View Full Version : New Amateur preliminary track? Rumors? Facts?

Nov. 5, 2007, 08:56 AM
Does anyone have anything to say about the rumor that there might be a new amateur preliminary track being developed that eases the preliminary cross country course requirements, or changes them in some way? Seems to me I heard something about this and would appreciate any thoughts or a discussion about it. What have you heard? What exactly is it? Is it for anyone or only amateur riders?

Nov. 5, 2007, 09:14 AM
I would rather see a tougher training track to better prepare riders for the Prelim move up.

Nov. 5, 2007, 09:47 AM
I would rather see a tougher training track to better prepare riders for the Prelim move up.

Leave the course specs as-is and have riders and trainers who are responsible enough to prepare properly. As an amateur, I would hope that people would think I am just as competent as a pro or YR. There is no reason to place emphasis on amateurs as 'incapable' or 'needing assistance'. I'm an ammy because of my age and the fact that my job is not horse-related, not for any other reason :rolleyes:

Nov. 5, 2007, 10:04 AM
I agree with the others. I would be personally offended to see this happen. I would never enter it in a million years. Going preliminary for an amateur is a BIG DEAL. I would feel like it were being downplayed if there was a course like this.
Going to the T3DE last year was like doing an upgraded T course. After that I was more than ready to do P. If some amateurs want an amateur prelim tell them to enter the T3DE.

Jazzy Lady
Nov. 5, 2007, 10:17 AM
Geeze, I'm with everyone else. Why dumb down prelim any further? It's a big step up from training but I think there are people out there who are already taking the fast route to prelim when they aren't ready. Why encourage more? Furthermore, I feel (and maybe it's just me) that if you are TRULY ready for the next level up, you should not need a "move up" course to get your there. If you are ready for the level, you are ready for the level. Period.

Training courses need to be beafed up, prelim doesn't need to be made softer.

Nov. 5, 2007, 10:43 AM
why would you call it "preliminary" if it isn't. If there is some sense of a need for a level between training and prelim, fine, call it TP:lol: (and I know this is a designation for a test with training XC and P dressage and sj, but couldn't resist), but then it should be for everyone including 13 year old fabulous young riders basically ready, but not old enough to go preliminary, professionals on young horses, etc. One of the coolest things about eventing is that we do get to compete on even ground and the fact that I've chosen a job that isn't full time horses, doesn't mean that I don't want to rise to the challenge at the same level as it is now. Do championships, do the training 3 day, have some tougher training courses that require qualifications and do those, but I agree with the other posters.

Nov. 5, 2007, 10:43 AM
I agree, leave prelim the way it is!

Nov. 5, 2007, 11:09 AM
I would rather see a tougher training track to better prepare riders for the Prelim move up.

I totally agree. I think this is critical.

Nov. 5, 2007, 11:13 AM
There is a mention of this idea in the newest Eventing mag -- it sounds as though it is being seriously considered, and would focus on simpler, "galloping" courses with less technicality.

I am not sure what my reaction to this would have been 8 months ago, but as a very average amateur who just moved up to prelim by dint of a lot of hard work, my reaction now was "NO!!!"
I am SO proud of our moveup, and have learned so much in the prep process -- a lot of folks I know moved up sooner than I did, and some had some real "seat of the pants" moments, but I think THAT should be addressed by harder trainings or more stringent qualifications, NOT by making prelim easier!!!

I am sure we will encounter harder courses next year that really challenge (and maybe defeat!) our skills, but that gives me a goal, not a reason to want to run easier courses...

Nov. 5, 2007, 11:22 AM
I hate the idea of an ammy prelim track for all the reasons stated above.

Tracks are known within an area for being "move-ups," "average," or "max" and there has been some talk of rating tracks accordingly. But really it is up to the rider and coach to select appropriate tracks for their horse's and/or rider's development, and ditto it's up to the rider and coach to take responsibility and know if the courses they've run have them properly prepped for the next move (be it a one-star or a bump up to intermediate). All prelims are not equal, nor should they be, but they idea of a whole separate track for ammy riders seems counter to the spirit of eventing where the course is the test and the level playing field.

Just as all prelim tracks are not created equal, neither are tracks of other levels. Some advance courses are Rolex preps, others are move ups. Same sort of variation at training level. The rules give a range: you will be tested on at least "this" level of skills and potentially up to "that" level of skills, but no more. Competitors in an area should ask around and get a feel for what events they should enter depending on where they are in the learning curve of mastering each level.

Nov. 5, 2007, 11:34 AM
Another vote for NO!! If you want to do something easy, ride at Training. If you want bigger jumps and less technicality, go play with the hunters. They need more people in the 4' divisions..... nice, easy courses, but they're 4'.

