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fargonefarm
Nov. 18, 2007, 06:00 PM
The recent tragedies in our sport have gotten me to thinking lately about questions of prevention and safety - something we all have been thinking about I'm sure. In my own riding lesson this morning something struck me that I hope that I can express in words so that it's understandable.
I ride Dressage with an older gentleman who got his start in Hunter/Jumpers and trained with some of the bigger names in that sport before transitioning to Dressage. We decided it would be a good time to start my 4 year old OTTB over fences to give his brain something else to do and also to improve his hind-end function. Mind you, I have always trained with Eventing trainers and all of my jumping instruction has come from that "genre" if you will. I have gleaned techniques and knowledge from them that I now pass along to my own students. I have always known that in the Hunter/Jumper world certain things are done differently than in Eventing, but today I was really struck by something.
My trainer set the placing rail exactly 9 feet from the base of the 2'5" vertical we were jumping. When I - and every trainer I have worked with (and they are BNT's) set placing rails, they tend to be much closer to the fence, as in about 6 feet from the base.
Thus my trainer and I engaged in a rather enlightening conversation about why this is. I have always felt that in an effort to get my horses to bring their hind ends more underneath themselves to the jump, having the placing rail closer helps. He feels that at the standard H/J 9ft. placement, the horse can use it's whole body and stride more. He also mentioned that this is a trend (the closer rail) that has happened more recently. It struck me because in a few of the recent accidents the horse has been described as "not being to get it's legs up in time."

Now of course I am not stupid and I am not naive enough to think that a silly little rail signifies the breakdown of proper training in eventing. But it does bring to mind the issue of training trends in modern Eventing and whether or not some of the blame for recent accidents can be blamed. Mind you - I'm not saying they can. I just thought it was an interesting question.

In your opinions as participants in this sport, do you think certain training trends - even something as simple as jumping exercises - can be partially to blame for certain problems in our sport.

I just think that instead of blaming fence construction, or God forbid blaming horse and/or rider (and shame on you who did that in Eleonor's thread!), we should address our own training issues as a more productive means of finding answers.

c_expresso
Nov. 18, 2007, 06:10 PM
I don't think training is necessarily the answer either. I was talking to a friend last night about the sad events of yesterday, and we both agreed that it isn't a coincidence that the adoption of the short format and all of these awful accidents seemed to happen at the same time.

Jazzy Lady
Nov. 18, 2007, 06:13 PM
I have heard that the table the accident occured at was very square and very similar in construction as the table the other fatality occured at there. Just heresay though. I still think fence design needs some more thought. There was 5 corners on that course. Why do you need that?

wabadou
Nov. 18, 2007, 07:11 PM
There was a recent discussion on this board regarding all the corners on courses now. Ralph's accident at Poplar Place occurred at a triple corner combination and his horse, too, was not able to get both of his legs up. I believe it was at the 2nd element in the 3 corner combination, Reprint hung one leg and at that speed with that much momentum, it was very nearly fatal.

North Dakota
Nov. 18, 2007, 10:00 PM
My current coach taught me 9' and for some even a bit farther out.

I can't really weigh in the new short format course design, but 5 corners seems like a lot. With 5 corners plus whatever other technical stuff was on the course, won't that make coming in near the time even more challenging? and maybe more dangerous?

JSwan
Nov. 18, 2007, 10:23 PM
I think eventing has been the most progressive, forward thinking, and focused on safety and competence than all the other sports combined.

Whether it is course design, medical and veterinary personnel, research on conditioning and recovery, organization of events and trials, judging, eventing has been among the first, if not the first, horse sport to implement safety precautions, as well as trying to ensure riders and horses are qualified to enter certain levels of competition.


But nobody can overcome the laws of physics. At least not yet.

Sometimes, an accident happens even though everyone, including the rider and horse, worked and made every attempt to ensure they were prepared and safe.

fernie fox
Nov. 18, 2007, 10:32 PM
nowadays.

Gone are the lovely galloping courses,of big fly fences and honest questions.:D

I do not like what I see in modern eventing.:no:

They might as well "bottle it" and set up courses in indoor arenas and rename the sport as something else.:(

I never thought I would see the day,one had to walk the cross country with a coach to explain how to ride each fence.:confused:

piccolittle
Nov. 18, 2007, 10:56 PM
While I don't like the idea of 5 corners on any course, I really don't think more technical courses (per se) are to blame for these accidents. After all, at Ocala both Amanda's and Eleanor's accidents happened at big, square tables- those "galloping fences" we lament the demise of. I think the placing rail question is very interesting! As an eventer, I'm being taught to "love the deep spot" as many trainers tell me it's safer and easier for the horse to jump from. But aren't the most dangerous accidents from rotational falls? Like with the traditional coffin format where the horse would hang knees and rotate- but not usually if they catch their hind legs? So over these big tables I can expect we're still treating them like big galloping fences, coming in at speed, but the "technical" training we're getting tells us to get closer and closer to the base- and a rotational fall at that speed is, as has sadly been proven, deadly. I only do Novice/Training at the moment, but I just realized that may be how I've been riding- favoring the short distance out of a gallop rather than the flyer.

This is so interesting- thanks for bringing this up! I think, rather than jumping in to defend or attack the modern format or the sport, we should just think about the physics of the training we're getting, and how perhaps it's changed in recent years.

WindWillowStable
Nov. 19, 2007, 12:04 AM
This is my opinion (you can skip the first paragraph unless you care to know my background)...

I have been in jumper land for 7 years now but before leaving the "dark side" I competed through intermediate as a young rider...I had an intermediate horse and a prelim horse. I love eventing and I miss it terribly; so eventing is what I love to talk about, I love to watch and I still volunteer at events (including the Florida Horse Park...though I wasn't there this weekend)..not to mention I hardly ever read the hunter/jumper forums on here, just the eventing threads. I guess you can say that I event through reading everyones stories on here.

What I have noticed is that I don't feel like the courses are as natural looking as they used to be...Every course I did back when I was doing young riders had courses that really flowed and the jumps seemed natural...how cross country jumps should be. I notice more now that there is a lot more for horses to look at and even the most experienced horse might balk at something that really sticks out at them. Not to mention the amount of spectators has grown (which I'm not complaining about...but it adds to what a horse has to look at). It seems as though on the courses I watch today that every jump has a question, there aren't many "easy" jumps (i.e. 5 corners on 1 course). Now I could easily be completely wrong with that observation given the fact I have been jumping jumps that fall for the past 7 years...so maybe I have just turned into a big chicken...lol!


What I am about to say is not in Eleanor Brennen's case at all because she seems to have been a very competent rider who had way more experience than I have had (I just wanted to clarify before I continue)! -----but when I have jump judged in the past couple of years I have seen many riders that had no business being at the levels they were at, they just had horses that were capable of doing it...those are the riders that I am always scared to see go around a course because riding at the uppers levels takes a lot more than a horse that can jump...it takes being able to ride, a brain and maturity to make last minute decisions even if it means you don't get around clean...too many riders kick on in an unsafe situation because they don't want to have a stop. I think that trainers need to educate lower level riders and those that have hopes on doing the upper levels on when to say whoa and when to say go because I see way too many saying go! I was amazed last winter when I jump judged at the Florida horse trials and I saw so many riders try to take a prelim fence out of stand still, instead of circling and reapproaching the fence, they yelled and whooped and kicked and anything else that may make the horse jump a big solid fence in a sticky situation...did some of the horses jump it - yes...but they also scraped their entire body over the fence just to clear it.

The truth is though freak accidents are going to happen in every sport and because of the internet we hear details about every accident. When you are an eventer you know the risks and I know everyone is willing to take those risks because it's fun, we love it and it keeps the adrenaline pumping.... I just hope that hearing about bad accidents will help someone else make smarter decisions out on course.

snoopy
Nov. 19, 2007, 06:54 AM
[QUOTE=piccolittle;2812706]While I don't like the idea of 5 corners on any course, I really don't think more technical courses (per se) are to blame for these accidents. After all, at Ocala both Amanda's and Eleanor's accidents happened at big, square tables- QUOTE]


Interesting that this mistake was at the END of the course when the horse may have been mentally fatigued from all the technical fences on course...this is when mistakes happen and it gets dangerous. I personally am not for riding very deep spots to fences that do not come down...especially on a mentally and physically tired horse.

snoopy
Nov. 19, 2007, 06:58 AM
[QUOTE=WindWillowStable;2812819]
What I have noticed is that I don't feel like the courses are as natural looking as they used to be...Every course I did back when I was doing young riders had courses that really flowed and the jumps seemed natural...how cross country jumps should be. I notice more now that there is a lot more for horses to look at and even the most experienced horse might balk at something that really sticks out at them.
QUOTE]


I will have to say that there have been many a time that I was very distracted by all "the eye candy" that is today's fences and the landscaping surrounding them.....at least as a rider I had the luxury of being able to take as much time as I needed to process it all....our horses do not have this luxury.:(

piccolittle
Nov. 19, 2007, 07:19 AM
Hmmm....

I don't want to sound snarky, but I can't really tell how this is going to sound over the internet, so if it sounds awful let me know...

I don't know why so many of us jump on the "short format" hatewagon whenever anything like this happens. Maybe this is ignorant of me, but how is a short format ** (I can never remember which is which) different from a regular old Intermediate or Advanced HT (besides jogs etc)? At Advanced the fences are harder but no one claims that the lack of a steeplechase and roads and tracks is what causes accidents at a horse trials. I agree, mental or physical fatigue is probably the answer. Amanda's fall was just past the middle of the course. It was probably a bad distance. But it was a Prelim HT at a table, so I don't think the anti-short format argument applies at all.

Someone mentioned that eventing fatalities are going down. I see that completely. Watching those old eventing tapes I can say I haven't seen anything like some of that stuff on a course in years, and I certainly think courses today are safer than those of years past.

But maybe technical courses are making us ride backwards? I'm getting used to taking back and "showjumping" so much stuff out there that when it gets big and scary again I sometimes panic and lose my distance. But that's just me, at Training level.

LisaB
Nov. 19, 2007, 08:31 AM
Maybe we ought to re-think tables and their construction? I know my instructor nearly had a fatal accident at So. Pines over a large Int. table that had astroturf on it. Supposedly, many horses did fine at it but her horse mis-judged it and thought it was a bank because of the green stuff on top. He slid across it. Needless to say, the horse didn't make it and is over the rainbow bridge.:no:
The only accident I had on x-c was a double set of tables. It was a rather ridiculous course in that everything was really dinky and then wham! 2 large tables on a bending line with no ground line. We hopped over the first, I thought we had enough umph to get over the 2nd but didn't. He hooked a leg and I went flying.
I think tables should be re-looked at. The shadows underneath really wreck havoc on understanding the take off. I'm not saying 'dumbing down' but re-looking at them. Like we really don't see triple ascending bars going into water anymore because horses will hook a leg rather easily and what purpose does that serve when a ramp or log is safer and still asks the question.

LisaB
Nov. 19, 2007, 08:35 AM
Oh yeah, about the OP's question :D
For us, it depends on what we are trying to accomplish about pole placement. Shoot, Winston has got such long strides we were 10 and 12 ft from take off. But then again, he's got a killer front end and we want to move his back end more. He has a habit of basically sitting on his hind and letting it not go anywhere and then just ripping his knees up.
Then we would place poles really short to get him to 'dance' because then he would like to just plain leave a stride out, jump over the height of the standards and land just as nice as he could be. Made for some fun bounce work (or as he liked, wide oxers).

c_expresso
Nov. 19, 2007, 08:40 AM
Hmmm....

I don't want to sound snarky, but I can't really tell how this is going to sound over the internet, so if it sounds awful let me know...

I don't know why so many of us jump on the "short format" hatewagon whenever anything like this happens. Maybe this is ignorant of me, but how is a short format ** (I can never remember which is which) different from a regular old Intermediate or Advanced HT (besides jogs etc)? At Advanced the fences are harder but no one claims that the lack of a steeplechase and roads and tracks is what causes accidents at a horse trials.

Umm... there is a HUGE difference between the old and new format and it has nothing whatsoever to do with the jog. There are still jogs before the competition and then before SJ on day 3.

I am not even a real short format hater either, I can just see why it might cause problems. I can also see why the long format can cause problems, and why it is more taxing physically on a horse.

However, with the long format, the horse gets a nice long chance to warm up [A]. Then he warms up over fences with steeple chase. The fences are straightforward and relatively "easy" so the horse can blow off a little steam here while warming up o/f [B]. Then he has time to cool down on roads/tracks again [C] before heading to XC [D]. By the time he gets to XC he is fully warmed up, has blown off excess energy, and is ready to focus for the more technical jumping phase. With the short format, I know a lot of riders will emulate the long format in their warm up, but still it is hard to have the same effect. When I was talking to my friend the other day she told me how she had read somewhere how Kim Severson said it was really hard to get Dan to settle down for XC without the other phases at the last Olympics. Obviously they figured it out but that is one of the best/most experienced pairs in all of the horse world.

Just food for thought.

About the deep distances thing... my trainer [ridden at 4* level] always tells me to take the short spots, when show jumping. It is easier and safer for the horse to chip in out of a stadium canter than launch from very far out. Granted that this deep distance is supported by the rider [a;ways ride forward to short distances!]. On XC you should have enough of a gallop/rhythm that your horse jumps out of stride and can more easily take a long spot. Obviously if you are riding a combination, you will have more of a show jump canter and should take a smaller distance.

Jazzy Lady
Nov. 19, 2007, 09:54 AM
I have a problem with square tables. I hate them. I love a beautiful ascending table that you can gallop. There was a table at Richland on the prelim course. It was basically a square top and that was it. No sides. It had a few logs under it that stuck out an inch. What a miserable jump. It was wide, but I have a clever horse so I could show jump it. And I did. I had him more collected than I ever would have for a table, but it was nasty. I'm suprised there were no accidents at it.

luveventing
Nov. 19, 2007, 10:11 AM
I know of more nasty falls and fatalities from square tables that I even like to think about. Its been an ongoing issue since at least the 90s when I started eventing. NO ONE likes walking up to a big square table with very little ground line. it truly is a recipe for disaster and leave so little margin of error for horse and rider. Add in any kind of speed and you have a nasty rotational fall. They can at least ramp them a BIT to give the horses a little more of a chance. There are plenty of other questions to ask horses and riders these days than to set them up for failure at a big square table.

Fergs
Nov. 19, 2007, 10:16 AM
I must be partially insane, because I'd rather gallop to a large square table than have to jump any kind of vertical on XC. Getting too deep to a vertical (especially at any decent speed) is probably the worst feeling on earth. (Needless to say that I'm in love with the long spot and my showjumping is atrocious....)

But to go back to the placement rail question, I always set mine at about 6-7 feet. In my experience it teaches them to rock back on their hocks more, encouraging them to jump around the fence rather than flat and across.

beeblebrox
Nov. 19, 2007, 01:16 PM
Placement poles for trot poles to jumps can be anywhere from very short for ponies but 9 feet is not to long to get a horse to use his rear!

WHAT I SEE AND THIS DRIVES ME CRAZY IS a lot of trainers or instructors will set shorter and shorter trot poles to a fence because the horse is not off the leg and has to reach at 8-9 feet. These are horses I see in warm up rings or around in other rings who have a 12 foot canter step but so NOT off the leg when it comes to exercises that they are catered to which is JUST as dangerous! INstead of stepping away from the jump and working on 9 foot trot rails the trainer just keeps making the rail shorter to accommodate the weak step.

I am not referring to horses with short steps due to physical limitations (older, breed related, medical, etc) but horses who can have and make 12 foot steps in a line without running should be able to trot over a 9 foot rail to a xrail or 3 foot jump and use their butts. Obviously I have some school horses with physical issues who do not do 9 feet and the horses I am referring to are nice strided horses who just suck behind the leg. I agree you can play with pole placement to enhance a jump but careful your doing it for the right reason and not just teaching a horse to sit because they have no choice with no room, They should coil because the step came from behind not because they bunch up on the other side of a short set pole. I have seen a life time of people teaching horses to jump over the shoulder from poor pole placement as the horse tries to re group and pops and then you hear the instructor shout with glee "GREAT he really used himself" BS he bunched and popped!

Of course green beans can be anywhere from 7 to 10 while they learn to manage their strung out big or tentative steps.

pegasusmom
Nov. 19, 2007, 01:48 PM
[quote=LisaB;2813044]Maybe we ought to re-think tables and their construction? I know my instructor nearly had a fatal accident at So. Pines over a large Int. table that had astroturf on it. Supposedly, many horses did fine at it but her horse mis-judged it and thought it was a bank because of the green stuff on top. He slid across it. Needless to say, the horse didn't make it and is over the rainbow bridge.:no:

Just to clarify - that accident took place on a structure with an ascending face, not a square table. Those fences, called The Garden Steps, have an excellent track record for "jumpability". I'd be glad to go pull the records to back up my feeble memory, but I can recall only two incidents - the one in which your instructor's horse was injured and one refusal. There is also a back rail on the back edge, and all of the rails on the steps are painted white for high visibility.

Fence2Fence
Nov. 19, 2007, 01:58 PM
They might as well "bottle it" and set up courses in indoor arenas and rename the sport as something else.:(



I'm afraid they are called Jumping Derbies.

JER
Nov. 19, 2007, 02:06 PM
all of the rails on the steps are painted white for high visibility

High visibility -- for the rider that is.

A horse in motion doesn't discern white as quickly as more natural colors like brown or green. White tends to surprise a horse -- they see it later/closer to the fence. (There are a number of studies on this, including some done by fencing companies.)

This highlights a big problem in fence design, IMO, that fences are designed for rider visibility rather than horse visibility which is just plain wrong when it's the rider who gets to walk the course.

A solid table is unforgiving. Perhaps a 'crumple zone' give a bit of a safety zone in case of an accident. IIRC, the testing that went into the frangible pin development indicated that just a small amount of give in a solid fence would prevent rotational falls.

Accidents will always happen but when you're riding at speed toward a big, solid obstacle, any mishap will fall under the category of 'low probability-high catastrophe' -- there aren't a lot of rotational falls but rotational falls, according to the FEI, have about a 30% mortality/serious injury rate for the rider. That is not a forgiving statistic.

pwynnnorman
Nov. 19, 2007, 02:20 PM
I know of more nasty falls and fatalities from square tables that I even like to think about. Its been an ongoing issue since at least the 90s when I started eventing. NO ONE likes walking up to a big square table with very little ground line. it truly is a recipe for disaster and leave so little margin of error for horse and rider. Add in any kind of speed and you have a nasty rotational fall. They can at least ramp them a BIT to give the horses a little more of a chance. There are plenty of other questions to ask horses and riders these days than to set them up for failure at a big square table.

(Bold face added by me.)

I think that is the simple crux of this matter. I'm of the opinion that the tragedies have nothing whatsoever to do with anything other than the fact that people and horses make mistakes and some jumps are more forgiving than others. If it were possible to test for a rider's ability to get a horse down to the correct distance and then qualify riders to compete based on that fact, there'd probably be far fewer tragedies--but then, there'd also be almost no riders moving up since everyone misses sometimes.

FYI, I did a "study" on approaches to fly fences and have posted 19 video clips on YouTube now. I taped the approaches because I wanted to return to the "backward riding" topic and record what was out there. Easiest way to find them all is to find the first and then click on "more" from "me" to list the others. [NOTE: Strictly coincidentally, these were taken at the second to last fence on the courses--yes, the table.]

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AnwQsXS6wfI

cyberbay
Nov. 19, 2007, 02:39 PM
One of the reasons eventing conducts more studies than other eq. sports (outside of racing) is that it needs to. It appears to have more fatalities, more severe injuries, etc., than hunters/jumpers (the other jumping discipline, again outside of racing).

I agree with other posters. The margin of error is so slim with some obstacles on so many courses, with no reasonable chance of survival beyond luck shuold something go wrong. This needs to change.

Jazzy Lady
Nov. 19, 2007, 02:49 PM
I don't think tables need to be re-thought, I think SQUARE tables need to be re-thought. I have seen plenty a lovely angled face but HUGE table jump from a bad distance without accident. When you take away the ability for the horse to clear them with their upper arm and knee with a square face, you are asking for a rotational fall in the event of an honest horse who goes from a too tight distance. This is what happens in the case of a square face. I don't care if it's painted white.

By adding a crushable portion I think you may be asking for more problems. The fences have to be strong enough to support the weight of a horse in the event of a horse banking a fence (my horse tends to bank fences that have sod on them, no matter how narrow they are, but he's really clever about it). How far would you go with the crushable portion? If they hit it with their knee, you are still asking for a degree of rotation as that part of the fence needs to withstand hoof ticks and what not.

But why do you need an upright face on a wide obstacle?

piccolittle
Nov. 19, 2007, 02:59 PM
Umm... there is a HUGE difference between the old and new format and it has nothing whatsoever to do with the jog. There are still jogs before the competition and then before SJ on day 3.


Sorry that I came off wrong. Feel free to correct if I'm still getting things bungled. I meant, not the difference between the long and short format, but the difference, say, in actual difficulty between a ** (an FEI level Intermediate short format) and an Advanced horse trials that does not have any endurance phases before cross country. Yes, the FEI level competition has vet checks, jogs, etc, but the Advanced horse trials (not FEI) is more difficult, is it not? And yet people don't point to accidents at regular horse trials and claim the lack of phases A, B, and C caused them. That's my issue with short format critics.

Sorry, I know this belongs in an entirely different discussion, but I just wanted to clarify.

(FYI, the reason I used Advanced is because, I think, an Advanced horse trials cross country course is comparable in some way to a **, while there is no regular horse trials that can compare realistically in difficulty with a *** and **** if they are meant to be slightly more difficult than regular Advanced.) Whew. Sorry again.

Hony
Nov. 19, 2007, 03:14 PM
I must be partially insane, because I'd rather gallop to a large square table than have to jump any kind of vertical on XC. Getting too deep to a vertical (especially at any decent speed) is probably the worst feeling on earth. (Needless to say that I'm in love with the long spot and my showjumping is atrocious....)



Definitely the worst feeling is hitting an upright on the wrong stride but it is not likely to kill you which a giant table might be.

Hony
Nov. 19, 2007, 03:15 PM
Pwynn - I watched all 19 videos and the thing that stands out is that the riders who got to the table by riding backwards, as in front to back rather than back to front, had trouble. It didn't seem to matter if the rider was sitting or standing up to the fence but the quality of the canter made a big difference.

fargonefarm
Nov. 19, 2007, 03:38 PM
I think that we can discuss different forms of fence construction all we want, but if a general conclusion were to be made, then what? Do we change all of the courses around the country? The world? And let's remember that a lot of these fences have been around for quite some time, so obviously there is more to this issue than how fences are designed and which ones are used.
I'm trying to ascertain whether or not there is a general trend in our training that could be leading to some of the problems that we are experiencing in our sport. Are we missing something in the building blocks that lead us through the upper levels in the sport?

Jazzy Lady
Nov. 19, 2007, 03:56 PM
Maybe... but that's hard to say. How do we know that the riders who have had accidents are missing a part of their training? An accident is such. An accident.

I hope as riders that we practice the imperfect and we train ourselves and our horses to react in different situations. Our horses should know how to react in a short distance, in a long and optimum, because I don't care who you are, there are no riders that never miss a distance.

RAyers
Nov. 19, 2007, 04:10 PM
Due to the short format, I see little difference between the FEI and HT levels at competitions. I have ridden 2-star courses that were easier than the HT course and Intermediate courses that asked 3-star questions. There are now SO many ideas what these new upper level courses are supposed to be/do that there is no consistancy between course designers.

I have also seen Advanced courses that are not much different than a 3-star so much so that the Advanced was not even close to a 2-star. It was a distinct jump up (either that or the 2-star is now so close to Advanced that it bears littel resemblance to Intermediate).

Reed



Sorry that I came off wrong. Feel free to correct if I'm still getting things bungled. I meant, not the difference between the long and short format, but the difference, say, in actual difficulty between a ** (an FEI level Intermediate short format) and an Advanced horse trials that does not have any endurance phases before cross country. Yes, the FEI level competition has vet checks, jogs, etc, but the Advanced horse trials (not FEI) is more difficult, is it not? And yet people don't point to accidents at regular horse trials and claim the lack of phases A, B, and C caused them. That's my issue with short format critics.

Sorry, I know this belongs in an entirely different discussion, but I just wanted to clarify.

(FYI, the reason I used Advanced is because, I think, an Advanced horse trials cross country course is comparable in some way to a **, while there is no regular horse trials that can compare realistically in difficulty with a *** and **** if they are meant to be slightly more difficult than regular Advanced.) Whew. Sorry again.

eqsiu
Nov. 19, 2007, 04:10 PM
Pwynn - I watched all 19 videos and the thing that stands out is that the riders who got to the table by riding backwards, as in front to back rather than back to front, had trouble. It didn't seem to matter if the rider was sitting or standing up to the fence but the quality of the canter made a big difference.

Yep. The ones that weren't half halting like crazy had the best rides. And some of the the poor efforts looked very tired. Perhaps proper conditioning would help. I think that with the loss of land and people from more urban areas we're seeing more riders who don't get their gallops in.

pwynnnorman
Nov. 19, 2007, 04:15 PM
Sorry, I forgot to come back to this. I need to note here that I posted the videos not meaning to have them represent one way or another--someone PM'ed me with the impression that I meant for them all to illustrate something. They don't--I just taped what was convenient so I could go back and look at a bunch of rides as a group and see if I saw anything interesting.

HotIITrot
Nov. 19, 2007, 04:22 PM
1. Piccolittle, I see what you mean about pointing the finger at the short format & have wondered the same thing myself at times. Sorry I don’t have an answer for you, but hopefully somebody can chime in here and offer one.

2. I hate walking up to any vertical jump on XC, whether it be a spread or not. It really does seem rather dangerous to me.

3. I believe the technicality of these XC courses may have a lot to do with problems that we are seeing. I do believe these questions asked on XC (especially having soooo many of them) contribute to backwards riding. Also, I don’t know how many times I have seen riders racing to the finish and not properly balancing their (tired) horse in an attempt to make the time. This is soooo dangerous and scary. Because courses are so darn technical it’s harder to make the time, and you’ll find a lot of people struggling to do so. Many try to make up for it at the end of the course as their watches are going off reminding them that they are racking up points!

4. While I agree that accidents do happen and our sport is dangerous etc…, I’m not so sure that is a reasonable explanation considering all the accidents that have been occurring. I’m wondering if there was a time when people believed that the courses aren’t challenging enough, (Ex: Everybody goes clean and within the time) and as a result changes were made to make these courses harder (skinny in combos with corners etc). Leaving us with a mess.

5. What scares me the most is when I see capable riders on incapable horses riding in the upper levels. I see this way more often than I see an incapable rider on an experienced horse. By incapable horse, I don’t mean one that can’t do it, but rather one who isn’t necessarily ready to be competing where he/she is competing. Just because a horse can do it doesn’t mean he/she should. I speaking of the horse that is athletic enough to get around, but is hesitating & stopping (even if the stops are only once in awhile) in the process.

6. I’m sure training has a lot to do with things especially when fine tuning certain aspects of a horse/rider’s career, but in the grand scheme of things I don’t believe it is the underlying cause of the recent problems that have come to light.

RAyers
Nov. 19, 2007, 04:28 PM
5. What scares me the most is when I see capable riders on incapable horses riding in the upper levels. I see this way more often than I see an incapable rider on an experienced horse. By incapable horse, I don’t mean one that can’t do it, but rather one who isn’t necessarily ready to be competing where he/she is competing. Just because a horse can do it doesn’t mean he/she should. I speaking of the horse that is athletic enough to get around, but is hesitating & stopping (even if the stops are only once in awhile) in the process.

