When I was at Pine Hill on Sunday I finally picked up Henny’s 2017 year end award ribbon from Trainer. She grabbed it for me at the banquet last month, because, well… if you’ve ever met me then you know that I’m not exactly the banquet type. I’ve been to enough of them by now to know this about myself. I rarely drink, I don’t really like large gatherings of people, and I don’t like having lots of eyes on me. So, yeah, banquets aren’t exactly my bag.
We finished 4th for the year in Training Senior for GHCTA. On one hand I’m really proud of my horse and it was fun to put the ribbon on his bridle at the barn and snap a quick picture. Training was nothing but a wild dream a couple years ago, so to do it and not die is pretty awesome to me. I’ll take the recognition in a tangible form and be grateful for that. We only did a few shows, so how we scraped up a ribbon is a mystery to me. I’m not really super into ribbons though, so I did struggle a bit with what to do with it. Ultimately it ended up on the ribbon wall in the guest bedroom, with some of Henry’s other eventing ribbons (the ones that I have not lost along the way, because yeah that’s a thing I do sometimes).
Part of my apathy towards ribbons has to do with the fact that I figured out a long time ago that progress can’t be measured by satin. Sometimes you luck into a ribbon you really don’t deserve, and other times you go home empty handed when you should be wearing a Rolex and carrying a trophy. That’s just the way of the sport. Ribbons are fun to stick on the halter and take a quick picture of, but beyond that they just don’t tend to hold much meaning to me personally.
I also struggle a little bit, ethically, with the idea of year end awards. They are straight up point accumulations, and most of the time the people who show the most are the ones at the top. I have a hard time getting excited about a system that ultimately ends up rewarding those who show their horses into the ground rather than those who pick and choose a schedule that is in the best interest of the horse.
I’ve been there, I’ve done that, I’ve gotten the big fancy year end ribbons and prizes and gone to just about every show of the year, back in my h/j days. I felt like I didn’t always make the best choices during those years, and I vowed not to do it again. I’d much rather get to the end of the year and feel like I did right by the horse and myself, rather than feeling driven by points. And hey, if I do that and we manage to squeak out a year end ribbon, then that’s just gravy I guess. Points are not something that I ever want to have on my radar, though. I don’t want my decisions to be influenced or driven by that.
If year-end prizes were calculated off of some kind of average, I’d be more into it. Like the dressage awards with their highest average percentages and stuff like that. I have no idea how it would work, and I’m not really interested enough in it to figure it out, but that method is certainly more appealing to me as an eventer. I feel like we have to be extra aware of how much we show our horses.
Henny sure did look cute in his white ribbon though, and I had a momentary swell of pride in the fact that I was looking at a year end ribbon that said Training on it and it was on MY horse. I suppose that’s the real purpose of them, whether I really believe in the system or not.
How do y’all feel about year end awards? Do you plan your whole season with those in mind, or are they just coincidentals?