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Vuma
Mar. 2, 2008, 02:21 AM
Pensive from reading this month’s Eventing Magazine recap of the convention in CO, and after listening to Eric Smiley's speech on where the "sport" of Eventing has been and where it is going, I must say a new vein of reasoning has been spotlighted that I think is all to important to gloss over. Obviously, with the noted 11 deaths in Eventing worldwide in the past year safety has been (and should be) the hot topic. Many ideas have been put forth as potential catalysts for these unfortunate accidents and suggestions have been made as to how improvements in safety can be achieved.

Mixed in the speech with other notable suggestions for safety, one idea proposed was in relation to rider responsibility and the "pursuit of perfection" and “mastering the basics”. I was so relieved that Eric Smiley brought this idea to the forefront in his speech. Aside from the main purpose of this idea - to make the sport safer for Riders and the horses entrusted to them - the inevitable side effect of this idea will translate into Eventing as more of a 1.) "competitive" 2.) "sport" at least at the lower levels.

Personally, I feel that somewhere along the way "competitive" and "sport" has been diluted by the "move-up mentality", and it begs the question, why? Why are riders, who are not even placing at their current level, "WANTING" to move up? Why are riders more ambitious in regards to the "move up" than they are to the "pursuit of perfection" in the division in which they are currently competing? Eventing is, after all, a sport (an Olympic sport at that), and in sport competition is the basis for the existence of the sport itself. Why is there a general lack of desire to "be competitive"?

I’m sure I’ll get flack for saying this and I am also aware that this is a generalization, but I do feel we are a bit lacking when it comes to Riders with the will to win AND the perseverance to stay at their current level until they can, at the very least, be competitive enough to place. Sincerely trying, I cannot think of another single sport in which competitors forego winning at their level in order to compete at a higher level. More importantly, most sports do not have the real issues of safety to deal with as we do; I cannot recall any competitors who have died in competition at the hand of a tennis racket/golf club/basketball, etc.

No doubt, Eventing is a difficult sport and we are not dealing with inanemate objects like balls and rackets, but rather living, breathing, team mates who may decide they just don’t really want to play the game on any given day. But isn’t this why we love and chose this sport to begin with? Just because we have a team mate that doesn’t understand our pep talks before every competition does not make us any less responsible as sportsmen/women to play for the win. Why are some Riders giving up on being competitive at their current level and then moving up to the next level? Where is the sportsmanship in that?

Once again, safety is the obvious and immediate purpose for this idea of pursuing perfection and mastering the basics in our sport, but I sincerely hope this idea goes beyond safety and works to preserve the actual "sport” of Eventing itself.

JER
Mar. 2, 2008, 02:53 AM
If I'd followed your advice with my old horse, I'd still be at BN after 11 years.

My horse was an eventer, not a dressage horse. He'd be the first one to tell you. It's not a schooling or training issue -- he's very well-schooled, did pirouettes and 10-meter circles and laterals very nicely as long as there were jumps in the ring. Put him in a dressage ring with a judge and no whip and you got an indifferent giraffe.

An indifferent dressage giraffe cannot win at BN. Or at N, unless there's a trick fence that eliminates half the field and it's pouring and someone puts their armband on their boot and there are three accidents in the warm-up ring.

It all changes at T and P. The indifferent giraffe was a superb jumper and XC horse. So you'd be 2nd to last at BN but placing and qualifying for championships at T and P.

I do understand your point and I think safety is very important. But you do not need to win or even place at every level to be ready to move up. The lower levels are, for the most part, a dressage contest with some jumping to settle the placings. This is not true as the fences get bigger.

Blugal
Mar. 2, 2008, 04:16 AM
To second JER's comment, there is also an aspect of competing against yourself, or against the XC course designer. Maybe you aren't winning (or in competitive areas with pro riders, placing). My priorities are: 1) safe, 2a) clear, 2b) having fun, 3) improving on your last outing, 4) winning/placing.

Kementari
Mar. 2, 2008, 06:37 AM
I'm with Blugal. I actually think it is a GOOD thing that people event to have FUN, not just to get shiny bits of satin. And if you can be safe about it, then I really don't see the problem.

I do think the idea of rushing up the levels just to be able to say "I compete at Prelim" is ridiculous, and often ISN'T safe. But I also think we need to concentrate on safety regardless of level or ambition, not concentrate on whether people can win or not.

denny
Mar. 2, 2008, 08:25 AM
I`ve said this before, and I`ll say it again, because it addresses the natural human tendency toward denial. Here it`s self denial about one`s own readiness to move up.
It goes back to an expression of Jack Le Goff`s from 35 years ago, and I heard him say it in different ways many times over the decades:
"DON`T TELL ME HOW WELL YOU RIDE, GET ON THAT HORSE AND SHOW ME!"
That`s why I say, use the "watch them ride" test.
Does the rider stay tight in the tack, or is he/she loose and precarious?
Can the rider rate the speed, balance and impulsion of his/her horse, both between jumps, and on the approach?
Does the rider get the horse fairly consistently to the right take off point?
Does the rider have general, overall control of the situation so that spectators don`t watch with their hearts in their mouths?
If the rider looks like an imminent train wreck, why in God`s green earth would he/she want to move up, other than out of a sense of self denial about his/her skill level?

snoopy
Mar. 2, 2008, 08:49 AM
"It is better to upgrade a year too late then a day to early" from Peter Gray via Gen Gutowski.


It is something that I say to myself everytime I ride. Now this did not dim my desire to climb the latter but rather kept me focused on "mastering" the level I was working at BEFORE the upgrade.
Have I moved up without any wins? Sure have... but the horse was ready, physically and mentally. There just happened to be better performances on the days I was competing.
Safety is the responsibility of the rider, with that responsibility comes accountability for ones decisions.
I never understood the "need' to move up to a certain level in order to validate my riding ability....not have I ever done so.
I have had the odd "whoopsie" but never have these occured because my horses were not fully understanding of what was required of them.

I liken moving up before you're ready to skipping a grade in school... just because you excel in one or two classes and the thinking is that the other classes will come in time. Often with the move up before one is ready, the area(s) of weakness show themselves more readily.

I have never been about ribbons or glory but rather fun/enjoyment, personal challenge, and safety. None of these were ever obtained on a horse that was not ready. Infact I cannot see how you could obtain any of these things without proper preparation.

I recently read a blog from a competitor at the last Pan Ams...the road she took..and was surprised at all the entries where by all she could say was Yes the performance was lacking but we got that all important "qualifying" score. NEVER once did she master a level but was rather forcused on the bare minimum in order to get to the next level. One of her horses went from NOV-INT2* in a year and a half...all on heavy competing schedules and the least possible performance to upgrade.

Slow down folks....there will always be time to upgrade safely...and ENJOY the ride.

Ego and vanity are the enemies in our sport, leave both in the tack room.

GotSpots
Mar. 2, 2008, 09:02 AM
We've all been focused on people moving up too fast - it's been the topic of thread after thread on this board, and hours of meeting time. But just for a moment, let me ask -- are we really sure that this is the crux of the issue? It's a convenient answer, it lets "us" blame "them" for being too selfish/competitive/ignorant/ambitious/clueless to try to move up too fast, but seriously, is this where the issue is? Of the major accidents last year, I don't think any of them were from someone in their first or second event at a new level. Are we sure we're asking the right question here? (And I mean not just anecdotally - we can all remember watching a oh-dear-God Preliminary rider scrump around a course, but I'm talking about something statistically significant).

The reason I ask is that if this is the issue we're fixating on, don't we give a pass to course designers by saying "the courses are fine, if only the riders were ready"? I'm not saying it's an either/or part of the equation, but I'm fascinated by this focus on an issue that's so easy to make "blamable" on "clueless" riders.

quiet girl
Mar. 2, 2008, 09:21 AM
The value of event horses has also effected safety. As demand for horses competing at prelim and above has exploded, there is a pressure to produce them too quickly. We who have been Eventing for twenty years or so, used to produce horses mostly for our own use. Now, trainers need to get horses to the upper levels so they are marketable to riders who either don't have the ability, the patience or the knowledge to train their own.

RHdobes563
Mar. 2, 2008, 11:07 AM
Of the major accidents last year, I don't think any of them were from someone in their first or second event at a new level. Are we sure we're asking the right question here?

I'm curious. Of the 11 deaths last year, how many were inexperienced or "not qualified" for their levels? Of serious horse injuries, how many were ridden by "clueless" riders?

deltawave
Mar. 2, 2008, 12:02 PM
I think you have to allow that the sport of eventing, like it or not, means different things to different people. Some do it for reasons that others would find completely unappealing, in other words. Doing it for the ribbons and awards is as legitimate a reason as doing it for the bugs-in-your-teeth yahoo feeling of a great XC ride. Maybe not to one person, but to another.

There is also some degree, I think, of "peer pressure" in this sport, where there is a very slight current of feeling that one is not REALLY doing eventing if one is not riding at Prelim, or Training, or whatever. My own general (and vague) sense is that Preliminary is some sort of unofficial "line in the sand" between "real" eventing and "wannabe" eventing. Perhaps because my own personal level of talent, time and ability makes Prelim a barely-achievable goal, one I may never actually get to again--it's quite possible that others might perceive this "line" as existing somewhere else. This is just my own personal sense of it. But that "feeling" was there even when I was doing strictly Novice for years and years. Again, just a personal sense.

So why the pressure to "move up"? It is probably as variable among individuals as their reasons for gravitating towards eventing in the first place! I'll truncate my mental meanderings there. :) I think you can't pigeonhole eventers very well as to their reasons for doing the sport, moving up, not moving up, whatever.

magnolia73
Mar. 2, 2008, 12:19 PM
I do think it would help if people truly considered why they don't win. Yes. Dressage is not gonna be great with some horses. But at BN and in some cases, N.... the bar does not seem to be that high in terms of needing a spectacular dressage horse. I've scribed at a few competitions in a pretty competitive area and many of the problems in dressage are a lack of skills or an incredible amount of tension in a horse. The horses getting good scores are typically relaxed, accurate, obedient and have some impulsion. Especially at BN, I've noticed a wide variety of frames being scored well (ie, if you can't get your horse round, but you have everything else, you are sitting pretty well).

