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View Full Version : Spinoff: What does it take for a RIDER to do Intermediate and up?



CookiePony
Dec. 7, 2007, 09:52 AM
I'm a confirmed lower-level rider-- the adrenaline rush of Novice is plenty for me. So sometimes I wonder if it is my temperament that makes me a LLR.

On the other hand, sometimes I wonder why, after eventing for close to 20 years, I still am, well, mediocre as a rider. Why is it so hard for me to get my OTTB on my aids? Why does my leg chronically slip back? Etc., etc. So sometimes I wonder if it is my ability that makes me a LLR.

Now, realistically I think that it is both temperament and ability that make a LLR/ULR or something in between. So what are those temperamental/ ability attributes?

Xctrygirl
Dec. 7, 2007, 10:35 AM
Ok first question that comes to mind,

Have you ever had an instructor or horse that challenged you to go beyond your current knowledge. Have you owned a made horse that was there to take you up the levels?
Did you ever do other disciplines, such as dressage or jumpers where you went up more than what we do in eventing???

And beyond all this, do you feel comfortable on any horse to want to just pop those fences up another foot and see what happens??

When I was a kid, every summer I would jerk the schooling fences up to the 3'9-4'6" range. And Just come down kicking. Now mind, I was in my teens. But even later when I was schooling up gryphon before our second event season started (in cali so great weather) I was popping him through grids up to 5'6". Obviously I will never see a 5' table on xc. But its nice as heck to know that it won't matter if one looks big, b/c it'll be 12" + smaller!!

I am not a brave without caution rider. But because I keep pushing myself and my horses on my own, I know a bit more of where the outer limits of our abilities are in case we get really deep, long or whatever to a fence.

And that helps me ride confidently.

((Side note, I don't push my horses to their limits often. Rarely more than twice a year. I don't want to shake their confidence or make them think I have lost it. Just want to have a little fun))



~Emily

Hilary
Dec. 7, 2007, 11:13 AM
For an adult amatuer like me? Time. Time to condition the horse sufficiently, time to take the extra lessons to get "that" good in all 3 phases. Time to go to as many prelim events as possible, and a three-day to get as much experience as I can. Time to ride other horses. Basically time to get the mileage you need to ride safely at that level.

Money too, but even if I had lots of extra money to do the competitions and lessons, I would struggle with the time commitment.

I've had casual conversations with my instructor about this - I've never had the opportunity to really be faced with the question, but it seems that she would want my skill level up a couple of notches everywhere, and the time it would take - hours in the saddle is how you get there - would be hard.

RAyers
Dec. 7, 2007, 11:20 AM
This is interesting. My sister and I grew up riding together but I think that we show the difference between ideas.

My sister is an amazing rider. She wins the equitations classes, medals, hunters etc. on a regualr basis. She can take any horse and train them to be rideable by any other rider. However, she has absolutely NO urge to press the horses.

Like Emily, I have always pressed my horses and myself beyond what I thought we could do. I can take any horse and push it up to and beyond what it can do. However, those horses and not very rideable by any other person.

I think most ULRs have a bit of the "hang your ass out over the edge" attitude. That is we tend to see if we can push the envelope and pull it back and walk away. Of course we all have lawn darted, grass skipped, augered in, sucked dirt, slammed in, more than we wanted.

I also think URLs also have the ability to, while recognizing the dangers and realities, be able to put that aside every time. In a sense, be "stupid" about what we are doing. Because if we really thought about those things we would never get on a horse.

In my case I once said all that I ever wanted was to be solid at Prelim and to "dabble" at Intermediate. Now, all I can think about is getting more solid at Intermediate and running solid Advanced with a 3-star as the goal.

So, maybe it is something inherent in the rider that can not be elucidated?

Reed

evntr06
Dec. 7, 2007, 11:52 AM
Talent, Bravery, Desire (to improve, jump higher, go up the levels, etc), being in the right place at the right time on a right horse, ability and opportunity to ride many horses several times per day most days of the week. I think having all that at the same time will allow a person to become ULR, but when one or more of those things are missing, it is very hard if not impossible to progress to Upper levels. That's why its very hard to do for majority of Ammys with full-time jobs. Of course, an abundance of one quality can make up somewhat for lack of another, i.e. talent vs. experience, but lacking in more then one area would make things really tough if not impossible.

I personally don't have any desire to event anything above novice, because I know I don't have what it takes. I will be very content to enjoy the sport at the lower levels, there is nothing wrong with that!

snoopy
Dec. 7, 2007, 12:05 PM
Like Emily, I have always pressed my horses and myself beyond what I thought we could do. I can take any horse and push it up to and beyond what it can do. However, those horses and not very rideable by any other person.


:confused:

Hannahsmom
Dec. 7, 2007, 12:08 PM
For the true amateur...it takes the right horse and a good coach. You have to believe in both implicitly. You have to be willing to make sacrifices. But I did it even though I was in my very late 40's and not really very fit. I just had this horse I believed in no matter what (and he was talented, just not the type of horse a professional would ever both with) and I trusted my coach who had 'been there, done that'. Idiot that I am, if my horse hadn't developed some eyesight issues, I would probably have been aiming at Advanced. Fortunately God intervened!

RAyers
Dec. 7, 2007, 12:13 PM
:confused:

Oop, I need to proofread better. Sorry!

My old trainer once said, "Reed, you are an amateur so you train your horses to be ridden by one person and that is you. You do not train horses to be ridden by anybody else."

What I meant is that I can take a horse and take it to the limits of its capabilities but because I ride for myself - I'm not a professional trainer - my horses have a unique way of being ridden so that not many others can simply hop on and duplicate the ride.

I don't know how I got the way I am. I do know that even as a kid I was always seeing if my horses could go faster and jump higher. I know it is still very much a part of my riding psyche.

I hope that helps.

Reed

hrg
Dec. 7, 2007, 12:19 PM
Simple really.... the higher the level ridden is inversely proportional to the degree of sanity!!!