6. I’m sure training has a lot to do with things especially when fine tuning certain aspects of a horse/rider’s career, but in the grand scheme of things I don’t believe it is the underlying cause of the recent problems that have come to light.


Could these be due to the increasing amounts of money coming into the sport? Riders/trainers are getting horses as high as they can in order to sell the horse for more as well as trying to get competitions under their belt to make teams? Can we go beyond and perhaps consider the entire business model for eventing as a possible driving force to take more ill considered risk?

Reed

Jazzy Lady
Nov. 19, 2007, 04:33 PM
Could these be due to the increasing amounts of money coming into the sport? Riders/trainers are getting horses as high as they can in order to sell the horse for more as well as trying to get competitions under their belt to make teams? Can we go beyond and perhaps consider the entire business model for eventing as a possible driving force to take more ill considered risk?

Reed

Perhaps that is. The pressure to have these horses competing at a high level earlier. I often wonder how a rider takes a horse around a ** or a *** or even **** course when they don't know the horse that well. It seems it happens a lot. A horse gets a new rider. The horse has already done such and such level and so has the rider, so lets go out at the same level as a new combination. When you aren't the one who is riding the horse everyday (and lets be honest, many of the big guys aren't, especially the gallops and fitness), how do you learn the in and outs of the horse?

We're seeing it a lot with YR's too. They get a new, often 2nd or 3rd horse and immediately go out at prelim to start barely knowing the horse. Maybe one day I'll be good enough to not care if I know the horse that well, but now I can't really reason this.

eqsiu
Nov. 19, 2007, 04:39 PM
Could these be due to the increasing amounts of money coming into the sport? Riders/trainers are getting horses as high as they can in order to sell the horse for more as well as trying to get competitions under their belt to make teams? Can we go beyond and perhaps consider the entire business model for eventing as a possible driving force to take more ill considered risk?

Reed

I wonder when having horses under 10 at the upper levels became common. Or was I just too star struck to pay attention to ages? I used to think that a quick training pace got a horse to advanced at 9 or 10. and that 12 was a young **** horse. Now it seems there are 6 year olds going advanced and 8 year olds doing ****s. It always seemed that a level per year was a good pace.

I recently leased out a good training level packer that is 18. No one wanted to buy her because she was just so old. No one could believe that she is sound without joint injections or adequan/legend/bute. I figure she'll go around the lower levels for another 5years without joint issues. Then I heard a girl at my old barn talking about her 6 year old needing hock injections! I know some horses are just crappily built, but this is a nice little horse. What are her teen years going to look like?

Fergs
Nov. 19, 2007, 04:46 PM
It didn't seem to matter if the rider was sitting or standing up to the fence but the quality of the canter made a big difference.

This is completely true on XC regardless of the type of fence...if you're riding at a pace that's appropriate for the course and obstacle, then you shouldn't be yanking and sitting and driving and pulling to get to the right "spot." Actually, for me personally, if I have the right canter then the spot almost always magically appears. It's when you try to put a horse there that you can get into trouble.

pwynnnorman
Nov. 19, 2007, 04:56 PM
I like what someone else said somewhere about keeping horses at one level for at least one year. That sounds like it could solve a lot of problems (not just in safety, but maybe in soundness and longevity, too). It's awfully easy to take talent for granted (in both riders and horses, I guess). Maybe ability needs to be well-confirmed before moving on, regardless of talent?

c_expresso
Nov. 19, 2007, 06:22 PM
Sorry that I came off wrong. Feel free to correct if I'm still getting things bungled. I meant, not the difference between the long and short format, but the difference, say, in actual difficulty between a ** (an FEI level Intermediate short format) and an Advanced horse trials that does not have any endurance phases before cross country. Yes, the FEI level competition has vet checks, jogs, etc, but the Advanced horse trials (not FEI) is more difficult, is it not? And yet people don't point to accidents at regular horse trials and claim the lack of phases A, B, and C caused them. That's my issue with short format critics.

Sorry, I know this belongs in an entirely different discussion, but I just wanted to clarify.

(FYI, the reason I used Advanced is because, I think, an Advanced horse trials cross country course is comparable in some way to a **, while there is no regular horse trials that can compare realistically in difficulty with a *** and **** if they are meant to be slightly more difficult than regular Advanced.) Whew. Sorry again.

Have most of the accidents this year even been at Advanced though? I may be totally wrong here... but I remember them being mostly at the prelim/intermediate/1*/2* level. Again I may have an awful memory... please correct me if I do! Also a lot of these deaths I seem to remember not being really accomplished BNRs, but younger/ more ammy riders. Yes Eleanor was great and very accomplished but I wouldn't put her in the leagues with Kim Severson or the O'Connors, if you see what I am trying to say... just b/c she was so young and really had only ridden a few horses at the upper levels.

pwynnnorman - I also like the idea of staying at one level for a year... at the upper levels. I would hate the idea if it was required at the lower levels too. My horses did one novice that we didn't "complete" [because I missed a jump] and then moved to training. My horse and I IMO are safe and capable. I would definitely agree though that it should be required that you complete a lot of prelims before doing an intermediate, and a lot of intermediates before going advanced. And also as you progress through the levels it should be required that you have "x" amount of XC rides with fewer than "X" amount of pentalites, etc.

denny
Nov. 19, 2007, 07:19 PM
There will be some rule maven on here who can correct me if I`m wrong, but I`m pretty sure that the speeds of 520 for prel, 550 for int, and 570 for adv have been the same since I started eventing in 1962.
But the x-c courses are very different than "back when."
Nobody who has been really "in the sport" for say, 15-20 years, will argue that many, if not most x-c courses have become much more technical.
This past summer someone was describing some advanced track they`d just watched as being like "a three mile Hickstead Jumping Derby over solid obstacles."
But the way horses generally get faults in jumping derbies is by having the rails fall down, not the horses.
As horses have to be slowed down and set up to negotiate technical questions, it then stands to reason that, in order to make time, the riders will "book" at the fairly straightforward ones.
Even our very greatest, Bruce, Mark Todd, Blyth Tait, have missed and had crashing falls, so what chance does a mere mortal have to always get the right distance on a horse that is "flying low" at high speeds, often tired, to make the time?
Sure, you say, the rider doesn`t have to make the time, he/she can slow down and ride better distances from better balance, but good eventers are first and foremost competitive people who want to do well.
I know, partly because I am one, and because I`ve spent the last 45 years in close proximity to thousands of them.
So if we are determined that we want more technical xc courses, and it seems we do, then I think our speeds may well be outmoded.
Heck, we`ve already done away with the heart of "speed and endurance", why not go the rest of the way and try lowering speeds by, lets say, 20 meters a minute, to 500, 530, and 550 for the 3 upper levels?
It might not be the answer, but at this point, we better try something, probably a number of somethings, if we want this sport to survive.
The way it`s going now has got to change, and fast, or some outside entity will change it for us, which might not be the worst thing in the world if we are found to be unable to police our own sport for the wellbeing of its participants.
I am way past thinking "It`s just an accident, and accidents will happen."
Not like this, not this many, no way.

Mary in Area 1
Nov. 19, 2007, 08:05 PM
Yes, Denny, you got it. Speed kills. There is no doubt in my mind that these much more technical courses, plus speed, is the culprit.

Personally, I'd like the courses to be BUILT for the speed, but since we can't seem to convince Roger Haller of that, then we MUST slow them down. When King Oak is so technical at prelim that (if you try to make the time) you have to be galloping at 660 in the few places between the "jump complexes", then you know the whole sport has changed.

Such a shame.

fargonefarm
Nov. 19, 2007, 09:09 PM
First of all, thank you to Denny for taking the time to respond to this question with all of the wisdom and thought that we all have come to rely on you for. When I posed this question it was with the sincerest hope that you would be one to respond.:yes:
I sincerely hope that there are no longer people who are in the "accidents happen" camp. To be of that thinking would be to dishonor the memories of those whom we have lost recently. YES - something needs to change. I have a couple of burgeoning adult eventers that are going to begin their careers in this sport next spring. I look at them the way a mother looks at her children - with the greatest of expectations and the utmost fear. I need this sport to evolve and chage with the times....for them and for all of us.

KBG Eventer
Nov. 19, 2007, 10:04 PM
I have absolutely nothing to add to this thread (I always like to learn/read a lot of them though) other than you taped two of my friends over the table...I thought they both had nice jumps. :D

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6rs50K_0jnQ
and
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AnwQsXS6wfI

lstevenson
Nov. 19, 2007, 10:13 PM
There will be some rule maven on here who can correct me if I`m wrong, but I`m pretty sure that the speeds of 520 for prel, 550 for int, and 570 for adv have been the same since I started eventing in 1962.
But the x-c courses are very different than "back when."
Nobody who has been really "in the sport" for say, 15-20 years, will argue that many, if not most x-c courses have become much more technical.
This past summer someone was describing some advanced track they`d just watched as being like "a three mile Hickstead Jumping Derby over solid obstacles."
But the way horses generally get faults in jumping derbies is by having the rails fall down, not the horses.
As horses have to be slowed down and set up to negotiate technical questions, it then stands to reason that, in order to make time, the riders will "book" at the fairly straightforward ones.
Even our very greatest, Bruce, Mark Todd, Blyth Tait, have missed and had crashing falls, so what chance does a mere mortal have to always get the right distance on a horse that is "flying low" at high speeds, often tired, to make the time?
Sure, you say, the rider doesn`t have to make the time, he/she can slow down and ride better distances from better balance, but good eventers are first and foremost competitive people who want to do well.
I know, partly because I am one, and because I`ve spent the last 45 years in close proximity to thousands of them.
So if we are determined that we want more technical xc courses, and it seems we do, then I think our speeds may well be outmoded.
Heck, we`ve already done away with the heart of "speed and endurance", why not go the rest of the way and try lowering speeds by, lets say, 20 meters a minute, to 500, 530, and 550 for the 3 upper levels?
It might not be the answer, but at this point, we better try something, probably a number of somethings, if we want this sport to survive.
The way it`s going now has got to change, and fast, or some outside entity will change it for us, which might not be the worst thing in the world if we are found to be unable to police our own sport for the wellbeing of its participants.
I am way past thinking "It`s just an accident, and accidents will happen."
Not like this, not this many, no way.


Great post Denny, and very true.

Now, what can be done about it? I think we should petition for either courses becoming less technical, or for lowered speeds.

snoopy
Nov. 19, 2007, 10:16 PM
I am COMPLETELY on board for either to be addressed. I have long been spouting my big mouth over this very issue!!!

Hony
Nov. 19, 2007, 10:30 PM
Riders have gotten so good that they can for the most part deal with the very technical questions but if they make one mistake it could be fatal. On the other side, if we make courses less technical we will likely see an increase in clear rounds, potentially making eventing into a dressage contest unless the weighting of dressage is changed to balance it out. There will need to be a period of dumbing down riders until the courses that are presented become a challenge again.
I'm not sure which is a better option, changing speeds or changing courses but clearly both options need to be looked at very closely.

c_expresso
Nov. 19, 2007, 10:33 PM
In response to Hony... maybe a little of both? Perhaps we could keep somewhat technical courses and make the speeds slightly slower than they are now.

fargonefarm
Nov. 19, 2007, 10:38 PM
And what would be wrong if more emphasis were placed on the Dressage phase? Our Dressage has long been "dumbed down" when placed in comparison with "real Dressage." The basis of everything - even our beloved XC - comes in our Dressage basics. So I suppose I am confused as to why so many want to ignore the essential backbone of our riding. Now mind you, I am an event rider who has gravitated more towards Dressage as of late and tend to compete in Dressage more than eventing. But still - let us not forget the discipline that gives us the essential tools that we need to be great technicians in the jumping phases.

JER
Nov. 19, 2007, 10:41 PM
I am way past thinking "It`s just an accident, and accidents will happen."
Not like this, not this many, no way.

11 deaths in 2007. Not to mention some very serious injuries to very good riders.

I haven't seen any accusations that any one of these 11 fatalities were reckless or inexperienced riders. Yet we talk about penalties for dangerous riding, tougher qualifying dressage scores, requiring a year at each level (all from the current threads here), none of which would have saved these riders.

In a recent interview in Horse & Hound, the mother of rider Mark Davies (killed at Burghley in the early 90s) who now runs the Mark Davies Injured Riders Fund, said there's no reason why eventers can't make fences out of styrofoam. She was part-joking, part-exasperated, part-still-suffering-the-loss-of-her-son. But her point is a good one and 11 deaths is too many.

c_expresso
Nov. 19, 2007, 10:52 PM
And what would be wrong if more emphasis were placed on the Dressage phase? Our Dressage has long been "dumbed down" when placed in comparison with "real Dressage." The basis of everything - even our beloved XC - comes in our Dressage basics. So I suppose I am confused as to why so many want to ignore the essential backbone of our riding. Now mind you, I am an event rider who has gravitated more towards Dressage as of late and tend to compete in Dressage more than eventing. But still - let us not forget the discipline that gives us the essential tools that we need to be great technicians in the jumping phases.

I totally agree with you on the fact that good flat work is the base for success in any area of riding. However, it shouldn't be, in my opinion, what you need to be great at to win in eventing. If you want to win based on your dressage score, compete in dressage. IMO dressage, XC, and SJ should be counted equally.

Hony
Nov. 19, 2007, 10:54 PM
And what would be wrong if more emphasis were placed on the Dressage phase? Our Dressage has long been "dumbed down" when placed in comparison with "real Dressage." The basis of everything - even our beloved XC - comes in our Dressage basics. So I suppose I am confused as to why so many want to ignore the essential backbone of our riding.

The problem with making eventing into a dressage contest is that that is what dressage shows are for. Eventing should primarily be about XC. Yes XC absolutely needs dressage in order to be done well but IMHO if I wanted to go to a dressage show I would go to a dressage show.

Just for fun, check this out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8ObCD9UvfI

It's not a steeplechase but it is interesting!! They go 7km over 31 fences.

fargonefarm
Nov. 19, 2007, 11:04 PM
No we shouldn't turn it into a Dressage contest. That's why I go to Dressage shows. However, perhaps in an effort to improve our riding - our riding in all phases - we should increase the technical difficulty of our Dressage and not just master the "basics."
I'm not saying that this is the answer or even begins to address the issue. But in a climate of catastrophic injury and/or death, all avenues should be addressed and explored. But again, I don't know. I don't think anyone does.

Hony
Nov. 19, 2007, 11:08 PM
I heard a rumour that the new **** test has tempi changes, every third stride.
I can't remember who but I remember hearing the tale of one upper level rider who taught his horse passage and piaff and then had trouble with 5th leg training because the horse had learned to listen to him too much. I don't know if more dressage is the answer. Wouldn't a crystal ball be nice! Did you check out the video?

event1
Nov. 20, 2007, 01:08 AM
A couple of things that have been going through my mind as I read all of these posts....I agree with JER's post that maybe CC fences should be made out of styrofoam-sounds like a great idea unless a horse crashed through a fence in some way and styrofoam being what it is, goes into a million pieces or has a huge hole in it-how will it be replaced so fast for the riders that come after? I don't think that it would take all of the dangers out of it anyway....
I agree that there are many factors that have contributed to all of the recent falls/deaths in the sport but I think that one huge factor is being over looked and that is the issue of ABILITY....specifically on the horses part. I think there are many event riders that are pushing to get to the next level and because there horses are full of heart...that does not necessarily mean that they have the ability...in other words if they have the go-then they are convinced that they must automatically have the skill/talent. I think that what kind of showjumper a horse is, what kind of penalties they receive consistantly in showjumper as well as how well they are getting over the fences should be very important in deciding when to move up and tackle the cross country fences. If a horse is not having SMOOTH, sucessful rounds in stadium, where it is not nearly as technical and the poles can come down...why would you feel like you were going to go out and jump around CC and arrive home safely? I know that showjumping is not supposed to be a hunter type class where style matters (ie:tight square knees, ability to ride a distance smoothly to a fence, be balanced and on the correct lead for the turns) but the ability for both the horse and the rider to do all of this would really make the cross country more safe for them. I think many riders just get through dressage to "get it over with", struggle through stadium and have a sticky, and poor round but "hey-I got through it with no penalties so I'm good", just to get to that really fun CC that everyone loves so much. So maybe we should explore the possibility of making the dressage a little tougher, the stadium penalties a little higher (so we all would need to go home and work on gymnastics and basics with our horses in the attempt to make them a tidier jumper) and the times for the CC a little slower because the courses have gotten more technical. And maybe we need to look at our proofs that all of those photograhers take for us and study them a little closer as pictures don't lie. Sometimes when I come home from an event and look through the proofs from the event....I am horrified-even at my own. Check it out sometimes...not from a judgemental point of view but as a basis for continued learning. You will clearly see alot in all of them. I have ridden at the higher levels of eventing as a younger person (never thought twice about doing anything) took a nine year break from it and now return as a 41 year old with a much different point of view. Some of the riding I see at the events is really scary-including my own sometimes which is why I am riding a horse that has completed Rolex 3 times at the 3 and 4 star levels (among other biggies) at Novice for now-until I can get it all together and feel SOLID with this particular horse at ALL THREE PHASES. Yeah-I feel silly somtimes at novice like I have something more to prove, but then at the end of the day...I would rather be safe and confident at the conclusion of the event then to be competing at a higher level and be just getting by, by the seat of my pants. Eventing is a dangerous sport and it goes without saying that we are putting our lives in our horses hands and sometimes they make grave mistakes too. We are never going to fully take the risk out of something as dangerous as eventing but I think we could make it a WHOLE lot safer by taking an honest look at our abilities, our horses abilities, and really being ready to move ourselves/horses up not just because we are required to. Even then-there will be accidents-hopefully just a whole lot less.

His Greyness
Nov. 20, 2007, 05:04 AM
By my reckoning there are a multitude of factors which if they line up just wrong result in an horrific accident. There is no single "magic fix" which will make the problem go away. Each accident may have different causes but each accident should be ruthlessly analyzed. I say ruthlessly because too many people let their emotions and agendas get in the way of a logical conclusion.

In this latest tragedy in Florida involving Eleanor Brennan and Mister Barnabus what appears to be the place to start is the horse's competitive record. The results are here on the British Eventing website. (http://www.britisheventing.com/asp-net/Events/Results.aspx?HorseId=46724&section=000100010018) Keep in mind that Novice in the U.K. is the equivalent of Preliminary in the U.S.

I note that in 2006 10 starts resulted in 5 eliminations, 2 retirements and only 3 completions. I conclude that this horse had unresolved issues which when combined with other factors unknown to me created this terrible outcome.

thumbsontop
Nov. 20, 2007, 09:55 AM
My take is very much like event1's, and I'm sure my response would be similar.

I have always thought of dressage as where you establish the aids, bend, and balance. Showjumping is where you use those aids in combination with obstacles and striding. Cross country should be where you exhibit the application of the skills you "practice" in the ring, right? At speed and over distance, of course. Why shouldn't showjumping and xc phases include some kind of equitation skills? If there was a recognized "cross country derby" type competition, would the traditional three phase event go away? Or attract riders truly interested in succeeding at all three?

I do strongly agree that some of these horses are just not as capable of performing at such a high level and are pushed because they have the heart to give it their all. Same with riders I imagine. I don't know of any personally, but there is little to keep someone reckless from pursuing a win at all costs. Is there really a way to regulate that?

Invested1
Nov. 20, 2007, 10:06 AM
I note that in 2006 10 starts resulted in 5 eliminations,

Thing is that nobody knows what caused those Eliminations. What if she missed a jump? What if she forgot her rein stops? What if she carried a whip into dressage?
Records don't distinguish between "technical" eliminations and others....

event1
Nov. 20, 2007, 10:08 AM
After reviewing Eleanors Brennans record both overseas and here....I would say there is no way of making things much safer for someone her age/lack of fear.....she clearly falls under the category of "On the brave and crazy wings of youth". For the rest of us-surely eventing can remain relatively safe (considering the overriding fact that it is highly dangerous on many levels) if we all take responsibility in ourselves and our horses in deciding when to move up and what the requirements will be when we do so...not everyone is cut out to do the upper levels of eventing (both horses and riders alike). Even at the lower levels-accidents will always occur because of the nature of the sport...even for the best prepared-but the risk is part of what make it a challenge-right?:yes:

eqsiu
Nov. 20, 2007, 10:35 AM
Riders have gotten so good that they can for the most part deal with the very technical questions but if they make one mistake it could be fatal. On the other side, if we make courses less technical we will likely see an increase in clear rounds, potentially making eventing into a dressage contest unless the weighting of dressage is changed to balance it out. There will need to be a period of dumbing down riders until the courses that are presented become a challenge again.
I'm not sure which is a better option, changing speeds or changing courses but clearly both options need to be looked at very closely.

I'm thinking that we could simply limit the number of combinations on courses and reduce technicality that way. We can still have skinnies and corners and all that, but if they are not in combos perhaps there will be less brain fry/fatigue by the end of the course. And I personally think that using skinnies as "fly" fences is more difficult than using one at the end of a combo. Easier to glance off. Terrain can be used creatively, jumps can come off turns etc. Cross country can still weigh in as tie breaking scores. I like that knowing how to pace your horse can move you up one place. I think that the speeds need to remain the same. If nothing else, lets add a subjective equitation score (which would be horrible from an organizer/official standpoint, but anyway). Further reducing the "speed and endurance" because it's already been dumbed down is a great way to lose it completely. I think we need to cling to the aspect of our sport that is different from others and not let it fall by the wayside. Maybe we could stick a rail in jump cups on the back of cross country fences and have knocked rails count in the score. Lots would be knocked, but it would help differentiate scores.

DLee
Nov. 20, 2007, 11:11 AM
Did you check out the video?

I actually loved watching the riderless horse!

HotIITrot
Nov. 20, 2007, 11:14 AM
Me too; I want that horse!

Neat course though. A lot of variety.

snickerdoodle
Nov. 20, 2007, 11:29 AM
I have been eventing since the time when we used to carry weight!

Something needs to change - the speeds and the designs of the courses!

Look at what happened to Melissa Hunsberger at Fair Hill. She was held right before a very technical comples that had already caused problems. That was an accident waiting to happen. It was a very unfair, too techincal jump to be expected to jump after being on hold for 20 minutes.

I think courses at all levels need to change. There will still be problems whether the courses are technical or not. Today even training level is starting to look like a small preliminary course. The novice water jump at CDCTA (VA) has a max vertical one stride out of the water (not up a bank, the water jump has sloping blue stone sides. Too me that seems to be too much to ask at that level.

Do we go back to penalty zones around the jumps?

Education - where does it start? and what are we educating? who is doing the educating? are we taking the TIME to educate the riders and horses correctly?

Jazzy Lady
Nov. 20, 2007, 11:46 AM
Random question about holds on course. My coach was held on course when Eleanor fell. He retired after little while because he felt, even if they got started back, it wasn't safe or fair to the horse to continue after being held. He said they ended up being held for 2 1/2 hours (he had retired long before this point). What happens to the riders on course *if* they chose to go again? Can they, in an FEI situation, go and jump one of the smaller flagged courses for the horse trials as a new warm up? I imagine most would choose to retire also, but in the event they chose to keep going what would happen?

NMK
Nov. 20, 2007, 11:49 AM
I am not an URL but I've been around for a while, and one thing that I have really noticed is that the more technical courses require the ability to adjust the gallop quickly and efficiently. Some horses are better at that than others, some are more conditioned for that than others as well.

Maybe we need to look at taking the average time for the first few (maybe three to ten) horses that go clean, vs. the optimum time and adjust the optimum time accordingly. This would also address any footing problems due to weather conditions.

This would be not too unlike the jumper course adjustments. I am not sure I'd want them for Training or lower, where we learn speed and adjustments.

Just an idea.
Nancy

bornfreenowexpensive
Nov. 20, 2007, 12:20 PM
I don't know what the answer is....I just hope what answers or changes are made are done with thought, study and care and not a knee jerk reaction or quick fix.

I saw Amanda's fall years ago and while I didn't quit eventing, it is still hard for me to watch sometimes for fear of seeing the same thing happen to someone else. Everyone makes mistakes....at all levels....it is just heartbreaking when a mistake results in death or serious injury and if some thing can be done to minimize that result, then it should be....but there always will be, and to a certain extent should be, risks in this sport. My worse injuries to date were all just riding on the flat. Most things in life worth doing have risk.....but we need to understand those risks, do what we can to minimize them with proper training, course design/construction and riding appropriate horses. I agree with Denny though...something needs to be re-examined.


Have we heard anything from the Safety Committee that the USEA formed not too long ago? Are they looking at the issues such as speed v. technical questions?

I do not know which is safer...speed over simpler fences or less speed over technical.... each has it's risks....and what is safer probably depends on the horse that you are sitting on and your skills as a rider. As a rider, I do what I can to be as prepared as possible, understand my own limitations (and those of my horse), and hope that when I make a mistake that my horse can compensate or that luck is with both of us. I don't think there will be an easy or quick answer to these issues.

pwynnnorman
Nov. 20, 2007, 12:54 PM
If a horse is not having SMOOTH, sucessful rounds in stadium, where it is not nearly as technical and the poles can come down...why would you feel like you were going to go out and jump around CC and arrive home safely? I know that showjumping is not supposed to be a hunter type class where style matters (ie:tight square knees, ability to ride a distance smoothly to a fence, be balanced and on the correct lead for the turns) but the ability for both the horse and the rider to do all of this would really make the cross country more safe for them.


OK, this waaaay out of the box, but...

Seems to me that a huge, huge issue is control and accuracy at speed. It also seems to me that, at least in the higher levels, stadium is indeed starting to test that more and more (in the sense that more rails are falling--but then again, that may be an assumption I'm making; could be lack of preparation are causing more rails to fall rather than more challenging courses--I dunno). Still, thinking along those lines, what if...

1.) Stadium continued to develop along more challenging lines and 2.) there was indeed a score recorded for style, at least at the lower levels (Prelim/Intermediate). Not a score that would impact the results, but more of a qualifying score (remember, I said this was way out of the box)?

I watched a lot of ugly jumps at the horse park in stadium this past weekend. You could really tell the pros from the not-pros in the accuracy and smoothness of most rides. And isn't that what needs to be checked off before riders go at those big jumps thatt don't fall down out on x-c? The thing is that rails down don't always reflect the quality of the round or ride. I saw one horse jump straight up and straight back down again on half a dozen stadium jumps on Sunday--but he still went clear.

I suppose it would be yet another paperwork headache, but it'd be a simple enough thing for the stadium judge (egad, what's the proper term?) to note, wouldn't it? Perhaps a little can be learned from hunter riders. There, the judge's card indicates a lot about the quality of each fence, but here, just whether it was "acceptable" would do. How many times should a rider get away with burying the horse in front of the fence, after all? If a scale from 0-4 were used (0=round not completed, 1=consistently poor form, 2=frequent poor form, 3=rarely in poor form and 4=never in poor form) and a rider was consistently getting 1s or 2s...???

Maybe I'm oversimplifying, but I'm wondering about this because it seems to be at the heart of the table/rotational fall issue: If a rider can't get around a stadium course without burying the horse into jump after jump, isn't it just asking for trouble letting that rider go out x-c and keep advancing? By the time riders are going advanced level, surely one shoudl not see horses scrambling over stadium jumps anymore (at least, not often and certainly not often in the same round!).

In other words, could stadium be used to check accuracy and control o/f in the same way dressage basically checks those issues on the flat?