If they do this, I wouldn't ride in that division. When Star makes it to Prelim, it will be a "real" one.

Nov. 5, 2007, 11:41 AM
I will join the chorus of "no"
I think there is a big gap between training and prelim (and one that I too often think folks do not see- as in "I have gone clean at training and so must be ready for prelim," errrr no). But the answer for that is to offer some tough training course options not dumb down prelim.
As someone who is working really hard to be able to do the move-up to prelim next season, I don't want it made easier even though that would mean I could move up sooner. It would cheapen the accomplishment and the fact that I am an ammie who hopefully will be able to do prelim, will make it all that much sweeter when I do it.

Nov. 5, 2007, 11:46 AM
There was a blip about it in this issue of Eventing Mag. I found it a very interesting concept. When I really think about it - I tend to agree with the prior posters in this thread -why "dumb" it down for an Ammy? I am an amature as well, and when I move up to prelim, I know I don't want to feel as though my move up was any less of a big deal than anyone elses - ammy or pro.

I do tend to think, you are either ready for the level or your aren't. With that being said, I do think there is some value in more detailed course descriptions being provided in the omnibus. Lets face it, not all courses are created equal, some are easier than others, more appropriate for a move up, some are for someone more seasoned at that level. Just the blanket statement about the X-C in the ominbus about "average for horses/riders with some experience at the level" is not much help. This is something I think needs to be addressed prior to considering a dummied down version of the different divisions.

Nov. 5, 2007, 11:57 AM
E-A, I totally agree with you! We have had lots of conversation about this (including various rating schemes that have been suggested) and I think it's fair to say no one has come up with a system that can get consensus yet...but most agree it would be BETTER if the descriptions were more helpful.

And I would really like to see a quasi-formal effort to create more move-up prep within the Training tracks. I basically stopped running training when I was getting ready to move up because the xc issues I was struggling to master were just not going to be ON any training track I knew...but if a few of the courses had had harder options, or we saw more prelim "questions" at training heights, that would have been very helpful!

Nov. 5, 2007, 12:02 PM
No way - and if they had such a track, I wouldn't ride in it! Am I the only one who gets a kick out of competing with pros? If you want a straightforward gallopy course, choose your events accordingly. If you want more technicality, same thing. Don't know which is which? Well, if you don't either know enough yourself to know, and don't ride with someone who does, maybe you shouldn't be going P. And that's my snarking for the day. :)

Nov. 5, 2007, 12:05 PM
Not in favour of this idea....besides, why do we want to add more burden to organizers? Definitely NO!

Jazzy Lady
Nov. 5, 2007, 12:19 PM
What about the associated $$$ with building a bunch of faux prelim courses? Why not take the money and expand on previous courses?

Nov. 5, 2007, 12:21 PM
I thought the black flag option rule (EV140.2c) was supposed to make it easier for course designers and organizers to provide the members that are moving up and maybe need a softer question to answer while they and/or the horse gain experience.

With this rule in place it seems that they have already provided a means to accomplish this goal.

Nov. 5, 2007, 12:54 PM
Not just no, but H**L NO!

I agree, no point in dumbing it down, and if a CD wants to make a softer route for less-experienced Prelim riders, he can use the black flag options and they can take the time penalties.


Nov. 5, 2007, 01:34 PM
It would cheapen the accomplishment and the fact that I am an ammie who hopefully will be able to do prelim, will make it all that much sweeter when I do it.

Agreed! :yes:

Nov. 5, 2007, 02:22 PM
I hate the idea. I'd rather see more vigorous enforcement of dangerous riding and/or use of black flag options that take significant time than see a bastardized "amateur" track. I've spent my whole career trying not to contribute to any perception of amateur as a dirty word; I'll be durned if I want to slink around some dumbed down course that's been made "easy enough" for my incompetent self.

Nov. 5, 2007, 02:47 PM
maybe the USEA should focus more on the developing rider program?

just a thought.

Nov. 5, 2007, 02:51 PM
I too think it's a bad idea, but from another perspective.

I have a feeling that if they made a special "ammy" track, then they also might ramp up the "pro" track to increase it's draw of both competitors and spectators.

I am technically a Pro because I get paid to teach lessons, and my one and only job is in the horse industry. But I teach low level riders, and ONLY low level riders, and I have done for years. It's what I know and I'm good at it. My OWN riding, however, is very much Amateur in every sense of the word. I have a homebred horse, I have scant access to training, trainers, or schooling venues, and I muddle along slowly as best I can. I will get to Prelim some year, but not if they make it just a skip and a jump off an Advanced course because it's been ramped up for the Pro rider. Separate by division is one thing, but a whole separate track is ridiculous!