But seriously, it has lot to do with a riders personality. I think ULR are challenged by the known risks of the sport and by what 'scares' or challenges us individually. As you move up the levels, you develop the ability to assess the questions and risks through experience. And learning from the inevitable mistakes, not seeing them as failure...and then getting to work solving them.

Novice on a baby can be much scarier than I/A on veteran horse. The veteran horses tend to be like the riders, they love the challenge and are not defeated by errors..but learn from them. You know what you are sitting on by the time you get there...and they know you. The babies...well who knows what they are gonna do? So when trust or lack there of comes into play it is much scarier. Until that partnership develops...it is always a bit interesting.

But nothing is better than the adrenaline rush of xc...no matter what the level!!

CookiePony
Dec. 7, 2007, 12:27 PM
OK, so I definitely don't have that "push the envelope" attitude. That said, I did a clinic last year with my greenie where I went in having only done a two-foot, three-element gymnastic with him and wound up doing Wofford's monster bounce gymnastic with some elements over 3'. The same clinician had me doing 3'6" in a gymnastic last fall, no big deal. I really did enjoy myself.

I've been lucky to have had quite a few good teachers, some of whom are ULRs themselves... perhaps not so lucky with the horses, time, and money. Perhaps had I been luckier with money, I might have done YRs as a kid, when I was more brave. Then college, grad school, etc. cut into my time and here I am as an adult amateur with a full-time job and a nice but not UL potential OTTB.

I don't regret all this (besides wishing I had more time and money)-- I am very happy to have the T3DE as my big-time goal. But I am curious about how/why riders get on to different tracks.

CookiePony
Dec. 7, 2007, 12:29 PM
hey hrg, its great to see you here and thanks for your observations... I always knew you were insane! :winkgrin:

blackwly
Dec. 7, 2007, 12:49 PM
I think it has to do with the ability to IMPROVE under pressure. For me, anyway, I have always noticed that fear/stress/pressure are actually focusing feelings for me. When I'm filled with a healthy trepidation, I am more focused and preform better. That goes for me at the hospital in emergancies as well as out on the intermediate xcountry course....it is the same adrenalin rush and it is addictive! Which is why I do brain surgery 70 hours a week and then take the weekend off to hurl myself over solid objects on a young thoroughbred, I guess! Nuts!

I think people who seek high-risk/high reward scenarios in life, in hobbies, in their careers tend to be the types who will make it to the upper levels. And if those risky situations actually elevate your natural abilities, then that's a recipe for success.

grayarabpony
Dec. 7, 2007, 01:50 PM
Don't forget the touch of insanity!;):lol:

RAyers
Dec. 7, 2007, 02:11 PM
I forgot one other thing, these riders, no matter how much we don't want to admit it, must have EGO!

In a way we all have to think we are better than anyone else and that we can do it all - of course tempered with a dose of humility (hopefully).

Reed

Avra
Dec. 7, 2007, 02:12 PM
Don't forget the touch of insanity!;):lol:

Hey, that's what I was going to say!

I do think it takes a special type of person. My ex climbs mountains for a living. My mom breaks racehorses and (at the age of 56) did her first Prelim event this year. They're both careful, but they also have this slightly crazy, driven streak. I don't have it. I'm happy to faff around at Novice. I'd like to do the T3day in a year or two, if my current greenie gets that far. But I actually like the bringing-on stage best. I love working with green horses. I love when they have that OMG, I get it! moment. I don't mind jumping big solid fences out hunting, and once I get going on xc, I usually enjoy it, but...

Whisper
Dec. 7, 2007, 02:19 PM
I think that what RAyers was saying about goals changing as people improve is a good point. :) I know I've said a few times that I want to be able to do a T3D, do Dressage through 2nd Level, vault at Copper Canter Level, and one of H/J/Eq through 3'6" competently. I just moved up to Copper Canter in October for the vaulting. :D It feels really good that I've made it to this point, and I'm hoping to get my medal. I don't know whether or not I'll be able to move up from here, but I'm definitely having fun.

For the other kinds of riding, I feel I don't have the talent to go farther, or the money to buy or train a horse to that level - and Prelim fences look pretty intimidating. I guess I feel I'd rather set goals that *feel* attainable and realistic, and if I reach them or am getting close, I can develop new goals. Right now, I'm working on the short-term position/contact/etc. goals rather than focusing on competitions. I'd like to do some if we can get the logistics to work, but I have plenty of basics to focus on.

Jazzy Lady
Dec. 7, 2007, 02:20 PM
I forgot one other thing, these riders, no matter how much we don't want to admit it, must have EGO!

In a way we all have to think we are better than anyone else and that we can do it all - of course tempered with a dose of humility (hopefully).

Reed

hahahaa... hell yes! If one doesn't have the ego it's hard to have the guts to strut your stuff out there! As for the humility, our horses tend to take care of that for us when we get too full of ourselves!!! ;)

I'm moving up to intermediate in March at Pine top (SOOO friggen pumped it's not even funny). I'm probably not the boldest person in the world, but with the right horse, it's amazing what a person can accomplish. There was a time when I though prelim was out of reach.

A rider needs to be able to take a large amount of stress and pressure and be willing to commit the time and money it takes for the appropriate training. They also need to be patient and be able to say "not today" at that level. They need a brain and a certain sense of self preservation. A good mix of chicken and tiger. The chicken to respect what you are doing and prepare yourself properly and listen to your horse, and tiger to overcome the chicken and tackle everything that is put in your way. :)

texaseventer
Dec. 7, 2007, 02:23 PM
That goes for me at the hospital in emergancies as well as out on the intermediate xcountry course....it is the same adrenalin rush and it is addictive! Which is why I do brain surgery 70 hours a week and then take the weekend off to hurl myself over solid objects on a young thoroughbred, I guess! Nuts!

To blackwly and others that work in a non-horsey job and ride at the upper levels... how do you do it??? How on earth do you manage a 50+ hour work week (or 70 as above) and still manage to train yourself and your horse to go at Prelim and higher?

Wanna be one-day Prelim riders want to know!

:)
Mandy
(who is a self-proclaimed chicken currently enjoying the thrills of BN but is already looking forward to our first Training, which I hope will happen in late 08 or early 09 - according to my coach it will!!!)