Edited to add: This is something which hunter riders are highly, highly critical of event riders for, in fact. And maybe they have reason to be? Perhaps it is indeed time to connect stadium to cross country for more reasons than just the classic one involving the horse being "careful and sound enough to continue" (a la the old "militaire" rationale for the final phase).

hookedoneventing
Nov. 20, 2007, 01:08 PM
I am finding this discussion all extremely interesting, especially Denny's post...it is quit obvious that our sport has evolved over the years and yes the courses have become more technical...something will obviously have to be done about this....in looking at the net this morning I ran across this article:

http://www.ocala.com/article/20071120/NEWS/211200342/1001/NEWS01&MaxW=270&MaxH=200

Would love to hear your thoughts? I understand Mr Warriner's concerns as the chairman of the park, but I am not so sure he truly understands the sport...what does he mean by this: " "I think you can change direction . . . and put control of the horse back into the hands of the rider when you're going to be tested," Warriner said. " and we should make it a kinder and gentler sport?? I am not sure I understand this....

breakthru
Nov. 20, 2007, 01:11 PM
Denny's suggestion seems to make sense... but then when faced with the reality of having to lower the speeds and/or make the jumps less technical, the feeling that we'd be "dumbing down" just can't be dismissed. don't get me wrong- is it worth it if it will save lives? absolutely. but it's still hard to think about.

I wonder if there would be some way of constructing jumps with breakaway sections that could be engineered to withstand reasonable force (i.e. so horses could still bank), but still give under force that would otherwise cause a rotational fall...

A contraption like ski bindings, perhaps?

flyingchange
Nov. 20, 2007, 01:22 PM
I just think we all need to take personal responsibility for ourselves and our horses in this sport. Sometimes that means postponing a move-up plan, or moving back down a level. Or WDing from a competition, or retiring on course. Or not going for time if it's just not safe to do so.

I'm not sure how I feel about reducing optimum times. Dumbing down does come to mind. However, I agree something needs to be done. Perhaps more clear rounds at a level before being allowed to move up. And perhaps mandating that some of the qualifying competitions be done with both horse and rider together. Perhaps mandate a qualifying round as zero XC penalties and perhaps 3 rails instead of allowing a stop on XC and 4 rails in SJ. And differeing between a rail and a stop in SJ - making a stop in SJ a non-qualifying competition. I dunno. Just brainstorming.

Badger
Nov. 20, 2007, 01:22 PM
Would love to hear your thoughts? I understand Mr Warriner's concerns as the chairman of the park, but I am not so sure he truly understands the sport...what does he mean by this: " "I think you can change direction . . . and put control of the horse back into the hands of the rider when you're going to be tested," Warriner said. " and we should make it a kinder and gentler sport?? I am not sure I understand this....

That seems to be the exact opposite of the argument I was reading today on the Horse and Hound bulletin board, that current training and technical courses are taking away the event horse's ability to think for itself. Our horses are intelligent athletes and you want their sense of self-preservation to override the rider in a pinch if that will keep you both safe.

flyingchange
Nov. 20, 2007, 01:25 PM
Yes, and also, too much dressage is not necessarily a good thing for a XC horse. I need my horse to think for himself and not wait for me to tell him what to do at every single stride.

Badger
Nov. 20, 2007, 01:30 PM
I just think we all need to take personal responsibility for ourselves and our horses in this sport. Sometimes that means postponing a move-up plan, or moving back down a level. Or WDing from a competition, or retiring on course. Or not going for time if it's just not safe to do so.

I've been thinking along these lines. It seems like the more we mandate and legistlate, the muddier we make the fact that the ultimate responsibility comes down to the rider and to the team that rider puts together to train and support the partnership. The rider needs to do the homework and understand the questions asked by the course, and if they walk a course and realize there is a test there that either horse or rider is not adequately prepared for, it's the rider's responsiblity to go home and do more homework so they can come back another day. And it's the rider's responsibility to understand the horse's scope limitations and mental limitations and understand the margin of error that decreases as those limitations are taxed. It's the rider's responsibility to recognise when they are having an off day and nothing good is going to come of it.

Someone posted about the rider held on course at Ocala this weekend who decided to retire rather than face the rest of the course cold after a 2-1/2 hour hold. That's a smart decision: there is always another day.

pwynnnorman
Nov. 20, 2007, 01:52 PM
http://www.ocala.com/article/20071120/NEWS/211200342/1001/NEWS01&MaxW=270&MaxH=200

Would love to hear your thoughts? I understand Mr Warriner's concerns as the chairman of the park, but I am not so sure he truly understands the sport...what does he mean by this: " "I think you can change direction . . . and put control of the horse back into the hands of the rider when you're going to be tested," Warriner said. " and we should make it a kinder and gentler sport?? I am not sure I understand this....

I do wish he had explained the technical delegate's role BEFORE cross country rather than the following, which might imply to some that no one had checked the jump beforehand:



Warriner said he and other park officials examined the jump where Brennan's horse, Mister Barnabus, stumbled and found it was in compliance with USEF's standards.



That statement, and the one about putting control back (oh, geesh, we don't want folks thinking horses are racing around dangerously out of control!) really doesn't help one bit.

Anyway, I think one solution for the park would be to plant a lot more trees. I'd LOVE to see some stats on the terrain of events where signficant falls have occurred. Isn't Red Hills pretty wooded and twisty? What's it's history like?

denny
Nov. 20, 2007, 01:56 PM
Maybe here`s another "take" on the situation.
When eventing was invented as a sport, about, what, 100 years ago, give or take a decade, the world`s cavalry fielding countries still had at least the remnants of an agrarian economy.
Those who rode had vast tracts of open land, and galloping, whether as cavalrymen, fox hunters, cowboys, or just joy riders, was simply a normal, natural component of riding.
Even when I started eventing 45 years ago, most of the judges and instructors were General this, or Colonel that, many from Europe, former cavalry officers.
The US population was about half of what it is now, so kids could grow up galloping, foxhunting, and racing over fences, all of which I did, as did most of my eventing contemporaries, (almost none of whom still event, sadly, a bunch of broken down old wrecks) Joke!
So we were used to speed in the open. Plus the xc courses were more straightforward.
Now it`s almost half a century later.
The SAME SPEEDS that were employed for simpler, less technical xc courses are still in use, despite the fact that, in addition, many of the riders have had a lot less experience galloping at speed.
So MAYBE that needs to be addressed. Sure, there are our Duttons and Seversons, etc, etc, who can handle faster speeds, but what does our sport do to those who can`t?
So increasingly frequently, it seems, the answer is very sad.

thumbsontop
Nov. 20, 2007, 02:05 PM
Regarding the article, the actual quote is

"The purpose of any changes, Warriner said, would be to reduce risk, not make the grueling cross-country event a "kinder and gentler" sport."

Be careful to quote exactly so as not to misinform those that don't go to the article and read it for themselves.

Trixie
Nov. 20, 2007, 02:05 PM
Pwynn, I completely agree with the sentiment that if one is eventing at an advanced level there is absolutely no reason to consistently be showing poor form over stadium fences. Stadium fences fall down, and while I get that some horses don't necessarily "respect" that, there's no excuse for appearing dangerous over them. You can crash in stadium, too.

There is absolutely no reason for any good event rider to object to marks made regarding getting over fences safely and effectively: this is an important goal and ever rider needs to be able to do that in order to jump the more solid fences XC. If you can't ride safely over a course of jumps that fall, you shouldn't be riding over a course of jumps that don't.

I suppose one would have had to complete several safe stadium courses safely and effectively before moving up a level.

And while I agree, YES, that it's ultimately the rider's responsibility: however, in the end, the entire community pays when a rider makes a poor decision, and, also, the HORSE winds up paying.

--

There has been some controversy over whether or not "breakaway" XC jumps would actually be safer. Does anyone have any data on this?
--

I do have a question, as someone who does not event but is curious: would it make sense to put a few more "technical" questions into the stadium segment of an event and a few less on the XC course, where a slight misjudgement has a higher likelihood of a fatality?

Badger
Nov. 20, 2007, 02:07 PM
Back in the day, an army officer was REQUIRED to foxhunt or play polo or event and to spend a certain number of hours in the tack each week. My husband is an army officer, and his take on it is that eventing was created as an ultimate test of horse and rider when the lives (of officers and troops and the people they were protecting) depended on the results of that level of training and endurance. He questions the wisdom of continuing to test at that level when the original need is no longer there.

hookedoneventing
Nov. 20, 2007, 02:10 PM
Thanks for catching that thumbsontop, I do apologize for that....

fernie fox
Nov. 20, 2007, 02:13 PM
This is absolutely the crux. of the matter,more and more Technical fences = having to virtually show jump the cross country.Thus struggling to make the times.

Thank you Denny,as usual you have "hit the nail on the head".:D

I miss seeing bold horses gallop cc,it used to be a joy to watch.Not any more,I seem to see more and more tired horses being pushed to the finish by riders who seem to have no idea their horse is tired.:mad:

I last rode in an Event 20 years ago,I sit here shaking my head at the state of the game nowadays.

I also nearly pee my pants at some of the stuff I used to do.:lol:

I stick to my 14 hh pony nowadays.:D



There will be some rule maven on here who can correct me if I`m wrong, but I`m pretty sure that the speeds of 520 for prel, 550 for int, and 570 for adv have been the same since I started eventing in 1962.
But the x-c courses are very different than "back when."
Nobody who has been really "in the sport" for say, 15-20 years, will argue that many, if not most x-c courses have become much more technical.
This past summer someone was describing some advanced track they`d just watched as being like "a three mile Hickstead Jumping Derby over solid obstacles."
But the way horses generally get faults in jumping derbies is by having the rails fall down, not the horses.
As horses have to be slowed down and set up to negotiate technical questions, it then stands to reason that, in order to make time, the riders will "book" at the fairly straightforward ones.
Even our very greatest, Bruce, Mark Todd, Blyth Tait, have missed and had crashing falls, so what chance does a mere mortal have to always get the right distance on a horse that is "flying low" at high speeds, often tired, to make the time?
Sure, you say, the rider doesn`t have to make the time, he/she can slow down and ride better distances from better balance, but good eventers are first and foremost competitive people who want to do well.
I know, partly because I am one, and because I`ve spent the last 45 years in close proximity to thousands of them.
So if we are determined that we want more technical xc courses, and it seems we do, then I think our speeds may well be outmoded.
Heck, we`ve already done away with the heart of "speed and endurance", why not go the rest of the way and try lowering speeds by, lets say, 20 meters a minute, to 500, 530, and 550 for the 3 upper levels?
It might not be the answer, but at this point, we better try something, probably a number of somethings, if we want this sport to survive.
The way it`s going now has got to change, and fast, or some outside entity will change it for us, which might not be the worst thing in the world if we are found to be unable to police our own sport for the wellbeing of its participants.
I am way past thinking "It`s just an accident, and accidents will happen."
Not like this, not this many, no way.

MTshowjumper
Nov. 20, 2007, 02:22 PM
Denny’s comments about speed in the upper levels make a lot of sense to me. Since the xc courses are getting more and more technical so you have to slow down to get through the combinations it makes riders really have to book it over the other fences. Perhaps the sppeds should be slower at the upper levels to reflect this?

As for horse/rider ability I agree that it is reflected in scary stadium rounds. If something is missing from the equation it is a lot easier to just gallop and jump cross country than to put in a nice stadium course. Instead of adding a subjective score on to the stadium like some suggested (Which can be frustrating and lead to arguments about opinions and judging), I would propose raising the fence height in the stadium. For example you would have to do 3’6” stadium at Training with 3’3” xc. When it comes to being prepared, coming from the jumper ring I can say that it takes that much more to get around an extra 3”. I would rather that than have riders that can just barely jump a 3’3” course going out to jump 3’3” xc.

blackwly
Nov. 20, 2007, 02:44 PM
A few thoughts (in random order).....

As an amateur I have been in and out of the upper levels when I had the right horse and the timing was right. I competed at prelim and intermediate from 1994-1997 when I was a teenager, again in 2002-2004, and again this fall. While I have nowhere near the experience of the Dennys of the world, I have ridden a lot of courses over those times. While I do notice some changes in technicality (for one thing, more corners and accuracy questions, as I posted about before) I don't personally feel today's courses make me feel less safe. In fact, I think back to my early days at prelim as a 14yr old and I'm amazed I survived tearing around some of the old-school courses in bad footing at top speed. The jumps we have to jump today are more forgiving, better constructed, and make better use of good terrain and footing.

I, in fact, feel safer these days. But I think that has a lot less to do with course design and more to do with maturity and experience. To me, experience does not always mean being able to say, "I've competed at X four star, so I know what I'm doing" though certainly that would be implied! My most useful experience, however, has come from bringing along a number of young horses and moving them up to the upper levels. I can say that I take things more slowly, more thoughtfully, and more carefully with prelim horse #5 than I did with prelim horse #1. And I'm more successful because of it.

I'm willing to take responsibility for the fact that this is a dangerous sport, and I had better be ready before I leave the start box. I don't think we can place all of the blame at the feet of the rule-makers and course designers- we have for a while, but it doesn't seem to be working to make our sport safer.

Of course, as we all know, the most experienced and prepared rider and horse can still go out and have a terrible accident. And it is easier for me as an amateur to turn and walk away from an event where I feel my horse isn't ready than it is for a pro whose livelihood depends on results. Prehaps we should think about the fact that the lionshare of recent bad accidents seem to be happening to people who do this for a living, not the amateurs out there competing at some of the same levels (which logic might dictate would be more dangerous?)

NMK
Nov. 20, 2007, 03:03 PM
I do think adjusting the optimum time based on "X" number of clean rounds' actual time (the way they do in the jumpers) should at least be considered. All this start-stop, fly and show jump has changed the timing of the sport considerably.

N

WindWillowStable
Nov. 20, 2007, 03:29 PM
I am finding this discussion all extremely interesting, especially Denny's post...it is quit obvious that our sport has evolved over the years and yes the courses have become more technical...something will obviously have to be done about this....in looking at the net this morning I ran across this article:

http://www.ocala.com/article/20071120/NEWS/211200342/1001/NEWS01&MaxW=270&MaxH=200

Would love to hear your thoughts? I understand Mr Warriner's concerns as the chairman of the park, but I am not so sure he truly understands the sport...what does he mean by this: " "I think you can change direction . . . and put control of the horse back into the hands of the rider when you're going to be tested," Warriner said. " and we should make it a kinder and gentler sport?? I am not sure I understand this....


This is somewhat confusing to me too but I think we need to keep in mind that most reporters don't understand our sport and so some of what Mr.Warriner said may not be in the exact context he said it in. Reporters can't quote everything so I'm sure they have to pick and choose what to quote and by doing this they can totally change what is trying to be said.

Jazzy Lady
Nov. 20, 2007, 03:57 PM
I do have a question, as someone who does not event but is curious: would it make sense to put a few more "technical" questions into the stadium segment of an event and a few less on the XC course, where a slight misjudgement has a higher likelihood of a fatality?

I like this idea a lot. Make stadium HARDER. Go to the FEI standard (we have this in Canada) where about 1/3 of the course can be 3" higher than max at the prelim and higher level. Make stadium more of a deciding factor, bring back the galloping courses where time is the factor, not whether you get around safely. And why was refusals changed to 4 points instead of the orginal 10 in stadium? Refusals should cost more, plus the time. THIS will make it not a dressage show.

eqsiu
Nov. 20, 2007, 04:16 PM
What about a 10 point "bonus" subtracted from our score for getting around with no jumping faults? This would focus efforts more towards jumping clean (and perhaps safer) rather than making time.

Though my preference would be more galloping courses rather than altering the time. The sport shouldn't need to get harder over time simply because riders and horses get smarter. Let's keep the speed and endurance and leave the accuracy and agility for stadium.

WindWillowStable
Nov. 20, 2007, 04:21 PM
I don't know if this has been said yet...but what about examining upper level rider and horse records a few of times a year. I think it should be mandatory to move back down a level if you are having problems at the level you are competing. Too many riders move up a level and then never consider moving back down if they aren't successful....they just keep competing thinking they will get better.

I'm probably making this sound much easier than it would actually be but it's just a thought but I think there should be a way to force someone to move back down a level if they are over faced.

Everythingbutwings
Nov. 20, 2007, 04:22 PM
One thing for sure, to do nothing is to allow the endurance phase of what, in concept is a "combined" test, to become nothing more than the whoever staggers through phase. :(

Dressage is technical, endurance is conditioning, heart and stamina, stadium is to show the team has the depth to finish.

Endurance isn't supposed to eliminate.

hey101
Nov. 20, 2007, 04:31 PM
The sport shouldn't need to get harder over time simply because riders and horses get smarter.

I think this is really important. Has any other equestrian sport evolved over the past few years as quickly as eventing seems to have? Grand prix dressage does not now include airs above the ground, nor have the heights been raised in GP show-jumping (have they?!?). What have other sports done to address improved breeding, training, riding, etc- or perhaps they've done nothing per se, and the top three riders are all separated by 80.123- 80.456% in GP? I guess for dressage at least, until horse after horse scores 100%, they don't need to make things "harder".

Just some random thoughts. :)

Invested1
Nov. 20, 2007, 04:52 PM
What about a 10 point "bonus" subtracted from our score for getting around with no jumping faults? This would focus efforts more towards jumping clean (and perhaps safer) rather than making time. .

Thing is, I'm sure we've all seen SCARY but clean rounds, or alternatively, beautiful stadium rounds with just an unlucky rub.

I personally don't think that clean=safe.

Everythingbutwings
Nov. 20, 2007, 04:55 PM
Unlucky rubs in stadium rarely kill.


I personally don't think that clean=safe.

That's sort of like saying you've seen people badly hurt wearing a seatbelt.

eqsiu
Nov. 20, 2007, 04:56 PM
Thing is, I'm sure we've all seen SCARY but clean rounds, or alternatively, beautiful stadium rounds with just an unlucky rub.

I personally don't think that clean=safe.

Thus perhaps safer.

Invested1
Nov. 20, 2007, 04:59 PM
Unlucky rubs in stadium rarely kill.

That's sort of like saying you've seen people badly hurt wearing a seatbelt.

I think you misunderstood my ENTIRE post.

a) I wasn't even remotely linking an unlucky rub to getting killed. It had to do with the idea of taking 10 points off the final score if you had a "clean" round.

b) "Clean" rounds can be ugly and scary---just because your horse was a saint enough not to touch a rail by NO means makes it a safe round.

LexInVA
Nov. 20, 2007, 05:07 PM
Thing is, I'm sure we've all seen SCARY but clean rounds, or alternatively, beautiful stadium rounds with just an unlucky rub.

I personally don't think that clean=safe.


Unlucky rubs in stadium rarely kill.



That's sort of like saying you've seen people badly hurt wearing a seatbelt.

People can easily be badly hurt from using a seatbelt or any other kind of restraint. I've seen it firsthand in many accidents. My neighbor had a spinal trauma that was caused by a seatbelt and she got a rather large settlement from a well known auto maker.

justdream2ride
Nov. 20, 2007, 05:49 PM
From reading all the posts - there seems to be a universal statement - courses are made so that one mistake can be fatal. While I whole heartedly agree with stricter move up requirements and many of the other ideas - how can we design courses so that a mistake doesn't result in serious injury? Even the best of the best just plain "miss" every once in a while.

No one wants to see the sport "dumbed" down - but I think there is a significant difference between dumbed down made safer. Accidents will happen - you take a risk every day when you get in your car - but speed limits and police help to make it safer.

Dressage should test obedience.

Stadium should test accuracy.

XC should test endurance. Reduce the technical combinations, adjust the time so it reflects the organization required before a combination and INCREASE the length and distance between jumps. Find a way to make XC an endurance test – not a stadium course in the field!

Everythingbutwings
Nov. 20, 2007, 05:50 PM
No, Invested, I think you were on to something good with your idea of a bonus for riding safe and clean. I merely commented on what I thought was incorrect in your statement.


My neighbor had a spinal trauma that was caused by a seatbelt and she got a rather large settlement from a well known auto maker.

Nice to be alive to sue. Want to wait to have your governing body sued because no one addresses the problems brought up in this, among many similar topics? That's what Denny mentioned.

If you eventers don't come up with something resembling a complete test that doesn't do in your contestants, some other body is going to do it and you'll all be out of what you love and embrace so passionately.

denny
Nov. 20, 2007, 06:11 PM
I don`t really know one way or the other if reducing the speeds will result in fewer accidents, but it`s something definite and specific that the sport can ACTUALLY TRY.
All this talk, talk, talk, and our riders and horses keep getting killed and maimed.
I ask all of you, what other sport would tolerate our statistics?
If any of the "popular" American sports even approached our sorry record, can you doubt there would be a Congressional inquiry?
It`s time to try some specific attempts to stop the heartache of so many devastating accidents.
If what we try works, we`ll begin to get a sense of that.
If it doesn`t, we better try something else.
Just some possibilities----If tables seem to be a possible culprit, outlaw them. Period. No more tables on xc.
Try slower speeds.
Try tougher qualifying requirements.
Track riders who have had falls. Consider that x no of falls means move down a level.
Now don`t start screaming if you dislike any or all of these.
They are SUGGESTIONS, not proposals.
We can either do SOMETHING, or sit and talk, and I bet the huge majority of us are at the point where "enough is enough."
Don`t you think?

Badger
Nov. 20, 2007, 06:22 PM
I like the idea of having high stadium fences than x-c, and have thought for a long time that should be done.

Brainstorming here: If x-c is the test of bravery, speed, and endurance, should we consider modifying the test in some way to better achieve those goals..., test bravery and scope over the fences but soften the speed requirement there, then add a "sprint" at the end to test speed (after the jumping test is completed) and add an endurance-type vet box at the end to evaluate and score conditioning.

The test as it stands isn't the only way out there to test bravery, speed, and endurance. Other ideas?

La Gringa
Nov. 20, 2007, 06:25 PM
I think if I were a mom with a kid seriously thinking about eventing, I would be very concerned after reading things like what Denny just wrote.

It's obvious something is wrong. It's scary. It's also bad for all horse sport PR, not just Eventing. Unfortunately these types of things stick in peoples minds when they hear about jumping events... because of tragedies, and there have been a lot of them lately.

I taught PC for many years, I loved what it did for my students, but I don't want them risking their necks..

I'm not at all against eventing as a sport, but I would like to see something be done to make it not so obviously dangerous and risky to life and limb.

bornfreenowexpensive
Nov. 20, 2007, 06:39 PM
The test as it stands isn't the only way out there to test bravery, speed, and endurance. Other ideas?

Add a mini steeple chase either in the begining or in the middle of the course. Just 3 or 4 chase fences that are done at a higher speed with penalty points based on time just for that small piece

increase the length of the course but not the number of fences

Put a limit on the number of combinations and/or the number of elements in a combination on a course---probably most feasible

I also like increased height in stadium.....and wouldn't mind an increase in penalties for each rail dropped (4 for the first rail, 8 for the next etc.)

Invested1
Nov. 20, 2007, 06:41 PM
No, Invested, I think you were on to something good with your idea of a bonus for riding safe and clean. I merely commented on what I thought was incorrect in your statement.

Exactly my point--not only was the bonus not my idea, I was disagreeing with it.
My point was that just because one makes it around a stadium course without any time or jumping faults DOES NOT mean that it was a SAFE round.

snickerdoodle
Nov. 20, 2007, 06:48 PM
denny makes a good point

I ask all of you, what other sport would tolerate our statistics?


would college football, hockey, basketball tolerate the 11 or so recorded deaths that have happened this year??

some of these haven't been at the advanced level.

Candle
Nov. 20, 2007, 07:02 PM
I have always been under the impression that xc tests endurance. This is NOT dumbing down the sport in my opinion, since it is not something that you can just go out and do. Developing conditioning in a horse is something that takes time and careful preparation, and I wish that modern XC courses reflected that. I propose studying fence colors and construction from a horse's point of view, and updating fence design to incorporate the findings. How much depth perception does a horse really have, anyway? Then, I would propose longer courses and less technical fences. Then, add a final analysis similar to endurance riding, in which a portion of the XC score depends on how quickly a horse's TPR's get back below a pre-set mark. This will further differentiate scores, while placing an emphasis on conditioning. Then, raise stadium 3" and make THOSE courses much more technical. Thus, I am all for "dumbing down" XC.

Everythingbutwings
Nov. 20, 2007, 07:10 PM
Point taken Invested.
not only was the bonus not my idea, I was disagreeing with it.

I mistakenly gave you credit for someone else's good idea. I'll go back to disagreeing with you about good riding being safe. Yes, some lucky few manage to squeak clean rounds out in a frightening way but, more often than not, those who ride that way have rails and those who ride properly do not. :)

Invested1
Nov. 20, 2007, 07:16 PM
Point taken Invested.

I mistakenly gave you credit for a good idea. I'll go back to disagreeing with you about good riding being safe. Yes, some lucky few manage to squeak clean rounds out in a frightening way but, more often than not, those who ride that way have rails and those who ride properly do not. :)

No worries, I certainly don't want credit for that idea. And I'll stand my ground that not *every* clean round equals a safe round (nor a good one) and therefore points should not be deducted solely on that basis.

Yup, we're definitely going to have to agree to disagree on this one.

4Martini
Nov. 20, 2007, 07:18 PM
I like the idea of the higher stadium as well.

I did my first BN this summer and walked the Novice stadium (same course - but based on my time faults from just going at my own pace around CC I got to jump first in stadium so I wanted to warm up while the BN course was open.) It looked totally do-able. After cross country the BN stadium looked a little Dinky (I'm sure many of you think all of BN looks Dinky - but I almost vomited after walking CC :lol:)

I think this would also be a way to reward better riding - make stadium a little higher and more technical. Heck, if you can put say(just an example) a 1 stride legally at Novice on CC, maybe make it a required element of a BN stadium. That way you have ridden the next level's technical questions at the previous level (just in a little more forgiving format.) I think there were more technical lines in the CC I rode than in the stadium - that seems a little odd to me. I had no trouble making any of the stadium turns, but bailed early (no penalties since I didn't even present at a bending line on cross country where I made a big circle.) This also may give some of us a reason to stay at a level a little longer- because it stays challenging a little longer.

LexInVA
Nov. 20, 2007, 07:44 PM
Here are some questions I pose to you Eventers, both old and new, about all of this and what could be done:

1. Styrofoam jumps/objects were suggested at some point to make Eventing safer. Since it is certainly possible to use the material and make the jumps aesthetically pleasing to the eye (both human and equine), would you use them without hesitation knowing they could be "easier" and or "safer"? This is something that can also apply to other equestrian sports that use jumps or objects.

2. What are the common characteristics of these accidents and do they (in your experience) usually share the same causes? Who has been through an accident similar to the ones that have happened recently and lived to tell about it?

3. If the qualification requirements are raised to "weed out the lesser riders/horses", could it not inspire more boldness and potentially dangerous behavior from the more ambitious riders who might feel it is it slight against them and a challenge to prove themselves? Should they be raised, how do you keep them fair and competitive instead of putting a big gap between the levels?

4. Are those of you with experience, knowledge, and skill, willing to sit down together and discuss the issues objectively without the USEF/USEA bureaucratic nonsense being a part of it so something can actually get accomplished at some point?

5. If accidents are increasing amongst younger riders, is this a sign that they are being pushed too hard (by themselves or trainers) or just being dangerous and/or stupid?

