Performance predictors (aka the computer thinks you suck)

Yesterday while perusing the entries for Texas Rose I was delighting in the fact that there are a couple folks in my division that have been to Rolex (welcome to Novice Horse!) and it’s 2/3 professionals. This makes me super happy because of a few reasons: 1) I’ve spent all spring caring a lot about who was in my division and worrying about beating them so I could get my AEC qualifiers. Since that’s done, now I don’t have to give a single crap who I’m riding against and it’s awesomely liberating. 2) I love low expectations. I’m totally the bottom of the barrel in the group, which is 100% fine by me. 3) I get to see firsthand how the pros warm up their young horses. I’m pretty excited for that, not gonna lie. 4) I have a built-in excuse for when they all beat me. I kid, I kid. 😉

Hey look, I got Corona pictures. Also Henry is a beast.

Then I started thinking about this program that they used to have back when I did cyclocross. It was a race predictor website, and before each race it would factor in each competitor’s total points and previous performances/experience to sort out how it thought everyone would finish. I have no idea how the math worked but I loved this thing, because it almost always put me at the bottom of the pack. I got a lot of joy out of trying to prove it wrong. Granted, it was right a lot of the time, but sometimes I showed it a thing or two.

Oh cyclocross, you’re such a ridiculous sport

Can you imagine if such a program existed for horse shows and events? Obviously we already have rider and horse rankings as far as points earned or money won, from local level all the way up through the best in the world. But there’s no such thing (at least that I’ve ever seen) as a competition predictor that sorts people out beforehand and predicts a finish order. I can’t decide if it would be the best thing ever or the most humiliating thing ever. On one hand, I see it as a challenge, and nothing sets my competitive spirit on fire quite like a good challenge. On the other hand, if it ranked me high and I totally bombed, it’d be another layer of disappointment. Plus it seems like it probably wouldn’t encourage a spirit of good sportsmanship in the show community… it’s already competitive enough as it is.

Stadium at Corona

What would you think if horse sports did this? All in good fun, or total embarrassment? Coming from a horse sports background into cyclocross, it completely floored me when I found out it existed, but I have to admit it never affected me negatively. Then again I never took cyclocross nearly as personally as I take the horse competitions. My good humor might not (let’s be honest, probably would not) extend to this side of the fence.

22 thoughts on “Performance predictors (aka the computer thinks you suck)

  1. First, Henry IS a beast, and I love these Corona pictures!

    I think I would be interested in seeing something like a horse show results predictor, but I’d have to take the results with a grain of salt. For me, I’d feel pressured to either prove it wrong, or live up to what the computer predicted, and either way it would be stressful! On the flip side, it could be something fun to check out, but to each her own 🙂

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  2. I’d be more interested if they built a computer program that you could upload a picture of your horse’s conformation, add details (soundness history, blah blah) and they listed out a bunch of disciplines with a % of how successful your horse could be in what up to what level. That would greatly amuse me… also probably be wrong.

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  3. This is the main issue with riding in AREA II!!! There are always pros, working students of pros and their trainers riding in every division. Plus there are some badass pony clubbers on tiny ponies that make me feel like a monster for riding in intro, only to realize that they are fearless as all get out and that maybe I need to take a chapter out of their book!

    ps. can’t wait to see how Henry does with the bigger jumps, he’s incredible!

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  4. Henry is THE MAN! Also I would not be down with a predictor… I already psych myself out way too much as it is. Although I can usually look around a warm up arena and get a pretty fair prediction of how things are gonna go…. kidding (sort of).

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  5. I don’t know anything about cyclocross, but I don’t understand why they did that ranking. I’m thinking of it in the sense, for example, horse racing does ranking for betting purposes. Do people bet on cyclocross? I guess if I understood why it was done for cyclocross, I could translate that into other hobby sports such as equestrian sports.

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  6. love the pictures! (and Henry’s intense exuberance through the water lol). re: the ranking algorithm, i think it would be interesting and doable from a scientific and predictive perspective (that’s actually kinda what i do for a living) but i’m not sure how i would feel about it as a competitor. it could be motivating, or it could put a chip on my shoulder. hard to tell!

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  7. It’d be interesting, but there’d have to be a LOT of factors (and maybe this is also true of cyclocross): the rider, the horse, the footing, the time of year, the location, the weather, etc. Also with just the horse, you’d need to know things like soundness history and conditioning schedule, I’d imagine. Or maybe I’m over thinking it, as I often do.

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    1. I dont think the cyclocross one went that in depth. At least I would assume not. It seemed like a pretty simple formula/set of criteria, since it was just for fun.

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  8. I would love that, but then I take a waaaaaaay less serious approach to showing than 95% of the world. If I stay on and we finish I’m pretty pleased. I’d mostly find it good for laughs.

    A system like that would be REALLY interesting when it came to team results, though – if someone worked up the math on that for anyone, say, riding at 1* and above and mapped them on their horses over time, it might be a good tool to help pick national riders rather than the favoritism bullshit that goes on now. (Also known as “for some reason we just hate Colleen Rutledge.”)

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    1. EN does it a little, but not quite to the level the cyclocross predictor did. And I haven’t seen them use any specific formula. But same general idea I suppose.

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    2. I think the series is called “by the numbers” and the person who writes it was be winner of the blogging contest last year – she does have a formula, but I think you’d probably have to go way back in the archives to find it.

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  9. I would love it! I think a past performance type of thing, like DRF, would be very interesting in the show world:) I don’t think that any ratings would bother me because I’ve gotten used to it with the odds and selections for racing. You learn not to take it personally eventually.

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  10. It would be a little interesting, but probably would make me too nervous to see rankings before the show even started.

    Will you do a how-to post about how you do your hair under your helmet? I use a bunch of bobby pins but don’t really like to. I remember you said you only use a hair elastic and hair net.

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