A fully national Canadian ranking points system has been on many riders’ minds for a number of years; to know how and where you and your horse stack up against all the other horse/rider combos across Canada is a fun exercise and useful to people buying and selling horses, as well as breeders looking to see what bloodlines are successful.
Our first try at a National system was unveiled and put into practice for 2023. The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair even used them as the basis for their qualification criteria and invitation process. Points were awarded and totals calculated based on the number of horses in a class/division, the prize money won, and the EC applied a ‘multiplier’ based on the amount of prize money available as a whole at each horse show. Each horse’s points were calculated at the end of each show and the total number of points in each division was calculated at the end of the year on the total number of points won by an individual horse over all shows attended.
All 14 ranking divisions were represented and the available information charts were easy to understand. But, on first look, almost all of the top horse/rider combos were from Ontario. There were a few exceptions including the Open 1.45m+ division because in Ontario most of those are FEI classes and not part of national rankings. The other exceptions were the young rider development divisions (CET, JC Medal and the U25) which all operate under very specific and different criteria to the general ranking system, so were also not relevant to the overall points issue.
Are the best of the best residing and showing in Ontario, or is something else going? A deeper look at the raw data shows us where the issues are probably located.
The single biggest issue is the number of shows available to riders in Ontario compared to the number available to riders in the other provinces. The following table shows the breakdown:
Ontario-based riders have almost twice as many opportunities to show and compete as any other region in Canada. Twenty-six weeks of shows can be accessed and most of them are within two hours of the GTA. The class sizes, on average, are also much higher in Ontario than in other regions.
The number of shows that are required to achieve awards in a specific region are also different. BCHJA, for example, calculates awards on the participants in a fixed number of shows  and the year-end Fall Finale. This can and does influence participation rates, as riders can compete as little or as much as they need to work toward zone points. Riders with good points can sit out a few weeks, have time for a vacation or even ride in another division as they or their horse develop, or they can work toward better points in a particular division if they need to.
Other regions, including Ontario, do not have a cap on the number of shows needed to work toward zone awards. In Ontario, for example, the average number of shows that the top riders used to accumulate points was 12 -14. Riders generally competed in only one division and in a larger number of shows in order to be competitive in their chosen division.
It looks like, given how the points accumulation was structured, that the more shows a rider went to, the greater the likelihood of them ending up higher in the rankings. Given the number of available shows in central Canada, assuming that many Quebec riders travelled to the Ottawa or even Toronto shows to gather points, it is not surprising that the ‘top riders’ come from this region.
Canada and its disparate regions have always required a unique and thoughtful process to be accessible to the majority of the population. Even our national constitution and its founding document, the British North America Act, recognized the innate advantages and deficits of our regions and created structures and mechanisms to make national ‘things’ as fair as possible.
EC is going to have to come up with their own version on “National Unity’ for a national ranking system to even be viable, never mind fair to participants of all our regions. No system will ever be perfect and should be reviewed on a reasonably regular basis, but if EC wants a truly ‘National’ Ranking System, then riders from all over the nation should have at least some reasonable opportunity to achieve success.