OneDaySoon
Dec. 7, 2007, 02:47 PM
I forgot one other thing, these riders, no matter how much we don't want to admit it, must have EGO!

In a way we all have to think we are better than anyone else and that we can do it all - of course tempered with a dose of humility (hopefully).

Reed

Reed - Ego and humility aside ;), when did you start looking at Advanced jumps and say to yourself "I can do that". I watched your round at the AECs - you were awesome and so full of confidence and passion!!! Advanced is in your cards already!

I definately "hang my ass out over the edge" (for more than one reason :lol:) and am the first to admit to being a complete cowgirl. If they added a cattle round-up and a river swim on XC, I would be over the moon.

I wonder how many people reading this thread watch Rolex, Badminton, or Burghley and say to themselves "I can do that and I am going to do it in 3, 4, 5 years"?

mythical84
Dec. 7, 2007, 02:53 PM
I forgot one other thing, these riders, no matter how much we don't want to admit it, must have EGO!

In a way we all have to think we are better than anyone else and that we can do it all - of course tempered with a dose of humility (hopefully).

Reed

Funny ... this is what I look for in my event horses. :) :)


OneDaySoon: I can't tell you how many times I've day dreamt about jumping around the big courses with the Harrymonster. I walked Fair Hill in October and thought it looked like fun. :) I guess I'm part of the crazy crowd. :)

OneDaySoon
Dec. 7, 2007, 03:15 PM
Funny ... this is what I look for in my event horses. :) :)


OneDaySoon: I can't tell you how many times I've day dreamt about jumping around the big courses with the Harrymonster. I walked Fair Hill in October and thought it looked like fun. :) I guess I'm part of the crazy crowd. :)

Hey Mythical - you know what they say "If you can dream it, you can do it". Keep it crazy, lady ;). Jingles to Harry.

RiverBendPol
Dec. 7, 2007, 03:30 PM
Cookie, Also, among all things already mentioned, much as we like to think we are, in general we are not perfectionists. If you take a look at yourself, you are.:winkgrin: You work your ever-lovin' a$$ off for the perfect distance, perfect leg position, perfect pace and these things you get. Don't deny it, you are a beeeautiful rider. BUT, when striving for these perfect things, one tends to misplace or even lose the drive to go fast, jump big, git'erdun attitude. A perfectionist has more trouble throwing caution to the wind and JUST RIDE FORWARD when the distance disappears. Cannot sit up, add leg and gun it toward the water when they'd rather take 5 or 6 tugs and trot neatly in over the log. There has to be a little bit of reckless mixed into the perfection-seeker to be successful facing I and A level courses.
I actually am wondering this winter if I still have it. I have always been able to say 'I want to do the best my horse and I can do on the day. I want big jumps, fast track, adrenalin pouring.' Now that I haven't competed since September 2006, I wonder if I'll still have it. I do have a 4 year old whom I will bring up through the ranks and maybe as we grow the partnership together, I'll get it back. I worry that I'll never have the wild confidence I had with Char. I also think it makes a huge difference to be able to bring the horse up yourself. "Let's just see how far he can go" when speaking of a youngster, takes the oness off of you and puts it on the horse. Being one-horse-ammies allows us that luxury. Anyhow, to finally answer your question, to ride at I or A, I think one needs a shot of recklessness, one of insanity, one of self-confidence, 3 or 4 of humility. Along with a great instructor who oozes confidence, tells you when you're ready and when you're not and a horse in whom you have some confidence, who feels the same about you.

blackwly
Dec. 7, 2007, 03:41 PM
To blackwly and others that work in a non-horsey job and ride at the upper levels... how do you do it??? How on earth do you manage a 50+ hour work week (or 70 as above) and still manage to train yourself and your horse to go at Prelim and higher?

Wanna be one-day Prelim riders want to know!

!!)

Well, it is tough. It works for me for a few reasons:

1. I first moved up to intermediate and advanced years ago when I was in school and had more time to ride, train, etc. Now I'm riding prelim on a green horse, with plans to move up to intermediate in the late spring, but I almost never get to have lessons. I wouldn't be able to do that if I wasn't already very comfortable at those levels (well, intermediate anyway) from bringing along 3 previous UL horses. My coach lives 3 hours away, and doesn't teach on weekends. Thus, I've seen him 3 times in the past year! Not ideal, but I have no choice.

2. I have a dream setup where my horse lives on my farm where I grew up which is an awesome facility, but I have a live-in caretaker. I live next door to the hospital and do a reverse-commute to the barn at night after work.

3. I pay a LL event rider to do trot sets or light dressage on my horse 1-2 times a week when I'm on call.

4. I ride every possible day, no matter how late, no matter how exhausted, no matter how overwhelmed. Some might say I am a little OCD about it....

5. On a related note, I am used to being up all night and working the entire next day, so when I leave for an event 8 hours away at 8PM on a friday night, it is not such a huge deal for me. My horse, however, sometimes has other ideas for me come dressage time!

And finally: pretty much everyone I work with (in neurosurgery residency) is 100% all neurosurgery, all the time. I tried that for a year (without riding) and I was miserable. I realized that I'm not going to stop eventing until they pry me off the horse! So I consider it a privilege to be able to enjoy my hobby while also having a really meaningful career...and I'm motivated by wanting my young horse to be prepared and ridden as well as he deserves before I point him at the jumps. Which is important b/c you need some serious motivation to do trot sets in driving sleet at 11PM after work!

53
Dec. 7, 2007, 03:51 PM
I wonder how many people reading this thread watch Rolex, Badminton, or Burghley and say to themselves "I can do that and I am going to do it in 3, 4, 5 years"?

ODS - I have always wondered if I could/would do upper levels. I walked Rolex for the first time in person in 2006 (having watchd the DVDs/VHS for years) and it was eye opening - but not in the way I expected. I walked it, and looked at my mom, she asked "what did you think?" and without hesitation I said "I could do that, I wasn't sure if I could or not, but having just walked it, I could do that with the right horse".

