The late, great Stuart Dim told me that on my first day as a feature writer for The Charlotte Observer 35 years ago and I’ve lived by that rule since. (Though I never asked my mother if she loved me). Journalists worship at the alter of accuracy, because if you can’t get someone’s name right, why should a reader believe anything else your write?
So when I got my dressage test back from my first event, I started to check it out. Coming from Hunterland, I had no idea what all the numbers meant and spent a long time trying to figure it out on my own. But Google can only take you so far. I got that eventing dressage scores are the opposite of straight dressage scores because the object in eventing is to finish with the lowest possible score. This further supports my theory that eventers have testicles the size of New Jersey and don’t want to be coddled. High numbers? That’s for pansies who like smiley faces.
Finally I texted an eventer friend who is a dressage judge. She tried to explain the system to me — through texting (good luck with that) — something about there being 16 movements, each worth 10 points. That confused me further because it was an intro test with only nine movements and six collective marks. Plus there was also something about dividing 160 by 100. This was turning into rocket science. Then I turned to a Facebook friend who luckily lived in an earlier time zone and was still up. I refused to go to bed until I cracked the code.
She looked up the intro test and said that little number 2 under the coefficient column next to the submission entry means you double that score, and that’s what gives you 16 movements (or the possibility of 160 points).
So thank you Stuart Dim. By checking it out, I discovered they’d forgotten to double my submission score (which is now sounding like S and M talk). My score that they’d given me of 26.6 was wrong. My correct score was 21.9, which I’m told is a stellar first outing. I’m using the word “stellar” because I heard a young event rider use it to describe the day she was having and I like it better than the ubiquitous “awesome.”
I sent an email to the show management with a copy of my dressage test to make sure I understood the scoring. And yes, they wrote back, they’d made a mistake. My real score was in fact 21.9. I’m pretty sure that was the lowest dressage score in my division and I had no faults in either cross country or stadium.
So all in all, a stellar day!