6. Can Eventing and similar equine sports be made safer for all riders and more appealing to the general public to support or partake in? (I only ask this because it pertains very much to what I am doing right now)

c_expresso
Nov. 20, 2007, 07:48 PM
I have always been under the impression that xc tests endurance. This is NOT dumbing down the sport in my opinion, since it is not something that you can just go out and do. Developing conditioning in a horse is something that takes time and careful preparation, and I wish that modern XC courses reflected that. I propose studying fence colors and construction from a horse's point of view, and updating fence design to incorporate the findings. How much depth perception does a horse really have, anyway? Then, I would propose longer courses and less technical fences. Then, add a final analysis similar to endurance riding, in which a portion of the XC score depends on how quickly a horse's TPR's get back below a pre-set mark. This will further differentiate scores, while placing an emphasis on conditioning. Then, raise stadium 3" and make THOSE courses much more technical. Thus, I am all for "dumbing down" XC.

I love your ideas! I believe in England that stadium is often higher than XC. It makes sense. I am also for more technical SJ courses. Level 1 [3' max] jumper courses at A shows make prelim SJ courses look like a walk in the park... seriously. Usually 2 combinations, bending lines, sharp turns, etc. I don't think there are usually 1-strides til training in eventing [not always just usually]. I've never walked a really hard stadium course at an event for the lower/mid levels at regular HTs.

blackwly
Nov. 20, 2007, 09:31 PM
I, for one, asert that higher stadium fences are not the answer. Intermediate stadium was raised from 3'9 to 4'0 and advanced from 3'11 to 4'3 (for a select number of fences in each course) about 5 years ago. Has this helped?

I DO think that a requirement that a pair drop back a level after "X" number of falls/retirements/eliminations makes a lot of sense. Prehaps make it so that you can "lose" your qualification to compete at a certain level temporarily after you've had serious difficulty in 2 or more recent events. People wouldn't like it, but it would help eliminate the "just kick on--dropping back is for wimps" crowd.

Of course, then you wind up penalizing the people who withdraw on course- wisely- because they just don't feel right. So it's not a perfect solution either.

La Gringa
Nov. 20, 2007, 09:46 PM
denny makes a good point

would college football, hockey, basketball tolerate the 11 or so recorded deaths that have happened this year??

some of these haven't been at the advanced level.

Are those all rider fatalities? I didn't realize it was THAT high. :eek: Wow.

PhoenixFarm
Nov. 20, 2007, 11:21 PM
Lex In VA said:

Here are some questions I pose to you Eventers, both old and new, about all of this and what could be done:

1. Styrofoam jumps/objects were suggested at some point to make Eventing safer. Since it is certainly possible to use the material and make the jumps aesthetically pleasing to the eye (both human and equine), would you use them without hesitation knowing they could be "easier" and or "safer"? This is something that can also apply to other equestrian sports that use jumps or objects.

Answer: Could or would? I'm all for changing jump design and materials to improve safety, IF AND ONLY IF, appropriate scientific research has been done to prove that new is actually safer. They took away the long format on a knee jerk reaction with NO research at all, and look how much "better" that has been (sarcasm).

2. What are the common characteristics of these accidents and do they (in your experience) usually share the same causes? Who has been through an accident similar to the ones that have happened recently and lived to tell about it?

I hope there are statistics and data to answer the first part of the question. I hope there are statistics that can find someone to answer the second one. I'm doubtful on both counts.

3. If the qualification requirements are raised to "weed out the lesser riders/horses", could it not inspire more boldness and potentially dangerous behavior from the more ambitious riders who might feel it is it slight against them and a challenge to prove themselves? Should they be raised, how do you keep them fair and competitive instead of putting a big gap between the levels?

Yes. Probably. I don't know. My issue with qualification is that any time you use them they become "permission." That is, if the qualification is 4 clean XC rounds, then when you've done 4 there is a nautral assumption that that gives you permission to move up. Even if your 4 clean rounds leave people gasping in fear. It is human nature. You cannot use an objective qualifying system that works any other way. But you cannot afford finanicially, nor legally defend, a subjective system (imagine telling Daddy Megabucks that his darling can't move up on the big $$ horse he just purcahsed because their round was scary but clean?)

4. Are those of you with experience, knowledge, and skill, willing to sit down together and discuss the issues objectively without the USEF/USEA bureaucratic nonsense being a part of it so something can actually get accomplished at some point?

The problem is that you have to step in to the bureacracy eventually. And then that bureaucracy has to figure out how to pay for whatever we come up with. Doesn't mean it's not worth doing, but it is the reality of making any changes.

5. If accidents are increasing amongst younger riders, is this a sign that they are being pushed too hard (by themselves or trainers) or just being dangerous and/or stupid?

I think this DEFINATELY needs to be evaluated. I have a YR who works for me who actually believes if he isn't going advanced by the time he's 22, he'll never make it in this sport. Needless to say I endeavor to dissuade him from this belief, but it is VERY prevalant. It is the one negative side to the YR program, IMHO, this notion that if you don't do the two star at NAYRC and then move up to advanced, you're doomed and the horse police will come and snatch your animals away in the night. Teens don't need any more "my life is over" drama.

6. Can Eventing and similar equine sports be made safer for all riders and more appealing to the general public to support or partake in? (I only ask this because it pertains very much to what I am doing right now)?

No.

blackwly
Nov. 21, 2007, 12:42 AM
Totally agree that the YR move-up mania is a problem.

There is much to be learned by perfecting your ride at training, prelim, intermediate rather than just storming up the ladder.

I was victim to it myself - prelim at 14, intermediate at 16, applying for special permission to go advanced at 17.5 before I headed to college (they denied me- luckily- and said I had to wait and turn 18.) While it was fun and exciting, I was lucky I made it out with only one ride on a backboard in a helicopter! As we all know, teenagers do not have particuarly good judgement...even smart and motivated ones.

I think a lot of this solution (in terms of the mindset) has to come from the pros though. And a lot of promising YR's leave good solid trainers because they think they are "holding them back" while some other BNT could get them to the top ranks more quickly. As usual, $$ is often involved.

Carol Ames
Nov. 21, 2007, 02:07 AM
9 feet for a 2' 5" jump seems awfully:eek: far; did he actuslly jump it or just canterr over it?:confused:

dr j
Nov. 21, 2007, 03:04 AM
Hi

I am commenting here as someone who has a very minimal stake in this sport at this time. I am a fairly accomplished rider and an even more accomplished horseman. Taken time off to have a career and family- ready to jump in again. Because I have been intimately involved with most horse sports and the people involved with them through my career path, I have decided that eventing was where I wanted to be when I started riding seriously again. I have no desire to be at the top of the sport- I had enough success in another discipline and literally was tired of all it entailed. My exposure to eventing showed me a lot of people enjoying their animals, by and large taking great care of them and basically being a great group to work with. I also noted everyone at every level is smiling when they come off cross country. Not seem elsewhere in horses.

The point of this- I am what your sport needs to grow. I have the money. I now have some time. I want to compete but have no desire to achieve at higher levels. I want to go when I want and stay home when I don't feel like going. I want to work for achievable goals but really only compete with myself. This year has been tough for the sport. I cringe to mention even one incident to my Pony club moms. They too are the future of eventing. Even though most of these accidents happen at higher levels it doesn't matter to a casual (horse) observer - they know all they want to know.

To continue to attact new competitors to the sport, this has to be addressed in a very serious manner. It will filter down to the bread and butter of the sport - and pretty soon there won't be any advanced riders because there won't be anywhere to start.

As so many have noted most sports wouldn't tolerate these stats. Imagine boxing for example having 11 deaths in one year. I would be horrified to think about taking up boxing!

It has to be fixed from within soon or someone will fix it from the outside... and that won't be very pretty I am sure.

J

HotIITrot
Nov. 21, 2007, 08:04 AM
I have always been under the impression that xc tests endurance. This is NOT dumbing down the sport in my opinion, since it is not something that you can just go out and do. Developing conditioning in a horse is something that takes time and careful preparation, and I wish that modern XC courses reflected that. ... Thus, I am all for "dumbing down" XC.

I'm all for "dumbing down" XC too.

Call me crazy here, but ...

It makes me sick to my stomach that apparently there are quite a number of people who are concerned about "dumbing down" XC after so many SERIOUS INJURIES AND DEATHS :eek:. I'd much rather have "easier" :confused: XC courses(which still poses the threat of injury or death mind you, as eventing is a dangerous sport) and know that the XC course is safer due to necessary changes that were made to reflect the problems that have occurred in our sport.


... Something needs to change - the speeds and the designs of the courses! ...

:yes: Yes Both!

I really hope someone brings this up at the USEA Annual Meeting and Convention during the safety meeting.

Badger
Nov. 21, 2007, 08:52 AM
I am under the impression that "back in the day" eventers more commonly produced their horses themselves and brought them through the levels. And that it's a more recent phenomenon to see many riders who go out and buy an upper level horse that's already going.

Is this an accurate impression? Is there any correlation among the bad accidents...are they a mix of self-produced partnerships as well as rides taken over mid-career?

breakthru
Nov. 21, 2007, 09:44 AM
I really, really like the idea of tougher, higher stadium courses with harsher penalties for a refusal, in combination with less technical XC.

I STILL think there should be some serious consideration of some sort of device like a ski binding that would withstand a certain amount of force for banking, but give under stronger forces for XC fences. Don't know for sure if it would work, but I think it should be given serious consideration... perhaps we should hire some crash-test technicians from an auto company to test this??

thumbsontop
Nov. 21, 2007, 09:45 AM
Posted twice when attempting to "stop"!

blackwly
Nov. 21, 2007, 09:45 AM
Good point, Badger. Might this have something to do with why the most terrible accidents seem to be involving more pros? Obviously there are more pros at the higher levels, but it still seems somewhat disproportionate.

Or do pros just feel more pressure to compete when their recent records have been a little marginal or the conditions/course might not exactly suit them and their horse on a given day?

thumbsontop
Nov. 21, 2007, 09:46 AM
So here's something to think about though. Will imposing qualification limits encourage more dangerous behavior? It was suggested as a possibility that rider #28 at Rubicon could have potentially endangered herself and her horse in order to avoid elimination in showjumping by falling off. (*NO ONE can say for sure, as it's only based on a long photo sequence and not on fact! The rider wasn't awarded dangerous riding points so it can be assumed that the TD thought it was fine and that it actually occurred much quicker than it appears. grcphoto.com - Rubicon HT nov2007) If a rider knows that another fall will cause them to get kicked back a division it may result in all or nothing behavior.

As for the age of the riders having serious accidents, can that be attributed to the fact that it's simply the age of the majority of eventers? Or is it that there is an increase in wealth and the number of young eventers who even have the opportunity to ride an experienced upper level horse?

Is there any way to make the trainer more accountable for encouraging a pair that's not ready to enter just because the kid whines and mommy insists? I see that even at the BN level. Perhaps there could be a way to educate parents about how dangerous eventing can be if their child isn't prepared to compete...without scaring them off completely.

I really don't think that youngsters understand the reality of rotational falls unless they actually see one - and even then they don't believe it's anything that their riding has anything to do with.

Though it won't reach a majority, perhaps suggesting that Pony Club introduce true XC safety to it's C level riders would impact at least a few (much like the dreaded "riding without a helmet risks" video).

How about printing this thread (and the other "completing" thread) and sending it off to the USEA?

RAyers
Nov. 21, 2007, 10:01 AM
I am under the impression that "back in the day" eventers more commonly produced their horses themselves and brought them through the levels. And that it's a more recent phenomenon to see many riders who go out and buy an upper level horse that's already going.

Is this an accurate impression? Is there any correlation among the bad accidents...are they a mix of self-produced partnerships as well as rides taken over mid-career?

I agree. There seems to be some wierd pressure that YRs must be going at the upper levels before they are really ready. I suspect it is a combination of professional pressure (they get the kids up to the top and the parents pay the bills) and the mistaken belief that one must make their career before they are out of their 20s.

Does anybody remember that the average age of the Olympic team in 2000 was around 39 YEARS OLD!?

My opinion is that as more money comes into the sport and more people feel that they can make a living being pros, the harder they are going to push to get the qualifications, sell horses, and the sooner they need to be doing all of this. Thus is follows the previous statement that the youth is invincible and the willingness to take more risks.

Reed

beeblebrox
Nov. 21, 2007, 11:46 AM
"
Originally Posted by Badger
I am under the impression that "back in the day" eventers more commonly produced their horses themselves and brought them through the levels. And that it's a more recent phenomenon to see many riders who go out and buy an upper level horse that's already going.

I agree. There seems to be some wierd pressure that YRs must be going at the upper levels before they are really ready. I suspect it is a combination of professional pressure (they get the kids up to the top and the parents pay the bills) and the mistaken belief that one must make their career before they are out of their 20s.

Does anybody remember that the average age of the Olympic team in 2000 was around 39 YEARS OLD!?"

This has been going on forever in the H/J world where money goes and buys world cup horses for kids not quite ready but talented yes. I think the difference is usually they do not kill themselves in the big jumper ring as at that size the horses just quit and say NO. Event horses are a slightly different mentality in my opinion. We certainly have a better resource for identifying these talented young riders and not to mention the sport is not as much a ugly step child of wild indians that some used to have of the sport so we are attracting Money and talent (some of it to young without the breadth of knowledge and respect they often need) from other facets of riding world.
What I see concerns me because often these TALENTED (and I believe that) young riders buy horses who have been competed almost exclusively by cream of the eventing world who have amazing talent and experience and then a young rider gets a hold of this machine. The young riders makes mistakes all riders do at the upper levels say prelim and up. The difference being this horse maybe has not had a rider of this level of experience before and maybe not able to make up for that deficit. I used to see young riders move up on older horses to sink their teeth in now that had competed with other young riders or who had taken other non professional adults around and were a bit more safe. NOW I see many young riders who I have known since 10 years old saying I am going to buy such and such from BNT X before being broken in on maybe a slightly more jaded older schoolmaster who might say NO when A gross mistake is made. THEY ARE SKIPPING that layer of horse often all together. Money talks and when you have a parent saying I will give you 80,000 or 100,000 to a BNT with a horse who has been running 2 star or int. who may not go on it is hard to say NO as that BNT needs to find a horse that will be a **** and olympic horse. I want to make it clear there is SOME REAL talent in the youth today but it must be tempered with experience so they do make it to their 39th birthday!

thumbsontop
Nov. 21, 2007, 12:07 PM
...As illustrated by the young girl I saw at a recognized event a couple of weeks ago struggling to control a horse in the BN Juniors start box - obviously WAY overmounted with someone nearby telling her "Don't worry about him! He knows his job! He was an advanced level eventer!" Horse was very agitated and refused jump 1 in BN. Rider was off at jump 4 and taken away by ambulance. Scene made even better by someone walking the horse who had taken off back to the jump to scream and yank at him at the jump very obviously as a punishment.

Candle
Nov. 21, 2007, 12:16 PM
I'd just like to re-assert that I don't think that raising stadium fences without any other changes is the answer either. I believe that one of the primary arguments against less technical XC is that there will be no way other than dressage to really differentiate scores and produce a clear winner. Thus, I propose taking XC back to a true endurance test, and upping the difficulty of stadium as a way to help differentiate scores and provide a true test of adjustability, finesse, and rideability at the end, instead of testing those things with XC. I just wanted to make sure that was clear.


I, for one, asert that higher stadium fences are not the answer. Intermediate stadium was raised from 3'9 to 4'0 and advanced from 3'11 to 4'3 (for a select number of fences in each course) about 5 years ago. Has this helped?

I DO think that a requirement that a pair drop back a level after "X" number of falls/retirements/eliminations makes a lot of sense. Prehaps make it so that you can "lose" your qualification to compete at a certain level temporarily after you've had serious difficulty in 2 or more recent events. People wouldn't like it, but it would help eliminate the "just kick on--dropping back is for wimps" crowd.

Of course, then you wind up penalizing the people who withdraw on course- wisely- because they just don't feel right. So it's not a perfect solution either.

arnika
Nov. 21, 2007, 01:08 PM
Here are some statistics and interesting articles I found on Google dating back to the nineties:

1.) British Journal of Sports Medicine, Vol 33, Issue 3 212-214, Copyright © 1999 by British Association of Sport and Medicine
ORIGINAL ARTICLES

Injuries to riders in the cross country phase of eventing: the importance of protective equipment


MR Whitlock
Wellhouse NHS Trust, Barnet General Hospital, Herts, United Kingdom.

OBJECTIVES: To determine the distribution of injuries in the eventing discipline of equestrian sports and the effectiveness of the protective equipment worn. METHODS: Data on all injuries sustained in the cross country phase over fixed obstacles were collected from 54 days of competition from 1992 to 1997. This involved 16,940 rides.
RESULTS: Data on a total of 193 injuries were collected, which included two deaths. This represents an injury rate of 1.1%. Head and facial injuries represented the largest group (31%), with one third of these requiring treatment in hospital. All riders were wearing protective helmets and body protectors.
CONCLUSIONS: Eventing is one of the most dangerous equestrian sports. Improved protective equipment, which is mandatory for 1999, should reduce the severity of these injuries.


2.) http://www.nature.com/sc/journal/v40/n6/full/3101280a.html
This link discusses the frequency of injuries including spinal cord and head injuries between different sports, written in 2002. The comparisons are enlightening and a bit startling. I especially noted the following segemnts:

Abstract
"Injuries sustained as a result of horse riding are common. Serious injuries to the nervous system are the most dangerous. An analysis has been made of 11 papers, new figures produced by surveying Stoke Mandeville, Oswestry and Odstock spinal units and by searching the internet to determine their frequency and distribution. Head injuries outnumber spinal injuries by five to one. In contrast to other sporting accidents, there are more lumbar and thoracic than cervical injuries and more women are injured than men (though this may just be a reflection of the fact that there are more women riders than men). Of all horse riding activities, jumping is most likely to produce a spinal injury."

and "Horse riding carries a high participant morbidity and mortality. Whereas a motor-cyclist can expect a serious incident at the rate of 1 per 7000 h(ours), the horse-rider can expect a serious accident once in every 350 h, ie 20 times as dangerous as motor cycling. This depends on the type of riding. A Cambridge University study of 1000 riding accident hospital admissions has shown:

One injury for 100 h of leisure riding
One injury for 5 h for amateur racing over jumps
One injury for 1 h of cross-country eventing (my emphasis)Recent surveys have shown that 20% of injured riders attending hospital are admitted and approximately 60% of these have head injuries."


3.) Fourth rider this year dies at horse trials
Independent, The (London) (http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158), Sep 5, 1999 (http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_19990905) by SOPHIE GOODCHILD (http://findarticles.com/p/search?tb=art&qt=%22SOPHIE+GOODCHILD%22)

A RIDER was killed at the Burghley Horse Trials in Lincolnshire yesterday, bringing the number of deaths this year in equestrian events to four.

Simon Long, aged 38, was crushed when his horse fell on him. There were immediate calls last night for safety to be improved at horse trials. The Burghley course was designed by Captain Mark Phillips.

Statistics from the British Horse Trials Association (BHTA) show that 12 riders have been killed in competition accidents since 1989, which makes the sport more dangerous than Formula One racing.
(My own comment here; Is this just for Britain or worldwide? If worldwide, then we have had a HUGE jump in frequency in rider deaths/major injuries since those stats.)


4.) This last link is to the report put out in 1993 in response to a spate of 6 deaths on XC that year, I read it then too. It is interesting that it shows 76% of injuries occurring on xc or xc warmup and the highest proportion of injuries from Advanced.
http://asci.uvm.edu/equine/law/amea/apr93nws.htm

5.) Here is a link from an Australian monitoring program in 2001-2:
http://www.rirdc.gov.au/comp02/hor1.html#_Ref12846675

A quote from the summary:
"However, the rate of falls increased as the level of competition increased from Pre-novice to Advanced classes. Twenty-eight per cent of the riders who fell reported injuries from falling. Injury to the upper body was reported in two-thirds of the injured riders."

6.) This last is the only other reference I've found so far. It is from the "Crisis Plan and Communications For Event Officials", http://www.useventing.com/resources/files/docs/usea_crisis_plan.pdf published by the USEA. Very interesting to read what the USEA reccommends to do in the event of a serious injury or death to horse or rider. Not trying to be ghoulish, just looking at it from a medical/research point of view.
One statement in it caught my eye, "Statistics on the safety of the sport are available at the USEA office."


I'm sorry to post such a long reply but I like to get as much data as I can. Does anyone know offhand if the stats are available to anyone or just USEA officials? That could be very helpful, especially if they have the worldwide(or at least the major eventing countries) statistics of type of fall/fence type/ any witness testimony/ official reports on why the falls occurred etc.

arnika
Nov. 21, 2007, 01:20 PM
by justdream2ride:
Dressage should test obedience.

Stadium should test accuracy.

XC should test endurance. Reduce the technical combinations, adjust the time so it reflects the organization required before a combination and INCREASE the length and distance between jumps. Find a way to make XC an endurance test – not a stadium course in the field!

Best reply I've seen so far out of many others!
Concise and cuts to the chase. Well said.

thumbsontop
Nov. 21, 2007, 01:22 PM
I actually posted that same question...new thread at 11am this morning. No replies yet, but I thought I'd ask on a new thread rather than take this in yet another direction. :D

Skursar
Nov. 21, 2007, 01:22 PM
1. An early post talked about the way the timing is calculated and it does seem that this needs to be addressed to allow additional time for hills/combinations, etc.

2.Also, what allowing more time in the Rider and Horse divisions? Often riders in these two divisions ride the "easier" dressage test, than the Open division because of less experience at that level. Why not give these riders and horses the benefit of more time to complete the XC and SJ phases with success?

pwynnnorman
Nov. 21, 2007, 01:26 PM
In combined driving, hazards are scored somehow or other by the time it takes to get through them. The faster you complete the hazard, the better your score.

I agree that raising the heights of stadium fences may not result in riders with better fundamentals in riding down to various types of jumps accurately and in control...but what about integrating something having to do with speed (pace) AND rails/refusals? What would happen to riders' level of SKILL (which is the central issue, isn't it?) if the time for stadium were more challenging--such that if you couldn't go clean at speed, you'd lose enough points to take you out of the running, especially in the lower levels? You could still go slow and carefully to go clean, but if you showed yourself to be unable to take fences at speed (OR via more risky lines, like angling or taking inside tracks), you wouldn't place well and perhaps wouldn't qualify to move up?

I ask this because doesn't there need to be sound theory behind whatever changes are made? Theory that keeps the nature of the sport intact, that is? Aren't stadium and dressage kind of "theoretical" phases (today, not yesterday) implying that doing well in those phases should prove the all-round well-ridden and prepared horse as much as x-c? It's NOT about just surviving x-c well enough to get around stadium any more, right? At the upper levels, especially--it seems--the four-stars, clean rounds are getting mighty rare...but I sure don't see that at the lower levels.

Maybe the way to insist that riders have the fundamentals they need o/f to be safer x-c is to make clean rounds in stadium more rare, at least maybe at Training and Prelim????

The other thing I wanted to mention again was staying at a level for at least one year before moving on (say, Prelim and higher). This thread hasn't considered that, so I'm wondering what folks think. Seems to me that both the horse and the rider would benefit. I'm still reeling from Dan being retired at age 14, for example. Used to be that that would be the prime age of an eventer, but now, 6-year-olds are going advanced.

Maybe if horses and riders had to get more mileage--were forced to get mileage--horses would last longer and riders would allow ability to catch up with talent (and/or just really secure -- not just "learn" -- the fundamentals). Used to be, you could apply for an exception to be made if you wanted to compete at a "grade" LOWER than your horse's grade, right? So why couldn't that same process be used in reverse for those who felt their horses/partnerships didn't need to stay at one level for a year before moving up? That would allow an iffy record (like Eleanor's, sadly) to be examined, as someone on this thread suggested needs to happen.

Maybe much more needs to be made of "moving up." Maybe it isn't the courses or the jumps that need rethinking at all. After all, the changes in heights, time and technicality were instigated by how GOOD horses were becoming, weren't they? This is why I think I disagree a bit with Denny's perspective. Dumbing down or slowing down x-c will only result in putting too much emphasis on dressage, which, speaking of theory, isn't true to the sport either.

Speed up stadium and slow down advancing, that gets my vote.

arnika
Nov. 21, 2007, 01:45 PM
Candle, having finally read your post #103, I agree with your ideas completely. Having a score for "conditioning" is an excellent way to distinguish between top rides and the other ideas would work as well.

I can remember many a thread several years ago on "How many sets do I need to ride and at what speed to produce a top XC horse?" or "What is the best conditioning routine?", etc. Sometimes multiple ones going on at once. Now they seem to be mostly on how to jump a specific type, such as corners, combinations, skinnies, you name it. "How much should I spend for a XC horse?". Blecch...........as much as you want to; $500.00 or $500,00.00. It doesn't matter if the thing can jump and move.

Please help make this a sport I can put my daughters into without excessive fear. I don't WANT showjumping xc, I don't WANT hunter pricing. I want the fun, enjoyable sport I introduced my oldest to a long time ago. The one that was a blast to ride xc, not fret over can I make the in-and-out combination into the water, jump the bank out, hit the skinny two strides away and then make the sharp turn downhill to the table heading into the trees! Oh, and don't forget the corners, lots and lots of corners!

breakthru
Nov. 21, 2007, 01:52 PM
yes, I think a combination of things would be the best approach- and possibly the only way to ensure the spirit of the sport is preserved. Proposed changes:

Dressage- nothing

Stadium- perhaps faster times, 3" higher than XC height, tougher penalties for refusals

XC- less technical courses, (though not necessarily slower speeds), research into some type of "breakaway" elements to fences

breakthru
Nov. 21, 2007, 01:52 PM
Oh and also- perhaps some system of qualifying for a move up to the next level- be it based on rider, or horse, or horse-rider combination?

thumbsontop
Nov. 21, 2007, 01:54 PM
Then the question becomes, "What do we do with those who complain that "good" riders and horses are competing unfairly at lower levels making it hard for those just entering those levels to have a chance at a ribbon?" Their chances for going to championships, etc may go down now and they may become frustrated with the sport. I'm not suggesting it would definitely happen, but it would likely be something the USEA considers when making its rules.

This seems to be a great discussion, but does anyone really know what caused these recent fatalities? What levels were they at? What commonalities and differences were there? How many "almost fatal" accidents or ambulance rides occurred? Has that number risen? If we don't know why the accidents occurred in the first place, who's to say whether training, body protection, safer jumps, less technical courses, speed, SJ changes, etc will even make a difference?

breakthru
Nov. 21, 2007, 02:00 PM
thumbsontop- I'm not sure I understand your concern about changes resulting in "good" riders taking all the ribbons and other riders becoming discouraged.... I don't want to sound harsh but, well- that's what we're trying to do, right? Encourage those who can't perform adequately at these levels to move down...?

RAyers
Nov. 21, 2007, 02:01 PM
I agree that raising the heights of stadium fences may not result in riders with better fundamentals in riding down to various types of jumps accurately and in control...but what about integrating something having to do with speed (pace) AND rails/refusals? What would happen to riders' level of SKILL (which is the central issue, isn't it?) if the time for stadium were more challenging--such that if you couldn't go clean at speed, you'd lose enough points to take you out of the running, especially in the lower levels? You could still go slow and carefully to go clean, but if you showed yourself to be unable to take fences at speed (OR via more risky lines, like angling or taking inside tracks), you wouldn't place well and perhaps wouldn't qualify to move up?

Maybe the way to insist that riders have the fundamentals they need o/f to be safer x-c is to make clean rounds in stadium more rare, at least maybe at Training and Prelim????


Speed up stadium and slow down advancing, that gets my vote.


I had to parse pwynn's post to make this comment. I agree changing stadium will do little to help XC. I rode in the jumpers for 27 years before I switched to eventing. There isn't a course that they could make that I can't do in stadium. However, I was a MESS for years on XC. I had plenty of crashes at prelim (even though I did mini prixs and th A/O jumpers).