And now the fire in the belly is raging more than ever.

4Martini
Dec. 7, 2007, 04:15 PM
I watch Rolex and think - wouldn't it be nice to be sitting there in a pretty hat sipping a nice cocktail watching the cool horses...

I guess that's why my screen name is 4Martini rather than OlympicDreams2012 or something like that :lol:

I'm working on BN!

RAyers
Dec. 7, 2007, 04:17 PM
Have I got a deal for you!

It is the new and improved Reed Ayers 25 Hour Day (Pat. Pending) and my enhanced 25 Hour Day with the Caffineomatic Dispenser (Pat. Pending). Only $99.95 with free shipping!

Seriously, I average 70 work weeks, and the horse takes about another 28 hours minimum. That means other things are sacrificed, such as personal relationships and sleep. I learned to drive at least 1,000 miles in 15 hours (No bathroom breaks unless the fuel tank is empty!). It is a HARD life.

Reed



To blackwly and others that work in a non-horsey job and ride at the upper levels... how do you do it??? How on earth do you manage a 50+ hour work week (or 70 as above) and still manage to train yourself and your horse to go at Prelim and higher?

Wanna be one-day Prelim riders want to know!

:)
Mandy
(who is a self-proclaimed chicken currently enjoying the thrills of BN but is already looking forward to our first Training, which I hope will happen in late 08 or early 09 - according to my coach it will!!!)

RAyers
Dec. 7, 2007, 04:23 PM
I think once I was confident at Intermediate, I reallized that Advanced wasn't that much different. ;) Alsso, I think you just hit the nail on the head for every rider "PASSION." That goes a long way to making you push hard up the ranks.



Reed - Ego and humility aside ;), when did you start looking at Advanced jumps and say to yourself "I can do that". I watched your round at the AECs - you were awesome and so full of confidence and passion!!! Advanced is in your cards already!

Mythical84, like horses, like riders! :D

Reed

Blugal
Dec. 7, 2007, 04:35 PM
When I first started eventing, I thought looked up to Prelim riders as if Prelim were the Olympics. Prelim was a far-away, maybe possible goal, some day. With the right horse. Int. was NEVER. Adv. was for spectating! :lol:

Once I did Prelim, the second horse was easier. The third horse was greener but Prelim was more do-able since I had the experience. After 2 years at Prelim, suddenly Int. became 'maybe we *could*'. Prelim was getting easier. My horse & I were trusting each other, he wasn't as green. I was still scared sh*tless though!!! We did it - some bumps on the way. Then a 2-star was do-able.

The next season, we were still just an Int. pair... until we went around Rebecca Farm. At the beginning, I was still in the "I'll have to ride hard to make it around clear, that is the goal". By the end, I thought, "wow, that was so much easier, he was so ride-able... we could do the Advanced." I walked it later that day, it seemed do-able (but still scary).

What it took for me as a rider: having great instruction focused on safety first & confidence built up through years wtih my horse. The experience from each successive horse makes it easier to come up the rungs the next time, but I still like to feel like I'm not the only brains of the operation :)

Elliot
Dec. 7, 2007, 04:55 PM
I think about this question a lot. I am a very driven person. I'm very competitive in whatever I'm doing, and I need to have goals that I'm working towards. If I'm going training level, I want to be going prelim and so on.

I have ridden through intermediate, but that was when I was in college and had fewer bills, the right horse and more time.

Now I'm contemplating that move up again, but as an adult amateur, I have less time to ride (and to stay fit in general), I have less money, and there are other things in my life that make it tough to devote the time I need to move up. I did do a one-star last spring, but it was a lot of work, and I felt like I had to neglect other things in my life to do it.

One of my best friends has brought every horse she's owned up to preliminary or intermediate. She also works a full-time job, but she's got two things I don't—she's more driven, and she's got more talent. A lot more talent!

So, as much as I hate to admit it, being the driven, competitive person that I am, I think the reason she moves up when I don't is that she simply wants it more, and is willing to sacrifice more for it. I think there are all kinds of upper level riders—some are perfectionists, and some have more guts than ability, but they all want it badly enough to make it happen, whatever it takes. Certainly that may be easier for those that have talent, money, etc., but it still takes a lot of work and dedication.

I'd love to point fingers and say, "Well if only I had the talent, the money, the time. . ." But in the end I have to look at myself and admit that the thing that truly stops me from going intermediate or advanced, or whatever, is me.

RunForIt
Dec. 7, 2007, 05:22 PM
originally posted by Jazzy Lady:

I'm moving up to intermediate in March at Pine top (SOOO friggen pumped it's not even funny). I'm probably not the boldest person in the world, but with the right horse, it's amazing what a person can accomplish. There was a time when I though prelim was out of reach.


three thoughts:
FIRST: you will be awesome at Pine Top! That big guy you have will eat up the jumps and galloping (YES! THERE IS STILL A COURSE WHERE YOU GET TO GALLOP - Jump - GALLOP!!!)!!!!:D :yes:

SECOND: Cookie Pony and I will be there volunteering and can't wait to meet you in person! :lol: :D :cool:

THREE: I've jumped five of the Intermediate XC jumps at Pine Top (stupidly, of course), including the corners - NOT at a gallop. I figure a real eventer oughta be just fine. You are MORE than qualified to get around this very tough, but REAL XC course!!!

I always try to volunteer at PTF that weekend cause its my birthday and what better present than to see the best at the best event! :D :cool:

OneDaySoon
Dec. 7, 2007, 05:30 PM
There sure are some beautiful perfectionist-type ULRs out there - they just oooze grace, music, and symmetry in the saddle. However, has anyone noticed the slightly less than gracefull ULRs that just get the job done...and still win? Weekend after weekend after weekend. I don't know if this is a generational thing, 'cause some of these ULRs I am thinking of are older, or a personal choice (especially when dealing with a long string of ponies on a rotating treadmill), or lack (or strength) of a particular talent. In any case, does make me wonder what the right balance is between achieving perfection vs. a satisfactory performance and how we use those judgements of ourselves and others to move up.

blackwly
Dec. 7, 2007, 05:36 PM
SECOND: Cookie Pony and I will be there volunteering and can't wait to meet you in person! :lol: :D :cool:

I always try to volunteer at PTF that weekend cause its my birthday and what better present than to see the best at the best event! :D :cool:

I'll be there too! It's our first event of the season (see: job as mentioned above = no Florida trips for this Area III rider) and we should be pulling in around 4 AM!

