Competing well below your working level

GreyDot

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So I am a long time lurker, and seldom poster but wanted to gauge opinion on the following. Am off to a dressage competition next week and when it's a smaller class (let's say 10-ish people) I sometimes like to look up recent results of the others in my class to give myself an idea of who I am up against. Now, I am one of those who works a level above at home to what I compete, but I regularly come across venues (especially when it is a more important competition) where people are two or three levels above (with the same horse) but competing at a level two or three below (so someone who competes at Inter 1 taking part in Advanced Medium for example, or a PSG rider competing in Medium with the same horse).
Just sits funny with me to be in the same class as people who are obviously above that level. Is it just me? Am I being precious :) ? Is this just one of those drawbacks since BD moved from Restricted/Open to Bronze/Silver/Gold?
Maybe it is just me, but if I am working a level above where I compete, I wouldn't want to to drop down two or more levels just to get that placing, it just doesn't seem to make sense.
 

Kahlua

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Gosh I’ve never looked up the results of my competitors prior to competing, we don’t have the levels in Australia so if you were competing against a name you knew it and just lumped it. When I eventually compete here in the UK I won’t know who anyone is aside from the names. Usually there is a reason someone is competing at a lower level, and I know there are ribbon hungry people out there, but I still only focus on going out and doing my best on the day, and not worrying what others are doing. I would get in to my own head way too much if I did that!
 

eggs

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Doesn’t worry me at all as it will be within the rules. There are a number of reasons why they may be doing this but that is up to them.
 

Upthecreek

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It happens all the time in eventing. You can be competing at BE100 in the same section as Olympic riders..... and it feels amazing if you beat them! At the end of the day they will compete at whatever level is appropriate for the level of experience of that particular horse, rather than it just being about getting placed. Personally though I wouldn’t waste time checking out the competition or dwelling on the morality of it.
 

honetpot

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A lot of people use the first couple of classes as a warm up, or take a full lorry, rather than just take one horse, you time and diesel is not much more. My daughter who was twelve at the time used to compete against adults, so it was always about learning and competing against her and her ponies personal best. The only reason I would compare scores on the day would be to see how the judge allocated the marks, and did they use the full range.
 

GreyDot

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Yep, all good points. I am specifically talking about the same combinations, so not an experienced rider taking out an unexperienced horse, but ones they are competing as a combination regularly at a level two or three above. I guess for BD, ideally I should just stick to Bronze and leave the Silver sections alone, but it's nice to try for Regionals.
 

Bellaboo18

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I know what works for one person doesn't work for another *but*
I can't imagine looking up my fellow competitors and their previous results would be good for my mindset at all. I personally focus on doing the best I can in the ring as that's all I can do and then wait and see what the result is. Depending on my results, I might consider moving up or down a class.

At kentucky last month, I cant remember who was being interviewed but the interviewer commented that they liked how after the cross country riders would give tips to other riders that hadn't yet run. The rider said something along the lines of 'we compete against the course not each other'. That's all you can do, concentrate on your own game.
 

Fern007

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It happens through all disciplines. When I first took my ex racehorse out we did intro as canter was wild!! We qualified for the intro championship. In my championship class was a lady competing novice BD on her horse. Rules allowed it but what satisfaction she got out of it I don't know!! I've seen horses warm up beautifully and thought well that's going to beat me but we've beaten them so now I just concentrate on me and my boy and what will be will be. As long as its allowed in the rules there is nothing you can do about it so don't worry xx
 

Cortez

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There are a myriad of reasons why people would drop down the levels, if it's within the rules then it wouldn't bother me. When I used to compete I would do this on occasion, but I'd go HC if it was anything below Medium.
 

milliepops

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Yep, all good points. I am specifically talking about the same combinations, so not an experienced rider taking out an unexperienced horse, but ones they are competing as a combination regularly at a level two or three above. I guess for BD, ideally I should just stick to Bronze and leave the Silver sections alone, but it's nice to try for Regionals.
you can still qualify for regionals though, as it's % based rather than having to win your class like the old days ;) Don't let it stop you from doing what you want. Someone riding a level below their normal competition can still have a bad day, you can still have a good day.
 

daffy44

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I know what works for one person doesn't work for another *but*
I can't imagine looking up my fellow competitors and their previous results would be good for my mindset at all. I personally focus on doing the best I can in the ring as that's all I can do and then wait and see what the result is. Depending on my results, I might consider moving up or down a class.

At kentucky last month, I cant remember who was being interviewed but the interviewer commented that they liked how after the cross country riders would give tips to other riders that hadn't yet run. The rider said something along the lines of 'we compete against the course not each other'. That's all you can do, concentrate on your own game.
I totally agree with this, I know we are all different, but I cant imagine what positives can come from looking up fellow competitors records. Its something I have never done, and I cant see how it would help anything, I think its really important to focus on the things you can control, and ignore whatever you cant control, and someone elses record is way out of my control! I go to compete with my own personal aims eg improving a movement we have been working on at home, better relaxation, better concentration etc.