Nov. 5, 2007, 03:27 PM
I would join those voting no.

There are plenty of "easier" Prelim tracks for people to get their experience, they just need to choose to go there. As mentioned, the black flag options are there for a reason, perhaps the coaches aren't telling their greener people to use them? I've always found Prelim appropriate, am an amateur, and have competed over the decades in several areas. Biggest thing for me is to have a good coach and regular instruction from someone experienced at the level, not easier courses.

Nov. 5, 2007, 03:32 PM
After reflecting on this matter, I'm a little surprised. I've always been taught (and my trainers firmly believe) that you shouldn't be going prelim until you're schooling intermediate at home. This has been the rule of thumb for all of our horses BN must be schooling N, N must be schooling T, etc. Maybe we just need more responsibility among trainers and owners?

Nov. 5, 2007, 04:13 PM
Saje, I thought the exact same thing when I read the first post. Amateurs have always ridden around the same prelim courses as the pros. So why the need for an 'easier' ammy prelim division if it's the same old prelim? It has already been observed that courses are getting more and more technical. So maybe the real goal is to make prelim more of a stepping stone into the upper levels. Of course, every level is, and should be a 'stepping stone' of sorts to the next level. But each level should also be able to stand alone and be a 'destination' or goal it's self. In other words, if the only benefit of, and reason for running around a prelim course was to prep to go intermediate, prelim would cease to be a stand alone level. I'm afraid making an ammy prelim level would enable the 'real' prelim and levels above it to do just that. No! No! No! :no:

Nov. 5, 2007, 04:16 PM
What are The Powers That Be trying to accomplish with this amateur-track idea?

Prelim has always been sort of a special juncture: a goal that a motivated ammy can aspire to and reach, a seasoning ground for YRs that are the future Olympians, and a level where a lot pros are riding as well. Above prelim, the ammy is a lot rarer—it's hard fo fit in the necessary saddle time to keep the skills and reaction time honed when the rider is working a non-horse job. Attaining that skill set is a worthy goal, whether or not a rider plans to work beyond it towards intermediate or advance: it can be a stepping stone to international competition, or it can be a goal in and of itself. But don't change the skill set for prelim and dumb it down so that more people can ride there, that makes no sense.

Nov. 5, 2007, 04:19 PM
Given that I have never seen enough "declared amateurs" to even do a separate "Amateur Prelim" division, I doubt there will be enough entries to justify a separate course. Especially since so many of the amateurs (based on the input here) wouldn't WANT to do a watered down version.

Nov. 5, 2007, 04:28 PM
Another question that has to be asked - would the amateur division be required for amateurs, or elective? I wouldn't want it to be the required division, I would not be interested myself - on the other hand, if it is truly elective and there is actually enough money to do it, and enough demand to justify the expenditure, why not? I can't see any of that being there, btw, but, theoretically, I wouldn't object under those circumstances.

Nov. 5, 2007, 04:51 PM
HE!! NO, We won't go! (Am I dating myself?:cool:)
What a completely dumb and stoopit idea. If you want easy, go novice or training.
Saskatooni, I'm with you. My yellow ribbon, behind Phillip's blue and red, is way more precious than any blue in an ammy division. Besides, I ALWAYS enter the open divisions when there is a choice.
Jeekers, this idea about makes me barf...What a waste of time.

Beam Me Up
Nov. 5, 2007, 04:59 PM
I think creating a new level between existing levels (open to all or just a ammies) would be incredibly complicated logistically.

More importantly, it suggests that for ammies prelim is an end unto itself, which is not always so. Would these ammy prelims count as qualifiers for CCI*s? (If so, isn't that just postponing slightly the crash-and-burn for those unprepared). Similarly, could you run intermediate after only competing at ammy prelim (or would there become an ammy intermediate too?) And if not, could ammies run in regular prelim if they aspired to do CCI*/intermediate etc?

The fact that we are even contemplating this, though, points to some (more productive) things to consider:

- Do our existing eventing levels prepare us for each successive level, or have T and P diverged?
- Is the variance in difficulty of courses at the same level (i.e., prelim courses in Area II) too great, and if so do we need more specification for what should/shouldn't be included at each level?
- Is there evidence that ammies are less prepared for prelim now than they were in the past? (numbers, not the old "nobody knows how to ride xc anymore, they rode better in my day" stories)

I don't think we need a new level, but if careful study shows that we do, I don't see why we would restrict it to ammies.