I can't wait for the spring. Sigh.

breakthru
Dec. 7, 2007, 05:45 PM
This is a fun, feel-good thread, and I don't want to de-rail or put a damper on it, but when I read the title of the thread I was expecting people to address more tangible skill sets: what sorts of specific physical tasks/standards should you have to be able to hold yourself to before thinking about running at the upper levels.

For example- I remember in a colomn recently (I think it was Jimmy Wofford's in PH) it being suggested that one should be able to perform a wall-sit for half (was it half, or the full time?) the time of your XC course optimum time. Anyone have any suggestions like this? I'm not thinking merely fitness, but more things like- you should be able to jump a course without stirrups *well* in stadium at the level lower than the one you're attempting before you plan to move up, or, you should have experience schooling a greenie over a Novice course before you take a seasoned (or at least, well prepared) different horse intermediate or advanced...? Sort of a mix of a checklist of things you should have experience doing and specific skills in addition to all the mental qualities people have been discussing...?

RAyers
Dec. 7, 2007, 06:10 PM
I feel, however, at the upper levels, it is the intangible that makes the real difference. There is no special physical skill set that is developed once you are Prelim and above, nor is there any sort of special experiences that prepare you.

Everything I learned and got ingrained at Prelim set me up for Intermediate. It was the shear mental aspects that were different. The only other thing physically that must be developed is jumping at an even higher speed.

Reed



This is a fun, feel-good thread, and I don't want to de-rail or put a damper on it, but when I read the title of the thread I was expecting people to address more tangible skill sets: what sorts of specific physical tasks/standards should you have to be able to hold yourself to before thinking about running at the upper levels.

For example- I remember in a colomn recently (I think it was Jimmy Wofford's in PH) it being suggested that one should be able to perform a wall-sit for half (was it half, or the full time?) the time of your XC course optimum time. Anyone have any suggestions like this? I'm not thinking merely fitness, but more things like- you should be able to jump a course without stirrups *well* in stadium at the level lower than the one you're attempting before you plan to move up, or, you should have experience schooling a greenie over a Novice course before you take a seasoned (or at least, well prepared) different horse intermediate or advanced...? Sort of a mix of a checklist of things you should have experience doing and specific skills in addition to all the mental qualities people have been discussing...?

Hannahsmom
Dec. 7, 2007, 06:25 PM
I feel, however, at the upper levels, it is the intangible that makes the real difference. There is no special physical skill set that is developed once you are Prelim and above, nor is there any sort of special experiences that prepare you.
Reed

What Reed said. I'm the poster child for not having any skill.

Jazzy Lady
Dec. 7, 2007, 06:25 PM
originally posted by Jazzy Lady:


three thoughts:
FIRST: you will be awesome at Pine Top! That big guy you have will eat up the jumps and galloping (YES! THERE IS STILL A COURSE WHERE YOU GET TO GALLOP - Jump - GALLOP!!!)!!!!:D :yes:

SECOND: Cookie Pony and I will be there volunteering and can't wait to meet you in person! :lol: :D :cool:

THREE: I've jumped five of the Intermediate XC jumps at Pine Top (stupidly, of course), including the corners - NOT at a gallop. You are MORE than qualified to get around this very tough, but REAL XC course!!!

I always try to volunteer at PTF that weekend cause its my birthday and what better present than to see the best at the best event! :D :cool:

Thanks Runforit!! I'm so excited! I've heard it's a great gallop course which is awesome! My pony can rock out the technical, but it's easier to make the time with him if it flows and it's gallopy (though I will NOT be going for time my first one!) hahaha. I'm so excited to meet more COTHers!!!! WHEE!

Thanks for volunteering!!!!

elizabeth Callahan
Dec. 7, 2007, 06:34 PM
Let me preface this by saying that until 2004, I had never, ever ridden above training - and even then I was pretty tentative. Those fences looked huge! But the right coach and horse, and things got easier and prelim looked doable, and then Int looked doable.

I tried a few Int this year and although I could jump the fences, they scared the*** out of me. I realized that it was way too much work for me to enjoy. I have a full time job, , some breeding horses, after hours call and although I was quite successful at prelim, I don't have the desire to work that hard to do this level. I found it was a LOT of work for that 2" move up. I needed to jump twice a week, drive 2 hours each way for a lesson, at least once a week, condition, etc. i just can't do it. I think you really need to have the time and the mindset to put this job first, and it IS a job at this level. Not enough hours in the day to do it properly - and at this level, it has to be the right way. I don't have time to ride multiple horses or spend hours doing squats, and I am almost 50, so my knees won't hold up either. So, I'm not sure that a great deal of physical conditioning for me is needed - the amount I had to ride to condition her seemed to be enough.

My mare got maxed out as well - the combos , esp in the water just got too much for her - maybe i would feel different if she enjoyed it, but I think it got to be too much work for her as well.

So I think it is about your horse and your desire to put the eventing first, and the work that goes along with it

CookiePony
Dec. 7, 2007, 07:05 PM
These are fascinating answers and I am interested in both the tangibles and the intangibles so please feel free to comment on either. :cool:


A perfectionist has more trouble throwing caution to the wind and JUST RIDE FORWARD when the distance disappears. Cannot sit up, add leg and gun it toward the water when they'd rather take 5 or 6 tugs and trot neatly in over the log.

Aha-- this rings a bell for me (and thank you for your too-kind comments about my riding). Most of my instructors will tell you that I tend to pick, pick, pick down to things I am worried about, and my best rides have been when I have managed to overcome this shortcoming and ride forward. I love watching ULRs who do make adjustments, but keep things moving-- the right balance between technique and git 'er done.