People ride at different levels and in different sections for a million different reasons, and as long as they are competing within the rules then their personal reasons for their choices are their own. If you want to do regionals, do the appropriate section and try for the best percentage you can, as MP said its purely percentage based, so do your best and see how you get on, focus on your aims, not anybody else.
 

humblepie

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I'm the other way - compete above what we are doing at home. Not sure that is probably the right approach. As others have said there will be lots of reasons but I think that it is fair to consider going HC depending on the circumstances. You used to be able to do a "training" entry I think it was BD which was a way of competing but not getting points (or a placing or rosette), when what a horse could do depended on the number of point he or she had.
 

Roxylola

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I'm the other way - compete above what we are doing at home. Not sure that is probably the right approach.
I do this, if I am confident we can tackle most of a test ok and fudge our way through the trickier bits in a fashion I like to crack on.
We were out at novice dressage for the best part of a year with no medium trot or counter canter to speak of but the good bits were good enough that a couple of bad marks weren't the end of the world.
I don't tend to look at other combos, if its affiliated they must be eligible because of points, and who knows a horse could have had some time off and be coming back to work, horse or rider might have had a confidence crisis for some reason etc.
Ultimately if its BD and they're eligible then they've every right to be there.
 

CanteringCarrot

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I don't really care what other competitors are doing, as long as it isn't outright cheating/a rule violation. Your test is just a blip in time, and everyone can have "good" or "bad" rides in that small time frame in the sandbox that day.

There are just so many reasons. Even for the same rider/horse combo. Maybe the rider and/or horse is coming back into work, after an injury, or after a confidence issue, and so on. Or maybe they tried a higher level test a few times but some things still aren't solid yet, so they backed down for a bit to keep confidence and competition experience going.

Some jumpers I know start their day with a lower level course as a warm-up/to get a feel for their horse (especially if they are just getting into the next higher level). Some will scratch the higher level class if the horse doesn't feel ready. If the horse feels good, they'll give it a go.






I'm the other way - compete above what we are doing at home. Not sure that is probably the right approach. As others have said there will be lots of reasons but I think that it is fair to consider going HC depending on the circumstances. You used to be able to do a "training" entry I think it was BD which was a way of competing but not getting points (or a placing or rosette), when what a horse could do depended on the number of point he or she had.
Genuinely curious here, but how does this work? Why do you do it? I can't imagine this for my dressage horse.
 

milliepops

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I think I've been both sides of this,sort of anyway, I've def competed at a level below that which we are training at home - i'd say that's usually the case as we are always chipping away at higher level stuff in some way. That's not to say there aren't bits that you know are a bit iffy in a test (memorable example being going to Novice regionals still not being able to do the canter-trot-canter on the same rein move in N39 :oops: poor Kira found that terribly confusing). But as time has gone on, the attraction of really doing a good job of a test rather than winging it has increased.

However... if we get within sniffing distance of being GP-ready I'm going to have a bash, weak spots & all! So often with horses you wait until the perfect moment, only the horse didn't know there was a perfect moment coming up and it knackers itself somehow and your opportunity is lost.

But competing at a fully higher level than training... I'm also not sure I understand how that works. at dressage you'll just get a bad score for the bits you can't do, in jumping disciplines it could go pretty wrong :eek:
 

ihatework

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I’m not sure it’s constructive to be constantly looking up other competitors you are competing against and what they are doing. You have no insight into what is happening with that horses training behind the scenes.

British dressage structure is such that they have clear progression path and sections that align with a combinations experience. The qualification route is also based on your performance on the day, not where you sit in the overall placings.

Id wager you’ll enjoy the journey much more if you resist the urge to second guess other people’s motives 😃
 

humblepie

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Genuinely curious here, but how does this work? Why do you do it? I can't imagine this for my dressage horse.[/QUOTE]

A bit like Milliepops has said, if we can hopefully get good marks for established movements, then we fudge some of the others. Neither me nor my horse are particularly young so I don't want to work him too much in the school but we have bits we are good at and bits we are still working on and I would rather put those to test than stay at where we are comfortable. Probably makes more sense if I say as well that we are not aiming for affiliated dressage championships or chasing qualification these days.
 

milliepops

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there's also a difference between competing at a level and being competitive at a level ;) Kira has inter 1 points but at anything other than a quiet local show she's really only competitive at advanced medium. so I've quit going for championships, though I will still do the normal shows at the FEI levels, and possibly music. If I still wanted to do regionals I'd go at AM.
 

humblepie

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Yes to the competing and being competitive. My horse has won a number of countrywide qualification championships including at BRC but we aren't going to win an area festival final. He has had a number of placings including just missing out by a fraction on a win at the associate championships so we aim at certain things for being competitive and others things because we can (or can just about)! Dressage isn't his main discipline so we look to have fun rather than be too serious.
 

spacefaer

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I used to have the most special little horse who was coming to the end of his competitive career.
He was graded (and had been placed at ) BE alAdvanced but was competing OPN
He was schooled to Adv Med but I'd only compete him Novice on a good surface.

He lived for his competitions and wouldn't retire but couldn't compete at previous levels. .... you'd have hated looking his results up but he was fragile and had "off" days so was eminently beatable!
 
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