Nov. 5, 2007, 05:24 PM
Wow. If that's what TPTB think we want, they don't know us very well do they?

If there is concern that people are moving up before they are ready, there are a host of things that could be done to address it. Why does every "solution" have to revolve around competitions?

Hopefully this is just a silly rumor. :yes:


Nov. 5, 2007, 05:38 PM
And I would really like to see a quasi-formal effort to create more move-up prep within the Training tracks. I basically stopped running training when I was getting ready to move up because the xc issues I was struggling to master were just not going to be ON any training track I knew...but if a few of the courses had had harder options, or we saw more prelim "questions" at training heights, that would have been very helpful!

Depending on where it is offered, the Training-Preliminary (TP) division mentioned earlier can be a good choice for this purpose. We offer it at Bucks County, and I try to provide at least 3 different combinations on that course (at training heights) that are much more prelim-like questions, that are not on the "regular" training course. For example, a full coffin vs. a half coffin (or a tighter distance at TP vs T if I have a full coffin on T); a bank up one stride combination, where on training it's a bank up three stride, and a big terrain question that is not on the T course (go up a steep hill, jump, slide down the back side of the steep hill, jump at the bottom). Others as they come to me :)

I will also add my voice to the "NO" column on the topic. I am extremely proud of my prelim move-up (4 seasons ago) and think that it needs to remain a truly difficult goal to maintain it's value. The sport has been dumbed down enough to accomodate people who think it's too hard, and to be "inclusive" of everyone. The sport (and especially at the higher levels) is supposed to be hard, and not everyone SHOULD be included! Sorry if that sounds harsh, but it's kind of like the test to become a firefighter. If you can't cut it (example: can't carry a 250 pound person down a ladder, but only a 150 pound person) you shouldn't be a firefighter -- period.

Now, if they talk about some sort of scheme to maintain the long format three day event for Amateurs, since the pros have all caved, then that I would be in favor of, as long as it maintained it's difficulty level.

Nov. 5, 2007, 06:26 PM
I've worked this entire year schooling Prelim to feel confident to move up. Finally I walked the Prelim course at Galway last weekend and thought.. Oh heck ya.. we can do this... I only feel that way after a year of schooling and confidence building. I'm definately at that point where running Training feels "wee" to us... He's run the Open Prelim division with my trainer successfully this year and we both are at that point that we should be able to move up with some confidence.

That being said there are better "move up" courses then others. We call Woodside out here the Prelympics because it's a HUGE prelim course. Definately not the place to do your move up. There are other more inviting straight forward courses that are better suited for you first time out.

There was a corner option on the Galway training course a year ago which was really cool for those who were about to move up. If Training courses had some Prelim techinical question options I would have been thrilled to take them to attempt the question in competition mode not just a schooling environment. Black flag options are also great ways to move up without technically overfacing yourself first time out.

When we finally run our first Prelim next year I'm going to feel like I've really accomplished a major goal for us. I certainly wouldn't want to "dumb down" that experience.

Nov. 5, 2007, 06:29 PM
Am I the only one who gets a kick out of competing with pros?

Definitely not! I love this about eventing... especially on that one magical occasion where I came out on top over an Olympian (me on my been-there-done-that horse, she on her green bean, but... still! :D)

I don't even like the rider divisions- I think there should only be Horse, Open Senior, and Open Junior divisions. IMHO, being the best of the rest just doesn't mean nearly as much.

Jeannette, formerly ponygyrl
Nov. 5, 2007, 08:32 PM
I haven't seen that blurb in Eventing, so forgive me if it really says what people are thinking it says - but I have to ask, does it really say that?

Or is it reference to the idea I have heard floated that TBTB may develop national *'s which can be destination events for those who seek to run a long format *s - without the expenses to the organizer which are involved in being an FEI sanctioned event?

Essentially, that might create an "amateur track" since the national one stars wouldn't count as qualification for further levels - but it might encourage participation in full format three days, and be a fabulous follow up to half stars.

Nov. 5, 2007, 09:32 PM
Jeanette, that sounds a lot more reasonable and interesting (not that I'd be planning to do one anytime soon, of course). :D

Are black flags just regular "option" markers, or is there something particularly special about them? I think having options (using harder fences from the level below or easier ones from the level above) is a fantastic idea pretty much at all levels. Not for every single fence, of course, but a couple of hard/quick and easy/long ones would give riders a lot more flexibility when planning move-ups. I know that different courses have different difficulty levels, but that's kind of nebulous, changing from year to year. Plus, I'd think you'd wind up needing an easy course when there are only hard ones available, and vice versa, or shipping much further away. I know adding fences is expensive, but flagging 2 or 3 fences per level as options with existing fences seems doable. I'm not at a high enough level to have an educated opinion about needing a level between Training and Prelim, but if we do, I think it should be available to everyone, the same as the other levels.