Jazzy and blackwly, I am so happy to learn you'll be at Pine Top! When the time gets closer we'll start a thread.

snoopy
Dec. 7, 2007, 07:16 PM
[QUOTE=OneDaySoon;2853885] However, has anyone noticed the slightly less than gracefull ULRs that just get the job done...and still win? Weekend after weekend after weekend. QUOTE]


Yes this brings to mind a team rider who although nice to "look" at..is somewhat painful to watch on horse back. But pretty is as pretty does...and although I am no fan of this rider's personal style, it never the less is effective but virtue of some stellar results in international competition.

breakthru
Dec. 7, 2007, 08:45 PM
RAyers,

Ok, fair enough- but what is that "everything" that you should have in place by prelim, then? again, I don't want to dampen the "can-do" spirit of this thread, but in light of all the discussion about safety recently, I think it might be important to reflect on the essentials of riding in addition to recognizing the spirit necessary... I personally know a few riders with the spirit to go out and run advanced now, but I wince at the thought of them running prelim! And unfortunately, I don't think the few riders I know are too far in the minority of event riders "these days"...

RunForIt
Dec. 7, 2007, 08:57 PM
originally posted by blackwly:

and I'm motivated by wanting my young horse to be prepared and ridden as well as he deserves before I point him at the jumps. Which is important b/c you need some serious motivation to do trot sets in driving sleet at 11PM after work!

just posted this on the mirror in my bathroom. no more griping about riding in the dark and in the cold at 6:30!!!! Thank you for being brave and leading the way! :winkgrin: :cool:

RiverBendPol
Dec. 7, 2007, 09:27 PM
Don't forget, too, that all the jumps are either verticals or oxers. No matter how imposing they may LOOK out there on course, you have jumped them all at home. AND, even a cow can jump a meter. These are the things I think of as I'm getting ready to get on, when all I want to do is puke:winkgrin:.

olympicdreams04
Dec. 7, 2007, 10:18 PM
What one moment told me I could be an UL rider? That time on my first event horse, my little 15h 15 yo QH gelding that I 'won' in a barrel racing competition when, without an ounce of training and a one ear bridle I went out and was 2nd at my first event and won my second (Pine Top and River Glen). At the top of my little 12 y/o world, I sold him straight away and he was the perfect horse for the next hunter/jumper princess. He was rideable, successful, and sound. It was the first time I created event horse from nothing and that is what RIDING is about.

RAyers
Dec. 7, 2007, 10:33 PM
I think you are misunderstanding what I said. You have to have the foundation in place when you go preliminary. From the sense of skills, once you are above P there are no additional major skills to be learned to go I and A. Everything there is refinement and attention to details. Therefore there is no check list of things you need to have ready to move up to I. What is takes for a rider to jump from P to I is 95% mental.

I agree with you that a rider can have spirit but they sure as hell need the foundations and that should be done at Prelim. But this thread is not about that. If you want to know what you need at Prelim take a look on Prelim move up thread. This thread is about the rider and what it takes for them to go Intermediate and up.

Reed



RAyers,

Ok, fair enough- but what is that "everything" that you should have in place by prelim, then? again, I don't want to dampen the "can-do" spirit of this thread, but in light of all the discussion about safety recently, I think it might be important to reflect on the essentials of riding in addition to recognizing the spirit necessary... I personally know a few riders with the spirit to go out and run advanced now, but I wince at the thought of them running prelim! And unfortunately, I don't think the few riders I know are too far in the minority of event riders "these days"...

breakthru
Dec. 8, 2007, 03:27 PM
I don't think I was misunderstanding what you were saying- but I think the key is your assertion that there isn't anything technically that you need skill-wise as a rider that you shouldn't have in place already by prelim. Sure, I understand that, and might agree. And I suppose by asking for specific examples of those things I am taking the thread technically off topic. I guess I was just trying, in light of the many riders out there with the fire in their belly to go to the upper levels, to bring some of those essentials to the forefront, and not take it for granted that everyone who is riding at prelim does have these. I was trying to provide a bit of a reality check-there are plenty riders out there cruising around prelim who shouldn't be... again- don't want to rain on the parade, just looking for other people's opinions and elaborations...

Blugal
Dec. 8, 2007, 03:36 PM
breakthru: off the top of my head, I would say:

You must be able to commit to a line or a distance (but not stupidly), and then ride like heck for it. You & your horse must have enough of a partnership/trust so that each can make up for the other when one of you makes a mistake.

Ability to kick & stick. (However, I was thinking that this ability has been more sorely tested by riding 3/4 y.o. than riding UL horses!). Important for those massive rider-frightener fences!

Enough feel/instinct/experience to know when to sit tight, sit back, or sit lightly (and when to grab some mane!).

Ability to "think on your feet". The jumps are coming up more quickly & more technical.

Must be able to walk a course & have a good idea of what the questions really are.

RAyers
Dec. 8, 2007, 04:10 PM
breakthru,

Here is a question as an example, What makes Mario Andretti a better driver than you? You both know how to drive and I bet you drive almost as much as he does anually. Maybe he is mentally more in tune with what to do and not just focused on "skills."

Just like it is hard to tell a horse has the ability to go I and A, I feel that a rider's ability to I and A is more along the line of some internal/intrinsic trait and not skills. Look at what blugal just posted. Almost all of it is mental/instinctual, not some learned trait. There are a lot of VERY skillful riders who will never go above Prelim while there are a lot of riders with "spirit" who get slammed out because they lack the skill set that should have been created at the lower levels and in other disciplines.

When I bumped up to I, there were no sudden, "Boy I need to learn how to do this." instances or "Wow this was never on any other courses." moments. What I DID learn is that I had to be 1,000 times more attentive to what I know and learned. I have to be diligent in my training, going back to the basics regularly and solidifying the foundation that was created when I was a child.