So, if a h/j rider were to switch to eventing, I doubt much can be done in stadium to phase them. However, this may work for the lower levels as pwynn and others suggest.

I wholly agree about mileage and time at each level. In my experience, I spent 7 years at training, 4 years at prelim and am coming on to 4 years at intermediate.

Reed

MTshowjumper
Nov. 21, 2007, 02:02 PM
I agree that raising the heights of stadium fences may not result in riders with better fundamentals in riding down to various types of jumps accurately and in control...but what about integrating something having to do with speed (pace) AND rails/refusals? What would happen to riders' level of SKILL (which is the central issue, isn't it?) if the time for stadium were more challenging--such that if you couldn't go clean at speed, you'd lose enough points to take you out of the running, especially in the lower levels? You could still go slow and carefully to go clean, but if you showed yourself to be unable to take fences at speed (OR via more risky lines, like angling or taking inside tracks), you wouldn't place well and perhaps wouldn't qualify to move up?

Speed up stadium and slow down advancing, that gets my vote.

I agree with slowing down advancing. There is a lot of pressure to work up through the levels, and I see people at levels they themselves shouldn't be at, but they have a experianced or very capable and honest horse so there you go. I myself was feeling the pressure to move up to prelim early this spring, but then I sat back and wondered what is my hurry? Why am I doing this anyway? I think I will not worry about it and just let it happen when it happens instead of trying to schedual moving up.

I don't agree with speeding up stadium. The whole point is accuracy and a lot of the scary rides I see at the lower levels are too fast and flat anyway. In the jumper ring there is a trend towards making the smaller under 3'6" classes optimum time because of the scary speeds people can and do take over smaller fences. Do you really want it to ride like a jump off? Jump offs are won not by going fast, but by keeping a good pace and taking inside turns (At least that is how I won them :) ). Roll backs, and super tight inside turns in order to have a fast round are not really the skills we are worried about for cross country anyway. I think jumping out of stride from a gallop is something that can only be gained from doing cross country.

Some of the things I would like to see in stadium to promote better riding is more technical courses. Courses where you have to make plans and if things go wrong figure out how to fix it. This means more related distances and lines, tough turns, long or short lines, etc.. That is also why I suggested higher stadium vs. xc. Again it is testing your accuracy, exspecialy in a more technical course.

I do think that tougher stadium would help for xc. That is where most of us get our practice anyway, and it is where a lot are lacking and it is where I do most of my wincing watching the lower levels. That combined with required longer waits to move up would help a lot with the cross country. Technical skills and experience!

RAyers
Nov. 21, 2007, 02:09 PM
I do think that tougher stadium would help for xc. That is where most of us get our practice anyway, and it is where a lot are lacking. That combined with required longer waits to move up would help a lot with the cross country. Technical skills and experience!

My quote:


I agree changing stadium will do little to help XC.

Yeah, we are figuring things out now. The reason I say stadium helps little is that:

1) speed in stadium is too slow once you are above training.
2) the ground is groomed and level.
3) no surrounding distractions like you find on XC.
4) the space is too small.

Sure you can tune a horse in stadium but you can not train a rider/horse in stadium nor can you really practice XC. There are no looooooong approaches to singles.

Just like I say about dressage, if good stadium correlated to good XC, then good jumpers should be good XC horses. We know that is not true.

The "fixes" for what is happening lie only partially in the other phases and not as some way of judging the capability of a horse and rider. The "fixes" lie primarily in XC. If we look to the other phases for answers we will just simply make eventing a combind test.

We have got to think outside the big white boxes!

Reed

lstevenson
Nov. 21, 2007, 02:18 PM
I have to strongly disagree with faster times in stadium. I think the time at upper levels is already too fast. Riders should NOT have to gallop their fences in stadium. Stadium rounds tend to be crazy enough.

What was it 5 years ago or so? That they increased the time penalties in stadium to 1 point per second over. And when that changed, the quality of stadium rides went downhill fast. Riders starting galloping their fences, and riding haphazardly, thinking that a rail down and 4 faults is better than being 15 seconds late and getting 15 faults. I will never forget one of the first events I went to after that rule change was Rocking Horse in Fl. In the Advanced division, the time was hard to make in the stadium. The first 10 riders all had 10-20 faults for time. After that, people starting riding like CRAZY to make the time. And I forget who it was, but someone had the scariest round, galloping like crazy, leaving out strides, and getting the horse totally out of ryhthm and balance. And he made the time, and everybody cheered! And he was the only Advanced rider of the day to do stadium with NO FAULTS! I was thinking, what in the world are the people who make the rules thinking?

I think increasing the speed of stadium, or increasing the importance of the time, like they did by increasing the time penalties is a very, very bad idea, as it promotes crazy, dangerous riding.

purplnurpl
Nov. 21, 2007, 02:22 PM
I do think that tougher stadium would help for xc. That combined with required longer waits to move up would help a lot with the cross country. Technical skills and experience!

The issue here is that the decision is very subjective.
Learning curves of horses and riders differ greatly. It is hard to set the same standard for everyone.
I have seen many talented horses become sour due to boredom.

throwurheart
Nov. 21, 2007, 02:23 PM
I'd just like to re-assert that I don't think that raising stadium fences without any other changes is the answer either. I believe that one of the primary arguments against less technical XC is that there will be no way other than dressage to really differentiate scores and produce a clear winner. Thus, I propose taking XC back to a true endurance test, and upping the difficulty of stadium as a way to help differentiate scores and provide a true test of adjustability, finesse, and rideability at the end, instead of testing those things with XC. I just wanted to make sure that was clear.

While I'm probably not qualified to have an opinion since I'm far from advanced level, this makes sense to me (in terms of determining placing, not as a cross training comment). I trained for two years with a H/J trainer for stadium, and she really worked our butts off on tough lines, turns, rollbacks, etc, prepping us for jumpers, not eventing, and was amazed when she came to an event how easy the stadium courses were.

Of course, turning back the clock to the long format would be best, but given that we can't...

eqsiu
Nov. 21, 2007, 02:31 PM
Instead of thinking "increased difficulty in stadium will help x-c," we should be thinking that increasing the technicality in stadium could allow x-c to be less technical and more galloping-over-jumps. I think we should leave the technical stuff in stadium and emphasize boldness and endurance on cross country. Each of the 3 phases of our sport are supposed to highlight different skills. Let's let them do that.

pwynnnorman
Nov. 21, 2007, 02:38 PM
I guess I was assuming that in increasing speeds in stadium, riders would NOT jsut race around, but rather would learn to ride more accurately at speed (making the "test" more akin to the questions also asked on x-c). But you're right: they wouldn't, necessarily. They'd just do the math and go faster. (OK, so hey! What about an optimum time with penalties for going too fast OR too slow? Dictate a "challengingly fast" pace, but one you'd have to be aware of, not just gunning for? Just continuing to mull it over.)



However, I was a MESS for years on XC. I had plenty of crashes at prelim (even though I did mini prixs and th A/O jumpers).


But why, RAyers? Could your experience be somewhat individualistic? Far be it for me to make a guess about your history, but that sort of thing sounds like the somewhat predictable difficulties a ring-rider would have (maybe even psychologically) when first faced with the uncertainties of x-c. But for the rider who has been doing x-c all along, wouldn't developing a jumper rider's skill set for stadium also advance their control and judgment on x-c?

pwynnnorman
Nov. 21, 2007, 02:41 PM
boldness and endurance on cross country


But under the current constraints of land, how can that be done?

And how are we defining -- and thus proposing to test -- "boldness," BTW? Examples???

RAyers
Nov. 21, 2007, 02:48 PM
Far be it for me to make a guess about your history, but that sort of thing sounds like the somewhat predictable difficulties a ring-rider would have (maybe even psychologically) when first faced with the uncertainties of x-c. But for the rider who has been doing x-c all along, wouldn't developing a jumper rider's skill set for stadium also advance their control and judgment on x-c?

pwynn, exactly. My experience is NOT individualistic. A lot of riders reach a place where they tend to wreck becasue they are pushing thier skills. Most times this is at Training or below. For me it was at P because of my jumper background. EVERY rider has to face the difficulties of XC. That is what makes Eventing unique.

I found that on older courses my stadium experience had little bearing on my XC because I rode slow and hesitant on XC using the very controlling ride that you see in the jumpers. I found that becasue of the speed my ride had to be VERY different than stadium.

Yes, stadium experience gave me some judgemental capabilities that others didn't have but they sure as heck didn't make me a good XC rider.

Eventing has 3 (THREE) DISTINCT phases. The ride in stadium is not, nor should it ever be, the same as the ride on XC. I agree with eqsiu that XC should have never been changed but that dressage and stadium should have been made more difficult so that the riders actually had to ride stadium as well as any jumper rider and do dressage as well as any dressage rider.

For me that means go back to the long XC tacks with big fences while requiring our dressage to be as good as any USDF round and our stadium to be right up there with the good A/Os.

Reed

JER
Nov. 21, 2007, 02:54 PM
But what can we do about rotational falls?

Almost all the eventing fatalities and many of the serious injuries are from rotational falls. According to FEI statistics, a rotational fall on XC carries a 'mortality or serious injury' rate of 29%.

On the Horse & Hound BB, someone posted about a conversation with the Willis Bros. (big time course-builders) in which the Willises said that rotational falls could be avoided if the fence gave as little as 5cm when hit by a horse. I'm just quoting someone quoting the Willis Bros. but if this is true, we have a good starting point.

Could any of the suggestions made so far in this thread have prevented any of the deaths or serious injuries of the past year? We're addressing all sorts of very good issues but it's doubtful that any of them would have saved a life or prevented a serious injury on XC.

Other sports have made small adjustments in safety and practice to make the sports much safer. College and high school football is one example. From the early 1960s until about 1980 or so, there were 25-30 deaths per year of high school or college players. Most of these deaths were from head or neck injuries. In 1982, new rules made head to head contact illegal and prohibited 'spearing' and other types of head-first tackling. That same year, the death-by-football rate plummeted and since then, school football has had a fatality rate in the single digits (usually heart-related). Some years there are no fatalities.

Swimming became much safer after the governing bodies implemented rules about water depth and racing dives. If the water is only X feet deep, only in-water starts are allowed. Quite simple changes resulted in fewer serious injuries and deaths.

Eventing needs to deal with the death/serious injury issue the same way. What SPECIFICALLY is causing the fatalities? It's not shoddy dressage scores. It's not stadium optimum times or maximum heights.

I'm a certified EMT with field experience and many CE hours in trauma studies. EMS people would approach this situation from looking at what are the mechanisms of injury as well as what are the injuries. What SPECIFICALLY is killing these riders -- ruptured aortas? massive crush injuries? head trauma? spinal trauma? And then we'd start to think about how to prevent these injuries in these situations.

(And yes, I own a WoofWear EXO body protector.)

eqsiu
Nov. 21, 2007, 03:01 PM
But under the current constraints of land, how can that be done?

And how are we defining -- and thus proposing to test -- "boldness," BTW? Examples???

Loops in the course? I don't have an answer for that, but I know that most of the events I've been to have been around long enough that they still have the land. Most have cross country on public land as well, so it's protected. Perhaps this is not the case out east? The midwest generally has some space to it :lol:.

As for boldness, I think being willing to gallop up to a big jump and fly over it is boldness. They should take the jump like it's in the way. With the galloping fences the most you should have to do it rebalance a bit and make sure the impulsion is there (not just the speed), no major collection required.

pwynnnorman
Nov. 21, 2007, 03:05 PM
Another assumption, JER...

I assumed it was "control and accuracy" (in there somewhere is "judgment," too). RAyers, that's what I was assuming about stadium, too: not that upping it in some way or another would produce overall better riders, just riders with more control and accuracy (and judgment, I guess).

My thoughts led me that way because Jill H said Eleanor was going too fast, and I seem to recall a question about the California rider's judgment. I'm beginning to let "judgment" seep in here because, come to think of it, it has to do with not only being in control of the horse and able to ride it accurately, but also being able to assess it (overall and at a given moment in time). I thought maybe upping stadium would provide a safer way to "learn as you go" about things that require judgment than the ramifications of picking your way down to that wide oxer or flying over that table on a tired or distracted horse...

Recognizing, of course, that all this is mere intellectual speculation on my part :winkgrin:.

Jazzy Lady
Nov. 21, 2007, 03:06 PM
NO SQUARE TABLES will help with getting the knees out of the way when missing a fence. I really think that these types of fences, disguised as a gallop fence will continue to cause problems. It has twice, at the same venue. When your horse is tired, and you are galloping to the end, you shouldn't have to worry about the what ifs at a table. That should be a friendly breather fence.

http://www.photoreflect.com/pr3/ThumbPage.aspx?e=3287935&g=0R&s=70 This was on the OI at Ocala on the weekend. Scroll to the second row. This rider was lucky because the design of the fence was on their side. From the discription of Eleanor's fall, it sounds like a similar situation, with a terrible outcome. Take away the pivot point from knees catching. This horse slid over his shoulder and ended up on his feet. Had the fence been square, the outcome probably would not have been as good.

I don't mean to single out this rider (who did an excellent job of staying off the horse's shoulder in a very tight spot. I am just pointing out a fence design that resolved an issue.

pwynnnorman
Nov. 21, 2007, 03:10 PM
You mean this:
http://www.photoreflect.com/pr3/OrderPage.aspx?pi=00FD00C90R0077&po=77

Zowie...BUT how would that jump's face be different than, say, a Ye Ol' Chicken Coop? The width, perhaps, making it harder to recouperate (no pun intended) from the mistake? And/or, again, the width making it taken at a pace which makes the mistake that much more potentially tragic?

eqsiu
Nov. 21, 2007, 03:14 PM
NO SQUARE TABLES will help with getting the knees out of the way when missing a fence.

Currently the back edge has to be 1" higher than the front, right? What if the difference had to be 6"? Would the extra lip help keep the horse on top of the fence instead of flipping all the way over? Hell, even adding a rail on the back should stop that some. If the table had the outline of half a gambrel roof instead of half a mansard roof would it help?

inquisitive
Nov. 21, 2007, 03:16 PM
Forgive me for just jumping in and if I'm wrong, but isn't the front edge the problem with square tables? In the example that Jazzy gave, I think the horse was able to slide up and over because the front was angled. If the front had been square, it would have stopped him more harshly and potentially led to flipping/rotating...

eqsiu
Nov. 21, 2007, 03:17 PM
You mean this:
http://www.photoreflect.com/pr3/OrderPage.aspx?pi=00FD00C90R0077&po=77

Zowie...BUT how would that jump's face be different than, say, a Ye Ol' Chicken Coop? The width, perhaps, making it harder to recouperate (no pun intended) from the mistake? And/or, again, the width making it taken at a pace which makes the mistake that much more potentially tragic?

I think the top of a table prevents the horse from getting its feet under itself as fast, thus leading to the rotation. It's like the first jump by Ginny Leng in the stickability part of "Thrills and Spills." If the horse can snap its legs to the ground it can alter the direction of the force propelling it head over heels.

JER
Nov. 21, 2007, 03:18 PM
My thoughts led me that way because Jill H said Eleanor was going too fast, and I seem to recall a question about the California rider's judgment. I'm beginning to let "judgment" seep in here because, come to think of it, it has to do with not only being in control of the horse and able to ride it accurately, but also being able to assess it (overall and at a given moment in time).

But what if the rider has good 'judgment' and the horse 'misses'? The horse can slip, get distracted, crack a sesamoid, have eye/focus problems all in the last stride or two. It's a horse you're riding, not a machine. And then what?

Here's what: you're hitting a solid 3'9" x 5'3" table, rotating over it in the same trajectory as the 1000+ lb. horse. You have about a 1 in 3 chance of surviving it without serious injury or death. Good luck!

eqsiu
Nov. 21, 2007, 03:18 PM
deleted because I misread

throwurheart
Nov. 21, 2007, 03:21 PM
Instead of thinking "increased difficulty in stadium will help x-c," we should be thinking that increasing the technicality in stadium could allow x-c to be less technical and more galloping-over-jumps. I think we should leave the technical stuff in stadium and emphasize boldness and endurance on cross country. Each of the 3 phases of our sport are supposed to highlight different skills. Let's let them do that.

Exactly. Three different tests, three different skill sets. And just what Reed said!

Again, speaking only to low level eventing - dressage and stadium is nowhere near the difficulty level of their respective specialist sports. Good rounds are simply good flatwork interrupted by airborne expressions :D. So why is it that a weak dressage training level test is paired with 3 to 3-3 jumping? And if you're doing 3 to 3-3 feet xc over hill and dale, what's wrong with slices, rollbacks, hard bending lines, and more technical skills in the stadium arena?

If we go back to our military roots, this is what eventing is supposed to be all about... parade maneuvers, running messages to the front line (emphasis on the running, e.g. bold and brave), and coming back tired but ready to be technical, scopey and careful in a final test of athleticism.

bridlewise
Nov. 21, 2007, 03:22 PM
First of all, let me say that I am sorry for jumping the gun on the other thread and coming off looking heartless and insensitive. In no way, did I mean to make light of the tragic loss of one of our young people, I just was so astounded at this happening again, that my adrenaline took charge and I tried to find a reason. Please accept this as an apology to all concerned.
I have been following this thread and so many have brought up a lot of extremely pertinent questions and possible solutions. There are safety measures in place to make sure that rider and horse are both [U]qualified[U] for whatever level they are competing. Both the horse and rider have to complete National and FEI (CCI-CIC) competitions with qualifying scores, within the current calendar year or the two previous years. My observation is that, if the records are complete, Mister Barnabus, WAS NOT qualified to compete in a CCI**. Do the associations have any responsibility to insure that the qualifications have been met?

inquisitive
Nov. 21, 2007, 03:24 PM
Currently the back edge has to be 1" higher than the front, right? What if the difference had to be 6"? Would the extra lip help keep the horse on top of the fence instead of flipping all the way over? Hell, even adding a rail on the back should stop that some. If the table had the outline of half a gambrel roof instead of half a mansard roof would it help?


I think the top of a table prevents the horse from getting its feet under itself as fast, thus leading to the rotation. It's like the first jump by Ginny Leng in the stickability part of "Thrills and Spills." If the horse can snap its legs to the ground it can alter the direction of the force propelling it head over heels.


makes sense, but in that case, would 6" really stop a horse with incredible momentum from not sliding/flipping over? really asking cause I don't know... :lol:

throwurheart
Nov. 21, 2007, 03:27 PM
I've long thought tables might be a problem, but figured that I must be reacting with a personal worry rather than any real knowledge that they're more dangerous.

justdream2ride
Nov. 21, 2007, 03:28 PM
Instead of thinking "increased difficulty in stadium will help x-c," we should be thinking that increasing the technicality in stadium could allow x-c to be less technical and more galloping-over-jumps. I think we should leave the technical stuff in stadium and emphasize boldness and endurance on cross country. Each of the 3 phases of our sport are supposed to highlight different skills. Let's let them do that.

YES YES YES! There is no better way to say it!


I do not agree with increasing heights – what I do agree with is increasing the technicality of stadium courses – but NOT increasing the speed. FORWARD is the goal NOT FAST! Why not ask harder questions – rollbacks, combinations – heck even a corner! Have the technical questions presented in the stadium ring a level BELOW when they are asked XC.

Personally I think speed is a portion of the problem and courses being too technical is the other. I don’t think reducing the speed is the answer though – I honestly think that the time needs to be adjusted. Like many people have said – riders are having to FLY to make up time lost in setting up for the combinations which I think effectively causes riders to try to balance at the last possible second to not lose time. So why not adjust the time in relation to the number of combinations to allow riders to properly set up without worrying about losing so much time and without having to go even faster in between jumps and take “fly” fences MUCH to fast just to avoid time penalties.

So I stick to my previous post of making XC an endurance test again. Reduce the combinations; increase the overall length, increase the distance between fences and increase optimum times.

Since this seems to be the time to throw around ALL ideas - why not start XC with a short trot/canter(sorta like roads/tracks) followed by the first three fences being nice brush fences to get forward established(like steeplechase) followed by the remainder of the XC course. ?????

eqsiu
Nov. 21, 2007, 03:29 PM
makes sense, but in that case, would 6" really stop a horse with incredible momentum from not sliding/flipping over? really asking cause I don't know... :lol:

No freakin' clue. We could just get rid of square tables all together, and use other spread fences.

lstevenson
Nov. 21, 2007, 03:48 PM
NO SQUARE TABLES will help with getting the knees out of the way when missing a fence. I really think that these types of fences, disguised as a gallop fence will continue to cause problems. It has twice, at the same venue. When your horse is tired, and you are galloping to the end, you shouldn't have to worry about the what ifs at a table. That should be a friendly breather fence.


I totally agree. I also hate square tables. Galloping fences should be forgiving and rampy. The faster the speed required, the more rampy it should be. Which is often not the case at tables.

Fence2Fence
Nov. 21, 2007, 03:50 PM
Jim Wofford's article in Practical Horseman "Christmas Wishlist" commented on how he'd like to see riders less obsessed with climbing the levels and more focused on riding well. He mentioned next months article will be completely devoted to that subject. Should be very interesting given the current discussion.

I flipped through DC's article on riding coffin fences too. There was a sidebar regarding the course designers selection of rolltops for the coffin (I forget which HT--Pine Top? sorry!), and how this thoughtful fence selection helped prevent a rotational fall as his horse "Fantastik" had a very green horse moment jumping through the coffin and hung his legs.

I think focusing on how to completely eradicate rotational falls would get to the heart of this issue alot quicker than ramping up dressage, show jumping, and qualification criteria. (Not saying that's not worthwhile, as I really think it is.) It's the rotational falls killing our fellow competitors; so, to me it's not rocket science---let's figure out how to prevent rotational falls. The frangible pins have been studied and to some degree, implemented. So, let's have more studies on square tables and 'forgivable' fences.

breakthru
Nov. 21, 2007, 04:04 PM
Just wanted to backup my support for the clarification that eqsiu and justdream2ride made:

That the proposition to make stadium more technically challenging (maybe not necessarily faster, I don't know...) and higher would be in order to allow the XC phase to be LESS technically challenging-

and this ties in to rotational falls because the assumption is that, when a horse has to constantly be readjusting speed and balance for technically challenging courses, he tires more easily and is more likely to make those tragic "misses" before, say, a big table.

again- I think there should be more serious research in pins or breakaway elements by qualified people in the business, not just (well-intentioned though they may be) eventers speculating.... someone who has the background to run these tests in a methodical way.

Trixie
Nov. 21, 2007, 05:58 PM
I don't know if upping the "speed" factor in stadium would help - but there's no reason not to have a course that asks technical questions.

In the last year I started showing ETBW's mare in the jumpers. For the most part, my plan was to ride forward - not necessarily rocketship (okay, we did that a few times, too) - and do inside turns - to ride it "like an eq course." We did a lot of winning, often because people were riding like bats out of hell and nailing down rails instead of riding effectively and setting their horses up to jump correctly - barreling THROUGH the distance, etc. I was shocked at the sheer volume of rails coming down in 3' and 3'6" jumper classes, to say nothing of the much lower levels.

There are things that reward accuracy that don't necessarily reward speed, and I think these would be useful especially on the lower levels.

blackwly
Nov. 21, 2007, 07:18 PM
Just chiming in to say that I'm in the camp that says changing stadium isn't going to directly impact the number of rotational falls on xcountry. In the last 5 yrs or so, these changes have been made:

Max heights in intermediate and advanced stadium have been raised 3 inches.
Stadium time penalities have been changed from 0.25/sec to 1/sec, resulting in faster rides.
At prelim and above, 2 stadium refusals now causes elimination.

Has this helped the situation on xcountry? I really don't think so.

A page or 2 back, someone asked about what types of injuries are causing these rider's deaths. I'm a neurosurgeon, and while I obviously haven't examined any of these riders myself, I can say that these seem to fall into 2 categories of injuries I see everyday. First, we have hyperflexion injuries leading to high cervical spinal cord injuries. This is what Debbie and Kim Meier suffered from. In some cases of immediate deaths, this may have been the culprit- atlanto-axial or atlanto-occipital dislocations can cause death immediately, and based on injury patterns we see in divers, motorcycle crashes, etc I think these are likely culprits in some of these rotational falls.

Additionally, some of the deaths you hear about occuring within 24-48 hours of the accident due to "severe head injury" are probably related to what we call diffuse axonal injury- basically a severe deceleration injury to the long tracts of the brain. These pts tend to be hemodynamically stable initially, but quickly progress to brain death in a matter of hours.

pwynnnorman
Nov. 21, 2007, 08:04 PM
OK, I'm a little confused now. How will incorporating more galloping courses reduce rotational falls? I thought they were occurring specifically ON galloping stretches--they seem to have at FHP.

Isn't FHP considered a "more" open, galloping course? Except for the water, swamp and hollow, IS it one of those "stop and go" courses? (I'm asking because I'm not familiar with a large number of courses.) I also thought KY, The Fork and the course in NC where the AECs have been held (Raeford, NC?) were basically galloping types...am I wrong? What's an example of a galloping course, please? Or is the thought to just eliminate those parts of courses that involve "complexes"? I'd love to get a better idea of what folks are thinking of in this area.

thumbsontop
Nov. 21, 2007, 08:46 PM
JER kindly provided http://www.fei.ch/c/safety/safety.htm as a resource for statistics. Really interesting reading...

arnika
Nov. 21, 2007, 09:29 PM
Thank you to Jer and thumbsontop for the link. Answers some questions for me.
This is the link to the 2006 FEI eventing safety report.

http://www.fei.ch/c/PDFS/2006FinalReportonEventingSafety.pdf

It has all the stats for falls, including rotational falls/fence type/# of falls at each type, etc. Very good information.

Edited to add: The 2005 report was also good for info. It didn't break it down to fence types but notes the number of "somersault" falls and how many injuries/fatalities resulted. Two specific sections noted:

"Key Performance Indicator 1
Seriously/fatally injured riders as a percentage of the number
of starters
2002 = ( 1 rider every 183 starters )
2003 = ( 1 rider every 190 starters )
2004 = ( 1 rider every 359 starters )
)2005 = ( 1 rider every 347 starters )"

"Relative Risk Factors
• Relative risk factors represent the risk of serious or fatal injure as a consequence of each type of fall
• The data so far (average 2002 – 2005) indicate that 29% of riders are seriously or fatally injured in rotational horse falls
8.3% are in horse falls where the horse did not somersault, and
2.5%are seriously or fatally injured in unseated rider falls"

snickerdoodle
Nov. 21, 2007, 10:22 PM
it seemed to me back in the late 80's, early 90's that the xc courses were much less technical and that sj was seen as the more technical part of the tests. weren't poles down 5 points? and stops 10? i can't remember. whey did this change. to be inline with the FEI? we didn't have roll backs, etc and the course still had their fair share of problems. xc we would have maybe two technical combinations - some sort of coffin/ditch combination and then the water. that was usually it for technical stuff on xc. and again there were problems on course.

i don't think increasing speed in sj is the answer, but what is?

isn't this discussion about making xc jumps safer or specific training issues? as some people have asked previously, what is causing the falls? speed? tired horse/rider? inattentiveness? having the wrong spot? i do think it would help to adjust the speeds (slower) on xc. making sj bigger. i think that would be even more scarer to watch than it is now!

is it the whole course that needs to be redesigned or just specific jumps? was the fall last year out west at a vertical out of water? what about those types of jumps?

its all a great discussion. its unfortunate that it takes something so tragic to get people into such an important discussion.

RAyers
Nov. 21, 2007, 10:42 PM
OK, I'm a little confused now. How will incorporating more galloping courses reduce rotational falls? I thought they were occurring specifically ON galloping stretches--they seem to have at FHP.