I don't know- if you can't at least get a relaxed, accurate and obedient dressage test at your current level, you should not move up. I would think it would be the exceptional horse where those faults don't carry over to the jumping ring. And many people who probably think they are getting beat by the next Keltic Salierno at BN are actually being beat by Chuckles the QH who goes in relaxed, obedient and ready to work. There might be one or two really fancy horses, but the rest are quite average. I mean, I've seen paddling horses, gaited horses get nice scores by getting things right.

deltawave
Mar. 2, 2008, 12:29 PM
I dunno, I think Novice is the MOST competitive division, dressage-wise. With scores in the TEENS, even a nice-moving, well-ridden, obedient horse that scores in the mid-high 20s is going to be in the middle of the pack at best! :)

KBG Eventer
Mar. 2, 2008, 12:48 PM
I do see that mentality, but I think the crazier rides I see are at Training. I do see some wild rides at Prelim, but IMHO *usually* people have enough sense not to risk their necks at Prelim when they are not so pretty at Training. Maybe I am wrong though.

I am kind of the opposite because I am a perfectionist. I am at Novice right now, and I think my trainer believes we could do Training in the fall if wanted. However, I have a whole list of things I want to be nearly perfect before I go Training. :lol: I am the kind of person who needs to be pushed a little to realize that they are not as horrible as they think!

Also, sometimes the scores are there, but the rider has a nice, honest horse. My horse is not totally push button, but he does put up with some awkward rides that I give him.

Centuree
Mar. 2, 2008, 12:51 PM
We've all been focused on people moving up too fast - it's been the topic of thread after thread on this board, and hours of meeting time. But just for a moment, let me ask -- are we really sure that this is the crux of the issue? It's a convenient answer, it lets "us" blame "them" for being too selfish/competitive/ignorant/ambitious/clueless to try to move up too fast, but seriously, is this where the issue is? Of the major accidents last year, I don't think any of them were from someone in their first or second event at a new level. Are we sure we're asking the right question here? (And I mean not just anecdotally - we can all remember watching a oh-dear-God Preliminary rider scrump around a course, but I'm talking about something statistically significant).

The reason I ask is that if this is the issue we're fixating on, don't we give a pass to course designers by saying "the courses are fine, if only the riders were ready"? I'm not saying it's an either/or part of the equation, but I'm fascinated by this focus on an issue that's so easy to make "blamable" on "clueless" riders.

Good point! I don't have anything to add, but think that this definitely needs to be considered. This is illustrated by the fact that even pro riders have had falls on x-country.

annikak
Mar. 2, 2008, 12:51 PM
The reason I ask is that if this is the issue we're fixating on, don't we give a pass to course designers by saying "the courses are fine, if only the riders were ready"? I'm not saying it's an either/or part of the equation, but I'm fascinated by this focus on an issue that's so easy to make "blamable" on "clueless" riders.

I totally agree with this!


I'm curious. Of the 11 deaths last year, how many were inexperienced or "not qualified" for their levels? Of serious horse injuries, how many were ridden by "clueless" riders?

I think not one.

Here is my thoughts on this- No one said to any of those riders before they left the start box on that fateful day that they should not go. And I don't think that any one of them were "dangerous" and would be the ones that we speak about here on the COTH before "it" happened or have been assessed the dangerous riding penelty.

I think the money needs to go into course designers, developers, education and studies. I personally think that big square tables might be better left off courses, as it seems that those are the jumps that cause the greatest harm to horse and rider if a mistake is made at them. The same questions can be asked at a different kind of jump- or if one cares to argue that point, does that question need to be answered anyway?

I like our sport the way it is. I like what we have, and I really don't want to see things changed too much. Again, I will say it- it's up to US to make sure we are ready, and not up to someone else to make sure it's okay- imagine the possible lawsuits if that were the case. Each injury would/could result in someone saying that someone else is responsible for that rider going out that day. I forecast that being the end of eventing.

Granada
Mar. 2, 2008, 01:15 PM
The value of event horses has also effected safety. As demand for horses competing at prelim and above has exploded, there is a pressure to produce them too quickly. We who have been Eventing for twenty years or so, used to produce horses mostly for our own use. Now, trainers need to get horses to the upper levels so they are marketable to riders who either don't have the ability, the patience or the knowledge to train their own.

Quiet Girl,Very good point. Also, does it seem like unsuitable horses, no mater what their training level, are sometimes competing in a higher level then they should b/c of jumping style etc? It seems like this type of thing would have gotten better and not worse.

Also, at what levels are the most accidents occurring? I do know of one but would rather not talk about it specifically, but in that case it was a freak accident where horse and rider were very well prepared and had been competing at that level regularly.

ThreeDays
Mar. 2, 2008, 01:29 PM
I'll go on to add that in life - its not just about getting there - its about how you get there.

You can never discount what time and experience do for you.

I grew up with thinking (and being taught) that eventing was a sport of training and progression. It's one of the main things that appealed to me when I first encountered the sport.

So many other disaplines of riding were plagued with trainers and riders who knew 'quick fixes' to get a horse to carry their head a certain way or to move a certain way.

The sport of eventing in its very conception is and has come from the idea of training basics that are building blocks for future higher levels education.

Its disappointing that even this sport has lost what made it so special to begin with.

LisaB
Mar. 2, 2008, 02:40 PM
Here's my thoughts. Please correct me (especially Denny)
In the 60's, 70's and early 80's, the jumps were quite natural and quite scary airy things. I've seen pictures of these jumps and they give a shiver up the spine. I would think running up to them full blast, the HORSE would balance himself off these scary things. If not, it's usually the horse that suffers the consequences. The rider suffers some broken bones but generally gets thrown way away.
So, we didn't like seeing the horses being put down in the middle of a course. We started to give the riders something to think about without punishing the horse. Basically, the rider goofs, they fall while the horse glances off or stops. Now, because riders are doing more dressage, MUCH more gymnastics, consequently, the jumps are getting even more technical and more solid. So, now we have to go faster, jump with incredible accuracy, and jump big. This leads me to believe that it's the riders' mistake, the rider is paying. Is this right? No, not to cause deaths. Injuries and penalities, yes of course.

JER
Mar. 2, 2008, 02:49 PM
Also, at what levels are the most accidents occurring?

If you go here (http://www.chronicleforums.com/Forum/showthread.php?p=2819525#post2819525), then scroll down to post #9, you'll see a list of eventing deaths with relevant details.

Keep in mind, these is a list of fatal accidents, not overall accidents.

Foxtrot's
Mar. 2, 2008, 04:32 PM
Even in a growing sport this level of fatalities is unacceptable. Even one is too much. What to be done? Studies for sure - rotational falls, table style fences seem to be part of the causes. In an article in Horse and Hound a couple of years ago or so the theory was put forward that with the amount of money riders have, they can afford the big-time horse but lack the skills to ride him at that level and push themselves to the horse's ability of competing.

One question: One fatality was caused by a portable jump not being secured to the ground. We use them a lot round here to make the courses different each year - should they remain legal, or is it a design issue?

LKF
Mar. 2, 2008, 05:10 PM
I read through the list of names of the horses and riders who were fatally injured. I'd like to know what design the specific fence may have been where each of the accidents occurred.
I have a theory that I don't think has ever been discussed thoroughly - I believe that each fence on course has it's own set of rules to ride by. You ride table fences differently than you would a coffin complex, or you ride an oxer differently than you would a bank or a bounce. In my mind, every fence has it's own set of directions and that is how I try to ride them.
Why don't riders (at all levels) go back to school and do more grids and gymnastics weekly? Work on getting their horses quicker up front. Also, why don't riders learn how to gallop properly?
I have a book (the name escapes me) but it lists a variety of x-c fences that are designed and built here in the states and abroad. I love this book because it tells the reader how the fence is suppose to be ridden. They break it down in a simple way for anyone to understand. I've got it all highlighted, underlined, with notes in the margin and I take it with me to my trials. I think it has helped greatly.
Another question I have is what is the liability of those who accept entries of competitors who aren't qualified to ride in certain divisions? Doesn't anyone double check the records with the USEA? I know for a fact that folks aren't checking the rider's credentials with the USEA.
One final thing I would be interested in learning, is would it be a logical thing to actually stop a rider on course if it is obvious that the horse is out of control? I realize that would bring up all sorts of new problems, but again I've seen riders at risk and no one ever bothered making them pull up. Why?

retreadeventer
Mar. 2, 2008, 06:04 PM
An indifferent dressage giraffe cannot win at BN. Or at N, unless there's a trick fence that eliminates half the field and it's pouring and someone puts their armband on their boot and there are three accidents in the warm-up ring....


My vote for quote of the month!!! LMAO!!!

retreadeventer
Mar. 2, 2008, 06:09 PM
[QUOTE=LKF;3046949...Another question I have is what is the liability of those who accept entries of competitors who aren't qualified to ride in certain divisions? Doesn't anyone double check the records with the USEA? I know for a fact that folks aren't checking the rider's credentials with the USEA....[/QUOTE]


Heck the USEA doesn't check itself - it let a rider compete at the AEC's this year and win who wasn't qualified. Ha ha. The problem is not riders who aren't qualified. It's riders who are qualified but can't ride. Changing the qualifications is an answer and is being looked at but it won't make a kid ride better. Just changes the dollar figure of the horses Mommy and Daddy are buying. If you're looking for a scapegoat, my answer is...as in all things...follow the money.

JER
Mar. 2, 2008, 06:18 PM
One question: One fatality was caused by a portable jump not being secured to the ground. We use them a lot round here to make the courses different each year - should they remain legal, or is it a design issue?

According to French reports, the obstacle was not fixed to the ground in accordance with regulations.

The problem was not that the fence was portable but that it was not set properly.

enjoytheride
Mar. 2, 2008, 06:48 PM
If your dressage was terrible (horse spooking or nervous) would you move up if he went double clear in every stadium and XC?

I know some horses just do better keeping their dressage at home where they can school 1st or even 2nd level movements, put them at a show and they turn into jigging giraffes who scream and bolt. But put the same horse in an arena full of fences or on an XC course and he clocks around.

