GDA is a web service that brings together detailed dressage result information with state of the art analytics to give you new insights into the performance of riders, horses and judges.
Born from a collaboration between Dr David Stickland, the World Dressage Masters, innoSportNL, Dressage Direct and developed and tested with top riders like Steffen Peters and in consultative work with the FEI and KNHS, GDA principles have been widely discussed at the prestigious Global Dressage Forum in 2009-2012. GDA tools and Analysis were used by all three medal winning teams in the run-up to the London Olympics and they are now being made available to riders of all levels and nationalities.
GDA compiles the data from international events, but any individuals’s can also upload their results from national shows. Then a suite of presentation and analytic tools allow you to visualize those results and extract their, sometimes surprising, secrets. With this detailed analysis you can measure yourself and identify focused training that can help you improve.
The origins of GDA were in tools built to study Dressage Judging, in particular to understand if judges could make good use of half-points. From this work we realized that, while riders sometimes like to complain about judging, on average the judges track quite coherently the strengths and weaknesses of a rider/horse pair.
We also discovered that riders are surprisingly unaware of which details of their rides can cost them the most, or which can be perhaps most easily improved or made more consistent to help raise their scores. Riders are often unclear of which figures are actually the most important in the ranking. So we looked for ways to present this information in ways that riders and trainers could understand it and make use of it.
In developing the tools with my own family of riders, I realized that clearly seeing your progress can also be a strong confidence builder and give you the motivation to see the work through to the next level. Sometimes you need the vision of what you will be able to achieve when all your strengths come together on the same day and you and your horse break a barrier.
The data we need are the figure scores, we categorize each figure type according to the level of your riding and study the trends, the spread in scores, the best and worst to build a picture of what is possible. Using these data you can build a picture of your and your horses abilities. Some things will be hard to change, some things just need you to be aware that they are a problem for you.
While it is sometimes straightforward to build a picture of your final scores, figure by figure scores are typically not published or even transmitted to your federation. In CDI events it becomes more and more common, but less so for National events. So we built web tools for you to enter them, it takes about five minutes per test. Alternatively GDA can do it from your scanned tests for a fee.
The same tools that can be useful for riders can also serve in effect ways to give judges feedback on their strengths and weaknesses and thus inform programs of education and promotion. Or trainers and chef d’equipes can follow the progress of their students or squad members, spot rising talents and get a clear picture of where they stand with respect to their competitors.