We all love getting a rosette at a show, somehow it just seems to make even a bad day worth it. But I don’t think this is because of our inner desire to win, because very few rosettes you receive for winning the class. I think this satisfaction from winning a rosette comes from your work, effort and talent being recognised.
I feel that for a large part of the industry, success and achievement is measured in rosettes. The mentality is, if you train hard, you will improve and win rosettes. However, sadly this isn’t always the case. You can train as hard as you can, but if someone else has a better horse than yours, they can beat you. It can be really hard to deal with the fact that your best simply isn’t good enough. But at the same time, that is part of life and you need to accept that.
I am a very competitive person but at the end of the day, Scottie is an ex racehorse and despite being willing and talented, he will never be at the same level as some purpose bred warmbloods. This combined with the fact that I live in an area where there is a lot of challenging competition, I have learnt to look at other things to measure our success.
In dressage this is easier. We can track and compare our dressage scores and aim for a personal best, regardless of what everyone else in the class has scored. For show jumping I aim for a clear round, or a honest, brave round. And in showing, I aim for a calm ride around the ring. If I achieve these things we have had a very good day out. If we have improved on our last time out, it has also been a good day.
However, coming home with a rosette makes me feel even better about our performance. Not only have I recognised that we have done well, but someone else has recognised that too. And I always feel so proud to come away with a rosette.
Because of this, I enter classes I do things which could be considered ‘Trophy Hunting’ by other riders (despite the fact we win very little!) For dressage and showing, I will always enter ex racehorse/RoR sections where it tends to be a little bit less competitive. I love these sections as I’m not competing against purpose bred horses and while we still don’t clean up in these classes, we place a lot more often than we would than in other competitions. I also like to go to show jumping shows where they have clear round classes. It’s nice to aim for a clear round and be rewarded with a rosette for achieving this.
I think rosettes are fantastic for giving riders a boost and I think it is important for local level shows to give out as many rosettes per class as they can afford. However, at the same time, they can cause negative thoughts in riders who aren’t winning them and prevent successful riders from taking the step up to the next level.