Assuming your goal was to do well in stadium and XC and ribbons didn't matter, would moving up be acceptable?

snoopy
Mar. 2, 2008, 06:54 PM
The problem is not riders who aren't qualified. It's riders who are qualified but can't ride. Changing the qualifications is an answer


:yes:

yellowbritches
Mar. 2, 2008, 07:37 PM
It should never, ever, ever be about the ribbons you bring home. EVER. It should be about having a fun, safe time, learning something new, and having homework to work on when you leave (even if you do bring home a blue ribbon). Ribbons should be icing on the cake, NOT the standard to move up by. I've seen way too many scary, scary rides getting ribbons. I've also seen and been on horses more than capable of moving up that DO move up (safely and easily), and never see one of those cheap little satin things.

I will fall back on my old stump speech. We will only see more competent riding when we see more riders getting QUALITY instruction and coaching on a REGULAR basis. There are far too many people out there who do it on their own, or do it with the occasional clinic, or do it with nothing but dressage lessons from dressage people and jumping lessons from h/j people. They have no one teaching them about riding safely at speed, how each fence on xc should be approached, how to listen to their horses, when it is ok to pull up and come home (hell, that it IS ok to pull up and come home). They have no one going, "After THAT performance, there is no way you are ready to move up." They have no one saying, "Well, obviously we need to work on X this week." They show up and survive (sometimes barely) but have no idea why they survived or why spectators are gasping. They get qualifying scores, have no fear (because brave and stupid are synonomis...sp?), so they move up, and continue with the scary riding, surviving by the skin of their teeth. THAT is the problem. People aren't seeking out the help, or don't know they are getting crap for help. They need people saying "You aren't/are ready," not "Wow! You got a ribbon!!! Let's post it on our website!!!"

When the USEA starts preaching about finding quality help, we will, most likely, see less scary riding....at least, that's the theory I'm sticking with.

3dazey
Mar. 2, 2008, 08:12 PM
Overheard today by an official at the finish of an ADVANCED xc ride (by an amateur) that scared the pants off all of us..."well at least we did finish, we haven't made it all the way around before"...this was after three stops on course and a rider fall. And yes, the powers that be were watching and I'm pretty sure had a word.

Obviously she is "qualified" per the rules, but at some point you'd hope common sense would take over.

Bobthehorse
Mar. 2, 2008, 08:41 PM
Forget placing at your current level....Ive seen riders upgrade without even getting a clear run in! Its denial, and desire to look better. And Im sure a "Im bored only jumping 3 feet" sort of thing.

Yes, I threw up in my mouth a little bit.

Bobthehorse
Mar. 2, 2008, 08:44 PM
It can't have been a fun ride, and surely the rider knew how close to the edge she was pushing it, or????? :confused::o:eek:

Thats what I often wonder. These people are BARELY getting around, if at all...they HAVE to realize it wasnt any good. Or maybe thats the problem? I mean, its not supposed to feel like a trainwreck, and there aare different meanings of the word "clear". These people are asking for trouble, but their saintly horses seem to keep them from crashing horribly.

quietann
Mar. 2, 2008, 10:50 PM
The value of event horses has also effected safety. As demand for horses competing at prelim and above has exploded, there is a pressure to produce them too quickly. We who have been Eventing for twenty years or so, used to produce horses mostly for our own use. Now, trainers need to get horses to the upper levels so they are marketable to riders who either don't have the ability, the patience or the knowledge to train their own.

Very good point. My trainer's new horse was marketed as ready for Prelim by the end of the 2008 -- at age 6. He did quite well at Novice and Training last year. He's a solid, solid jumper, and a total sweetheart to boot, but as she got to know him, she discovered that he was really lacking in the dressage area; he'd been pushed rather than "brought along" and is a nice enough horse that it was hard to see from the ground. The pro she bought him from is just much better at jump training than dressage training.

So she's stepped way, way back with him and is really working on his dressage with *her* trainer, and will be competing him at Novice this year. That's almost starting over. And the nicest thing is that as he learns to use himself better, he's becoming an even better jumper!

But she's not a pro, and he's not a resale project she needs to turn around quickly for lots of money. If it takes him three years to get to Prelim, she doesn't mind -- but she can *afford* not to mind.

Bobthehorse
Mar. 2, 2008, 11:42 PM
I will fall back on my old stump speech. We will only see more competent riding when we see more riders getting QUALITY instruction and coaching on a REGULAR basis. There are far too many people out there who do it on their own, or do it with the occasional clinic, or do it with nothing but dressage lessons from dressage people and jumping lessons from h/j people. They have no one teaching them about riding safely at speed, how each fence on xc should be approached, how to listen to their horses, when it is ok to pull up and come home (hell, that it IS ok to pull up and come home). They have no one going, "After THAT performance, there is no way you are ready to move up." They have no one saying, "Well, obviously we need to work on X this week." They show up and survive (sometimes barely) but have no idea why they survived or why spectators are gasping. They get qualifying scores, have no fear (because brave and stupid are synonomis...sp?), so they move up, and continue with the scary riding, surviving by the skin of their teeth. THAT is the problem. People aren't seeking out the help, or don't know they are getting crap for help. They need people saying "You aren't/are ready," not "Wow! You got a ribbon!!! Let's post it on our website!!!"

When the USEA starts preaching about finding quality help, we will, most likely, see less scary riding....at least, that's the theory I'm sticking with.

Great speech! I couldnt have said it better myself.

:yes:

ksbadger
Mar. 3, 2008, 12:18 AM
Have to agree Yellowbritches made a very good point about good regular coaching but exactly what is meant by that? Around here it seems to be annual or quarterly BNR clinics whereas I would suggest that the majority really need good old weekly basic jumping training obtainable from any competant local trainer - backed up by solid flat work to improve both horse & rider's strength & coordination. Never ceases to amaze me the number of BN/N riders prepared to pay over $200 for maybe an hour's instruction.

The other area that worries me is the influence of the NAYRCs that put so much stress on getting to the higher levels ASAP. Can't help thinking it pushes some riders on well before they're ready. The preponderance of non-riding (or non-horsey) parents with more $$$ than knowledge such that they regard an advanced horse like a bigger bike can't help either.

Vuma
Mar. 3, 2008, 01:22 AM
In reference to;

"It should never, ever, ever be about the ribbons you bring home. EVER. It should be about having a fun, safe time, learning something new, and having homework to work on when you leave.."

Isn't this what clinics and lessons are for?

This is the exact mentality for which I wrote this post. Sorry guys, but this is, again, a sport. If placings do not matter, why has this board been so anxious to hear the news of Pine Top’s results today? Why are we greatly anticipating who will going to Bejing? Why are we even going to Bejing? The Pros of our sport recognize the need to place well; their livelyhood depends on it. I certainly do not think it is asking too much for the rest of the “competitors” to “be competitive” and place their emphasis there rather than on moving up.

Yes, there have been scary rides that have resulted in ribbons. However, I think we can all agree that for the most part, and on a more regular basis, good riding results in good placings and bad riding results in bad placings. If placings do not or should not matter, then rather have an Eventing “club”.

JER
Mar. 3, 2008, 01:43 AM
Vuma, your OP asks "Where's the sportsmanship in that?"

You seem to equate 'sportsmanship' with 'winning.'

Sportsmanship is about participating, playing the game with passion and heart, being a gracious competitor, and good preparation for the competition.

Winning may be part of the package but it's usually not and it really shouldn't matter. In eventing, you're competing for yourself more than against anyone else and, more importantly, you're competing with your horse.

Most of the time winning isn't even on the radar. Isn't that right there the best kind of sportsmanship?

Crazyabouteventing
Mar. 3, 2008, 02:38 AM
This is a very interesting thread I must say and I agree with Yellowbritches a lot especially the last sentence. Coming from several different competitive sports other than "eventing" and away from what many would term as an active participant even in this sport, I often am bewildered at comments and things I read, even here.

Sportsmanship for me is about competing inside the rules of the sport and showing concern and respect for others doing the same. With competing comes winning and losing we all know, for the life of me I find it amazing people spend so much of their time and money going to shows to "trial" or "move up" when basically they should be spending their time and money at home riding and learning. Success is never handed out where I come from, its earned, and earned by doing it the right way.

Spend that $300 on a new alarm clock and get out of bed early and practice.

The gray area many seem to get into here and perhaps the same in a lot of equine disciplines (and I apologize I dont often like to generalize) is we are involved in a lifestyle sometimes as much as a sport.

Many are right, its what you want to get out of the sport that matters, but bad riding as mentioned before is also highly more likely to produce accidents than skilled. Its only stands to reason.

I applaud tougher qualifying standards in any sport really, if you dont want to rise to the top then dont do the work and stay out of those realms for your own safety and that of your horse, if in the case its equine related. If safety primarily comes from skill in this sport, then let skill be the focus. Whether its skill of the rider, designer or trainer.

Cheers!

Ritazza
Mar. 3, 2008, 08:23 AM
Well... at least here is one rider who wants to make sure everything is perfect before she moves up.... outside of the eventing world my mare is showing 1st level dressage, won her last several training level dressage classes last year at rated shows with a slew of 69%s, is schooling 3'6" jumpers and showing 3' jumpers... aaaaand we're showing BN until we defeat those damn ditches that look a lot like black holes to China to her! :lol: In all honesty, this year I want her to go to the AECs, I want her to place on her dressage score, I want her to be in the top 10% of rides, and I want the both of us to have a blast. I know she can do it, and every ride this year for me is a ride aimed at success at the end of the season. I am not going to settle for less, and I am not going to move up until I know she is ready. She's young, and she's an upper level prospect... so what's the hurry? She'll be with me til she dies, I've got time.

