The Foresight of the United States Dressage Federation at the US Dressage Finals - The Digital Scoring System

US Dressage Finals 2013 at the Kentucky Horse Park  Photo: DressageDaily
US Dressage Finals 2013 at the Kentucky Horse Park Photo: DressageDaily

An unparalleled success, the efficiency of the inaugural US Dressage Finals competition could compete and possibly beat any world class international dressage competition. The United States Dressage Federation had the great foresight to hire a database management and dressage scoring system team, HorseShowOffice.com, to digitize the entire national competition from competitor entry, to judges scoring, to split-second scores texted to the competitor. The score texting allowed a competitor to see their test on their phone before they walked back to the barn. A fully automated system and completely instantaneous, with no need for test runners or scorers, the riders tests awaited them at the awards table, all cleanly type-written with an additional page of side-by-side judges scores on each movement. Five minutes after the last competitor’s finals salute, the press office had full results for the awards presentations. It made for no wait time for the awards and super for the journalists to get to the press conferences for each championship division in order to get competitors’ stories needed to write great copy.

US Dressage Finals 2013 at the Kentucky Horse Park  Photo: DressageDaily
US Dressage Finals 2013 at the Kentucky Horse Park Photo: DressageDaily

Kevin Bradbury from Ann Arbor, Michigan created the system starting in 1995 with a small database program through Excel. In 2002 he started organizing recognized dressage competitions, continuing to fine-tune the program making it as efficient as possible by working with the Fox Village software and his own system. In 2010, he built the current program by managing twelve recognized shows a year. Fully compatible with the Fox Village Software, he’s integrated a superb program that made the inaugural US Dressage Finals amazing.

The online entry system starts through the show secretary, Monica Fitzgerald and assistant Sandra Trussell; the riders entered their nominations and entries through the US Dressage Finals Website. There the competitor had the option to sign up for score texting to see their scores as soon as their ride completed, movement by movement.

US Dressage Finals 2013 at the Kentucky Horse Park  Photo: DressageDaily
US Dressage Finals 2013 at the Kentucky Horse Park Photo: DressageDaily

The US Dressage Finals included four rings with multiple judges. USEF ‘S’ and FEI 4* Dressage Judge Janet Foy said, “When the ride is finished and the test is completed by the judge, the judge presses a digital signature submit button and the test automatically (without going to scorers) goes straight up onto the scoreboard.” She continued, “I have never used the system before, and I have to say, at first, I was a little intimidated. I’m used to the electronic scoring system for the CDIs, but not having my comments typed in by the scribe. There were a few small glitches, the computer battery went low and the computer shut off at one point, but there were blank tests to grab to keep going with the judging, and the computer system saves everything. One cool feature I liked are that the boxes for the comments adjust themselves with the amount of comments made. All the judges felt they could give more comments than usual if necessary.”

US Dressage Finals 2013 at the Kentucky Horse Park  Photo: DressageDaily
US Dressage Finals 2013 at the Kentucky Horse Park Photo: DressageDaily

The scribe typed in all comments for the judge, instead of hand-writing them, and a monitor allowed the judge to look at what the scribe typed, making it super easy for the judge to check that they communcated well with their scribe.

If you have any concerns about the judges having monitors, Janet Foy said, “The system is set up so that there is no way one judge can see what the others are scoring during the test, which would be a bad thing. It does give us a running total for the ride as the scores are entered, which helped me form the collective scores sooner than I am used to.”

The computer system is so capable; the scores don’t need to be double-checked, saving a lot of labor and time and the awards ceremonies were super quick. The timing of the whole system was super-fast and clean.  

Janet Foy said, “Another super feature for the judges has been our judges meetings. At all shows, we like to discuss any 5% point differences on a total score for any ride. Usually we have to go to the show office to see the tests, but all we had to do was look up the tests on our phones.”

And on the overall impression of the whole US Dressage Finals Janet Foy said, “I’m proud of Janine Malone for standing her ground and creating these National Championships. This is going to be the Gold Star Event for the United States. The entire event for the riders looked like a World Cup event, from start to the press conference finish. It’s going to make our sport stronger."

"I saw some adult amateurs at all levels I judged in the Championship classes who were not only as good as the open riders, but better. They had amazing seats and amazing horses. I would encourage the amateurs I saw here to focus their goals higher and onto the international stage.”

She concluded by saying, “I hope the experience for everybody was great, that they enjoyed it, and that they all had a great time and will come back next year.

"They’ve hired the most experienced judges. It’s a great group of colleagues. I’m proud to be invited to the first one. To see all the volunteers, the scribes and gate people all in the US Dressage Final dark blue jackets. They really are the best of the best. “

 



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