Reed

purplnurpl
Dec. 8, 2007, 04:18 PM
I don't think I was misunderstanding what you were saying- but I think the key is your assertion that there isn't anything technically that you need skill-wise as a rider that you shouldn't have in place already by prelim. Sure, I understand that, and might agree. And I suppose by asking for specific examples of those things I am taking the thread technically off topic. I guess I was just trying, in light of the many riders out there with the fire in their belly to go to the upper levels, to bring some of those essentials to the forefront, and not take it for granted that everyone who is riding at prelim does have these. I was trying to provide a bit of a reality check-there are plenty riders out there cruising around prelim who shouldn't be... again- don't want to rain on the parade, just looking for other people's opinions and elaborations...

The reason you are not getting a set explanation/example for your question is because there is none.
We can't say, to be an upper level rider you need, A, B, C, and D.

Riding at the upper levels creates a world of ballistic opportunity. The rider must be able to change their thought process on a dime, and change their style from horse to horse. Feel is the ever elusive factor.

We cannot tell you what is needed to run out of the start box at P/I/A. As corny as it sounds, you have to find YOURSELF along the way. No amount of great coaching can teach you.

And really, you won't know you do or don't have it until you go for it. Everything can be in place. A rider may whoop up at dressage shows and always be in the money in the 4' jumpers. But until you gallop out of that start box, see a big box in the distance and not be afraid to let yourself open up your horse's stride, or see the technical distances and sit up AND get the right rxn from your horse you just don't know. You just DON'T know.

I was lucky enough to feel myself and my horse evolve on the XC course of my first prelim. Each gallop fence we took a little faster than the last. Each technical question I added more and more jump to my step. My horse was a bit bigger (Ego cooking) after each fence. We grew out there. It was something that no one could have taught me...or my horse. We grew together, learning from each other.

So what helps riders get there?
Bravery
Skill
Physical fitness
A good horse
As Denny says: A rider with a heart of fire.
A mighty flame that won't ever let you give up.
A heart, that when you get a bad distance to the first bank of the Cellular Town at Lamplight, involuntarily tells your body to kick and grind with all of your might until you get to the top.
A heart that when needed can pick up the 1300lb torpedo you're riding and pull it out of a sticky situation. And then kick on without distraction.
A heart that will not quit.

And you must have a horse with a heart that can also do all of the above.

Only so much skill can be taught. You must be able to evolve on your own in a way.

Blugal
Dec. 8, 2007, 04:51 PM
To add on to what RAyers and purplnurpl said:

At times I have found myself in a sticky situation either in training or on course. A part of me thought "Crap! We are going to have a run-out, or I am going to fall off." But that part was either overriden by a louder voice saying "I am NOT giving up", or by my horse's training shining through & him making up for my mistake, and jumping the fence rather than running out.

I am usually relieved after these things happen, but they actually serve to build my confidence. I CAN stick on & won't fall off darn it. And if I keep systematically training my horse, he WILL jump even when I've screwed up and my line wasn't ideal.

KSevnter
Dec. 8, 2007, 08:37 PM
I don't think I was misunderstanding what you were saying- but I think the key is your assertion that there isn't anything technically that you need skill-wise as a rider that you shouldn't have in place already by prelim. Sure, I understand that, and might agree. And I suppose by asking for specific examples of those things I am taking the thread technically off topic. I guess I was just trying, in light of the many riders out there with the fire in their belly to go to the upper levels, to bring some of those essentials to the forefront, and not take it for granted that everyone who is riding at prelim does have these. I was trying to provide a bit of a reality check-there are plenty riders out there cruising around prelim who shouldn't be... again- don't want to rain on the parade, just looking for other people's opinions and elaborations...

I think the reason your question has not been answered is because it cannot be answered. There is nothing tangible that one individual can articulate that would indicate someone else is ready to move up to Intermediate or any other level for that matter.

I did not sit down with a mental checklist to determine whether I was ready for intermediate. I would venture to guess that I moved up in the same fashion many other yrs/ammies move up, I moved up when my coach said I was ready. That is not to say I can't think for myself but there is a huge difference between Int. and Prelim and far be it from me to make that decision blindly when I have a professional I pay specifically to recognize when I am ready for a move.

CookiePony
Dec. 8, 2007, 08:47 PM
... Feel is the ever elusive factor....


This seems huge. Knowing what the horse is doing underneath you, and responding quickly and effectively to it, seems to be something that is necessary for ULRs but is hard to quantify.

There is an article about feel in the current Hunter and Sport Horse in which Maren Foster says it can be taught, though some people learn it faster than others.

purplnurpl
Dec. 8, 2007, 09:05 PM
My mother receives that mag.
As soon as it arrived she came out to the barn with it and picked my brain about feel.

I told her no, I don't believe FEEL is something you are born with, some just learn faster than others, some never learn it at all.

She looked at me like, 'you're such a smart ass'.
and then she read that quote to me.

But NO, we are not born with it. Who here can say that before they ever began riding they 'just knew' what it felt like?
The first step in feel is learning, on the bit. We cannot learn this on a horse that does not give us the correct feel when we are doing it right.

Just like the feel between your hand and leg over fences. Until your horse tries to stop/run out, and you grind so hard and hold steady to your contact causing the horse's forward impulsion to be so great that the has to jump or else it intestines will blow out of it's nose, you just don't know what it feels like. (nice visual eh?)

I used to ride a little (TEENY!) mare that taught me this one. I got her number and after I learned I tell you that mare was unable to run out. She could plow into the fence or jump...but once I learned 'between my hand and leg', she was screwed.

I think the beasties we ride aid greatly in how quickly we are able to educate ourselves on feel. It is not something that any coach can teach. They can tell us how, but they cannot make us feel.

and then there is the issue, once you have felt it, you have to remember how you got it!!

And once you hit the ULs. We continue to educate ourselves.
ex: OK, I lived through that combo, it didn't feel quite right so in 150m when I get to the next tricky spot I need to act in a different manner to get it done correctly. Sit up, put on the aids, ride accurately damn-it!

Like all of life. Trial and error.
oh, and having a coach that tells you to pull your head out of your ass or go back to Training level. That helps me too. ; )

Now for my favorite time of the day! Feeding the horsies. YEY. catch-a lata folks.