So... at least there are some of us altruistic riders out there, right?

yellowbritches
Mar. 3, 2008, 08:54 AM
The definition of "Sportsmanship"- http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/sportsmanship

I'm not sure about everyone else but when I was kid my parents taught me that "Sportsmanship" was about playing fair, playing by the rules, being a gracious winner and a good loser. It was about taking the good things with the bad, and having fun, no matter how you finish. When I started competing in shows, it went on to include taking care of my horses, treating THEM fairly, never ever blaming them for when things go wrong, and that if I don't get a ribbon, it isn't the end of the world. I still hold by these lessons, and when I get the chance to deal with kids who are competing or about to, I try to teach them the same things. THAT is what sportsmanship is. Winning ribbons and striving to win ribbons is just being competitive. There is nothing wrong with that, but it shouldn't be at the cost of sportsmanship or safety (especially safety).


"It should never, ever, ever be about the ribbons you bring home. EVER. It should be about having a fun, safe time, learning something new, and having homework to work on when you leave.."

Isn't this what clinics and lessons are for?

This is the exact mentality for which I wrote this post. Sorry guys, but this is, again, a sport. If placings do not matter, why has this board been so anxious to hear the news of Pine Top’s results today? Why are we greatly anticipating who will going to Bejing? Why are we even going to Bejing? The Pros of our sport recognize the need to place well; their livelyhood depends on it. I certainly do not think it is asking too much for the rest of the “competitors” to “be competitive” and place their emphasis there rather than on moving up.
Clinics and lessons prepare you for putting your skills to the test in a competition. I don't know about you, but I can lesson to death, and still get a totally different feel when I show up at an event (JUST had this talk with a client). You can practice till you are blue in the face, but at some point, you need to see where you stand. Not meaning you need to go out and chase ribbons, but how you will score on your dressage test, can you jump a clean, fast, safe xc round, and can you jump clean and smoothly in sj. If that brings you a ribbon, excellent. If not, oh well. When you see what the dressage judges say, you go home and work on it. When you have a particularly hard fence on xc or your horse doesn't respond as it should, you go home and work on it. If you have a rail or two, you go home and set up gymnastics and questions that are similar and work on it. But you need the testing ground of the competition to really see where you are at.

As for our obsession with our UL riders and their placings and teams, etc, well, yes, at some point it does become more about the ribbons (so, maybe my original statement needs to be qualified a little). I'm having a hard time verbalizing the rest of the thought I'm having...I'll write more later.

asterix
Mar. 3, 2008, 09:33 AM
Another vote for yb's thoughts.

To the OP, the thing is, going to Beijing, or wondering how upper level riders did at Pine Top, even, is NOT the same endeavor that the vast majority of us are involved in. Even in our dreams. Devoting your life to a sport as a professional, representing your country internationally as an athlete...going out on a weekend with friends and feeling thrilled that horse jumped the ditch without a meltdown or that those 15 m circles were actually, um, 15 meters...
not the same thing.

We have had conversations about safety and moving up a lot on this board, and we often come up against this problem:
Most of the high profile accidents occur at the upper levels, often to very experienced teams. Most of the "scary riding" and "why did SHE move up, for god's sake" that we see happens at the lower levels, to people who will never make it to the upper levels.

So these are perhaps two different problems, but we sometimes conflate them in discussions.

As for winning, sorry, count me in the majority here. I have ridden a mediocre event and come out well in the placings due to things that happened in my division. I have ridden right up to the limit of my ability and been so proud of myself, and walked away without a top placing. I have driven home many times shaking my head at the hideous round I saw that ended up near the top of the division, simply because the sainted horse saved the rider's bacon, again and again and again all around the course.

Winning matters for some competitors, some of the time. Winning matters when you are a professional, or competing at the elite level. But as a barometer of whether you are safe, or ready to move up? No. And, like EVERY other sport that welcomes amateurs and accommodates lower levels of play, we will always have (and should embrace) competitors who honestly don't care -- who just want to do the sport safely, and meet their own personal goals, and have fun doing it. What is so wrong with that?

Kcisawesome
Mar. 3, 2008, 09:33 AM
Not with my horse.

Eventing is very hard to be strictly competitive in. Which is one reason I like it so much. Because any number of circumstances can happen on any given day, the best horse may loose, the worst may win, or the other way around. Finishing quadrouple clear on a good dressage score may put you low in the ribbbons or you may win. A good team will consistantly place well. But that does not mean that they will consistantly win.

The sport simply does not give itself to waiting until you win consistantly to move up. Or waiting until you win. I mean, if I waited until I won before moving up, I would either be at beginer Novice or Intermediate. I never won a BN event or a Novice event, but my first time out Prelim, I beat 50 people. So, should I go Intermediate now? Yikes.

Again, this is what I love so much about eventing. Your score has a great reflection of how you are doing. But your placing does not.

Whisper
Mar. 3, 2008, 09:35 AM
This is pretty ironic, since I was always taught that part of good sportsmanship was *not* focusing too much on how well I placed. It's great if I win, and it's fine to want to win, but that it's good to set other goals (doing better than last time, etc.). Obeying the rules, being friendly and encouraging to the other competitors, etc. are also improtant aspects.

For eventing, I've only showed so far at Intro and BN at unrecognized shows. I wanted to move up to rec. BN or unrec. N, but the logistics and all didn't work out, and I decided I needed to focus mostly on low gymnastics and flatwork. I stayed at that level a lot longer than most eventers do, to feel as prepared/safe as possible.

Anyway, according to everything I've seen/heard about the accidents in eventing, all were at Prelim or above, and nearly all were experienced riders/horses, with a very strong correlation with tables. A couple of horses went down on the flat, with no fence involvement at all. Perhaps speed was a factor, but I didn't get that impression from the articles, just that it was a freak incident.

Event4Life
Mar. 3, 2008, 09:38 AM
I agree with Yellowbritches post. That's how I always saw competitions....a goal to aim for, a chance to see where I stood against other riders in the same division. If I got a ribbon it was the icing on the cake. I'm not a competitive person by nature. My "goal" for competitions was always to improve on something specific that we hadn't done well the previous time, and to enjoy it! After all, I'm not a pro, so if I don't have fun competing, then what's the point?

snoopy
Mar. 3, 2008, 10:14 AM
[QUOTE=Vuma;3047998]Sorry guys, but this is, again, a sport. If placings do not matter, why has this board been so anxious to hear the news of Pine Top’s results today?
QUOTE]


I can only speak for myself, but it wasn't about the placings but rather good riding/training and performance. The placings are the icing on the cake.
One poster, I believe, said she say some very good performances, and made no reference about ribbons.

Tucked_Away
Mar. 3, 2008, 12:09 PM
I have a book (the name escapes me) but it lists a variety of x-c fences that are designed and built here in the states and abroad. I love this book because it tells the reader how the fence is suppose to be ridden. They break it down in a simple way for anyone to understand. I've got it all highlighted, underlined, with notes in the margin and I take it with me to my trials. I think it has helped greatly.

LKF, any chance you could check on that title? I'd love to hear it.

Vuma
Mar. 3, 2008, 01:10 PM
Snoopy, I totally agree with you. It is about good riding and again, good riding for the most part is rewarded with good placings. Good placings are a pretty good indicator of good riding and that is all I am trying to say here. I am certainly not advocating that placing is everything, but it should be MUCH more of a goal for these move-up riders than it currently is. I am not suggesting you should win before moving up either. What I am suggesting is;

1.) Let the barometer of good placings (as a "general" rule) serve as an indicator of good riding.

2. Let good riding dictate one's "pursuit of perfection", "mastering the basics" and timing of a "moving-up" as mentioned by Smiley's speech.

I also highly agree with;

" for the life of me I find it amazing people spend so much of their time and money going to shows to "trial" or "move up" when basically they should be spending their time and money at home riding and learning. Success is never handed out where I come from, its earned, and earned by doing it the right way.

Spend that $300 on a new alarm clock and get out of bed early and practice." (sorry, can't remember the poster's name of this one; just copied and pasted....please speak up for credit.....)

Again, exactly the point. Don't go out and compete for the sake of competing; don't move-up for the sake of moving up. Aim high and attempt to place, again as a general barometer of your performance, before you move up. It will be a safer sport for certain and it will encourage other riders to be competitive at their current level.

snoopy
Mar. 3, 2008, 01:15 PM
Snoopy, I totally agree with you. It is about good riding and again, good riding for the most part is rewarded with good placings. Good placings are a pretty good indicator of good riding and that is all I am trying to say here. I am certainly not advocating that placing is everything, but it should be MUCH more of a goal for these move-up riders than it currently is. I am not suggesting you should win before moving up either. What I am suggesting is;

1.) Let the barometer of good placings (as a "general" rule) serve as an indicator of good riding.

2. Let good riding dictate one's "pursuit of perfection", "mastering the basics" and timing of a "moving-up" as mentioned by Smiley's speech.

I also highly agree with;

" for the life of me I find it amazing people spend so much of their time and money going to shows to "trial" or "move up" when basically they should be spending their time and money at home riding and learning. Success is never handed out where I come from, its earned, and earned by doing it the right way.

Spend that $300 on a new alarm clock and get out of bed early and practice." (sorry, can't remember the poster's name of this one; just copied and pasted....please speak up for credit.....)

Again, exactly the point. Don't go out and compete for the sake of competing; don't move-up for the sake of moving up. Aim high and attempt to place, again as a general barometer of your performance, before you move up. It will be a safer sport for certain and it will encourage other riders to be competitive at their current level.


Vuma:

Will you be my new best friend? Missed it before but I can see your point entirely!

Vuma
Mar. 3, 2008, 01:17 PM
Ritazza, your aspirations are the ones I am hoping to hear more about. Keep up your competitive spirit, aim high, work hard and it will come. More importantly, I am sure your horse will appreciate you for your approach.

LookinSouth
Mar. 3, 2008, 01:38 PM
Snoopy, I totally agree with you. It is about good riding and again, good riding for the most part is rewarded with good placings. Good placings are a pretty good indicator of good riding and that is all I am trying to say here. I am certainly not advocating that placing is everything, but it should be MUCH more of a goal for these move-up riders than it currently is. I am not suggesting you should win before moving up either. .


I absolutely, positively agree. Only I DO think you should win and regularly place HIGH before moving up. Moving up should be the result of achieving perfection at the current level with the rider/horse ready to take on a more difficult level rather than barely scraping by. If you can't score well in Training dressage why move up to Prelim.???