Nov. 6, 2007, 12:28 AM
Wow, imagine, I came back and found 36 responses! Ooh! Did I open a can of worms! This is very interesting reading! Keep the comments coming!
One thing that hasn't been said (very much) is the increasing technical difficulty of Preliminary and the subsequent gap between that and Training. I believe that in speaking of the amateur track they want to resolve that problem, but just guessing.
Black flag options in my opinion do very little to bridge that gap. They're too rare and inconsequential at training level anyhow to help much. I think you'd get more out of a good clinic than if you ran around looking for black flag options to teach your horse what it would need to experience.
Colliemom's T-P course is more the answer, I think. Be nice if more events could do that, and some can. I guess we have to talk a few more into it. It would be sort of adding another division but maybe it could be done on a HC basis to start. Just in Area II I can think of several major courses that could do it - Fair Hill, Loch Moy, Seneca - ? Plantation? All have both courses and variety of obstacles within those two levels that could be added onto a basic training track. Would anyone be interested in THAT option? Or is that still trip the purist's triggers?

Jazzy Lady
Nov. 6, 2007, 02:42 AM
I still don't like the idea. I dunno. I guess I'm a purist. But plenty of people have qualified and prepared for prelim and higher the "old" way. This seems like an easy way out. Not sure why, but it seems like people are putting in less preparation and expecting the same results. I know that is clearly not the case with a lot of people, but there are those out there. Prelim is a reasonable goal for most horses and riders. Bump up the training, SCHOOL prelim before upgrading, school some I before upgrading (although I'm not a fan of randomly schooling big intermediate cross fences without the adrenaline backing you up) but I don't think we need to add MORE levels. There's already 6 recognized and god knows how many below that...

Beam Me Up
Nov. 6, 2007, 09:57 AM
Retread--yes, I think the addition of a T/P level (open to all) would not upset people, and would probably be welcomed by many (I'm sure I'd enter it at some point--couldn't hurt to have that "bridge").

I think what is getting people riled up is the "amateur" designation, which not only implies that ammies won't go on to CCI* or intermediate, but also makes it harder for them to do so, if they are restricted to divisions that don't really prepare them.

Nov. 6, 2007, 10:01 AM
Hilary & Polly - Totally agree with you. Simply because you do not do this professionally, does not mean you are unable to ride the same courses as the pros. That's part of the fun! I think an ammie track would negate our efforts and abilities as ammies! A strong vote for NO.

Nov. 6, 2007, 10:11 AM
Jeannette, I can't find my mag now, but it was definitely an "amateur track" at preliminary, not at a *, that was mentioned -- and it made it sound like the idea was under serious consideration.

We've yet to unearth anyone who thinks this is a good idea!!

Colliemom, your T-P course needs to be advertised better! When I looked around for moveups, I thought those "combo" events were Prelim Dressage and SJ, and Training XC -- exactly what I didn't need. Instead I ran one prelim as a combined test and schooled the xc separately since I wasn't ready. Yours would have been perfect.

There are also plenty of courses where the T and P tracks run parallel in many places -- you could set up a system where your "T/P" competitors would be allowed to jump the prelim version of specific fences, either going as HC or going in a division of their own -- this would not require additional course set up (except for a few flags).

Nov. 6, 2007, 10:40 AM
Are black flags just regular "option" markers, or is there something particularly special about them? . While they are calld "black flag", they are really marked by a black stripe on the regular (red and white) "flags".

They just indicate an "option" at that fence number.

Nov. 6, 2007, 10:45 AM
It comes back to that bit that was written in the USEA mag a few years ago, there are Young Riders and Pros. And then there are the Adult Amateurs...

Nov. 6, 2007, 11:55 AM
I think a lot of you are missing what the problems are.

First off it's NOT a "dumbing down" of Prelim. The average prelim courses are much more difficult than they have ever been. As an example take a jump placed in the water--water on take off and landing. Ten or fifteen years ago it was considered a championship caliber question for Intermediate or Advanced. Today it's pretty common at Prelim (and I've even seen some idiots who think it's appropriate to school at novice.) I think they're trying to hold the line on the difficulty. What's interesting is while not letting the level continue to get too difficult to be accessible, they still want to allow the level to get more difficult. (Methinks someone needs to make a decision about what it is they want...)