Isn't FHP considered a "more" open, galloping course? Except for the water, swamp and hollow, IS it one of those "stop and go" courses? (I'm asking because I'm not familiar with a large number of courses.) I also thought KY, The Fork and the course in NC where the AECs have been held (Raeford, NC?) were basically galloping types...am I wrong? What's an example of a galloping course, please? Or is the thought to just eliminate those parts of courses that involve "complexes"? I'd love to get a better idea of what folks are thinking of in this area.

Out this way, Rebecca Farms is a classic galloping course. Here is the OI map and course walk:

http://www.rebeccafarm.org/intermediate.html

At 3200 meters for only 21 fences, it is definitely a galloping course. The distance from 11-12 is over 200 meters while the distance between 5 and 7 is close to 500 meters, so 6 is an absolute pure fly fence and a blast to boot.

On a purely selfish note, if you click on the OI Course Ride we are fences 14b and 18a. :)

Reed

snickerdoodle
Nov. 21, 2007, 10:47 PM
i'm sorry, but i don't think that is a 'classic' galloping course.

i counted NINE combinations.

RAyers
Nov. 21, 2007, 10:53 PM
i'm sorry, but i don't think that is a 'classic' galloping course.

i counted NINE combinations.

The only "real" combination is the sunken road (17abc). Every other "combination" is more than 4 strides apart and can be done at speed. Oops, I forgot that 19a and 19b was a 2 stride table/table combination that required you to ride at 500 mpm to do. 9ab was 4 strides in the water, followed by 3 straight strides to 10a and then 8-10 strides across the water to 10bc, a real nice bounce out of the water. All of the striding is even, no BS half strides.

I rarely have ever pulled on my horse on this course, it is always thinking forward. My coach, who has been to Rolex plenty and the Olympics feels the same about this course.

Reed

Candle
Nov. 21, 2007, 11:06 PM
To clarify again, the increase in stadium technicality should only be in conjunction with decreased technicality in XC. That is how I propose it to help in XC.

I see two groups forming in this thread, and it's just an observation, not any judgment. I see a group saying that riders today are not qualified for the levels they are riding at, and more of a push should be in place to ensure that they are qualified and prepared for what they're going to face in competition.

The other group seems to be saying let's look at what's wrong with the courses, how the recent design changes are impacting these fatality statistics, and what we could change on course.

Personally, I think there is an appalling lack of data about the momentum and trajectory of a 1200 lb horse hitting and/or hanging a leg over different types of fences. I believe that the courses are asking too much on XC. I do agree with those who are saying that we need to make sure riders are prepared, and their horses are too, but currently, mistakes are horrendously costly, resulting in death or paralyzation. As a sport, we need to figure out how to make ways for horses and riders to make mistakes, without them being deadly. This involves reducing potential for rotational falls, and testing agility, finesse, and focus in a setting where the rails fall down, NOT out on XC.

I think there have been too many changes too quickly to eventing in the last few years, and that seems to me to be the more probable cause for the recent rash of deaths than if somehow the sport suddenly got an influx of unprepared people rushing in. Not to say that preparation or lack thereof isn't a big part of injuries and fatalities, but we should be able to point to XC fences, explain how they have been constructed with equine visibility in mind, with some kind of safety feature in place to prevent as many rotational falls as we can, etc.

I do wonder if somehow a crumple zone on a sliding track could be created for the front of the fence, the part a horse would hit and flip after hitting. For example, let's take a square table. The front part and a rail at the top front would be a single panel. This would be mounted so it could slide back and forth inside the outer two left and right panels. The front would be set so that at a certain amount of pressure on the front panel, it would release from its position and slide backwards six inches, absorbing some of the forward momentum from a horse chesting it. The jump judge would then go pull the front panel forward again, and it would click into place.

Another option would be having memory foam on the fronts of jumps to absorb impact. From watching a whole YouTube video filled with rotational falls, I wonder if we could do research to show how much "give" is necessary to keep the horse from flipping over the jump. That wouldn't require a whole jump made of styrofoam, just replacing the front half of a log or a coop with memory foam or some other foam designed for absorbing impact and then resuming its former shape.

I'm just throwing out ideas here. I'm not a course designer, nor an organizer, but I'd like to believe that we can do something here to make this a truly safer sport while maintaining the challenge and prestige of the upper levels.

arnika
Nov. 21, 2007, 11:07 PM
Those nine combinations made up 22 out of 34 jumping efforts and five jumps were packed together at one water complex. I also noticed that the third to last fence is an almost completely square table.

The course looks absolutely beautiful but definitely technical. Lovely to spectate at, I'm sure. Too scary to ride for a big chicken like me.:D

The memory foam idea is a great one, seems as though it would be feasible and helpful.

WindWillowStable
Nov. 21, 2007, 11:20 PM
I have a question that I was thinking about last night as I was trying to fall asleep. Do you think that riders from up north come to Florida and see these flat courses and think they aren't as challenging...so they get a little faster, therefore letting the horse get a little flatter which in turn causes problems because they just didn't respect the course they way they would have if they were dealing with up and down hills, in and out of woods, etc? Because living in Florida when I would go further north and face a course that was hilly it seemed harder by looking at it..therefore I rode a little harder. Could it be that riders come here and think flat courses look easier and therefore don't make smart decisions because they think it isn't challenging?

RAyers
Nov. 21, 2007, 11:48 PM
Those nine combinations made up 22 out of 34 jumping efforts and five jumps were packed together at one water complex. I also noticed that the third to last fence is an almost completely square table.

The course looks absolutely beautiful but definitely technical. Lovely to spectate at, I'm sure. Too scary to ride for a big chicken like me.:D

The memory foam idea is a great one, seems as though it would be feasible and helpful.

Sure but the first water was 8-10 strides between the a and b element. The "technicality" there is do I straighten the line or bow out? Many of the ab "combinations" are there simply to be sure the rider continues the line and does not break it. I have seen the same on courses designed in the 80s.

I guess to me, a technical course is one with stadium questions in it where lines are forced and the combinations are 4 strides or less. Of course there are plenty of OLD courses that have combinations such as this (e.g. sunken roads, Normandy Banks, the Trout Hatchery, Head of the Lake) so how can these types of questions not be considered "classic?" They were around long before the rule changes. Rebecca asks the same things. Mark Phillips is the CD by the way.

The "technicality" of this course comes nowhere NEAR as close as that of, say the AECs at Lamplight this year.

Reed

tuppysmom
Nov. 22, 2007, 02:26 AM
What about the horses? Are we so caught up in the slow legged, wonderful suspension, calm type of horse that we have overlooked the need for fast twitch muscles that can react to an emergency situation more quickly and "save the day"? Have we lost the smart, sensitive, agile part of the event horse that will shuffle it's feet and make something out of nothing in the heat of battle? Have we replaced it with a smooth moving, beautiful to watch in dressage horse that is calm and compliant but less able to think on it's feet? How does the aerobic compacity of the "new" type of event horse compare to the old? Do they tire and become dangerous to themselves and their rider after 4 or 5 minutes of xc? Do they go anerobic too soon and face muscle and brain fatigue before they reach the finish? If so, can they be conditioned to extend the time that they can stay in aerobic mode and still have them stay sound? It would be interesting to see what the ratios of muscles types these horses have and see what their capacity for work at speed really is.

I have seen the most gorgeous horses this year. They have the look, the movement, the temperment. I have also watched several hundred of them go xc, (it's my main hobby). They often didn't look as wonderful on day 2 as they did on day 1. Some of them regroup by day 3, but some of them just don't look that shiny in sj either.

I think there are many factors at work here besides the shape of the jumps or the number of combinations on a course.

Blugal
Nov. 22, 2007, 02:49 AM
Interesting points, tuppysmom.

I was just on another thread and thought: how is the sport of team chasing doing? I read about it in Horse & Hound all the time... 4 people riding XC together against the clock. It doesn't seem like a sport that would include too many "sit up and coffin canter" fences.

Does it include tables? Do they have a problem with rotational falls? Stats? Could be interesting if we knew these things.

JER
Nov. 22, 2007, 03:16 AM
I was just on another thread and thought: how is the sport of team chasing doing? I read about it in Horse & Hound all the time... 4 people riding XC together against the clock. It doesn't seem like a sport that would include too many "sit up and coffin canter" fences.

Does it include tables? Do they have a problem with rotational falls? Stats? Could be interesting if we knew these things.

Team Chasing video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5oBQn21QiKk)

Team Chase via helmet-cam (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9OHq9xIFn04&feature=related)

Team Chasing website (http://www.teamchasing.co.uk/)

From the videos on YouTube and the photos in Horse&Hound, the fences look more like old-fashioned XC fences with lots of hedges and brushy things.

I do know team chasing has had some serious injuries and a few deaths over the years. Here's a first-person account of a recent team chasing fall: How I Broke My Neck in a Riding Accident (http://www.teamchasing.co.uk/Articles/How%20I%20Broke%20My%20Neck.html). (Another rotational fall in which the horse fell on the rider but she lived to write about it and was back to work and foxhunting about a week later. And she's a doctor!)

But team chasing sure looks like fun.

denny
Nov. 22, 2007, 08:48 AM
One other perhaps overlooked "statistic" is the number of riders going prel and up today, vs 20 years ago. Can someone track that down through USEA?
I`m guessing that there are at least 2 or 3 times as many riders at int and up, maybe even more than that.
In "the old days", there might be 40-50 advanced riders in all of North America.
I was Chairman of the USET Selection Committee for the 1982 World Championships, and it`s not a stretch to say we sent just about every qualified rider who had a sound horse.
Now there are about 250 riders going advanced, I think.
And certainly many of them aren`t true advanced riders. Same for int, and same for prel.
Which perhaps comes back to tighter qualification procedures, with also possible mandatory dropbacks to the next lowest division after a certain measurable amount of "failure".
I think those on board who are educational pyschologists (or just parents!) know that teenagers/early adults literally lack some brain components which correlate action and potential result. They don`t lack intelligence, but a part of the brain which controls judgement apparently develops slowly. Someone here will know about that.
Again, "back in the day", fewer teens had parents who bought them upper level horses, which said teens THINK they are capable of riding at higher levels.
There are so many pieces to this huge fix our sport finds itself in.
Those of who who have a say these days, members of USEA/USEF Boards, whatever:
You need to convene a major Safety Emergency Think Tank 2 day meeting, or something of the sort.
Action is what`s needed, even if at 1st it`s experimental, to see what works or doesn`t work.
Lastly, don`t be overly concerned with "dumbing down" eventing. With our record, it needs some dumbing down if it`s going to stick around at all. Don`t worry, it will still be fast, and thrilling and dangerous; it just needs not to be deadly.

throwurheart
Nov. 22, 2007, 08:55 AM
Lastly, don`t be overly concerned with "dumbing down" eventing. With our record, it needs some dumbing down if it`s going to stick around at all. Don`t worry, it will still be fast, and thrilling and dangerous; it just needs not to be deadly.

Well said, Denny, well said.

Auburn
Nov. 22, 2007, 09:15 AM
Denny,

I agree with you wholeheartedly!

However, isn't the reason that these courses have become the way that they are, because the US needed to find a way to "challenge" our riders, so that they would be more competitive with the rest of the world?

Until the rest of the world is willing to change, do you believe that the "powers that be" will let US eventing go a different direction?

Does anyone know the stats on rotational fatalities of riders/horses in other countries? Auburn

piccolittle
Nov. 22, 2007, 09:21 AM
Does anyone know the stats on rotational fatalities of riders/horses in other countries?

Check one of the other threads or one of the earlier pages in this one. Someone posted the FEI stats for 2006/2007 and all the fatalities since November 2006. That number, 11, since November 2006 is worldwide and most of them (excluding one I think) were rotational.

denny
Nov. 22, 2007, 10:03 AM
Yes, the very best riders are absolutely good, and many of them have strings of absolutely superior horses.
Therein lies part of the problem. In order to test the "top 50 in the world", of which 6 or 8, maybe 10 in a good year live in North America, perhaps we`ve created a sport aimed mainly at testing America`s "TOP 20", or so.
But most of America`s 250 advanced riders, and our several hundred intermediate ladder climbers, these riders can`t ride in the shadow of Dutton, Severson, Tryon, O` Connor,etc.
So I ask this question of those of you who spend lots of time at the big events, which I don`t so much these days.
Are many of the participants, whether human or equine, stretched toward the breaking point in order to compete with our relatively few big guns?
If so, can we test the best without hurting the rest?
Yet another question for the hypothetical safety think tank.

goodmorning
Nov. 22, 2007, 11:14 AM
Well as an outsider from HJ lan, who has boarded at eventing barns and enjoyed quite a few XC romps...there are a couple of observations that I've made.

1) I, like many others, can't see how it's possible to increase the technical aspects of the course and maintain the speed that is required. Now, this is olny at the upper levels, but still, something needs to be done ASAP. Personally, I'd enjoy watching a less technical course with a few more gallops. You have stadium for a reason, there is absolutely NO reason to try and make XC a "glorified" stadium with solid fences meant to be taken at much faster speeds with much more rider/horse fatigue. It's a recipe for disaster.

2) At the lower levels (up to about training/prelim) there are some dangerous rides too often. Although I come from the H/J world, I find it quite odd that me and my green 2'6-2'9 hunter can make it around a Novice course with less issues then some of the eventing counterparts. Once you get up the levels and have harder fences, sure, an experienced eventer is going to win hands down. But, someone needs to take some time teaching the beginner's how to do things properly. I'm talking basics... no jumping up the neck, coming back too early (main reason horses knock fences), and how to maintain a decent canter so that your horse has a chance at getting over the fence. And these people that I'm talking about are at the top of their "eventing-class," making it to the regional champs and on the teams that go down to KHP (forgive me if that's wrong, I just forget the specifics of the team competiton people have been part of). It is downright scary to watch them practice at times. Obvioulsly, this does not apply to everyone because there are quite a few great rider's out there at the lower levels with great coaches who don't allow this behavior. LOL - and esp the COTH eventer's, looking at your pics, I think what I observe isn't the norm...but somehow it gets these people ribbons at the big events...

Just some food for thought today :)

Badger
Nov. 22, 2007, 12:22 PM
Is one of the results of the short format that:

• Upper level riders are competing their horses more often: instead of a few horse trial preps leading up to a spring three-day and then a fall three-day, meaning max two CCIs, we now have upper-level pairs competing many more runs each year, both at the horse trial level and the CCI level. Without the conditioning pounding of prepping for a long format, and the traditional downtime given the horse after a long format competition, they run a lot more.

• Therefore, even if the number of upper level horses and riders has not jumped tremendously over the past few years, the number of starts HAS increased a great deal.

• More starts means more accidents even is the percentage of accidents has not increased.

JER
Nov. 22, 2007, 01:15 PM
Those of who who have a say these days, members of USEA/USEF Boards, whatever:
You need to convene a major Safety Emergency Think Tank 2 day meeting, or something of the sort.
Action is what`s needed, even if at 1st it`s experimental, to see what works or doesn`t work.
Lastly, don`t be overly concerned with "dumbing down" eventing. With our record, it needs some dumbing down if it`s going to stick around at all. Don`t worry, it will still be fast, and thrilling and dangerous; it just needs not to be deadly.

Yes. Eventing needs to bring people in from outside of the horse world -- EMS/trauma experts, safety people from other sports, safety engineers who can discuss fence design, etc.

And this group needs to focus on rotational falls and how to prevent them, not on stadium speeds at the lower levels.

pwynnnorman
Nov. 22, 2007, 03:37 PM
Still hoping for more enlightenment about galloping courses. Perhaps some definitions would be helpful? One seems to be a course which has a minimum of combinations/complexes involving four strides or fewer, yes?

I continue to be a bit confused, though, because my impression, which could be very wrong, is that the rotational falls are taking place at tables and that tables--well, "the" tables on point--have been placed at galloping stretches.

Would it be possible, among those here, to list the circumstances of those 11 deaths, of which, someone said, all but one were rotational? How many were at tables? What were the location/placement of the fence(s)? How far from the previous/next fence were they? Where in the course (beginning, middle or end) were they? At what level and what type of rider (ammy or pro, junior/young adult or other)? Were the horses green or experienced? How long had the rider been riding the horse?

The two at FHP were both at tables in galloping parts of the courses (depending on how you define that), one at the end, one in the middle. I believe one was Intermediate, the last was ** (?). Both involved young adults. It is known that one had a spotty competition history, at least recently. I don't know about the other.

See what I mean, though? With only eleven to deal with, you'd think it'd be possible to summarize each situation and see if there were indeed commonalities that could be addressed. Otherwise, it's easy to come up with ideas, but hard to know if any would really address the problem--whatever that is.

BTW, does anyone remember the ruckus about bounces a few years ago? Are there parallels here with tables--not in terms of solutions, which the frangible pin was, but in terms of the type of accident and/or margin of error and/or experience level and/or rider-horse combo type or whatever?

Found the eleven from the other thread, but all the details aren't there:


Sherelle Duke (IRE), 28, 08/20/06, Brockenhurst (UK), Advanced HT, rotational fall, (what type and where?) horse fell on rider, head injuries
Mia Eriksson (USA), 17, 11/04/06, Galway Downs, CCI**, Fence #19, rotational fall, (what type and where?) horse fell on rider, ruptured aorta
Kim Hyung Chil (KOR), 47, 12/07/06, Doha, Asian Games CCI*, Fence #8, table (1.08m in height), rotational fall, horse fell on rider’s head and upper body
Amanda Bader (USA), 32, 02/17/07, Ocala, Preliminary HT, Fence #13, table, rotational fall, horse fell on rider, head/neck injuries
Amelie Cohen (FRA), 30, 03/11/07, Fontainebleau, Novice, Fence #7, (what type and where?) rotational fall, horse fell on rider
Jo-Anne Williams (UK), 34, 04/18/07 Sapey ODE, Novice, Fence #8, ‘bench-style obstacle’, horse somersaulted, rider thrown clear, displaced aorta (inoperable), also reported as head injury
Julie Silly (FRA), 17, 05/05/07, Novice HT, Jardy, ‘straightforward fence’ (what type and where?) rotational fall, horse fell on rider
Elin Stalberg (SWE), 19, 07/21/07, Bollnas, CCI** or CIC**, 3rd last fence, corner, rotational fall, horse fell on rider
Tina Richter-Vietor (GER) , 32, 08/04/07 , CIC** Schenefeld , Fence #2, ‘easy-type’ fence, rotational fall, horse somersaulted and rider ‘catapulted out of saddle’, broken neck
Anke Wolfe (GER), 40, 08/15/07, Neu-Wulmsdorf, Novice HT, final fence, (what type?) rotational fall, horse fell on rider
Maia Boutanos (FRA), 29, 09/01/07, Moulin-Coulandon, Novice HT, Fence #5b, (what type?) ‘fall of horse and rider’, ‘obstacle not fixed’ according to regulations
Eleanor Brennan (UK), 20, 11/17/07, Ocala CCI**, Fence #18, table (and end of course), rotational fall, horse fell on rider, head and chest injuries
Seven out of twelve were at the Prelim (Euro: Novice) level. Four were at Intermediate/**. Is it significant that NONE were lower than Prelim, only one was Advanced and none were *** or ****? If so, does that imply inexperience (horse and/or rider) leading to error?
Depending on how you look at it, half were in the middle of the course, half were at either the beginning or the end. Nothing of much use there?
Five had table-like structures, but there's no info on the others (wouldn't you say benches and corners have similar issues with width and somewhat upright faces?I'd really like to know what type the other fences were.

Ellie K
Nov. 22, 2007, 03:59 PM
Those of who who have a say these days, members of USEA/USEF Boards, whatever:
You need to convene a major Safety Emergency Think Tank 2 day meeting, or something of the sort.
Action is what`s needed, even if at 1st it`s experimental, to see what works or doesn`t work.first, methinks regardless of any current boardmember status, YOU are one of those people who "have a say";)

Second, the FEI already scheduled one, 19 January in Copenhagen. US input will naturally be significant since David chairs the committee that is putting it on.

Jazzy Lady
Nov. 22, 2007, 04:31 PM
Pwynn - the thing about the table is it is supposed to be a forgiving and "gimme" fence. A breather meant to be a gallop fence. But now even those are being made differently these days. Both at Ocala were similar in style. Very square and upright. When you fill a course full of technical combinations and fatigue the horse and rider, the chances of an accident occuring at a 'gimme' fence are higher. At the end of the course the horses are generally not jumping as well, the riders are going faster at a gallop fence because they need to make up the time due to all the technical fences. The horse gets in tight to a square table, maybe a bit on the forehand, lacking the punch off the hocks that he had at the beginning because he's so tired, now there's no room for his knees to lift and here-in lies the problem. now what?

I like a big ditch and wall or a trekhener or a big brush oxer at the end of courses. Something you actually CAN gallop to and are a more forgiving fence. Many tables on today's courses aren't as "galloping" as they used to be. So yes, I think the term "gallop fence" needs to be re-defined.

I believe that there SHOULD be a number of technical fences on course. But a course that is ALL technical and then add 4 gallop fences is not a forgiving course.

A true gallop course is a course full of big, bold fences that are built and DESIGNED to be jumped out of stride. Steeplechase fences, brushes, ditch and walls, trekehners and big sloped tables. Toss in some turning questions but keep them far enough away that you can still gallop at them a bit, but not have to bring your horse down to showjump speed to make it through. Accuracy is MORE difficult when the horse is at speed. A glance off at a corner will be more common than a flip. My horse doesn't turn so well at full pace. He's too big. You want the tb's back? They can turn on a dime and balance through the gallop.

Don't get me wrong, I like the technical to a point. But maybe have 2 really difficult technicals on a ** instead of 5. Don't mentally fatique the animals that do this for us.

JER
Nov. 22, 2007, 04:45 PM
pwynn, as the author of the list, I tried to include whatever information I could find about the type of fences involved in the accidents.

If anyone knows more or can do more research, please help add to make the list more complete.

IIRC, Mia Eriksson fell at a narrow, squarish obstacle which was part of the second water complex. I tried to verify this but didn't see anything while compiling the list. Anyone know for sure?

As for rider experience, I didn't see anything that suggested a lack of experience or incompetence. Most of the riders had ridden at higher levels and many were professionals.

Even young Julie Silly looks to be a proficient horsewoman in this video tribute (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iN93prWOjCU).

Amelie Cohen was a veterinarian and a very experienced horseperson. Video tributes here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ypmzED-G25Q) and here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JpGqeCssGyY).

Maia Boutanos, Cohen, and Silly all competed in France where riders are required to take tests to get a license to compete.

Mia Eriksson had entered 4 Intermediate HTs before her CCI** and completed 3 of them. The non-completion previous to the CCI** is marked 'R' on XC. The horse was 7 years old and had competed from N-P in the previous 18 mos.

Anke Wolfe and Tina Richter-Vietor were professionals. In Germany, this means you've passed some very stringent tests.

Kim Hyung Chil had competed in two Olympics.

Eleanor Brennan and Sherelle Duke were pros who'd completed CCI****s. Duke had ridden internationally for Ireland.

Jo-Anne Williams was experienced at Novice, her horse was experienced but I don't know if she was a pro.

I don't know anything about the Swedish rider. The only report seems to be from Horse & Hound. Any Swedish speakers here?

piccolittle
Nov. 22, 2007, 04:59 PM
Pwynn-

Of the deaths at FHP, I think the only thing they had in common was the type of fence. From what I know, Eleanor was a very young adult who was semi-professional or had at least reached the top of the sport, riding a horse that she didn't know all that well and with whom she had a spotty record.

Amanda Bader was a true amateur, riding her one horse that she had had for many years; she was an adult- early 30s, and was an experienced and successful competitor at Training and Preliminary. Her fall was at the Preliminary table just after the trakehner in the very middle of the course. This fence comes on a short stretch after a left turn after the trakehner and right before the mound (from what I remember). Think it's number 13 or so?

Just some clarification so if people are looking for a pattern they can find the right one.

NeverTime
Nov. 22, 2007, 05:54 PM
http://www.mccoolphotos.com/2006_showproofs/galway_apr06/002/pages/_AMY3260.html

This is a picture of the fence where Mia suffered her fatal fall (this picture is of Jennifer Wooten and The Good Witch negotiating it successfully). It's skinny but, like a table, had a very vertical face.

beeblebrox
Nov. 22, 2007, 10:04 PM
"Mia Eriksson had entered 4 Intermediate HTs before her CCI** and completed 3 of them. The non-completion previous to the CCI** is marked 'R' on XC. The horse was 7 years old and had competed from N-P in the previous 18 mos. "

Mia's last show before Galway resulted in a nasty fall where she and her horse were both hurt to varying degrees. I would not call that a GREEN light prep for a **........ If anything a warning that this pair might (because neither had done much before as 4 INT does not a ** rider make) need to run a few more intermediates.


Now everyone is being sued.

Blugal
Nov. 22, 2007, 11:51 PM
Now everyone is being sued.

Do you have details? I remember Mia's family issuing a statement to the effect that they didn't regret their daughters riding and eventing.

Do you think it's a life insurance company or something similar that is suing?

Mary in Area 1
Nov. 23, 2007, 12:01 AM
"Now everyone is being sued."

What does that mean? Is the family suing the USEA or Galway? Good grief, what a sick society. The girl was 17, her parents were responsible in my book (not for the fall, obviously, but for the child doing a ** without enough experience.) You used to have to have 4 clean HT's at the level before you could do a CCI at that level. We always considered that an absolute MINIMUM, and a full season at a level before you did a 3-day was better.

I think that 4 Young Riders on that list is really horrible. I think the pressure to get to the YR Championships is huge and creates a lot of this hurry. I know from personal experience what it is like to watch your daughter disappear under a horse and wonder if she'll be alive when you got to her. Heartstopping. Yet the YR division often has the fastest times at the big competitions, and they are far less likely than the pros to have time penalties. Having no fear is really NOT a good thing.

I also agree that the galloping course vs. technical is important, again not because of whether you are galloping the actual fence, but if you are trying TO MAKE UP TIME spent going slow through a technical part of the course. Experienced prelim riders have told me that they often have to go almost Advanced speed on the less technical parts of the course if they are trying to come in anywhere near the time. If you are galloping at a table at close to 600 mpm and anything goes wrong, it may be the last thing you ever do.

Gnep
Nov. 23, 2007, 12:46 AM
Denny,
to answer your question about non pros chasing the pros, compare the results at the AEC were pros and nonpros were split up and than compare the results were pros and non pros ride together.
As I remember the Prelim classes were the most interesting, Non Pro was a very tough going by the results, Pros had next to no problem.

The speed question especialy at the upper levels, if one looks at the results of so many national HTs, than one thing stick out, how hard it is to make time.
Are those courses measured correctly, are they to tightly measured ( unforgiving, not actually using the actual riding line.
My experiance is that most courses are far to tightly measured, often 200 to 400 meters off.
Far to may course designer have either no, or pastense riding experiance. They take a completly differant look or approach at the lines to be ridden.

Pwy Tina Richter's crash was not a rotaional, the horse never rotated, it was a part refusal and she was thrown of and broke her neck on landing. The horse got stuck in the fence. It was a 2 star course, German Eventing Championship. The event was cancelled

Anke Wolf was a table, lower level like Training, as I recall.

What sticks out for me that there were 3 fatalities in the US. I think compared to what happens in the rest of the world, we are doing something right, course design, jump building
etc..
Maybe doing something right is not the right phrase, by I personal feel that there is no need to panic.
3 is 3 to many, by all means.

Since we have no knowledge about the conditions, jump building standards, course design standards, training and qualifikation needs of horses and riders ( the German qualifikations are not as stringend as people beleave ), we should keep them out of the discusion about speeds, courses jump designs etc.