LookinSouth
Mar. 3, 2008, 01:43 PM
I have never been about ribbons or glory but rather fun/enjoyment, personal challenge, and safety. None of these were ever obtained on a horse that was not ready. Infact I cannot see how you could obtain any of these things without proper preparation.

I recently read a blog from a competitor at the last Pan Ams...the road she took..and was surprised at all the entries where by all she could say was Yes the performance was lacking but we got that all important "qualifying" score. NEVER once did she master a level but was rather forcused on the bare minimum in order to get to the next level. One of her horses went from NOV-INT2* in a year and a half...all on heavy competing schedules and the least possible performance to upgrade.

Slow down folks....there will always be time to upgrade safely...and ENJOY the ride.

Ego and vanity are the enemies in our sport, leave both in the tack room.

Incredibly well said snoopy. :yes:

snoopy
Mar. 3, 2008, 01:49 PM
I absolutely, positively agree. Only I DO think you should win and regularly place HIGH before moving up. Moving up should be the result of achieving perfection at the current level with the rider/horse ready to take on a more difficult level rather than barely scraping by. If you can't score well in Training dressage why move up to Prelim.???

BUT this is where I have a different thinking....

There WILL be horses that do not score as high in dressage due to less flashy movement, judging preferences, etc and are still fully secure at the level to move up. I understand the thinking that high placings are a measure but is not always the case. We are seeing much flashier movement, but that does not mean that a correctly trained horse with less bling and scores lower...and it DOES happen...is not ready for upgrade by virtue of not winning.

So I think most of us are on the same page..with regards to performance, sadly it is not always rewarded with the right coloured ribbon!!

Christ, if that were the case for me personally, I would still be in the 6th grade...I did not acheive an A in every class or 100 percent on every test, but I fully grasped what was required to move up the grades and graduate.

LookinSouth
Mar. 3, 2008, 01:59 PM
Personally, I feel that somewhere along the way "competitive" and "sport" has been diluted by the "move-up mentality", and it begs the question, why? Why are riders, who are not even placing at their current level, "WANTING" to move up? Why are riders more ambitious in regards to the "move up" than they are to the "pursuit of perfection" in the division in which they are currently competing? Eventing is, after all, a sport (an Olympic sport at that), and in sport competition is the basis for the existence of the sport itself. Why is there a general lack of desire to "be competitive"?

I’m sure I’ll get flack for saying this and I am also aware that this is a generalization, but I do feel we are a bit lacking when it comes to Riders with the will to win AND the perseverance to stay at their current level until they can, at the very least, be competitive enough to place. Sincerely trying, I cannot think of another single sport in which competitors forego winning at their level in order to compete at a higher level. .


I've never understood the "move up" mentality without attaining perfection at the current level either.
I cannot comprehend what it is about this sport that riders/trainers have this obsession with the HEIGHT of the fences. To me that's what it boils down to.

I guess most eventers just aren't impressed by the lower level BN/N riders who don't jump over 3ftish regardless of how good or bad their riding may be in each given phase. The grandiose image of Prelim and beyond I think sadly captivates so many competitors.
Suddenly winning and placing in the top 5 (regularly) at the current level doesn't matter. Riding correctly, with proper form/good equitation and producing consistently high dressage scores, clean XC/stadium at THAT level doesn't matter. It's all about the height of the fences and the prestige of Prelim and above. I think that's why there is an influx in the need of Prelim and above horses as other riders have mentioned. So many riders are in such a rush to get there. Nobody takes the time to learn to ride really well at their given level; ride perfect.

I agree that this phenomenon seems to be limited to the horse sports. Why? because in soccer, basketball, tennis etc..there is no other 1/2 to carry you through if you screw up. The athlete is 100% responsible for their performance at all times. A tennis racket won't pick up the slack; a horse will sometimes. Unfortunately that to some riders means a one way ticket to the higher level whether it was earned by them and the horse or not:no:

Is there a solution to this? IMO not really, the only feasible solution in my mind would be qualifying minimum scores based on ALL THREE phases at a given level BEFORE the ability to move up.

LookinSouth
Mar. 3, 2008, 02:03 PM
BUT this is where I have a different thinking....

There WILL be horses that do not score as high in dressage due to less flashy movement, judging preferences, etc and are still fully secure at the level to move up. I understand the thinking that high placings are a measure but is not always the case. We are seeing much flashier movement, but that does not mean that a correctly trained horse with less bling and scores lower...and it DOES happen...is not ready for upgrade by virtue of not winning.

So I think most of us are on the same page..with regards to performance, sadly it is not always rewarded with the right coloured ribbon!!

Christ, if that were the case for me personally, I would still be in the 6th grade...I did not acheive an A in every class or 100 percent on every test, but I fully grasped what was required to move up the grades and graduate.


Well then what would be the minimum placings? 5th and above? How many times should a rider have to place at that level?

LookinSouth
Mar. 3, 2008, 02:06 PM
Christ, if that were the case for me personally, I would still be in the 6th grade...I did not acheive an A in every class or 100 percent on every test, but I fully grasped what was required to move up the grades and graduate.


I understand your thinking. I am not saying win regularly...but at least one win. You must have received a few A's here and there to fully grasp what was needed at a given level??
Afterall, yeah a D in Algebra 1 means you CAN move up to the next level but good luck in Algebra II;)

snoopy
Mar. 3, 2008, 02:10 PM
Now this is where my absence from the US comes into play!!!!!

I remember in the dark ages that your horse was graded
grade 3 P
grage 2 INT
grade 1 ADV

And you had to have a certain number of points at each level before you were allowed to move up.
From what I understand, this was changed. And the people driving the change were the pro's who did not want their horses sitting too long at the lower levels...for personal goals or sale value etc.
There was alot of talk from said pro's that they were being unfairly held back from obtaining the points required to move by get this....AMMIe's who stayed at a certain level and whose horses were maxed out at the level and beating them.

This system seemed to have less fatalities, but there are other factors like course design, industry changes etc...

bornfreenowexpensive
Mar. 3, 2008, 02:41 PM
I guess I was brought up differently. Until Prelim....I was told to determine whether I was ready to move up based on my jumping alone...not dressage. This is because Prelim is the level that you want to stay and hang out at. It is the level that the true x-c questions are asked and the place where you should spend the most time putting miles on your horse. I'm not going to keep a horse down at novice or training because our dressage isn't competitive (I will keep them down at Novice if their jumping/confidence needs it). YES you need to have the basics and you need to be working to improve your dressage but most of the horses that I've owned and ridden, dressage came later. My one mare was horrible in small dressage rings....put her in a large dressage ring and it was night and day difference. We still ended up in the ribbons a few times....but only on the tough x-c and sj courses....when the dressage horses had faults and the good fast jumping horses rose to the top. In one event she was second to last (out of about 20) after dressage...she and the last place horse ended up 4th and 5th, respectively. They were good jumping horses...not dressage horses.


I do think people sometimes move up too fast....but I know that my dressage will always lag a year or two behind my jumping. And in today's day and age with very fancy dressage horses competing at the lower levels....I will not judge whether a horse is ready to move up based on whether they are getting ribbons at novice. If they are running around the x-c and stadium with ease (and are very ridable)....and have schooled the next level with ease...they are ready to move up (at least until Prelim). I don't want to waste pounding their legs jumping courses that do little to improve or educate them. At Prelim...that is where the education becomes most important. If we can be competitive at dressage all along the way...fantastic....but given a choice, I'd rather sit on an event horse strong in jumping then in dressage....that is just me.

CookiePony
Mar. 3, 2008, 03:23 PM
It seems to me that scoring and placing are two different things. If you win a division of six horses on a high score, does that signify better preparation than placing in the middle of the pack but with a lower score?

snoopy
Mar. 3, 2008, 03:25 PM
It seems to me that scoring and placing are two different things. If you win a division of six horses on a high score, does that signify better preparation than placing in the middle of the pack but with a lower score?


This is the thought that I could not put into words...thanks!!!

LKF
Mar. 3, 2008, 03:30 PM
LKF, any chance you could check on that title? I'd love to hear it.

I have looked everywhere for this book in my truck, my house and barn. I've gone through all my horse magazines and searched on line, but with zero luck. I believe the book was written by British Eventer Ginny Leng. It is super. There are numerous photos of fences we all see on course and it breaks it down as to how they're suppose to be ridden.
Another book is William Fox-Pitt's it's more visual than Ginny's book and shows in color a variety of fences being jumped frame by frame, second by second. You can really see what it looks like to jump a fence incorrectly and those who jump them perfectly. A real eye opener.

I've been reading all the posted threads on this subject, but would still like some feedback on what I mentioned regarding 1) liability/responsibility of those (trial's secretary) not double checking the HORSE AND RIDER EXPERIENCE box on the USEA entry forms. Why make us fill out that section if it isn't being reviewed? Folks are riding in certain divisions who are not suppose to be there.
2) have it be the educated rider's responsibility to 'respect' each fence out there and ride them accordingly. Each fence along with the terrain has their own set of 'how-to' rules
3) learn to gallop properly

Many of the accidents listed have been upper level riders. I've been told the common design of fence that seems to cause a lot of trouble are tables, where riders are not 'setting up' in front of the fence and the horse either hangs a leg or chests it.
I believe not only is there a problem with riders out of control, but also riders who are not tuning into their horse when the animal becomes exhausted and struggles over fences. There is no shame in pulling up.

Whisper
Mar. 3, 2008, 03:58 PM
It seems to me that scoring and placing are two different things. If you win a division of six horses on a high score, does that signify better preparation than placing in the middle of the pack but with a lower score?
I agree that the score matters more than the placing, though some judges are tougher than others.

blackwly
Mar. 3, 2008, 03:58 PM
Some thoughts:

Snoopy, your point about the old grading system is well taken. However, in my mind, it had some serious flaws. I came along during those years with a horse who had only decent dressage, but was a great jumper. We went intermediate for about 1.5 yrs, and had many many clean rounds. Wanted to move up to advanced...the only problem? He was grade 3, with 18 points. You needed 20 to go advanced. I was a YR in the era where YOI did not exist, so I competed everytime out against the BNR's in OI. Often finished 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th on our dressage score. But those placings did not get the points. Many suggested I drop back and run some JYOP's, get a win, and move up to advanced. But that seemed a little counterproductive to the whole system! So it was not just the pros that had a problem with it- it could really hurt the ammies and YR's who were trying to get out there an compete on the toughest courses with the pros. For that reason I think qualifications that involve placings breed some counterproductive behavior.