The second thing that's happening is that as we make fence design safer and safer riders are having "oh $hi*" moments that leave no evidence other than new gray hairs on the fence judge. The fences are harder to jump well, but much more forgiving of mistakes. These are mistakes that even a few years ago would have resulted in a face plant and a change in schooling, plans and goals for the next six months. Today they are lost in the euphoria of a "clean round" as a "bobble," and their importance are not picked up upon. So we're getting unprepared horse and rider combos making the biggest jump in difficulty. It used to be that the "bobbers" became apparent at Intermediate where the attitude is a little more professional/hard core/take your lumps kinda place. Today the bobbers are showing up and scaring the bejesus out of spectators at Preliminary which is something of a kinder and gentler version of the upper levels, so it's really concerning some folks.

Personally, I think developing a different amateur XC for Prelim is stupid and expensive. If they would decide what the standards for each level should be then stick with it it would be a great start.

But the single biggest problem is the line in the Omnibus: "Courses average difficulty for horses with experience at the level." How worthless, does anybody really have any idea what that means? If the TPTB would come up with a meaningful way to rate courses--especially Training courses--within a single division I think a lot of these problems would begin to be addressed. Say there were 3 or 4 course ratings. The harder courses could start to fill some of the gap between T and P. Competitors could do a much better job of preparing themselves to move up or give their horse a less difficult run for confidence building. It would also be very conceivable that a single event could run two different type courses of Training at the same event. It would also be much more appealing for a big program to bring the green-at-the-level and the working-on-moving-up horses to the same event and everybody gets the type of run they need. That's what England has by virtue of all the events being in close proximity, local knowledge. Thus the ability to run the type of course the horse needs when the horse needs it. If I have 10 events within 2 hours I know all those courses probably first hand, but here I just can't know the courses that are 10+ hours away.

Nov. 6, 2007, 12:25 PM
In short, no bad, unimplementable idea.

In the longer version ;),

If, as is said in Kyra's intro in the latest eventing mag, this idea is in response to concern from trainers that prelim courses are too technical for some riders and their (the trainer's) young horses, then why can't we just "fix" preliminary? It's not supposed to be "intermediate at 3'7", it's supposed to be preliminary, a stepping stone. If the courses need to be more galloping, then why can't we do that without altering the fabric of time and space and levels?

I would also add, as a recent transpalnt from east to west, out here anyway the training courses are definately more technical, especially as compared to novice. To the point where I'd almost say the jump from Novice to training is getting as tough as the one from training to prelim. It was kind of funny, but at the last HT as I was walking the novice I came upon a spot where the N fence 14 and the T fence 14 were side by side. The difference could not have been more startling. Novice was like a 2'9 house, about 15 feet wide, the training was a maximum height, width, and maximally narrow face (so quite narrow by comparison) square bale rivetted with logs. It looked like jumps from two different sports, LOL.

I agree we need to really think critically about course design at this very crucial level. But this idea doesn't fix it.

Nov. 6, 2007, 01:03 PM
I would also add, as a recent transpalnt from east to west, out here anyway the training courses are definately more technical, especially as compared to novice. To the point where I'd almost say the jump from Novice to training is getting as tough as the one from training to prelim.

I too recently moved from east to west, and I too thought this. I did a few prelims a few years ago back east, and have done lots of novice and training. I walked around the prelim and training courses out here and just about had a heart attack. I thought alot of the P jumps were actually on the Intermediate course until I saw the green flags, and then I stood in front of them going :eek::eek::eek:! I do want to do prelim and a 1-star with my 4-yr old some day, but... my god they were huge.

Nov. 6, 2007, 02:53 PM
SUBK or anyone in the know--why don't they provide a point system for the xc (and maybe even stadium) jumps? Would it really be that hard to do? I mean, straightforward fences would get x amount of points, ditches/coffin complexes xx amount, etc. That way if you go to an unfamiliar event you can see the "rated" amount of questions appropriate for that level. Heck they should even give a terrain rating..flat, mostly flat, etc gets X amount of points.

Making a separate P course for amateurs is ridiculous. Most events here are struggling to survive, and to ask them to put in yet another course with specific requirements is just not going to happen, especially when that AP division would not even fill. What I would vote for is better information when choosing where/when to go P. Many of us have horses on the cusp and would like to be better informed, and therefore better prepared. Right now most of them read "moderate difficulty for this level" what the heck does that mean?


Nov. 6, 2007, 03:03 PM
I am an amateur and I did my first prelim last May at age 39. It took a lot of work to get my horse ready. She is not quick footed and tight turns and combos are hard for her. But, she learned the stuff and I learned to ride her so that she could do it. She is a safer horse and we are a better pair because it was HARD to learn those skills.