But one thing all those fatalities show, without doubt, that we have still a very serious lack in our safety equipment.
Borken necks, Head insuries or geting crushed by horses.

If this were any from of motorsport, those problems of survivebility of a serious crash would have been adressed years ago and solved.

Till the seventies and eighties, motorsport was a insane dangerous business, but than they changed their approach, they developed safety equipment for the driver that made it possible that they survived the most terrible crashes, despite steadily increasing speeds.

I think:
1. we should not let us get overhelmed by the information age, were a tragic news from around the world is instantly available, without knowing how things are done there.

2. fences with a straight, not sloped face, and were the horse can not see the actual width should be taken of the courses.

3. instead of castrating the sport even more, course wise, speed wise etc. we should push for equipment that will allow us to survive the crash. In that case I speak of my owne experiance, because I survived a rotanial and spent 6 month in the hospital plus 6 month rehab. This year I lucked out, my horse was vertical above me, but never got passed the vertical.

I strongly beleave that safety equipment that make a crash survivable is the most important point in any discussion like this.
Second point would be qualifikations.

Denny we lost far more riders and horses in the 60s and 70s and 80s, world wide and our courses were outright dangerous and stupid, realy dangerous and realy stupid.

brindille
Nov. 23, 2007, 01:45 AM
Now everyone is being sued.

not sure who is being sued, but I wonder whether the coach would have some responsibilities. I don't know anyone involved, who the coach was, etc. - just curious about who would/could possibly be legally liable. If their is a case against the owners of the course, the way we think about safety in eventing could be altered. In any case, what happened to that poor family was absolutely tragic.

As for the young rider issue, i think many young people in all kinds of jobs and disciplines are told to rise to the top, follow their dreams, be successful, etc. In so many areas 'quitting' is considered a failure, although it can be the best thing to do at times. In the case of eventing, nothing can replace parents and coaches exercizing judgment. I hope that a few of the coaches who are chasing money by giving the 'ok' too soon are stopping and thinking. And I hope some of the parents who are encouraging their kids to 'live the dream' remember to tell them that's it's okay to step back and stop. These deaths are unnecessary.

As an aside, in France people are also really panicking over the 3 deaths this past year. Some kind of review has been launched. Julie fell at a very straightforward fence with a groundline coming off a turn. I don't know whether it was a table or square. It was an 'easy run' before she went to the french championships. She was considered to be an excellent rider for her age :no:

Kementari
Nov. 23, 2007, 02:16 AM
As for the young rider issue, i think many young people in all kinds of jobs and disciplines are told to rise to the top, follow their dreams, be successful, etc. In so many areas 'quitting' is considered a failure, although it can be the best thing to do at times. In the case of eventing, nothing can replace parents and coaches exercizing judgment. I hope that a few of the coaches who are chasing money by giving the 'ok' too soon are stopping and thinking. And I hope some of the parents who are encouraging their kids to 'live the dream' remember to tell them that's it's okay to step back and stop. These deaths are unnecessary.

:yes:

I don't think it's just kids, though, either. I ride at the lower levels, and I have a great time. My competition horse is 21 and I don't feel it would be fair to keep pushing him, plus I don't really have the time or money to push myself at this point. Yet, despite the fact that I have made it quite clear that I don't care about moving up, the pressure to do so continues. It's not so much from my coach (she understands my reasons and is supportive) or family (who aren't horsey so don't know the difference anyway!) as it is from friends, acquaintances, and sort of the world in general. Just think about the people who complain about the riders who go around riding Novice year after year, and how they should either move up or get out. And then there are all the articles and discussions about "when to move up" - not that those are necessary, but the proliferation of the subject everywhere implies not just that you should move up when you are ready, but that you should hurry up and GET ready already. And the message in general is often that you aren't a REAL eventer until you've ridden at at LEAST Prelim. (And I'd rather not even get into the "If you haven't ridden at X level (usually Advanced or ****), you don't have the right to have an opinion on [fill in the blank]"....)

While I, personally, don't have a problem calling myself an eventer if I NEVER ride Prelim (heck, I call myself an eventer now and I haven't even ridden Training), and I'll stay at N and BN and unrec as long as I darn well please whatever anyone says, the fact is that this sort of pressure creates an environment where many riders and trainers try to climb the ladder as fast as they possibly can. That younger riders are more susceptible to this pressure is not surprising, given both the fact that young people are taught to emulate their elders and the research on brain development that Denny cited.

I'm not saying that concrete safety improvements aren't necessary (plenty of accidents happen to those who DO belong at the level where they are riding), but we need to think about the environment we create, too. We can make all the rules in the world, but until we reduce the pressure to move up at all costs, people are going to find ways around (or through) those rules. We need to look at the whole picture, not just the mechanics.

[BTW, I do see this pressure in all the horse sports - heck, in all sports! - but I think the problem we face is that the premature move-up in dressage, say, is far less likely to be deadly than it is in eventing.]

wookie
Nov. 23, 2007, 03:14 AM
trying to digest a huge tday meal--which eating the donut while i tried to absorb everyone's thoughts on this issue has now been made harder. so i will share my story.
i have a big paint who likes to go slow,, and i am well let's just say newly into the 40's. last fall we moved up to training. we did a season of novice with maybe one stop on xc. frankly, i don't push him speed wise,, we usually made time at novice. OH,, he and i are moving up the levels together.
anyway, our first two trainings in area 2 were not perfect,, he is green and i was not pushing him and we had wimpy runouts--you know, the kind where its a mutual decision. then came upper marlboro ht's.. i seriously became nauseous when walking that course. there were some tough questions, specifically a downhill narrow hanging log in a treeline. i know that both marty morani and kim meir went to the td to say that this was clearly a tough prelim question on a training course. they did not take it off the course but did put some flowers under it. i seriously closed my eyes two strides out and just kicked. i had one stop on xc-so for me a success.
so down south we head to aiken.. i entered full gallop and paradise at training level thinking i will have time to school training prior to both events.
for me full gallop was incredible. my first double clean xc. and they had some tough questions-big downhill trahkener, narrow hanging log, and triple question involving a bank on, off, to a skinny. my confidence was growing.
until i walked paradise's course. it was big and after the first few fences it was one tough question after another. someone said to me they are handing you your as** here..a rider who has done this their whole life and has ridden at the upper levels for 30 plus yrs. add a migraine to the nausea. another sleepless night with many porta pottie trips before xc. well, i made it over the big verticle, the airy table going downhill to the trahkener, trotted over the true coffin, sailed over my first ditch and wall, got lapped by will coleman, and managed to have only two stops but a zillion time penalties.
perhaps, i planned the lap by will coleman, after all not a bad sight from behind--i digress. my point, it was a mini prelim. and it was the beginning of the season. this was the beginning of my slide.
at mcta-i walked the training course as usual and came back to my trainer. his question,, ok which fence has you freaked? i said, no 3,, the steps with the brush on top..never jumped anything like that before and its wide. he said,, not fence no 13.. no i said! silly me, i eyed fence 13 from afar and thought no freakin way,, that must be a prelim table. didn't even know it was meant for me. so back out i went and was freaking. i said,, my plan is to go 12 to 14,, and hopefully get pulled off after the water. 13 was not happening for me. so in i go to stadium, i do my opening circle and whistle. please stop they say.. a helicopter needs to land.. i know immediately--i ride over to someone coming off the course--sure enough a bad fall at 13..
i was done.
for me--a greenie
i agree with denny, why not try his suggestions. you can't not dumb down a sport that takes absolute courage to even attempt to aim a 1000+animal at a solid obstacle..
second, if they took large boxy tables off-i would secretly do cartwheels. but please, don't hang me for that,,, i just hate them...so does my stomach.
third, perhaps looking at the readiness of the horse could be closely examined. just a thought. i am now at novice again,, and view every positive forward clean ride as a blue ribbon. for my horse...he needs to have fun too.
oh, back to tables--i am not sure but i know that three of the fatalities this year were at tables.
and lastly,, training.... for me the long one always feels better then the chip in, although there is nothing better then doing it right.
i say, do what it takes to keep rider and horse safe. know your limits, be brave enough to face them,, don't let your competitive edge get the best of you.. and know your horses limits. if he is telling you, back off mom--this is going way to fast--do it. my horse loves me more for it. and i am back to having a blast, even though i dropped down a level.
happy holidays all!!!

piccolittle
Nov. 23, 2007, 07:59 AM
On the young rider issue:

I may be guilty of having been sucked into the "moving up" hype. I'd been trying to do Prelim with my old horse, but several issues were getting in the way. My new guy is one of those early developers that was going Prelim at 6. He is now just 8, and I bought him from a professional who imported him, and who vouched for his carefulness and "packer" attitude. Yeah, I bought a basically made horse. My problem is I'm on track to a professional career, where I will likely not have time to ride often, so I'm looking to get as far as I can in the sport before life gets in the way. I don't want to ride horses for a living. But I feel like once I go Prelim, I can settle and have fun, knowing that I accomplished my goals. But there is that pressure of graduation breathing down my neck.

In other cases, a lot of those kids who are going ** at 17 are intending to pursue horses as a career. In view of that, they try to get a name for themselves so they can start making money or basically start on their life track. I know about 12 YRs who already have websites and service price lists. The fact is, the age of professionals in the sport seems to be decreasing on average. Maybe the age limits should be raised for the different levels? I know I would appreciate it if YR ages went up to 25. That way I wouldn't have to rush myself to do a JYOP division, where I might have a chance to place (as opposed to competing against professionals). And if the NAYRC ages (for * and **) both went up to 21 or 25, we wouldn't have these kids racing to qualify for the ** team before their 18th birthdays... not that that's causing accidents in particular, but it's my secret agenda ;)

canterlope
Nov. 23, 2007, 08:37 AM
And if the NAYRC ages (for * and **) both went up to 21 or 25, we wouldn't have these kids racing to qualify for the ** team before their 18th birthdays... not that that's causing accidents in particular, but it's my secret agenda ;)Just a quick clarification, the CCI2* at the NAJYRC is a Young Rider division which means it is open to riders 16 to 21 years of age. So the riders aren't racing to qualify for it before their 18th birthdays (that would be the CCI1* division).

piccolittle
Nov. 23, 2007, 08:43 AM
Just a quick clarification, the CCI2* at the NAJYRC is a Young Rider division which means it is open to riders 16 to 21 years of age. So the riders aren't racing to qualify for it before their 18th birthdays (that would be the CCI1* division).

Oh no, I know that. Perhaps I should have rephrased it- "ready to be on the ** team before they turn 18 and are ineligible for the *."

Jazzy Lady
Nov. 23, 2007, 09:48 AM
I think people need to think long and hard about whether they should be going out on course when they are sick with worry. I'm sure I'll ruffle some feathers when I say this, but if you feel prepared, you shouldn't be feeling sick.

At midsouth CCI* people were white faced cross country day. A lady beside me asked if I slept the night before. Sure I did. I was more pumped than I'd ever been in my life for anything. She did not. She layed awake and worried about the fences all night long. Why do that to yourself? What are you trying to prove? I was in the 10 minute box bouncing up and down I was so excited to go. I was more nervous for stadium the next day. This seems to be so common. And it's not just the butterflies I'm talking about, it's being actually sick with worry! I understand one has to have a certain amount of fear of the fences in order to respect and understand them, but this translates to the horses too! Maybe it's just me, but if I know that I am prepared and feel ready, I don't feel sick to my stomach.

So maybe this goes back to the riders. The rider responsibility to know that they just aren't ready for something yet. Sure people want a challenge, you want to challenge your horse and yourself, but you have to be properly equipped to answer the challenges correctly, and it seems that many people aren't yet ready to but continue to do it anyway.

I know a person at prelim who did the whole season on this horse. EVERY SINGLE SHOW back to back to back. It was ridiculous. Sometimes they'd fall off, some days theyd have the maximum amount of cross penalties, sometimes they'd go clear. More often than not, they had problems. Because they entered EVERY SINGLE SHOW they often placed with over 200 penalties... in the top because they would enter shows that were ill subscibed. That person ended off with a year end award because they chased points to the extent they were dangerous. I'm worried, because now I'll probably see this pair go intermediate this year, without the ability.

People think that a ribbon makes them a good rider. And if they go clear once then it doesn't matter if they burried at the coffin and their horse was clever. It doesn't matter if they almost fell off at the water, or they had a close call at the corner. "Horse left strides out everywhere, time to move up". Where are the trainers that say NO, you aren't ready yet!

Part of it I'm sure is the trainer can't see all that goes on on the entire course. So they rely on their rider to tell them how they handled things. If the rider is not up front, and they embelish things, how can we blame the trainer for telling them no?

asterix
Nov. 23, 2007, 11:07 AM
perhaps, i planned the lap by will coleman, after all not a bad sight from behind--i digress. .
at mcta-i walked the training course as usual and came back to my trainer. his question,, ok which fence has you freaked? i said, no 3,, the steps with the brush on top..never jumped anything like that before and its wide. he said,, not fence no 13.. no i said! silly me, i eyed fence 13 from afar and thought no freakin way,, that must be a prelim table. didn't even know it was meant for me. so back out i went and was freaking. i said,, my plan is to go 12 to 14,, and hopefully get pulled off after the water. 13 was not happening for me. so in i go to stadium, i do my opening circle and whistle. please stop they say.. a helicopter needs to land.. i know immediately--i ride over to someone coming off the course--sure enough a bad fall at 13..


OK, I had to include the will coleman part -- that was hilarious.

But, seriously, wookie, this fence at MCTA is the one I've posted about (on this thread, perhaps?) too -- it was a downhill max table, and I rode it wrong like the girl who hung a leg did -- I did not half halt coming down the hill and ride to the base (and it was not shaped like a fence that you ride to the base), left long, and had a real flyer. My horse almost banked that fence, and he is VERY big and very scopey.

I completely agree with you that that fence was NOT appropriate for an early season training course. This gets back to the conversation we have a lot about the range of course types out there. Later in the season, as I got ready to move up to Prelim, I understood how to ride that question and would have at least tried to do it right (that being said, my horse completely overrode my input at a similar fence on our first prelim -- although THAT was a rampy palisade, not a table, and his downhill flyer was nowhere near as scary. I suspect it was actually a smaller fence. In any case, at least I was trying) -- but that is NOT a question someone moving up from Novice can even hope to answer correctly.

I know it's tough to come up with a rating system but I do believe it must be done. Either that or lots more options even at Training to provide for more latitude within the level.

snickerdoodle
Nov. 23, 2007, 02:46 PM
i think if something doesn't change and riders and horses continue to get hurt or die, there will be more suing and THAT will cause the end of the sport. The insurance will go up, land owners won't want to take on the responsibility of having xc on their land and the associations won't be able to keep up with higher insurance premiums. the corporate sponsorship won't be there, as they won't want to be associated with such a sport. at some point does PETA start protesting?


"Mia Eriksson had entered 4 Intermediate HTs before her CCI** and completed 3 of them. The non-completion previous to the CCI** is marked 'R' on XC. The horse was 7 years old and had competed from N-P in the previous 18 mos. "

Mia's last show before Galway resulted in a nasty fall where she and her horse were both hurt to varying degrees. I would not call that a GREEN light prep for a **........ If anything a warning that this pair might (because neither had done much before as 4 INT does not a ** rider make) need to run a few more intermediates.


Now everyone is being sued.

Eventrgrl
Nov. 23, 2007, 03:00 PM
On the young rider issue:

I may be guilty of having been sucked into the "moving up" hype. I'd been trying to do Prelim with my old horse, but several issues were getting in the way. My new guy is one of those early developers that was going Prelim at 6. He is now just 8, and I bought him from a professional who imported him, and who vouched for his carefulness and "packer" attitude. Yeah, I bought a basically made horse. My problem is I'm on track to a professional career, where I will likely not have time to ride often, so I'm looking to get as far as I can in the sport before life gets in the way. I don't want to ride horses for a living. But I feel like once I go Prelim, I can settle and have fun, knowing that I accomplished my goals. But there is that pressure of graduation breathing down my neck.

In other cases, a lot of those kids who are going ** at 17 are intending to pursue horses as a career. In view of that, they try to get a name for themselves so they can start making money or basically start on their life track. I know about 12 YRs who already have websites and service price lists. The fact is, the age of professionals in the sport seems to be decreasing on average. Maybe the age limits should be raised for the different levels? I know I would appreciate it if YR ages went up to 25. That way I wouldn't have to rush myself to do a JYOP division, where I might have a chance to place (as opposed to competing against professionals). And if the NAYRC ages (for * and **) both went up to 21 or 25, we wouldn't have these kids racing to qualify for the ** team before their 18th birthdays... not that that's causing accidents in particular, but it's my secret agenda ;)

The problem is, the organizers want NAYRC as a way to scout out new talent for the Olympic teams, hense the reason they got rid of the 18+ Non-Champ One Star as well as are trying to work towards making the Championship eventually a ** and ***. It was always my dream to do the * NAYRC. I have absolutely NO interest in making horses my living and have realized its not going to happen for me and have let go of the dream. But what I have realized is that as much as I would love for it to be just a great place for JR/YRs to learn and demonstrate what they've learned (as it most definitely is), its more than just PC championships to build up YR's; its a place to find our next Olympic talent.

pwynnnorman
Nov. 23, 2007, 03:18 PM
Well, I have nothing more to add except to say that I, for one, am quite glad that that list JER put together did NOT seem to show any commonalities, except maybe with straight-faced obstacles.

GotSpots
Nov. 23, 2007, 04:26 PM
But, seriously, wookie, this fence at MCTA is the one I've posted about (on this thread, perhaps?) too -- it was a downhill max table, and I rode it wrong like the girl who hung a leg did -- I did not half halt coming down the hill and ride to the base (and it was not shaped like a fence that you ride to the base), left long, and had a real flyer. My horse almost banked that fence, and he is VERY big and very scopey.

I completely agree with you that that fence was NOT appropriate for an early season training course. But here's the question - wasn't that course designed by David O'Connor? How does the TD or ground jury tell him that it's an inappropriate question? I rode that course as well and though it as a honkin' jump for training level (there's a picture of the fence in question here on the left (http://www.mdcta.com/SDHT.html)), though I thought the IDEA of it was super by introducing a downhill question after a nice turn to set you up and a flat space for a good half halt to it. So who is out there saying "right idea, wrong implementation"? Or saying "er, no, not today"? Do we need to move out the TD's course inspection so there is more time to correct these kinds of issues? Or give the rider rep a chance to inspect the course two days before with the TD?

I think we do need to get to a point where there is more standardization of the levels, or at least a better rating system to know how a course might ride. Trying to compare, for example. Loudoun spring's training with Rubicon fall - not even in the same ballpark. The spring course has a "coffin" set at 4-5 bending strides on the flat; the fall has a 2 to a 3 stride coffin set coming downhill. The spring course is mostly small and lopey and essentially a slightly bigger novice; the fall course is akin to most of the prelims I rode out west as a kid. Yet aren't both "average for horses with some experience at the level"? And both serve very important niches for riders in different places. But we need some way to know what you're going to be expecting when you enter a course - short of knowing folks in the area and having a sense of the courses, you're left with nothing.

Frankly, I couldn't really care less if most folks at N/T are finishing on their dressage scores. They are INTRODUCTORY levels. They are supposed to be safe and fun. If there's no ribbon for me because I can't get my horse's head down, well, shucks. So it goes. At least I had a fun day and hopefully learned something (like that I need to go spend some time in the little white box). I just think we spent so long trying to beef up the competition side of things that we're losing the opportunity to make sure the fundamentals are in place.

snickerdoodle
Nov. 23, 2007, 04:37 PM
gotspots,

great point. i think you are on the right path.


Frankly, I couldn't really care less if most folks at N/T are finishing on their dressage scores. They are INTRODUCTORY levels. They are supposed to be safe and fun. If there's no ribbon for me because I can't get my horse's head down, well, shucks. So it goes. At least I had a fun day and hopefully learned something (like that I need to go spend some time in the little white box). I just think we spent so long trying to beef up the competition side of things that we're losing the opportunity to make sure the fundamentals are in place

breakthru
Nov. 23, 2007, 05:15 PM
Wynn- attempting to answer a question you repeated a ways back: why would any of these proposed changes have an effect on the accidents, which seem to be happening at big, galloping fences?

My (perhaps very wrong) assumption is that the technicality of the more recent XC courses are more tiring to the (perhaps less thoroughly conditioned horses, due perhaps by the to the short format, perhaps because of the prevalence of more "dressage type horses" etc) horses who have to click into and out of high and low gears, instead of being able to maintain a sustained rhythm desined to test endurance- the horses are more tired, rendering them much more likely to make a terrible mis-step coming up to a big table at speed.

throwurheart
Nov. 23, 2007, 05:45 PM
I think we do need to get to a point where there is more standardization of the levels, or at least a better rating system to know how a course might ride.

Yes please!!

It's impossible trying to figure out what an event will be like until you get there. Unless you've ridden them before, you really don't know how they'll ride. I've ridden BN courses - which are supposed to be able to go up to 2-9, I believe - which had CROSSRAILS in the stadium, and nothing over 2-3. Waste of time on my big horse. 2-6 would have been perfect at the time for our training, and I wish I had two courses - stadium and xc - with little variation from that every time. When I moved up to Novice, many fences were shared with BN, and it seems that the variance continues up the levels.

We have so many variables with terrains and types of fences, but there IS an answer somewhere to give people a clue before they sign up to ride.

snickerdoodle
Nov. 23, 2007, 06:13 PM
breakthru,

i believe it IS more tiring for horses to collect and then gallop and to keep doing this for a sustained amount of time.

but some fences to require more balance. whether its a technical course or not.

i'm just thinking out loud, what do we do with the courses? is it the courses? is it the condition of the horses? training of horse and rider? the rider knowing when they are on a tired horse?



My (perhaps very wrong) assumption is that the technicality of the more recent XC courses are more tiring to the (perhaps less thoroughly conditioned horses, due perhaps by the to the short format, perhaps because of the prevalence of more "dressage type horses" etc) horses who have to click into and out of high and low gears, instead of being able to maintain a sustained rhythm desined to test endurance- the horses are more tired, rendering them much more likely to make a terrible mis-step coming up to a big table at speed.

Jazzy Lady
Nov. 23, 2007, 06:17 PM
breakthru,

i believe it IS more tiring for horses to collect and then gallop and to keep doing this for a sustained amount of time.

but some fences to require more balance. whether its a technical course or not.

i'm just thinking out loud, what do we do with the courses? is it the courses? is it the condition of the horses? training of horse and rider? the rider knowing when they are on a tired horse?

Plus the horses hold their breath when they jump. It is quicker to fatigue this way. Race tracks are also flat.

JER
Nov. 23, 2007, 06:20 PM
Frankly, I couldn't really care less if most folks at N/T are finishing on their dressage scores. They are INTRODUCTORY levels. They are supposed to be safe and fun. If there's no ribbon for me because I can't get my horse's head down, well, shucks. So it goes. At least I had a fun day and hopefully learned something (like that I need to go spend some time in the little white box). I just think we spent so long trying to beef up the competition side of things that we're losing the opportunity to make sure the fundamentals are in place.

Yes!

And this is also how horses learn to be brave and safe -- by having lots of positive, forward lower-level experiences.

Does BN need to be max height, tricky and decorated like Rolex? This summer we took our pony to what used to be a straightforward, enjoyable BN and found it had morphed into the BN Olympics. Max fences everywhere, two waters, including one with a small log for the entrance, two big house-type fences set 4 strides apart, a snake-shaped fence with a curving brush groundline. And the point of this is what?

My pony rider walked the course with a BNR (international experience) and the BNR was horrified. She said her horses -- green horses in full training -- were going to freak. She kept saying 'This can't be a BN fence' at obstacle after obstacle. And in the semi-darkness, the BNR tried to 'adjust' some groundlines. Our pony got around ok; the BNR rode her horses very tactfully to scores in the 100s.

Is this any way to teach horses to be forward, brave and look after themselves?

JER
Nov. 23, 2007, 07:08 PM
The FEI's eventing news page has an account of the FEI Eventing Committee meeting in September 2007 in which safety was on the agenda.

The report is here (http://www.fei.ch/c/news/news.htm?&vID=2037).

The FEI is very concerned about the recent deaths and has created the FEI Safety Sub-committee to address the issues. To that end, there is an Eventing Safety Forum scheduled for 19 January 2008 in Copenhagen: "All NFs with Eventing activities will be invited to attend and make presentations on Eventing Safety along with course designers, trainers, riders, officials, equipment manufacturers, and veterinarians."

Um, what about medical/EMS people? Or safety engineers? I think they'd have some valuable input and provide some good perspectives.

frugalannie
Nov. 23, 2007, 09:53 PM
Maybe it's just me, but I think that several very worthy suggestions have been made in this thread. I hope someone is reviewing and noting them for the powers that be.

Dr. Doolittle
Nov. 23, 2007, 10:12 PM
Touche', frugalannie :yes:

After reading and discussing this thread, my hubby was suggesting the very same thing; makes sense! ;)

Gnep
Nov. 23, 2007, 10:36 PM
Got Spots,
You have a very good point about rating course. If you go through the Omnibus, you will never find something, difficult, or nice move up course, or anything that honestly discrips the course.
If you are at the I level and You go to a show that has a 2 star, than it is my experiance that you ride a 2 star minus 2 or 3 jumps. Same for A.
Or if you go to one of the big shows and ride P, be ready to be hammered, even if it says with average with some experiance.
A show I realy loved this year, had not been there for 10 years, was Grass Ridge. But when I walked my Novice and Prelim courses I said ups, with some experiance, average ?
Gee no way.
Neither N or P was average, neither was BN and T.
BN, N, T were challenging for a horse or rider at that level, fun, well built and designed.
Prelim had technicly seen I questions, for example, vertical on a steep hill, very steep downhill landing 2 strides at the bottom of the hill 90 dregree turn and 2 strides to a 5 feet skinny, vertical 2 strides 3 feed bank and than a bounce vertical, big table 2 strides high drop into the water 2 strides turn 90 degree and 2 strides skinny in the water, second last jump big table 2 strides to a corner.
That is not average, that is for experianced teams at that level. It was extremely well built and designed, it rode absolutely great and had a super flow. A text-book course, but not average. It has after each tough question galloping room with nice fly fences, time to take deep breath. Each tough question has an introduction jump along the course, text book as I said.

Jer, very good question about those savety committees, as long as the system tryes to correct it self or develop it self through sources from with in, it will not provide any meanigfull progress or development, it will be rules, but not progress. Call it not seeing the forest because of all the trees, it needs insider that are outsiders and it needs outsiders that approach the savety problems from a completly differant angle. Insider insider are mostly one track people and I think that is one of the problem of the savety issue and how it is dealt with.

I make a bet, concerning every single savety committee, from USEF to FEI and what ever FN, since they are done by Insider Insider, the only outcome will be a set of new rules, but no development or research into savety equipment or jump design and the introduction of new savety equipment or new jump building methods.

Who is going to be the booky, for this bet. We could use the funds raised to help some grad students to do the research.

beeblebrox
Nov. 24, 2007, 02:31 AM
:no:
NO details on the Mia case other than the girls trainer was kicked of property with no notice (not right away by the way but later) and her clients that were on the property (barn owned by girls family) had to give 30 days notice in order to leave. A friend of mine was a client of this trainer when it all came down and called panicked with worry for her situation and for her trainer.

At the time the word was that the trainer , event venue, etc were being served with papers. ALTHOUGH you can SUE anyone for anything so it does not mean that much these days. BUT WHO KNOWS

Although while I think fault can be shared by many parties her parents (now separated) where not horse dummies. They had another daughter die in a freak trail ride accident and owned and operated a horse business so they knew the dangers and let her move up with that last ram tap crash! They also signed her entry if she was under 18. I am deeply sorry for the parents loss of 2 daughters tragically to horses but "IF" they successfully sue over this it would be the 3rd tragedy!

