why should anyone be ashamed of their good scores, and why should anyone seeing them feel badly about it? I’ve got some thoughts on the matter, and of course, needed to share them with my fellow CLD members because I truly believe we are going WAY down the wrong path here.

So why should good scores be shameful? To get them, you must combine many, many hours in the saddle with eyes on the ground. There are good days and bad days, good rides and bad. Sometimes it feels as if you are going backwards! Add into it frustration that you can’t get it right, fear sometimes (adult amateurs in general don’t bounce well!), and the constant need for perseverance and courage in the face of riding forward and sticking to it. NONE of these things seem to be a bad thing to me, and all of them would be part of my prescription for kids growing into adulthood to learn to do well.

Life contains competition (there is a reason that ‘survival of the fittest’ was coined). Often this competition is with and about ourselves, but not always. Organized sports are big business these days, and you can bet there is a winner (and therefore a loser) in the games.

Competition for top jobs is also fierce, as is getting into a competitive school, getting your kid the hottest Xmas ticket item on black Friday, and the like. Yet somehow along the way we got the idea that kids shouldn’t compete and everyone should be a winner all the time. (Witness the baseball games for tots where they can bat until they get a hit and no one wins.) This is a bastardization, I believe, of helping children feel accomplished and successful as a key to a healthy adult. Of course kids need to be raised with good self esteem, but that does NOT come from a sense of entitlement where no matter how poorly one plays, one always gets a ribbon. Rather, it seems to be raising a generation of kids who believe they are winners no matter what the evidence, and see no reason to change anything they are doing to fix it.

Is that really where we want this country to go? Why should it make others feel badly if someone gets a good score? Someone else’s good score is most certainly not a reflection on you or your score, but rather the result of the other’s hard work and a bit of luck on a given competition day. Good sportsmanship means knowing that there will always be winners and losers, and we can’t always be winners every time. Poor sportsmanship and sour grapes means that if you don’t like to lose, just change the rules so you won’t be reminded of the realities of the game. And how many absolutely false rumors abound by those who aren’t getting such good scores. In my short time riding I have heard all of the following... pointed at me and others......

  1. ‘You have a lot of money and can afford to buy whatever you want.’ Well, no, actually, that is pretty much NEVER true (unless you happen to be Bill Gates!). Someone will always have more money, and there will always be horses that simply are not affordable. Walk in another’s shoes before you call them ‘effortlessly rich’ or assume they have always been in a position to buy what they wanted. Do you always know the truth about someone else’s situation? I think not, anymore than others have a clue about your life. Do you know what she has sacrificed to get the horse she has, not to mention the hours she has put in to advance through the levels?

  2. ‘If I could by an expensive push-button horse, I would do well too.’ Some dressage horses may have been relatively costly, but by no means are they EVER push button. They have their easy moves and their hard ones, personality quirks, and propensity for injuries just like everyone else’s horses. Riders of expensive horses struggle to sit the trot, keep them balanced, keep them forward, and into the outside rein like all of you do. I simply DARE anyone to get on ANY horse and declare them push button!

  3. ‘Of course you are going to win everything, your horse is super fancy.’ The falsehood of this statement was driven home to me while watching the latest Nationals competition in Kentucky. Akiko Yamazaki (Ravel’s owner, so there is one rolling in dough and able to buy anything she wants), rode to the PSG AA championship on her horse Matrix. Matrix came very close to retirement, but Akiko didn’t give up on him. He is a horse with normal movement, nothing super fancy. And yet Akiko won. Did her money do that? NO, SHE did!

  4. ‘You think you are better than us/look down on us.’ This could be no further from the truth. Riders are focused on improving their riding and their relationships with their horses. They are not looking at you. They don’t sit up at night cackling about high scores (well, I bet they do on occasion!) but they are definitely not comparing their score to yours.

So perhaps those of you worrying about high scores need to think about what to do to improve yours, if that is a goal for you. Lower scores generally mean you have some work to do. (At least that’s what I read in Dressage Today!) Maybe its time to catch a ride on someone else’s horse to see how it goes and pick out what problems follow you because they are generated by you? Let a professional take a ride on your horse and give some tips. Take a lesson from someone who can be your eyes on the ground?

After all, the definition of insanity is to keep doing what you are doing with no change in the results (and even worse, being mad about those who ARE seeing change). If/when this insanity passes, I hope we can get back to good sportsmanship and being proud of good scores – regardless of who receives them!

Signed: An Anonymous Member