I do not think that a seperate track for amateurs is a good idea, partly because, if you can't ride the technical stuff, you probably should not be galloping 3'7" cross country jumps anyways. Now that I have done the work that makes my horse safe and solid to ride over the technical prelim stuff, I think the maxed-out oxer in the middle of a flat field is easy. I did not think a jump like that looked easy when we were competing at Training level and not yet doing the work to move to prelim.

I agree with all the other arguments stated above as well.

I also think that the levels overall have increased in difficulty over the last few years, but since they added BN, who cares? There is a place for everyone in the current system. No need to separate out us po' folks who have to work at desks for a living :)

Carol Ames
Nov. 6, 2007, 03:13 PM
maybe the USEA should focus more on the developing rider program?

just a thought. That program is necessarily for amateurs , but for those likely to ride on the TEAM at the Olympics,WEG or Pan Ams, not really what most people mean by :amateur"

Nov. 6, 2007, 05:17 PM
I agree exactly with what nancy said about learning to go prelim -- I could not believe how the "big simple fences" became so doable once we had the skills to jump the technical things (note, this does NOT include your big mean ditch and walls and trakheners, still got a thing for them :eek:).

We should fill this gap some other way. Lots have been suggested here.
I personally would like to have a move-up qualifier category of Training courses -- more technical, and with some fences AT prelim height (simpler ones) -- you must complete without xc OR time faults (at 470) so many of these before you move up.

Nov. 6, 2007, 06:36 PM
SUBK or anyone in the know--why don't they provide a point system for the xc...
I'm hardly "in the know"--just been rotting around for ever and have a big mouth...

But it doesn't happen because it would be harder than you think. First off no system would be completely reliable. There a always new fences that no one is really sure how they'll ride, or fences that will change depending on conditions that can't be predicted. It's one more thing that would lead to complaints to the organizers.

Second of all the cynic in me says that the only ones who will benefit (or perhaps get the most benefit) would be the amateurs, so that makes a rating system very unlikely to find favor with TPTB. If organizers thought that giving more information about their courses would benefit the event they'd already be doing it--nothing is stopping them now! Many, I'm sure think that if you say a course is either hard or easy it eliminates some competitors from coming. "Average" or "Moderate" appeals to everyone which is why it's the description of choice regardless of the truth. Trainers/BNR don't benefit from a rating system either. They are the one's who are now the most likely to be "in the know" about different courses, and that knowledge is part of their salable commodity. I know I've spent the bucks to walk with someone only because they are already familiar with a course!

Perhaps the biggest road block would be that someone would actually have to decide what the standards should be at each level in a very practical and more specific fashion. One of the reasons we're at the point we are is because there is an underlying disagreement as to how to interpret the standards we've already got--some TDs say it's ok if the obstacle in question is not specifically eliminated in the standards others say it's only ok if it is specifically allowed. (Like your civics class--a little loose vs. strict constructionism going on...)

Nov. 6, 2007, 06:46 PM
In addition to what subk says about the course ratings, I think the difficulty is very personal. I know of one course that alot of people - amateurs - like for a move-up, but I know of several professionals who would never move a horse up at that course because the footing is often bad. Depending on the kind of horse you have and the kind of rider you are, you may find gallopy harder than technical and vice versa. Those are just the obvious examples that jump to mind. I would really, really love better course descriptions myself, but I am willing to bet that if courses were actually rated, there would be a lot of complaints from riders who disagree with the ratings. Whether or not a course is hard, etc. is pretty personal - it's not just about standards, it is about your personal comfort zone, to a large degree.

Nov. 6, 2007, 08:48 PM
Course ratings from an organizer's standpoint scare them to death. What if your course you have worked on to make exhibitor friendly for years gets a "tough" rating and the kids and adult amateurs who have supported your event for decades decide after reading the Omnibus page to try the competing event with a more favorable description on the same dates. Or you have spent many bucks and brought in top course designers to build you the Next Coming Course and you get a "mild" rating, and all the BNT's you have been schmoozing evaporate in favor of trying a tougher event to get their upper level horses ready. Courses are lots of times an organizer's baby. Boy I do not envy whomsoever gets THAT job of defining ratings and deciding on descriptions. Isn't there some way to use course stats from previous years -- length, number of efforts, number of ABC's combinations, speed, number of finishers (broken down by jr, sr, horse or however the event divides sections), number of eliminations, number of retirements, number of horses receiving time faults. Would those figures, taken as a group, show trends and therefore allow for some factual definition?
I can't give an example as I don't have the figures, the USEA would, but if I were looking for a move up course from Training to Prelim, and had a choice between an event whose prelim course completed 80 percent of starters as opposed to one with only 67 percent, that would be a stat I could use to decide. hm?