Anyway, I'll admit that I am sometimes hit with "moveupitis." I would rather move my horse up to intermediate this year than stick at prelim and rack up the ribbons and year end awards. For me, it's about the challenge. One thing I love about eventing is that it can be you and your horse against the course...I've won my share of HT's and a 3day, but some of the best memories I have involve making my way around a really tough and finishing 8th! So I do have to constantly check myself and make sure we're really ready before I consider the upgrade. Eventing is a sport that attracts risk-takers, so you have to find a way to educate those people to walk that fine line between taking on too much risk and taking on a healthy challenge.

snoopy
Mar. 3, 2008, 04:13 PM
I still feel, with its flaws that the points system was good in principal...perhaps with some tweeking it could still work. I am not sure if creating a different division is the right answer either as I am opposed to a we/they thing that is already happening in the sport today. I have no answers. But to me there must be a tangable measure, better then the one used today, to determine the suitablility of upgrade. I am a big believer that riders/trainers should ultimately be responsible for their actions/decisions but it is clear, by going to any horse trials, that "some" decisions should be influenced in the name of safety and common sense.

LookinSouth
Mar. 3, 2008, 04:44 PM
. But to me there must be a tangable measure, better then the one used today, to determine the suitablility of upgrade. I am a big believer that riders/trainers should ultimately be responsible for their actions/decisions but it is clear, by going to any horse trials, that "some" decisions should be influenced in the name of safety and common sense.


The bottom line is we all have our own personal goals, ideals and reasons for participating in the sport. I personally have an affinity for dressage and love XC too have no desire to climb up the competition ladder until I can perfrom at BN/N flawlessly in all phases. That's not to say someone seeking the challenge of Prelim XC (which quite frankly scares me at this point in my riding career :winkgrin:) is wrong to move up IF they are fully prepared and can do so safely w/o really mastering dressage is in the wrong. We're all in this for different reasons with different priorities.

However, what you said above is important. I truly think there should be some sort of system in place to encourage safety and help prevent accidents. Even if only a small percentage of fatal accidents (or even accidents in general) are curtailed I believe that is still significant and noteworthy.

flea
Mar. 3, 2008, 07:37 PM
I agree that the decision to move up should be based more on jumping safely than dressage. Placing in large classes is hard and you can have perfectly safe and fun stadium and cc but finish on a mediocre dressage score and not place. Keep working on that dressage but if the jumping is secure I feel one can move up. (This is assuming the dressage is at least presentable!) Of course I am going from the perspective of an aged person in lower levels and will max out in training level! Myabe so many clean stadiums and cc before moving up instead of placings.

Blugal
Mar. 3, 2008, 09:12 PM
I think the book that people are mentioning is Lucinda Green's Cross-Country Riding - a coffee-table style book with tons of pictures of Lucinda (mainly) riding all the different types of cross-country obstacles, often on greener horses.

Vuma
Mar. 3, 2008, 09:37 PM
In regards to a system for regulating moving up, in 2009 we will at least have National Qualifying Score requirements starting with the move up from T to P. This is a start, though I personally feel they have been quite lenient on us. (A Dressage score of 50 at T is still a pretty pathetic score in my opinion.)

Which brings me to a topic that might better be suited for a totally different thread, but it does have relevance to what we are discussing so I’ll include it here. There seems to be two distinct ideas on the Dressage score relevance. I hear those of you who are claiming to be riding “indifferent giraffes” that will never really settle for a test. I also hear those of you claiming that it is acceptable to you to move up regardless of your Dressage as long as the Jumping is safe. Then I hear those of you on the other side of the fence acknowledging that it is important to get a suitable Dressage score before moving up. I happen to agree with the latter group.

This is a “3” phase sport and I maintain that the Dressage is 1/3 of the overall test, and as such, it should deserve the same respect and mastery as the other phases prior to moving up. Yes, there are several OTTB’s that have put in respectable careers at the track with plenty of starts still fresh in their brains. These horses may genuinely not “get it” and I am not referring to them. I am referring to the horses who, because they started in 3 or 4 races ten years ago are still tagged as an OTTB and as such are given every excuse under the sun as to why they can’t get a respectable Dressage score and should move up anyway. Or, the horse who tolerates their “indifferent to Dressage” rider who “thinks” they have a hot horse and “thinks” a hot horse is a detriment to Dressage. I’m not sure this type of rider gets that a hot horse is exactly what they need for Dressage.

Look at the best the Dressage world has to offer. You don’t know a hot horse until you have sat on a Grand Prix stallion with more power than Hoover Dam who has been taught to react to an extra 5 lbs. of weight in any given seat bone while in the arena with a mare in heat. Come on folks, some of these excuses for a Dressage test out there are not because riders are sitting on a hot horse. It’s that the rider is “making” an otherwise calm horse hot by riding with unforgiving and holding hands, while the horse’s body has been completely ignored by the rider’s legs that are purposely abscent from the horse’s sides. (I still have nightmares from scribing recently; it’s scary out there folks and this incompetence IS reflecting in these jumping and xc rounds.) And yes, you can teach a horse to accept an educated leg without bolting forward EVEN on a hot horse. If you can’t do this, then you can’t half-halt. If you can’t half-halt, do us all a favor and don’t run your horse x-country.

I also feel that our Judges should be given much more credit here. They do know the difference between a fancy leg mover and a horse that is working through his back.

I couldn’t agree more with Magnolia73’s post;

“I don't know- if you can't at least get a relaxed, accurate and obedient dressage test at your current level, you should not move up. I would think it would be the exceptional horse where those faults don't carry over to the jumping ring. And many people who probably think they are getting beat by the next Keltic Salierno at BN are actually being beat by Chuckles the QH who goes in relaxed, obedient and ready to work. There might be one or two really fancy horses, but the rest are quite average. I mean, I've seen paddling horses, gaited horses get nice scores by getting things right.”

bornfreenowexpensive
Mar. 3, 2008, 09:49 PM
Vuma...I think it also depends on your area. For me, I'm routinely competing against the likes of Phillip Dutton, Boyd Martin, Kim Severson etc. riding their young horses. The range of scores between first and last place after dressage in a classes of 20+ horses is usually about 30 points (from the low teens to the low 40s). But it also is not uncommon to have the scores separated by less then 20 points.

While I said that I do not let dressage hold me back...I don't think that I've ever scored 50 or above at training level dressage (at Prelim, yes but not below)......but my goals are not to win at novice....or even win at training level. My goal is to get to be competitive at a CCI* or higher. And while I would not enter one of those events until my dressage is competitive....not all horses are going to score in the teens and low 20s in a novice level event in these parts. Some horses take longer to progress and do better when the tests have more to them. And I may want to spend more time working on my jumping at a level that actually challenges us and teaches us. I have a mare right now that I know will score better on a Prelim dressage test then she will on a training level test.

west5
Mar. 3, 2008, 10:09 PM
I understand your thinking. I am not saying win regularly...but at least one win. You must have received a few A's here and there to fully grasp what was needed at a given level??
Afterall, yeah a D in Algebra 1 means you CAN move up to the next level but good luck in Algebra II;)

I completely disagree with this.

If you have a limited budget (so you can only attend 3 events a year) and a decent horse that is an ok mover but end up against pros you could compete forever at a given level and never win.

There is a huge difference between a D and a B+ and insisting on a win is a policy that would be way to stringent and unfair.

JER
Mar. 3, 2008, 10:18 PM
How about you just do it the way you're most comfortable and don't worry about what everyone else is doing?

The BN, N and T dressage tests are very basic, Training/sub-1st level tests if we compare to straight dressage.

Dressage is a training system. There is very little difference, in terms of dressage training, between the BN and T tests.

However, XC at BN is not the same thing as XC at T. We would all agree with that.

As the owner/rider of the Indifferent Giraffe, I can promise you that he was very relaxed in the competition dressage arena. He was also obedient, in that he never objected to anything, he just did the bare minimum. The biggest stumbling block for the judge was his head and neck. While he moved forward from behind very nicely, stayed in a lovely rhythm and had loads of schwung , he carried his head very, very high. (He also called out to other horses a lot. ) His test comments read "above bit", "above bit", "above bit", ad nauseum. A nice judge would give him a 40.

The IG was not an OTTB. He is Belgian draft x TB x Saddlebred. If you want a long-necked horse who can move perfectly forward with his head in the air, get yourself a Saddlebred.

Before turning our attention to eventing, we hunted. He had years of XC experience and was a truly excellent jumper. There wasn't much point in hanging around BN trying to break 40, although I worked very hard at improving my dressage at home.

Despite his lousy dressage scores, the BNT we rode with always told people that if he could clone the horse, every one of his students would ride him. The BNT didn't care about indifferent dressage tests, but he really cared about safety.

yellowbritches
Mar. 3, 2008, 10:22 PM
Vuma...I think it also depends on your area. For me, I'm routinely competing against the likes of Phillip Dutton, Boyd Martin, Kim Severson etc. riding their young horses. The range of scores between first and last place after dressage in a classes of 20+ horses is usually about 30 points (from the low teens to the low 40s). But it also is not uncommon to have the scores separated by less then 20 points.

While I said that I do not let dressage hold me back...I don't think that I've ever scored 50 or above at training level dressage (at Prelim, yes but not below)......but my goals are not to win at novice....or even win at training level. My goal is to get to be competitive at a CCI* or higher. And while I would not enter one of those events until my dressage is competitive....not all horses are going to score in the teens and low 20s in a novice level event in these parts. Some horses take longer to progress and do better when the tests have more to them. And I may want to spend more time working on my jumping at a level that actually challenges us and teaches us. I have a mare right now that I know will score better on a Prelim dressage test then she will on a training level test.