EvntDad
Nov. 24, 2007, 04:15 AM
Rotational falls are a huge concern to me (actually, huge is an understatement). My daughter is just the kind of kid folks are talking about on these threads - just turned 16 and already competing at intermediate, wants to do advanced by 17, Rolex by 18, team member by 19, and queen of the world by 20. And that’s just for starters. Don’t worry, I’m here to ground her as needed (plus college is going to get in her way), but I also want to let her dream big because that’s half the fun. She works really hard and has always done well, but accidents are just that – accidents. I just want to know that all has been done on the engineering side of things to make sure this inherently dangerous sport is no more dangerous than it has to be.

To me, the heart of the issue of rotational falls is pure physics. I think you can play around with speed/technicality/rider experience/etc and that can definitely affect the statistics, but in the end, the risk that a given rider faces out on course is largely about physics. Even the biggest BNR’s and their amazing horses can make mistakes. And when a horse and XC jump come into violent contact, physics won’t care about the rider’s resume.

I’m an electrical engineer (chip designer), but I think I remember enough of my college physics and dynamics classes to understand the problem. The issue is torque. That is, when a horse contacts a jump, is the magnitude of the resulting torque large enough and is it applied long enough to cause the horse to rotate forward enough to result in a flip?

The horse travels in an arc over the jump. If contact occurs, the amount of torque is largely a function of the speed of the horse, where on the horse the contact occurs, the angle of the contacted surface relative to the arc of the horse, and how much friction there is between the horse and jump surface. Without going into a bunch of math-speak (I tried – it was unintelligible), the bottom line is you want the horse to start sliding up and across the jump surface as quickly as possible. The longer the front of the horse remains “fixed” to a spot on the jump, the longer the horse has to rotate. And when the front of the horse has stopped moving because it’s “stuck” on a part of the jump, Conservation of Momentum says that the rear of the horse speeds up to try to keep the horse’s center of mass moving along as it was prior to contact, all of which promotes forward rotation. Once the horse slides up on the top surface of a jump (e.g., table), the jump surface and gravity actually help stop the forward rotation since the jump surface is pushing up on the bottom front of the horse.

So, angled/round surfaces at the front of a jump promote sliding…think rolltop (makes me want to sneak out on course in the middle of the night with my portable grinder and “fix” all those vertical faces with boxy edges). Another thing that promotes sliding is if the jump is not completely rigid and gives a bit. No jump is 100% rigid, but three inches of give will probably promote sliding a lot more quickly than a half-inch of give. Frangible pins provide give, and these are perfect for the backside of open oxers and planter box jumps. Give on the backside of those types of jumps is particularly critical as a horse that jumps too early may be on its downward arc when contact occurs and therefore doesn’t have that much farther to go in order to flip. As for the leading surfaces, perhaps jumps could be constructed to include big, thick rubber bushings – they would appear rigid to you or I but would give plenty to a 1200lb horse moving along at 550mpm.

That’s my 50-cent analysis. I’m sure any mechanical engineer could give a much better analysis as well as provide more creative solutions. Any mechanical engineers out there? Actually, just had a better idea…we should give this problem to those guys on Mythbusters. I can just picture them building a model of a horse body using their special gelatin-like substance, covering it in animal hide, suspending it from a crane so they can swing it on various arcs (upward to hit the leading edge of the jump, and downward to hit the trailing edge of the jump), constructing several XC jumps using various techniques, and testing it out by swinging the model at the jumps and seeing what promotes/restricts rotation. I would definitely watch that episode.

pwynnnorman
Nov. 24, 2007, 08:57 AM
EventDad, you represent such a valuable perspective!

Question: If the top rail, top surface and back of a table were made of some cheap, breakable material--like balsa wood (is that cheap enough to replace often???), would that allow a horse to crash through the jump instead of flip over it? Or would the entire face of the jump (er, thus the entire jump itself) have to collapse? Also, what materials are available out there? Is any material out there inexpensive enough to make altering the composition of certain types of jumps a viable consideration?

LaraNSpeedy
Nov. 24, 2007, 09:12 AM
WOW, I am so so sorry but I can't read it all the way through because I have two small kids screaming down stairs but I skimmed a lot of this and - this is a very interesting thread.

I understand the breakdown from the longer form to the new short form but I also understand why to do it.

Moving on from there - I am 35 and have been riding since I was 6. I have competed hunters jumpers and dressage seriously all my life and got into eventing two years ago - a little hiatus due to havign a baby this year - but - NO ONE even accused me of being timid. I do admit getting older and having kids makes me know I am mortal....

However, I have NO problems jumping a 5 foot fence on a horse that I know can do it if it is in an arena but I have serious issues jumping over 3 foot in a pasture over a jump that does nto collapse. Why? As a life long horse person, I know that even if I make no mistakes and the horse just is off a tiny bit - he can end up with a broken body part and I can end up paralyzed for life. Now, I LOVE jumping. I would love to see the fences designed so that they would collapse if they really needed to. I do not think people need to prove themselves by making it an extreme sport. Sky Divers wear parachutes.

I remember going to a dinky little unrec HT last year and a friend's horse slipped and fell on her. And I thought then, I was like, my kids are staying in the arena. And I am sort of still shocked I am living with how I used to gallop and jump in fields growing up.

Now, the training issue to bring up is that when changing the long form to the short form, you get more amateurs in the ring - so if you invite in the ammies like that, you cannot UP the difficulty or danger. For preservation of the sport in the long term, make the fences safer - not easier to jump but not as dangerous if you mess up.

Jazzy Lady
Nov. 24, 2007, 09:41 AM
Eventdad - very good post. I'd be really interested to see how a rubber front guard would benifit these situations. It would be a good alternative to something that would break.

Pwynn - I think balsa is way too soft to be condsidered for application on a cross country fence. The problem with fences that would collapse that way, would be splinters from the wood. You'd want something to collapse without breaking.

RAyers
Nov. 24, 2007, 10:05 AM
That’s my 50-cent analysis. I’m sure any mechanical engineer could give a much better analysis as well as provide more creative solutions. Any mechanical engineers out there? Actually, just had a better idea…we should give this problem to those guys on Mythbusters. I can just picture them building a model of a horse body using their special gelatin-like substance, covering it in animal hide, suspending it from a crane so they can swing it on various arcs (upward to hit the leading edge of the jump, and downward to hit the trailing edge of the jump), constructing several XC jumps using various techniques, and testing it out by swinging the model at the jumps and seeing what promotes/restricts rotation. I would definitely watch that episode.

Oh god no, NOT Mythbusters!!!! They are horrible! A lot of their stuff is pseudoscience. The problem with rubber is the coeficient of friction. Cf is another factor in rotation. It is a component of the counter force causing the rotation (F=N*mu). If it is small enough the contacting surface will not grip and hold. Thus a better idea is a teflon (PTFE) or a diamond like coating (DLC) where the Cf is so small, they can be made virtually frictionless.

That is why angled surfaces work. The normal to contact is rotated to the point that when a horse contacts the surface, the friction force (rotational component) is reduced by the sin of the angle of the fence face.

The Eventing Safety Committee, Adamsmom here on COTH is a member, supposedly is working with TRS in the UK on this problem. They are a safety engineering organisation (they tested and designed the frangible pin). They already have the test rig you mention.

Reed

LexInVA
Nov. 24, 2007, 10:11 AM
Eventdad - very good post. I'd be really interested to see how a rubber front guard would benifit these situations. It would be a good alternative to something that would break.

Pwynn - I think balsa is way too soft to be condsidered for application on a cross country fence. The problem with fences that would collapse that way, would be splinters from the wood. You'd want something to collapse without breaking.

That's why I am researching styrofoam. It's the perfect material to use for certain parts of a pole or log jump, namely the ones that a horse is likely to collide with, it's cheaper than plastic or wood, and it's not possible for a horse to be injured by breaking a styrofoam jump.

Badger
Nov. 24, 2007, 10:24 AM
Just brainstorming...As tables are a problem, could a table be designed with a rocker effect, with the back side's base cut away but raised on supports (keeping the table square) that would give way on enough contact, as when a horse's full weight is on it? So the front and top of a square table would rock backward and the table would then come to rest on firm ground and be more coop-shaped once it gives, encouraging the horse to slide across instead of rotate?

frugalannie
Nov. 24, 2007, 10:24 AM
How about back to the memory foam idea? In MA, it's illegal to sell used mattresses. Maybe we should collect all the used memory foam mattresses, cut them up and try pieces in front of jump faces, behind the jump face, other places?

Seriously, I'm really impressed by the ideas being discussed. Thank you all for spending the time to think and write about them.

bornfreenowexpensive
Nov. 24, 2007, 10:29 AM
The Eventing Safety Committee, Adamsmom here on COTH is a member, supposedly is working with TRS in the UK on this problem. They are a safety engineering organisation (they tested and designed the frangible pin). They already have the test rig you mention.

Reed


That's good to know. I would think that you could design a table that is still safe. Slightly angle the front...add ground lines etc. I would also think that you could insert the "give" of rubber in the middle of the fence. So that the fence has some movement or give when the horse hits it even if the horse doesn't hit the rubber. The inserts could be an affordable "fix" that could be added to existing fences. I also wonder if an easy fix could be made to how the jumps are fixed to the ground...could they be on slight sliders or have some movement at the base. Something that would give but not allow the fence to move so much as to flip with the horse.


It just seems that there must be a way to design these fences to be safer without making them too expensive. It will not stop all accidents but if it can stop and save a few...that would make it worth it.

tuppysmom
Nov. 24, 2007, 11:06 AM
Well, we could slope the face, add a slick material like teflon to the top rolled edge, add a good ground line, build the whole thing on a recoil plate of some sort,(that would operate like a recoil of a cannon,or something). That would be for the biggest whoopsies that "might" happen. We wouldn't want it to replace caution, though. Gung ho galloping full tilt and the collapsable fence could be a consequence.

I still think that we could spend some time training both horses and riders to gallop, slow down, jump, gallop. I hear lots about everyone doing their trot sets and uphill gallops and such, but very little about skill work at the gallop.

Just watching at the 2* and 1* this fall I really didn't see much in the way of good galloping position demonstrated. There was quite a bit of rider sitting back and hauling on the reins demonstrated, though. Just asking for a rotational fall.

I have been standing at the site of 2 rotational falls in the last 2 yrs. One involved the rider hauling on the reins trying to get the horse to slow down with little to no response from the horse. The other was the rider sitting back and hauling on the reins until almost all forward motion was stopped. Is this a training issue that needs to be addressed, or a fatique issue on the part of both the horse and rider?

piccolittle
Nov. 24, 2007, 11:15 AM
What about just changing the rules to make square tables illegal at the top three levels? Would it be possible to design a table that is ramped on both sides with rounded edges? I'm pretty sure I see them everywhere already.

Jazzy Lady
Nov. 24, 2007, 11:19 AM
that's the thing. The sloped face is forgiving. The square table is not. Get ride of the square faces and you will have probably solved a very large issue.

But yes, people aren't being taught how to properly gallop at speed, and maybe it is a land problem. Because fewer people have a space to gallop and jump in. People want to move up to the "bigger and harder" jumps, but can't really put together the inbetween because there is less space to train the in between.

Hony
Nov. 24, 2007, 11:21 AM
That's why I am researching styrofoam. It's the perfect material to use for certain parts of a pole or log jump, namely the ones that a horse is likely to collide with, it's cheaper than plastic or wood, and it's not possible for a horse to be injured by breaking a styrofoam jump.

My only concern with styrofoam would be that it is quite soft. Once the horses realize it is soft they may not be so inclined to pick up their feet which could cause even more crashes, or at least very chipped fences that require frequent replacement throughout the day.
When do you think you will be testing this product? It will be interesting to see what happens and I look forward to seeing the results.

Threeday33
Nov. 24, 2007, 11:22 AM
I think this is a very interesting thread and shows how many people have been thinking long and hard about what can done to help our sport.

As I read through these posts, one of my concerns is that our riding is going to deteriorate drastically the easier we make the sport. I worry that riders will start coming faster and flatter in order to make the time if they know the fences "give" or are more forgiving (I, by the way, would love riding a course of mostly rolltops and a couple of technical combinations)! Another possibility is that riders will not be as concerned about staying behind the motion and will start jumping ahead more often. There will be a loss of respect for the fences. It may become a vicious cycle where the riding will get worse and riders will start having falls elsewhere on courses. The good news is, these may not be rotational falls.

I know this is a risky paragraph to post, because I need to make sure you do realize I completely agree that something MUST be done.

I think it is very important to be researching fence construction and how to make it safer. I know the ideas presented are not trying to turn XC fences into showjumping type fences, just offer a bit of give. I think that would be ideal. I'm pretty sure we all would still respect a square maxed out intermediate table, even though there is a tiny bit of give reducing the risk of a rotational fall. I feel like I am contradicting myself a bit, but my point is that we need to take into consideration what will happen to the riding in this country if we get too carried away making everything safer and easier.

I think reducing the times or somehow reducing the technical aspect of the courses are also good ideas at this point. Maybe even in the meantime while researchers are looking at fence construction. There is no way someone should be expected to run 550 meters per minute around a course that has 5 corners. That means, in order to be competitive, the rider will be going very fast everywhere else and be taking a chance at each gallop fence if he/she forgets to take that extra second to rebalance the horse.

I guess my point is that even though square tables seem to be the problem, maybe the problem still lies earlier on the course where the rider slowed down for a few technical combinations and is trying to make up time to win. I don't think he should be risking his life just because he is competitive.

beeblebrox
Nov. 24, 2007, 11:26 AM
":confused:
That's why I am researching styrofoam. It's the perfect material to use for certain parts of a pole or log jump, namely the ones that a horse is likely to collide with, it's cheaper than plastic or wood, and it's not possible for a horse to be injured by breaking a styrofoam jump."

A horse could still flip over a xc jump made of styrofoam. Anything at enough speed becomes solid enough to be a problem. Take water for instance. It is not like the horse would stick to the stuff and stop, the glance off of it and still flip.

Not to mention stepping on that crap with Studs would be dangerous as it would stick to the feet. I do not think padding the sport is the answer and I am sorry if this offends you but sounds silly to me. To top it all off you will have the ma-rooons out there running at jumps as hell they are soft now, don't believe that? Talk to people who don't event because the jumps are fixed and do not fall down.

Lastly my sister and I were both gymnasts, she a elite gymnast and Styrofoam is not as soft as one might think and after landing on it from every angle imaginable it does not fold up like a styrofoam coffee cup and in fact still break ribs and what not when enough speed is used and this is in regards to gymnast weighing less than 125 pounds not not a 1200 pound horse.

ss3777
Nov. 24, 2007, 11:42 AM
I put together a cut and paste document this morning. I went through this thread and copied as many of the constructive or thought provoking snippets that I could. It seems the GENERAL consensus is:

11 deaths in one year would not be tolerated in other sports
Square tables are a big problem
Tighter qualifications for moving up or staying at a level
XC needs to be about endurance not stadium jumping in a field.



Now could someone (a better editor than I) put this information into a presentable document that we could forward to some of the decision makers? We could put together a list of e-mails of likely people (David O’Connor, etc) and forward are very own think tank to them. What do you think????

If you cut and paste the following URL you should be able to access my very basic doc:

C:\Documents and Settings\Susan Smith\Desktop\COTH think tank.mht

RunForIt
Nov. 24, 2007, 11:49 AM
originally posted by Jazzy Lady:

But yes, people aren't being taught how to properly gallop at speed, and maybe it is a land problem. Because fewer people have a space to gallop and jump in. People want to move up to the "bigger and harder" jumps, but can't really put together the inbetween because there is less space to train the in between.

very true...but to add to the equation, there's the time and cost of getting somewhere to gallop. Poplar Place and Pine Top, not to mention the various Aiken venues with their lovely footing and open spaces for galloping, are several hours away from me: ka-ching! diesel fuel at $3.40/gal. Schooling fees average $50 at all the venues another big plunk down of dollars. its no longer ride out the back gate into a field or the woods to hack and gallop and learn to ride. I'm not the riders you have to worry about though - I'll never ride above Training. But I guarantee you that the same limitations are affecting the riders at prelim and above who are amateurs and work full time traditional jobs. There really are a bunch of them/us out here in eventing. You don't get comfortable AND skillful riding fast and jumping a horse at speed, doing so just once a week at best.

Hony
Nov. 24, 2007, 11:52 AM
That's a very good point beeblebrox. You don't see as many serious injuries in rugby as you do football because all the padding in football gives athletes a false sense of security.
The softer it is, the harder you hit.
A friend of mine and I were discussing this yesterday and it seemed to her that the reason most accidents are happening at the prelim, * and ** level are because this it the stage when the jumps finally become unforgiving, but it is also the stage when many amateurs or new pros are trying to plow their way through the levels to make a name for themselves. She noted that chase riders who have been at the game for a long time are comparable in some ways to **** riders. They are less willing to take serious risks because they have had the experience to see how dangerous it is.
* and ** riders are more likely to take a risk, probably because they are not confident enough to say, 'this is dangerous for me today, I'm going to retire or slow down before this horse and I hit the dirt.' These are the riders who will 'give it a shot' with a horse that maybe isn't up to it that day.
It is the middle levels where you have amateurs learning to really play the game.
At training level you can make monumental mistakes and still get through. At prelim all of a sudden those mistakes are a big deal. It takes a confident rider to realize this and fix the holes in their riding before trying again.

tuppysmom
Nov. 24, 2007, 12:07 PM
You don't really need a lot of space to learn to gallop. You can do it a pasture of 10 acres or so. You can even learn the position in an arena. We have a sand track around an 8 acre pasture. It's about 25 ft wide. You can easily gallop at 600 m/m on it. We do all of our conditioning on the track because it's flat where we live and it's a good hour drive to anything with a slope.

Most counties have a fairgrounds and most fairgrounds have a track, some are even maintained!

Another idea would be to go to you local race track or training center and watch the riders. You could pick some some pointers just by watching. You would see that the riders' backs are more level than upright and their rear ends are out of the tack, that they bridge their reins and that their weight is resting somewhat on their knees, that their heads don't move because they take up the motion with their knees and hips. It is a position that is very kind to the horse and relativly easy on the rider. Take turns videoing with a friend. its fun for both the horse and the rider.

vineyridge
Nov. 24, 2007, 12:44 PM
I've only managed to read to page ten, but have a few random thoughts to throw out.

Instead of styrofoam, how about balsa wood? It is far more permanent than styrofoam, but light and easily placed and displaced. I can see constructing the top elements of XC jumps out of balsa wood logs. You could design a balsa log table so that if the horse hits it the whole top will slide off or rock down. Balsa logs are huge things and are not likely to fall apart when they are struck.

Also, horses rarely seem to come to harm over brush jumps. That's because the horse thinks the jump is higher than it really is and can brush through the brush if it misses. With a top balsa log, the horse can hit the log and displace it. But you'd have to have a jump crew for each jump, which might be a huge problem for organizers.

How about borrowing one of the French cavalry guys to come over and coach for a while? Saumur is still very active and the cavalry skills that we all lament the loss of aren't dead there.

Does whether sj or xc comes in the middle or at the end make a difference? I know the Germans are plumping to have xc on the last day of 3 days.

And why don't y'all all get out and go foxhunting? There are well over a hundred hunts out there, and you and your horse will be exposed to unplanned excitement and having to think on the fly. I know every time there is a thread on this, I raise hunting as a possible remedy for some of the things that ail eventing, but really--it'll be good for the both of you.

Moody Mare
Nov. 24, 2007, 12:52 PM
[QUOTE=EvntDad;2823094]

I’m an electrical engineer (chip designer), but I think I remember enough of my college physics and dynamics classes to understand the problem. The issue is torque. That is, when a horse contacts a jump, is the magnitude of the resulting torque large enough and is it applied long enough to cause the horse to rotate forward enough to result in a flip?

The horse travels in an arc over the jump. If contact occurs, the amount of torque is largely a function of the speed of the horse, where on the horse the contact occurs, the angle of the contacted surface relative to the arc of the horse, and how much friction there is between the horse and jump surface. Without going into a bunch of math-speak (I tried – it was unintelligible), the bottom line is you want the horse to start sliding up and across the jump surface as quickly as possible. The longer the front of the horse remains “fixed” to a spot on the jump, the longer the horse has to rotate. And when the front of the horse has stopped moving because it’s “stuck” on a part of the jump, Conservation of Momentum says that the rear of the horse speeds up to try to keep the horse’s center of mass moving along as it was prior to contact, all of which promotes forward rotation. Once the horse slides up on the top surface of a jump (e.g., table), the jump surface and gravity actually help stop the forward rotation since the jump surface is pushing up on the bottom front of the horse.

So, angled/round surfaces at the front of a jump promote sliding…think rolltop (makes me want to sneak out on course in the middle of the night with my portable grinder and “fix” all those vertical faces with boxy edges). Another thing that promotes sliding is if the jump is not completely rigid and gives a bit. No jump is 100% rigid, but three inches of give will probably promote sliding a lot more quickly than a half-inch of give. Frangible pins provide give, and these are perfect for the backside of open oxers and planter box jumps. Give on the backside of those types of jumps is particularly critical as a horse that jumps too early may be on its downward arc when contact occurs and therefore doesn’t have that much farther to go in order to flip. As for the leading surfaces, perhaps jumps could be constructed to include big, thick rubber bushings – they would appear rigid to you or I but would give plenty to a 1200lb horse moving along at 550mpm.
QUOTE]


Excellent post, EvntDad!

frugalannie
Nov. 24, 2007, 12:56 PM
Thank you for putting together a list of the fatalities along with some salient details. A sad task but necessary.

In order to increase the "N" and help identify the problem fence types, does it make sense to include the unfortunate severe injuries that have also been incurred? Off the top of my head, I can think of Ralph Hill and Kim Meier, both very skilled riders.

This is not meant to minimize the importance of the suggestions made thus far, but to give them even more statistical heft.

Blugal
Nov. 24, 2007, 01:02 PM
Don't forget, Kim was injured schooling over show jumps under Ralph's very competent supervision.

lstevenson
Nov. 24, 2007, 01:14 PM
A lot of good ideas on this thread.

I personally feel like the material of the jump is of no consequence. In that if the jump is solid enough to be safe (ie. a horse can land on it if need be), then if the face is too vertical for the speed, and he hits it, he will have a tendency to flip. I believe that if a horse gets under a square table made of styrofoam and hits it, he will still fall. Unless of course the jump is so soft that the whole thing gives. And then it's not safe if the horse wants to bank it.

It's the shape of those tables that needs to change, not the material. I vote for no even slightly vertical faces on jumps at any level. And the higher the speed required, the more slanted the face.

I also think that show jumping should always be held before cross country, at least at horse trials. And that show jumping should be made harder, and cross country more straightforward with less turning questions and things you have to slow down for. If a rider's show jumping looks dangerous (horse jumping in dangerous form, or out of control, or rider with terrible form), they should not be allowed to continue onto cross country.

JER
Nov. 24, 2007, 01:15 PM
The Eventing Safety Committee, Adamsmom here on COTH is a member, supposedly is working with TRS in the UK on this problem. They are a safety engineering organisation (they tested and designed the frangible pin). They already have the test rig you mention.


Just a few points to add:

The group in the UK is TRL -- Transport Research Laboratory (http://www.trl.co.uk/default.asp).

In 2000, TRL worked with Dr. Ellen Singer of the University of Liverpool vet school to develop an equine crash test dummy. The dummy even had a name, IIRC it was Ned.

The papers used to be on the websites of either Liverpool or TRL but I just did a quick check and didn't find them. If anyone's interested, I'm sure you could contact either group for the paper as it was widely disseminated at the time.

Frangible pins do work. But when was the last time anyone here saw one? Or the first time? Frangible pins aren't easy to implement and they don't work for many types of fence. From the statistics, there are more deaths from rotational falls in 2007 than in 1999 (which was the deadly year that prompted the studies).

As for styrofoam, I first mentioned it while quoting Jane Davies, founder of the Mark Davies Injured Riders Fund. She was talking about the inherent dangers of solid obstacles and not about any ongoing research. It's not a material that's been tested as far as I know although it might be useful in designing crumple zones on fences.

CookiePony
Nov. 24, 2007, 01:16 PM
I put together a cut and paste document this morning. I went through this thread and copied as many of the constructive or thought provoking snippets that I could. It seems the GENERAL consensus is:

11 deaths in one year would not be tolerated in other sports
Square tables are a big problem
Tighter qualifications for moving up or staying at a level
XC needs to be about endurance not stadium jumping in a field.



One more basic concern for the list: speeds have remained the same even though courses have become more technical. (I can't get the link to work, though.)

Thanks Susan, plus JER, eventdad, and others who have contributed technical information and facts. What a resource you all are.

Kathy Johnson
Nov. 24, 2007, 01:27 PM
What is proved by jumping a table? What important, world altering question is being asked when a horse is faced with a table?

Eventing is a sport, pure and simple. No person and no horse should needlessly die anymore doing a sport. Dumb down the sport if you want to call it that, let the riding in America go to hell in a handbasket, but for God's sake, take the tables out of eventing.

The FEI and the USEA should both be taking a long hard look at their liability and their negligence. With that high of a correlation between fatality accidents and tables, there will be a lawsuit, and things will have to change.

JER
Nov. 24, 2007, 01:35 PM
In order to increase the "N" and help identify the problem fence types, does it make sense to include the unfortunate severe injuries that have also been incurred? Off the top of my head, I can think of Ralph Hill and Kim Meier, both very skilled riders.


When I started making my list, I intended to include serious injuries as well. However, there were several issues. The information wasn't easily available. There'd be a few lines in an event report but not enough good facts. Kim Meier fell while schooling over show jumps. British rider Claire Lomas and her horse had a disagreement over which way to go around a tree. Several pony riders in the UK had rotational falls resulting in broken pelvises. I'm sure there are other incidents in XC schooling situations. But there wasn't much to go on so I made my list limited to rider deaths in competition.

On the British Eventing website, there is a page detailing the data collection work of BE and TRL (http://www.britisheventing.com/page.asp?section=00010001000200220005). The page outlines the procedures for reporting falls at UK events. I'd think there's a good database building up at BE and TRL.

JER
Nov. 24, 2007, 02:02 PM
Ok, more stuff. I hope someone enjoys this.

The British Eventing site (http://www.britisheventing.com) has a good amount of stuff on the frangible pins and safety research. This page (http://www.britisheventing.com/page.asp?section=00010001000200220001) gives a good summary of the hows and why of frangible pins as well as the type of accident they're meant to prevent (rotational falls).

Regarding the TRL studies:
It was found that the potential for a crushing injury was related to the rotating motion and landing angle of the horse. A landing angle of more than 90 degrees was considered to provide a significant risk of crushing injury to the rider. This happened when the horse hit a fixed obstacle between its knee and elbow. Below this the horse was able to scrabble over – but above this and the horse stayed behind the fence with the rider staying seated or ejected over the fence.

There are links to various PDFs of TRL and frangible pin documents on the right side of the page. (This stuff is really interesting to read.)

Then there is this 2003 article from Horse & Hound (http://www.horseandhound.co.uk/competitionnews/391/34610.html). It says the BE has ruled that by the start of the 2006 eventing season, "the pins must be installed on all fences at every level."

What happened?

denny
Nov. 24, 2007, 02:04 PM
What changes if we add in horse fatalities? And I think we must.
Do we want a sport where those are "business as usual?"