Nov. 6, 2007, 10:22 PM
Maybe informally, even on this bb, we can rate the area events we've been to at the end of each year, recommending which ones are move-ups and which are max, in each poster's humble opinion.

Nov. 7, 2007, 10:40 AM
I understand what everyone is saying about rating, but what if it was done completely impersonally? In other words, if a trakehener was worth x points, a ditch x points, etc.? Retread, I like the idea of past statistics. Maybe that would be the way to go. There are not simple answers but making yet another (possibly dumbed down) course for AP is not a good solution, IMHO.

Here's another thought...aren't options on fences done specifically for this reason? If so, should there be more of them?


Nov. 7, 2007, 10:46 AM
Someone had a site for rating/describing events - I'll have to see if I can find the bookmark for it on my other computer. IIRC, most of the ones that were on there are on the East Coast, but anyone can add an event they've been to. I think they posted it here before the s/w change, so I didn't bother searching for it.

Nov. 7, 2007, 10:57 AM
I think the problem with personal (non-objective) ratings is just that, they're subjective. I know some people who say the Fork is a GREAT move-up to Training; and it is if you're not afraid of some maxed out (but fair and gallopy) fences and your horse, even though maybe a little green, is game.

The other (and possibly bigger) problem is courses change. This makes looking both at past stats and personal accounts difficult. Look at the descriptions that were given just within the past month of the Training course for Virginia Horse Trials. While there was some range to the comments, I would say the overall feel was "easy, perfect move-up course." As someone who just rode that course, I can tell you that they bumped it up a notch this year. It was a lovely course, and it asked fair questions for the level, but I don't know that I would call it "easy" or a move-up course.

I don't really have an answer to either of these, the two problems have a direct relationship with each other; each one making the other impossible.

Nov. 7, 2007, 11:08 AM
1st: My mention of the developing riders was merely suggesting that the USEA has better ways to utilize their money.

This idea is in response to concern from trainers that prelim courses are too technical for some riders and their (the trainer's) young horses, then why can't we just "fix" preliminary? It's not supposed to be "intermediate at 3'7", it's supposed to be preliminary, a stepping stone. If the courses need to be more galloping, then why can't we do that without altering the fabric of time and space and levels?

As for the trainers: If the riders cannot tackle a Prelim course then they should just stay at Training Level. That’s why the USEA has LEVELS!
And God forbid trainers give their 5 and 6 year olds more mileage and experience before moving them up to Prelim.
There are schooling shows for just these purposes...and YES, we actually have PRELIM level at schooling shows down here. I would hope it is the same for all areas.
That my friends, is your dumbed down prelim course. We have had one all along.

I thought the idea of rating courses was fantastic. But when I think about it more deeply, would I really pay attention to ratings? NO. I would ask around. What is on this course, which courses did you like? And base my move up on that.

Nov. 7, 2007, 11:14 AM
I went back and read the article. They are talking about a "more gallopy, less technical" version of BOTH Training AND PRelim.

Nov. 7, 2007, 11:25 AM
Okay, here's a thought.
At all levels, instead of attempting to describe your course and thinking you have the best course that you know you are going to build and design for the next year, we have a division.
A division called N/T, T/P, P/I where the dr and sj are at the higher level. The x-c is a bit of the lower level and a bit higher level. The score doesn't count towards a 3 day or championship.
I still believe our answer to the move up question is to have black flag options. How friggin' hard is it to stick a rolltop to the side of a big technical question? So a rider choses to use the rolltop and get time penalties?

My first prelim was at VA. They had options. When heading down to the water, I walked both ways. We had decided I was going to take the option, a big brush into the water. Well, we were doing so good, albeit slower than molasses, that I did the chevron, broken line, chevron. And so it was MY decision to do the harder option. We were on and having a grand time so why the heck not?
And yep, I'm insulted at the amateur track thing. Points and awards, yes.

Nov. 7, 2007, 11:34 AM
Lisa, I agree. It seems to me that the Black Flag options are currently the best solution to this, and starting to introduce them earlier rather than later is a great idea.

Hell, they even had one at Virginia this past weekend on the training course. There was a "faux" corner at 7 that was a direct (nicely gallopy) line from your hanging log at 6. If you didn't feel comfortable with the corner, you had the option of looping around and taking a roll top, which was SUPER simple, but did eat up a lot of time.

It gave the rider the power to make that decision. Were you going to (easily) make time taking the option? no. Was that going to make you less competitive? Yes, but as a greenie in their first outing I'm hoping that a safe clean ride is the first priority, and not a ribbon.