Yep...all that...totally agree, have nothing to add! :yes:

Badger
Mar. 3, 2008, 11:54 PM
[QUOTE=Vuma;3050057

This is a “3” phase sport and I maintain that the Dressage is 1/3 of the overall test, and as such, it should deserve the same respect and mastery as the other phases prior to moving up. [/QUOTE]

It is a three-phase sport but dressage is NOT intended to be 1/3 of the sport. I'm on the road right now so can't find the reference at the moment, but perhaps it is Wofford's book on Training the 3-Day Event Horse. There is a formula, which does get tweaked at times, but the sport is intended to weight cross-country more heavily than either of the other two phases in determining the winner. Off the top of my head it traditionally might be 30% dressage, 50% x-c, and 20% stadium (maybe someone else can confirm this?). Cross-country is what is unique to eventing, and it is at the heart of the sport, and performance in the cross-country phase has always been intentionally weighted as the most important part of the test.

Now, with changes over the years including the elemination of roads and tracks and steeplechase from the upper-level three-days, and with the additional of lower-level introductory phases, the cross-country doesn't sort 'em out as dramatically as it originally did, but it is still the true test of the sport and should be weighted accordingly.

The 4-star was conceived as the ultimate test of horse and rider, the lower levels are introductory and learning experiences to teach horse and rider, and the upper levels are tests of the knowledge and skills and preparation and athletic ability. The 4-star is no longer educational, but is the a comprehensive test.

One of the things I love about eventing is that for so many people it is NOT about ribbons or winning, it is about improving horsemanship and training and competing against the course and designer and achieving personal bests.

LookinSouth
Mar. 4, 2008, 06:40 AM
“I don't know- if you can't at least get a relaxed, accurate and obedient dressage test at your current level, you should not move up. I would think it would be the exceptional horse where those faults don't carry over to the jumping ring. And many people who probably think they are getting beat by the next Keltic Salierno at BN are actually being beat by Chuckles the QH who goes in relaxed, obedient and ready to work. There might be one or two really fancy horses, but the rest are quite average. I mean, I've seen paddling horses, gaited horses get nice scores by getting things right.”


Yup, I agree with this too. It's not always the fancy horse that wins. It's the correct horse more often than not. I also agree that if your horse can't perform at least a respectable dressage test going softly on bit, round, consistent and relaxed there is going to be much to be desired when it comes to o/f work. Why should the aim just be going clear "safely" at a given level???
What ever happened to safely and CORRECTLY???

Whisper
Mar. 4, 2008, 09:38 AM
If they are getting scores in the mid-20's to mid-30's, though, they may be doing good (or at least adequate) dressage without finishing in the ribbons. Many divisions require scores in the teens to win.

deltawave
Mar. 4, 2008, 09:55 AM
I also have a giraffe who is FAR from indifferent. She is a very nice mover with all the proper training, she warms up quietly, obediently . . . and the MINUTE we get in the ring her head is up and she's looking to either demonstrate to me that she remembers ALL the dressage tests she's EVER done dating back to 1992 or she's itching to RUN. Ring wise? Yep. After 15+ years doing the sport, she knows when it's showtime and she does not, WILL not, and never shall "just relax". And she's not a TB, either. :)

My options are to drill this 20+ year old horse into the ground doing dressage shows which I haven't the time or the budget for, to longe her "till dead", to not event at all, or to grin and bear it. As she's not had a XC penalty since 1997 nor a stop with me, ever or even made one mistake over fences with me in the saddle, I'm not going to go along with the notion that she's undertrained or a hazard to anyone where it counts. In fact, the only phase I dread with her IS dressage, only because it's humiliating! :D

asterix
Mar. 4, 2008, 11:07 AM
I think even an emphasis on placing well is not a good read on whether you are ready to move up.
As others have said, here in Area II we often ride against top international riders on green (but sometimes literally Rolex-worthy in 2 years) horses.

As a result, at Training in particular, the divisions can have wildly varying scores and placings. I remember one Training I ran with a mean bugaboo fence -- caught most of us ammies out, but the pros weren't intimidated and got their horses over it. I came home WITH a ribbon in a Training Rider division, even though I had had 2 stops on XC and a boatload of time faults (why run fast on hard ground after 2 stops?).
The OT division had placings on their dressage scores, which were in any case mostly better than ours.

I switched to OT after a very good finish at the AECs in training --seemed only fair -- and came home with the SAME ribbon the next season after finishing on my low-30s dressage score with a much more confident and error-free xc round.

I do think that over time, if you ran a bunch of events in a season, you should see a trend, and this sort of anomaly would even out. But as others have pointed out, in many parts of the country the notion of doing, as we can here, 8 events in a year is out of the question.

magnolia73
Mar. 4, 2008, 11:11 AM
For me, I'm routinely competing against the likes of Phillip Dutton, Boyd Martin, Kim Severson etc. riding their young horses. The range of scores between first and last place after dressage in a classes of 20+ horses is usually about 30 points (from the low teens to the low 40s). But it also is not uncommon to have the scores separated by less then 20 points.


I think that is an exception. Yes- if you get a 25 in dressage and are in 10th after clean XC and stadium, you are doing great.

But if you get a 45 and think you got screwed because your horse is a bad mover or everyone else is a DQ...... you might need a reality check.

LookinSouth
Mar. 4, 2008, 11:31 AM
If you have a limited budget (so you can only attend 3 events a year) and a decent horse that is an ok mover but end up against pros you could compete forever at a given level and never win.

There is a huge difference between a D and a B+ and insisting on a win is a policy that would be way to stringent and unfair.


Okay admittedly my initial opinion of having at least one win in dressage wasn't thought through. There are alot of variables involved. You have a point; and as a rider on a budget who only can compete in a certain number of events myself I can empathize with your thoughts.:winkgrin:

Winning isn't as important as good scores. If a rider can't score below 45-50 at a given level in dressage IMO they have not mastered the basics of what's required for that level. 20's and 30's are respectable scores and require a decent test regardless.
I tend to think alot of eventers put dressage on the back burner. I understand most eventers event for XC, but the fact remains that dressage is still a viable part of the equation. Yeah we don't all have the most ideal horses for dressage. However, what is required in dressage at Training and below are simply the results of proper and correct riding. They should be addressed before moving on. You can always school/clinic XC at a higher level if you still can't score lower than a 45 in Novice level dressage but are whipping through XC/Stadium double clear.

No one is asking an eventer to show up with a 4th level schoolmaster. But I'd like to add as the owner of a relatively fancy LL dressage specialist myself I've had my a** handed to me in the past in the dressage phase by "Chuckles the QH" simply due to lack of preparation on MY part. So fancy and made doesn't always win in dressage. Especially at the lower levels. Good, correct riding and a horse that is responsive to this does. Now if the rider of fancy and made is prepared? Well then you probably won't win which is why I've re- thought my original opinions.

I just don't think barely scraping by in ANY phase promotes safety and good horsemanship.

LookinSouth
Mar. 4, 2008, 11:32 AM
But if you get a 45 and think you got screwed because your horse is a bad mover or everyone else is a DQ...... you might need a reality check.

Exactly. :yes::yes:

asterix
Mar. 4, 2008, 11:41 AM
I agree that SCORE is a much better barometer than PLACING.

And the proposed qualifying scores for moving up from T to P are, in my opinion, ridiculously generous. I do not see how they are going to make any dent in the perceived problem of unprepared riders making that move up. A dressage score of 50 at Training is NOT a sign your horse is rideable, a 4-rail stadium round is NOT a good round, and 90 seconds over time at Training (especially at 420) is NOT an indicator that you are ready to roll on at anything close to Prelim speed (and I have the world's slowest horse -- making time at Prelim may well take us all year, but still -- 90 seconds at Training? What are you doing out there?).

Flame suit zipped up.

millerra
Mar. 4, 2008, 11:49 AM
Just a thought...

Problem w/ winning at BN/Novice as a requirement to move up...

You may not want to ride Chuckles the winning steady eddy in BNovice dressage over an intermediate Xcountry course...

My point: the horse that wins at Bnovice/novice may be a completely different animal than the one someone will eventually aim at Rolex... Repeatedly running a horse at novice who has a lot of scope and talent until they "win" enough points would likely bore the horse and result in more dangerous jumping (e.g. lack of respect/running at fences/jumping flat) than allowing the horse to move up based on his/her jumping ability and skill. Let the trainer and rider decide what is best for the horse (and/or rider)...

JMHO....
Please note: I am not arguing that you shouldn't have adequate skills before moving up... just putting two cents in for personal responsibility rather than rules, rules, rules and more rules

snoopy
Mar. 4, 2008, 11:56 AM
I agree that SCORE is a much better barometer than PLACING.

And the proposed qualifying scores for moving up from T to P are, in my opinion, ridiculously generous. I do not see how they are going to make any dent in the perceived problem of unprepared riders making that move up. A dressage score of 50 at Training is NOT a sign your horse is rideable, a 4-rail stadium round is NOT a good round, and 90 seconds over time at Training (especially at 420) is NOT an indicator that you are ready to roll on at anything close to Prelim speed (and I have the world's slowest horse -- making time at Prelim may well take us all year, but still -- 90 seconds at Training? What are you doing out there?).

Flame suit zipped up.


I will be the first to stand in frot of the flames...I agree ENTIRELY with this statement. That is why I went on about points system, or something tangable...but the current system is far too generous...at ALL levels. This is not doing anyone any favours.

annikak
Mar. 4, 2008, 12:19 PM
I will be the first to stand in frot of the flames...I agree ENTIRELY with this statement. That is why I went on about points system, or something tangable...but the current system is far too generous...at ALL levels. This is not doing anyone any favours.

I may not own a flame suit, but with this, I agree so am on my way to get one.

