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Dressage in New Zealand - A post Covid 19 story...

Author: Jody Hartstone/Friday, April 10, 2020/Categories: Blog

Dressage in New Zealand - A post Covid 19 story...

It is the year 2021…  Covid 19 has run its course and has devastated the economy as well as those directly affected through the illness of loved ones.

The economic and sporting spheres have changed almost beyond recognition .  But rising from the ashes comes a new look to the sport of dressage, a system uniquely tailored to NZ riders and NZ conditions.

The pedantic rules on clothing and tack have been relaxed to increase participation – however there are still some rules around this including examples in the rule book of how you are expected to dress.  Judges are allowed to deduct two marks from the rider’s mark for untidy turnout or add a bonus two marks for those making the effort…  Everybody makes the effort.

The rule book has shrunk considerably…

There are now categories within each grade based on a rider’s grade point average (GPA) …  Those who are scoring on average below 63% are in the bronze division and only compete against horses and riders who are capable of scoring the same.  Silver is for those fairing a little better and scoring up to 65% and there is a Gold Division for those riders with the experience / horsepower to be scoring over 65%.  (These percentages may vary in different grades)

Equestrian Entries lets show secretaries know the GPA of all competitors up to date as to the start of the show…  Thankfully ESNZ’s data base has had an overhaul and now functions in a way any database should….  And there is now an app on every rider’s phone which allows them immediate access to their results, and most importantly to their average percentage for each test within their grade and an overall grade point average for their level.  You can see how your percentages are tracking for Novice Test 2.2, as well as overall in the Novice Grade.

The word “pot hunter” is a thing of the past – we call that BC – Before Covid - and nobody now feels that “dressage is so unfair”.  There are rich people and poor people, large and little people, those on schoolmasters and those on ponies and they all compete against each other within their divisions, all vying for a slice of the prizemoney…

Oh, hang on – Covid 19 – the economy….  There is actually no prizemoney except for the National Championships and Horse of the Year Show.  Regular shows had to decrease entry fees to increase participation and make shows more affordable, but as a consequence the prizemoney for those lucky enough to get it has been scrapped.

Instead a new system has taken over…  Within each division there are awards for riders who are doing well at training and presenting their horses…

As an example – within the bronze division (remembering your GPA is less than 63% - all horses scoring over 58% get a ribbon / award for Achieved, all horses over 60% get a Merit and those over 63% get an Excellence as they work their way up towards the silver division.

Everyone is happy and encouraging as riders strive to be the best they can be given their physical, mental and financial constraints…  The horses are happy as their riders are less concerned about placings and more concerned about progressing their horses suppleness and rideability. 

The barriers to participation have gone – it costs less to enter, more riders are rewarded, there is a feeling of fair and even competition amongst each and every sub-group of rider.  The spirit of the sport seems to have changed - people are excited for each other and an encouraging and friendly scent fills the air. 

And for those with lofty Olympic Dreams, nothing really has changed – they just keep training their horses up to International level and the cream still rises to the top.

And we all lived happily ever after….

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