As I sit here hitting refresh on my Rider Award Eligibility page at USDFScores.com, I decided to do a little research. But first, what’s up with the USDF website? It has been ridiculously glitchy for more than a week. Sometimes, a click will take me to a blank page and other times I can get where I want to go. Also, lost from the menu, is the link to look up how many medals have been awarded and to whom. I eventually found it by doing a Google search, but I can’t find the link on the current USDF website. Meanwhile, I refresh the page.
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The Bronze Medal is not yet “official.”

The reason I keep hitting refresh on my eligibility page is because you aren’t automatically awarded a medal or performance award. You have apply for it, and you can’t apply for it until your scores are officially recorded by USDF. And so I hit refresh. One of these times, my pink section will light up in green.
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As of Friday, my most recent score hadn’t been recorded.

While I wait, I’ve been busy looking up some interesting numbers. First, USDF was established in 1973 after it was decided that there ought to be a national governing body for the sport of dressage. There were already dressage associations spread around the country, but there were no uniform standards. The California Dressage Society (CDS), my own GMO, was formed in 1967, six years before the birth of USDF. 

I am sure many articles have been written on the history of the various USDF awards programs, but after a brief search, I only found this one. Admittedly, I was only casually curious and didn’t want to spend too much time looking. According to the article, the first Gold and Silver Medals were awarded in 1974. After searching through the USDF website, I found that a Bronze Medal was issued in 1977. Were there other medals awarded before that? Probably, but there are currently 9,626 Bronze Medal recipients, and I didn’t want to look through them all.

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Bronze, Silver, Gold.

If you can get to the page, USDF has a way to look up every medal recipient by the current year and by all years. You can find the link here (maybe). I was really curious to know how widespread the Bronze Medal actually is. Frankly, I feel like the last person on Earth to get hers. Many of my friends have had their medal for years. I also have friends who have earned the needed scores but haven’t bothered to actually apply for the medal.

As of late June, 179 riders have applied for a Bronze Medal in 2020. The total number of Bronze Medals that have been awarded since the late 1970s is 9,626 – soon to be 9,627. Of course, fewer Silver Medals have been awarded; 111 in 2020, and 5,487 in total. It’s not surprising that the number of Gold Medals is even less. There have only ever been 1,625 Gold Members awarded and only 43 in 2020. The Freestyle Bars have even fewer recipients: 287 Bronze Freestyle Bars, 328 Silver Freestyle Bars, and 160 Gold Freestyle Bars. My trainer, Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, has ALL SIX. I would really like to know how many other riders have all the medals.*

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Upon hearing we had just earned our final Bronze Medal score.

As I was researching the number of riders who have received the three different medals, I ran across this article, “Building Blocks to Bronze.” While it doesn’t tell you how many Bronze Medals have been awarded, it does talk about how difficult it can be to achieve. If you’re working towards you own medal, it’s a worthwhile read.

In the meantime, I am going to continue with my strategy of hitting refresh. Eventually my scores will become official, and I’ll be able to apply for my Bronze Medal. Of course, the medals aren’t awarded until the end of the year so more waiting will be necessary. I will be able to buy my lapel pin though. You can bet that will happen the instant my pink section becomes green!

Refresh. Refresh. Refresh …

​* According to this USDF article, as of 2011, only 10 USDF members had earned all six medals. Chemaine Hurtado is certainly a member of a very elite group of dressage riders.