High Times

(“. . . or just the Mandela Effect?”)   

Various people—especially older ones with the perspective and cynicism that comes with age—have observed that test scores are much higher than they were 20 or 30 years ago. Is this really true or just the Mandela Effect? If it is true, are they deservedly higher?

A statistical analysis will bear this out, but just anecdotally it does seem that there are many more scores in the 70s floating around than there used to be. Going back 30 or 40 years, a 70% would not only win a class, but often at many levels it would even win the Regionals. As you know, nowadays it’s common to find the top half dozen placings there all in the 70s. Back then even at the Olympics an 80% was almost unheard of. Now all the medalists routinely break that barrier.

In this country at every level riding has gotten much more sophisticated. This is not to say there aren’t plenty of novices finding their way through the jungle. But as the sheer number of people doing dressage has widened the base of the pyramid, the absolute number of riders nearer the top has also grown. On some weekends there are eye-rolling exceptions, But both at dressage shows and at horse trials there are many admirable performances.

The quality of the horses is also far better than in years past. Seven is a very common Gait score and not just at the top shows. This is reflected in the cost of many of the horses who compete at recognized shows. An occasional off track thoroughbred still pops up as well as a few examples of almost every breed, but the athleticism and talent which riders have to work with is far superior to what we used to see.

The judge itself also seems to be a bit more lenient — possibly related to the introduction of half points several years ago. A 6.5 doesn’t feel as stingy as a 6, and those half points add up.