Year End Awards

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.

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me, on any given day

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).

I am really really bad at decorating

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?

15 thoughts on “Year End Awards

  1. When I first started with my previous trainer, of course I Google stalked her, and was so impressed with how well her students all seemed to do at shows, and how they cleaned up at the year end banquet! Then I realized that it was because they were the only people going to ALL the shows. And that the classes tended to be small. Now, they’re showing lower level, so I don’t think it’s harming the horses any, but it is kind of deceptive when she posts how she’s doing so well and really she’s mostly a big fish in a little pond.

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  2. Our year end recognized eventing awards are based off the average of your three lowest scores which I think works pretty well. Granted, most of the membership only goes for the schooling awards so the competition is not stiff.

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  3. I did the point chasing year end thing in QH/Paint and on top of being questionable for my horse, it was flat out exhausting to be showing 25+ weekends a year. I had no life (not that I do now, but…), I just remember being physically tired between the travel, the prep, the showing, and since I was still in high school at the time, trying to still be like, semi-successful at school. Being an adult now, I also can’t imagine the financial cost on my parents. Going for national year end points is a very breed show thing to do, but it rewards those who have the means to show pretty much year round and haul to the biggest multijudge shows to max their points out. I have no desire to ever go back to that.
    The upside to it was my mom and I got really close spending many, many hours driving across Texas and Oklahoma together.

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    1. I didn’t show to that extent, but basically did the same QH breed show thing as a kid. My parents wouldn’t let me chase points and the I knew when the year started pretty much which shows I was going to, so it was extra fun when I did get a year end award. I feel the same way as Amanda now. If I get one at the end of the year that is great, but I’m not going to chase one.

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  4. I love how the dressage world does year end by averages! I just started showing pure dressage this year but was able to manage a 67%+ average for the year at Training level. I found doing year end awards a lot more fair to everyone! I wish they could do that with eventing too because honestly if you go by placement, it is meerly a comparison of how competitive your competitors were at that date and time.

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    1. Yes, I love this too. And that way it doesn’t matter how many shows you went to either. I usually only do 1-3 shows a year but I still get year-end awards. Also my local dressage association does awards. You send them your highest score for whatever test you rode and they send you a ribbon…there are different levels of ribbons or plaques. I believe anything over 60% is an achievement award, anything over 65% is a mastery award, and so forth. I almost never win their accumulative awards like “Grand Champ Adult Ammie” because I don’t go to enough shows compared to others in the assoc., but that’s OK. We do what feels right for us and what we can afford. Personally I’d rather put my limited budget into lessons and clinics than more shows at this point.

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  5. Congrats! Year end awards are fun, but I sure as hell cant afford to go to enough rated shows (jumper or eventing) to earn them. Nor do I want to exhaust my horse/get burned out, the latter of which I know happens to me by September anyway. The local dressage associations here offer fun awards like ones for newcomers or biggest improvement, things like that, which is nice. They also count scores from unrated shows, including evening tests, as long as the judge has a certain rating. Now if only I could manage to keep track of my paper tests..

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  6. While I agree with you 100%, I also love me some satin. I’ve saved every ribbon I’ve ever won. We used to hang our ribbons in the viewing lounge where I boarded each season, then bring them home at the end of the year. We let our trainer display our year end ribbons forever though. Sadly, I lost a whole seasons worth and my first ever year end awards when the barn burned down. After that I hoarded them all at home.
    I think we have always done a nice job of picking and choosing where we could get the most points without having to chase and abuse the horses. I always put my horse’s well being ahead of my love of satin. One season I led the adult eq until the very end. My horse was already on winter vacation when someone sneaked up and was challenging my win. I borrowed a horse from a training barn to keep myself at the top (just for a one day show) and I think that’s the closest I’ve come to actually chasing points. But the horse I borrowed was fit and in shape and happy to do the job. My horse stayed home happily getting fat. And I got my pretty trophy and cooler.

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  7. Your guest bedroom is decorated just like mine. Who needs curtains when you have ribbons?
    I was super excited to get my year end ribbon the year we did the event derbies in our area. There were only 4, about once a month-6 weeks, so not demanding. But now that the showing is harder, our training schedule was more demanding, all of that went straight out of my mind. My focus was to just have a successful and fun show with my horse, and whatever happens, happens. I still really love ribbons. And apparently we just always get ones that match our outfit.

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  8. Just before you got to the end of your post, I was comparing how year end awards are usually awarded in dressage. And then you pointed it out – by percentages. I like that system. There’s a small 4 show summer series that is just over an hour away. To be eligible, you must be a member of that CDS chapter and you must attended 3 of the 4 shows. The winner is determined by the highest average. It’s a great series and one I always shoot for. A lot of the CDS chapters run similar programs.

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  9. I love what you wrote here mate. It’s so true. Ribbons sometimes arrive when you barely think you should have won and sometimes I ride for gold and i go home empty handed. I agree with what you say about the points system, it really does reward either A. The people who can afford to go to everything or B. The people who have the time to go to everything. I am a massive believer that there is some super horse riders out there who cannot compete as regularly as they would due to time/money constraints. After all, it is the most expensive sport on the planet!!

    All that aside, fourth… congratulations and you did it in style. With care and kindness to henry, both of you unhurt and even the humble way you have written out about your fourth is really something. Kudos to you mate.

    mel x

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  10. Love your line of “progress is not measured in stain”!! I am going to have to steal that! I am with you on that. I had my first show back since back surgery and it is on a new horse who is the complete opposite of the kick ride I am used to.l We placed in everything but not in the top, I almost fell off once, but when my trainer asked me how I felt I told her I was ECSTATIC! I also agree with you on the year end points. I have said many times that I wish that they were on an average system. I just do not have the money to travel to every show nor do I think it is good for your horse to show every single weekend which I have seen horses do shows for 4 weekends in a row. That is just too much on them.

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