Thursday, November 6, 2014

2014 Dressage Scores Recap

This season we did 12 dressage tests at 7 shows. Our goals for dressage changed at each outing, and ranged from "have no shenanigans" to "get work comparable to what we get at home" to "let's really do this and do it well."

We started off the season with a few shows where we put in good-for-us efforts, though the scores weren't very competitive.

Then we had a disastrous dressage in April, and proceeded to have meltdowns at home as we tried to investigate and address the issue. It was scary there for a while, with rearing, bucking, and (most horribly) unevenness in gait.

Does this count as airs above ground?


We spent the rest of the season at local shows, trying to give Hemie (and myself) positive dressage test experiences. We wanted relaxed outings with no craziness. So we completely took the pressure off at these shows. 

It worked. We did not have repeat issues at shows. Slowly over the months, we asked for more effort from Hemie (and better riding from myself) to get better performance. We added the pressure back, bit by bit.

By the end, I feel very good about our dressage, and ready to head back to a registered event.


So let's take a look at the scores, shall we?  First, a handy chart to help people understand the scoring:

Our 2014 dressage test results:

DateLocationTestEventing Score Penalty PointsDressage Score Percentage
Feb 1Galway DownsBN A40.0060.00%
March 16White BirchTraining 138.1261.88%
March 16White BirchTraining 240.7159.29%
April 26Fresno HTBN A51.1048.90%
May 31El SuenoBN A43.9056.10%
May 31El SuenoBN B39.1560.85%
July 19El SuenoBN A40.0060.00%
July 19El SuenoBN B40.0060.00%
Oct 5El SuenoBN A41.5858.42%
Oct 5El SuenoBN B38.7561.25%
Oct 11El SuenoBN A31.0568.95%
Oct 11El SuenoBN B31.0069.00%
Average Score:39.6160.37%
Median Score:40.0060.00%

As with all data, it can't stand alone - it needs to be compared to something to have meaning. So let's compare my median score (40.00 aka 60.00%) against the dressage scores in my level at registered horse trials (available from

  • Shepherd Ranch, August: it would put me 6th out of 8 after dressage.
  • Twin Rivers, September: I'd sit 14th out of 21 after dressage.
  • Fresno County HP, October: I'd sit in 6th out of 11 after dressage.

So, not dead last, but towards the bottom. 

And that's just fine. Because while I like to geek out and crunch the numbers, I acknowledge that they simply can't tell the whole story. I've always been much more focused on positive experience than I have on being competitive. I care most about competing against myself - ie, continually improving. And even when we take steps backwards, I'm able to keep it in perspective and do my best to get us moving in the right direction again. After all, this is a hobby. This is fun. Hemie is a pet first and a sport horse second. 

A highlight of dressage this year has been rooting for Karen of Not-So-Speedy Dressage. We showed together in March, and I've watched her at some other shows. She has grown tremendously as a rider and competitor this past year, on both of her lovely mounts. She is not only a great blogger, but also a kind, intelligent person. She and Speedy ended the season with tremendous back-to-back championship outings, and her journey is truly inspirational!

Karen and I at White Birch in March
Our smiles say it all.

Go checkout the contest at The Owls Approve!


  1. "After all, this is a hobby. This is fun. Hemie is a pet first and a sport horse second."
    LOVE this :)

  2. Love the metrics!

    1. Thanks! They really helped me keep things in better perspective.

  3. Your plan obviously worked! Greatjob this season and i love the inforgraphics!

  4. I agree-the infographics are awesome! Congrats on a great season :)

  5. Love the graphs and all the fancy infographics!

    And congratulations on the improvement :)

  6. Replies
    1. Indeed! I remember being in the air, thinking "just stay on...just stay on...just stay on".

  7. That last show was such a great improvement and I love how the charts coincide with everything you talked about when it came to getting through it. Good for you!

    1. Thank you! Crunching the numbers did help me to realize that we have improved. Its too easy to focus on the challenges.

  8. Replies
    1. Thank you! The numbers don't say it all, but they do say something!

  9. Holy crap that was a buck!!!!!! Super cool that someone caught a photo of it. I sure wish I had photos of some of Sydney's shenanigans. I'd post that baby all over the place, especially if you were still in the saddle a few seconds later. :0) I love how your scores showed a definite journey: slow to start, a small crisis, but then a big HELLO!

    And jeez … what kind words. Thank you for the mention. I guess it takes one to know one! Every time I am in your area I hope and pray that I get to hang out with you. Speaking of which, I'll be there Saturday for a lesson and will be riding on Sunday at 10:32 and 1:02. Speedy gets to go this time! We're making our First Level debut - ooh la la. :0)

    I really hope to see you. Do you think you can do dinner on Saturday?

    1. =) It was great to see you while you were in town. Grabbed that buck still from a video LOL

  10. great analysis - and it demonstrates the consistency of your riding! those october scores must have you floating on air :) congrats again for a great season - and sounds like he's definitely ready for a registered event!

  11. Love the charts! Very inspirational and good work sitting that buck. I would have been airborne in a millisecond. How wild that someone captured a picture!

    1. Haha yes, I actually took a still from a video. Thank you!

  12. That buck is AWESOME! And as a data nerd, I love the charts. Congratulations on a great season!

  13. I'm glad you are making progress!

    1. Me too. Progress is part of what makes riding and competing so fun.

  14. Loved seeing the infographic! I had never understood dressage scoring :)

    1. Yay!! I'm so glad it helped!! It took me FOREVER to figure out eventing vs dressage scoring, but it turns out to be an easy conversion.

  15. Wow! Talk about crazy improvement! What a great last show you had! Dressage showing can be full of so many ups and downs. Glad you're working on a high note now!