Whisper
Dec. 8, 2007, 10:07 PM
We've been working a lot on feel in different ways (where each leg is in walk, trot, and canter, which legs aren't square at the halt, throughness, bend, etc.). Some of it just feels natural/instinctive, but other aspects take repeating "now" or something a lot, or trying to feel what my own body is doing when the horse is doing whatever and are really repetitive and difficult.

Picasso
Dec. 9, 2007, 10:08 AM
this is a fascinating thread! I know I will not be an ULR, though I often wonder if my life took a different course, could I have been? Quite possibly! Honestly, though, at this point, my horse resources are going to my girls, and watching them grow and rise through the levels is an incredible experience for me as I have one that must work to get where she is going, and one that has a gift for this. Both are resulting in great riders but the journey is so different! For those of you who are already there, are you the one who had to work? Or are you my little one and it just makes sense to you?

breakthru
Dec. 9, 2007, 10:48 AM
Thanks for all the elaboration, guys-while I have ridden at prelim for several years succesfully (never moved up because mount was ageing- now working on a greenie) I never, personally, felt that I needed anything fantastically different to go higher, but heck, what did I know, I've never done it?

As far as my elusive (and possibly futile) search for tangible differences in skill sets, this discussion of "feel" makes the most sense to me. I can definitely appreciate the difference between a rider with a less than completely developed sense of feel squeaking by at prelim, but not really going any higher safely.

3dazey
Dec. 11, 2007, 09:29 AM
My OTTB had done all the prelims and done them easily for a few years. He was a xc machine and there was never a fence I pointed him at that I knew he couldn't and wouldn't jump. My dressage was getting pretty good. I had a coach I adored and trusted beyond anything. I had a wonder vet/chiro who was going to keep the horse happy. I worked really hard. I had a fire in my belly. I was so lucky that the stars aligned, but I honestly had to wait until my 40s to realize a dream I'd had since I was a kid in pony club.

We tried one intermediate. It went very well but I realized on course that I was going to have to be alot fitter so I could remain a help and not a hindrance to my horse xc. The adrenaline does eat up energy, so I started running, lifting some weights and doing yoga.

I did another intermediate and it was a hair sticky. I did finally realize that I was going to have to give up all semblance of what I knew as control and "take my hand off the emergency brake", as my coach said. The next time we went out, we made time easily and it was the most exhilarating experience of my life. At that level it should be a given that the horse is going to go and the rider just needs to really be there and know how to place the horse for the technical stuff. After that, a kind and experienced equine soul will fish a rider out of hairy situations and will earn his place in heaven.

We went on to complete 7 intermediates, and then capped off the horse's career with a successful advanced run.

It was the most rewarding thing I've ever done with a horse, but the unrelenting costs emotionally, financially, and physically for me and my horse (not to mention supportive family member and friends) were huge.

I think I'm a good enough amateur rider who had a physically capable horse and put in years and years of work. Even after all that, the stars had to be perfectly aligned in terms of where I boarded and the support team there, the vet, the coach, the amazing husband who endured it all, the perfect job that allowed so much flexibility.

I don't think you need to be special in any sort of extraordinary way. I just think you have to want it very badly and be willing to put in the hours and the years. Then you need alot of knowledgeable help and a hearty dose of pure luck.

I'm bringing on another greenie now and it's been alot of fun. People ask me if I think he'll "go all the way". Honestly, it's the last thing on my mind and seems a thing that would set a rider up for alot of heartache. Great achievements come minute by minute and day by day.

Centuree
Dec. 11, 2007, 04:32 PM
Totally agree with 3Dazey.
First - discipline and time. I just graded from university, in highschool I made it to prelim, but after losing my parents finances (haha, can't depend on them forever) and then working and going to school, I did not discipline myself enough to put in 6 rides a week with lessons. I could have, but didnt. You have to push yourself to ride when you don't feel like it in order to get you and your horses fitness where it needs to be!

Second - Money! It cost a lot to ride at that level and not all of use have the 6 digit careers (I know I dont) to buy an upper level horse that can do advanced, or train with a coach every week, or pay for expensive show fees, travel, vet costs, etc... and to maintain your ability to stay at that level and work up your competency by doing it over and over and over.

Other than that - yeah of course you have to be a natural rider, with some talent, which I am guessing most of us are who aspire to get up to that level.

Fence2Fence
Dec. 11, 2007, 05:05 PM
I think the biggest difference between the LLR and ULR, is that the LLR is the rider who keeps climbing the levels...until they are ULR.

LookinSouth
Dec. 11, 2007, 05:08 PM
I personally don't have any desire to event anything above novice, because I know I don't have what it takes. I will be very content to enjoy the sport at the lower levels, there is nothing wrong with that!


That makes two of us. I could possibly go up to training with the right horse but there is no way I would have any desire to do Prelim!! I think if I had started riding when I was younger I may have had the guts and ability to move up the levels but I didn't have the opportunity to ride. I do have great admiration for the UL riders who are out there doing it with style and ease.

To me what ultimately matters is not so much how high or what level you compete at....it's whether you do it WELL. I'd much rather be cleaning up at Novice and riding correctly with proper equitation/form in all three phases then barely scraping by at Training or above.

nc_eventer
Dec. 12, 2007, 06:12 PM
I WILL ride at Rolex before I am 38! I give myself 11 years to find the horse and get the experience I need. I am running training now and moving to Prelim in 08! yippee- finally! I have always wanted to ride at the top levels of our sport. I can be disciplined enough to get all my ducks in a row because I NEED to ride at that level someday. I have a horse right now that is going to do prelim fairly easily, I like to think he may do Inter. That is my dream anyway. I want it so badly...... but not in a hurry, when I am ready it will happen.
I like hearing about others achieveing their dreams and about the road to get there.
Keep on posting everyone!

Gnep
Dec. 12, 2007, 06:54 PM
Reed you forgot one very important thing, ruthlesnes once on the horse, a lesson you learned, had to learn.
And a nother very important thin, the abillity to always look ahead and not back.
An they don't get rattled easily.

And unfailing work attitude

And you have to be absolutely certified nutts, with the ability to make it look normal.