Get real, Sistah!

  (“Life isn’t  fair.”) 

There has been a flurry of horrified reaction lately on the Internet in response to the USDF‘s announcement that they are creating a medals “with distinction.” Since their inception, bronze, silver, and gold medals have been awarded on the basis of two 60+ scores at first, second, and third level. Those requirements will remain, but added to them is a new category where the target score at each level is 67%.

The hullabaloo-ists moan that this possibility will diminish the value of the original medals that they had worked so hard to achieve. Furthermore, they say, that placing the necessary scores so high makes the “with distinction” category out of the reach of normal amateur riders who don’t have six figure budgets for their horses.

Personally, I’ve been having trouble raising much sympathy for this viewpoint. As Jimmy Carter once said, “Life isn’t fair.“ As a college freshman whose high school French had been taught by Mrs. Quinn with her Boston Irish accent, I fared poorly against my classmates who had spent their summers in Switzerland practicing the language.

The unlevel playing field has been biting the less fortunate in the ass forever— Less good equipment, less time to practice, less qualified trainers. So it goes. The best you can do is pick the sandbox in which you can reasonably compete and do the best you can.

Of course, the rider’s innate talent matters too. Very occasional a fairytale does come true. That a young rider from the suburbs can’t compete with the Bloomberg kid or Jessica Springsteen in show jumping ought not to be a major shock. if you have a 3’6 horse in the jumpers or a six mover in dressage, you had better seek your glory not in the headlines but in achieving your personal best when you go out to show. Furthermore, it would be wise to pick a show where you aren’t hopelessly outclassed by your rivals.