I agree also with the Prelim move up. A 50 may qualify me, but in NO way is a 50 "okay" If a judge gives me that, I know I have some serious homework. I have gotten over a 50 once (a 50.5) and was whistled once, had numerous bucks, and a missed change. That was a sh**y test, and in no way would I have even wanted it to "qualify" me to move up. (I think maybe to rethink my current level, but it was indeed a case of new spurs that caused our...disagreement of the job description that day.)

scubed
Mar. 4, 2008, 12:31 PM
my current youngster is jumping double clear around stadium and cross country at training level (has done 3 training events), but his dressage is pathetic. What this means to me, is that after one more event, already entered, he will be doing dressage only for at least a couple of months, including some dressage schooling shows etc. He is a good enough mover that even with my rather feeble dressage riding, he should be scoring in the low 30s (not high 40s-low 50s as he is). I won't move him up until he is. That said, I totally sympathize with deltawave. I also had a horse that was great at home, great in warm up and would go into the ring and turn into a giraffe-like creature, did it to my trainer also (though obviously she did better than I). Still, this horse didn't have a cross-country jumping penalty in over 20 events at the preliminary level and rarely pulled a rail stadium. No one ever suggested we weren't safe, but the best preliminary dressage score I ever got was a 41. There are always going to be exceptions, so there is a question of do we want to prevent the "exceptions" like me or deltawave from being able to go preliminary when it doesn't seem to be a safety issue.

That said, my best training dressage score on that horse was around 34 and I don't intend to move current young horse up until he is doing *much* better at dressage. All the systems in the world won't prevent all accidents, nor some group of people who just don't "get it" from moving up too soon and scaring the bejabbers out of the rest of us.

asterix
Mar. 4, 2008, 12:38 PM
There are always going to be exceptions, so there is a question of do we want to prevent the "exceptions" like me or deltawave from being able to go preliminary when it doesn't seem to be a safety issue.
....
All the systems in the world won't prevent all accidents, nor some group of people who just don't "get it" from moving up too soon and scaring the bejabbers out of the rest of us.

And the answer is "NO" -- we don't want to prevent "exceptions" from moving up, but the suggested rules will not do this. As you have said, you can and do score below 50 on your young horse at Training, and won't move up anyway until the dressage is a bit more consistent. Although I think 50 is overly generous as a qualifying score at Training, I have more of a problem with the 4 rails and 90 seconds part anyway.

Actually, I think the suggested rules will not prevent ANYONE from moving up :eek:

And you are right, all the systems in the world won't idiot- or accident-proof the sport, but it is reasonable to have some qualifying system in place for levels which require serious preparation and skills, and which pose a real risk of injury if attempted without sufficient prep.

bornfreenowexpensive
Mar. 4, 2008, 12:44 PM
I think that is an exception. Yes- if you get a 25 in dressage and are in 10th after clean XC and stadium, you are doing great.

But if you get a 45 and think you got screwed because your horse is a bad mover or everyone else is a DQ...... you might need a reality check.


It rarely has to do with a bad mover...but typically tension. I've NEVER talked to any of my top trainers who told me to stay and a low level like novice until I was low scoring in dressage. If your horse is ridable and is doing well in the jumping THAT is where the emphasis is in eventing. I'm not going to waste a horses legs running around novice when he/she has mastered what is to be learned over fences at that level just because he is still learning how to be soft and round in the dressage ring. I have had MANY very good trainers tell me not to worry about our dressage score...that it will come but to keep them at the level they need to be to progress with the jumping. You don't forget dressage...but at Novice and training level....you don't need to be perfect yet either.

This does not mean I have a horse that is standing on its hind legs and is unridable in dressage.... Their dressage is often improving and getting better...but their jumping is just getting better quicker. If your goal is to only reach training level...then you can afford to spend 3 years at novice. But if your goals are to go beyond, and your horse understands the jumping....then you need to move to the next level that furthers their education on jumping....but at the same time you do not stop working on improving their dressage....since it is all related. But a horse scoring in the mid to upper 30s in dressage (and even a few scores in the low 40s with a tough judge) for eventing is doing just fine whether that is winning or not and if it is scoring that well and is jumping with ease, I wouldn't think twice about moving up. You also have to look at the whole dressage test and know WHY you are getting the score you are getting. If it is because the horse is blowing through your aids....well then even if you are getting a score in the 30s you probably still have a lot of work to do before moving up....but if it is a score in the low 40s because you jigg in the walk, didn't stand in the halt, doesn't have a fantastic lengthing yet...and your horse has moments of tension followed with good work....then that is different.

Speedy
Mar. 4, 2008, 01:07 PM
I think part of the disconnect in some of the discussion is the question of whether the dressage score - and staying at the level until it improves - is something to do for the horse v. something to do for the rider. Those of you who say, my BNT wouldn't hold me back for that big bad dressage score, are probably people who are already competing at prelim and above. And, yes, there are a lot of horses that learn quickly and may jump well enough to get around at the next level cleanly, and where there is a real and valid interest in moving them up more quickly - that may very well be appropriate for those riders who already understand the basics and how to get them - so the scores aren't great in dressage, but by god you can be sure that when they need a half-halt on xc, they'll get it!

It is a totally different situation, though, if the person riding the horse doesn't know how to get a basic half-halt or understand the fundamentals of forward, balance and straightness on the flat. While their horses may be kind enough to pack them around cleanly - and even safely - on xc at the lower levels, allowing these riders to move up before they "get it" in the dressage simply means that they will be riding at levels after moving up, where their lack of skills on the flat may really affect their safety o/f. And these are the people that scare the beegeezus out of me. You see them a lot at training.

JER
Mar. 4, 2008, 01:14 PM
bornfreenowexpensive, I share your point of view.

Understanding your horse is one of the keys to safe eventing. No dressage score -- low or high -- can substitute for this.

LKF
Mar. 4, 2008, 01:59 PM
I've finally found the book I was searching for. It's not a coffee table book but rather a soft cover. It is titled ADVANCED CROSS COUNTRY RIDING - How to succeed in Horse Trials
It is written by Jane Holderness-Roddam with photography by Bob Langrish
Published out of the UK in 1997.
If you want a break down on how to ride fences on x-c, then this is the book to buy.

minniemoore
Mar. 4, 2008, 10:43 PM
I just wanna throw my 2 cents in the ring...forgive my essay...

I'm a perfectionist by nature, and the way I force myself to improve is by looking at my placings, and yes, most importantly my score. My horse and I have been going around novice for years, but I didn't want to move up until I had done a better job at dressage.

The more I ride, the more I'm finding that doing well at dressage translates directly into how well I can control my horse and adjust him going to a jump - whether stadium or cross country. As many of my trainers have told me "treat your course as flatwork and approach the jump as if it's just in the way" (something like that). The more balanced and listening my horse is to my hands and leg, the easier it is to move up, slow down, move left or move right whether at stadium speed or moving out on XC.

I like what other people have said where they use the competition as a test to see how the homework has paid off, and what needs work next...that's always how I approach it. I can't control how others place, I can only ride my best.

For me, the desire to move up is definitely there because I'm naturally competitive. The thing I love about eventing compared to some other horse sports is that the tradition is the care and appropriate exercise schedule and training of the horse. I want to be safe and move up when I know we're not going to get hurt (or at least be competent enough to reduce the risk since getting out of bed in the morning can be risky some days).

For me, a win at Novice showed me that I was ready to move up to Training. I have an older TB schoolmaster who was tight and tense because I was using too much hand and leg. As my riding improved so did his dressage. He's been double clear stadium and XC for years. I'm an amateur doing this for fun. Now that I'm starting to prepare for Training level, this is the first time I've proactively asked and started working on lengthening - the desire to move up is motivating me to improve my riding.

I can see how a pro getting a sale horse competent at a level and moving him up when it's safe is prudent to save their legs and be efficient on giving them the training they need. I'll never forget watching David O'Conner riding a less seasoned campaigner at the Fair Hill *** and they went through the sunken road like it was a set of ground poles - it was so beautiful to watch. Other riders on the same course with more experienced horses made me close my eyes and pray they came out the other side.

All in all, I think it's pretty evident when you're watching a ride whether it's safe or dangerous. It could be an experienced rider on a green horse, an inexperienced rider on a made horse, or worst case an inexperienced rider on an inexperienced horse, but less often an experienced rider on an experienced horse. How do you mandate rules for all these variables? How can you make rules for what you see vs. what should be based upon prior experience? I like the new rule that a horse can be stopped on course for dangerous riding.

I agree that a score of 50 at training to move up to Prelim is extremely generous (my first score at training was in the high-40's without any true lengthenings). However, whenever adding in new "rules" it's easier to start with a level that's less controversial since people will resist any new changes. Once it's in place, perhaps it will be easier to make them more stringent to a level that would truly be a better indicator of readiness for the next level.

Vuma
Mar. 4, 2008, 11:41 PM
bornfreenowexpensive and yellowbritches re: your quote/thoughts;

"I think it also depends on your area. For me, I'm routinely competing against the likes of Phillip Dutton, Boyd Martin, Kim Severson etc. riding their young horses."

There are many of us out there competing against the same names you refer to and I would venture to say that most of our horses aren't necessarily UL prospects with an "even playing field" when it comes to comparing talent w/ the horse flesh of the pro's. However, what is SO GREAT about our sport, that I think is impossible in most of the other equine sports, is that with some hard work, correct training, and patience just about anything is possible.

I can say this with confidence as I have been able to win twice over respectable pro's and place a close 2nd to one of the names on your list this year in large divisions with a youngster that is "anything" but naturally talented. (And I am not a pro myself!) In fact, this poor horse was shunned by an Aiken trainer who claimed he would never make an event horse; don't bother. When I found him as a youngster he couldn't canter a straight line without falling on his head, and whomever started him over fences....well, put it this way, he was unsafe over an 18" cross rail....at a trot! And he liked to try to run away after the fence, before the fence, when he saw the fence..... But, after sitting on him for 10 min. I knew he had a good work ethic, was trainable and brave (and super sweet!) so I passed up some other more talented horses, spent less than half the budget I was looking to spend and took him home to boot camp. (Yes, I am a gluten for punishment!) For 5 months I did not let this guy even glance at a fence; just loads of correct flat work until he could sit on his butt, balance w/ some degree of self carriage and half halt. (Yes, it took 5 long 5 day/week months.) He had to be taught balance as physically he was not built to be a dressage or jumping talent, or lead-line prospect for that matter! Anyway, because of the hard work put in with his flat work, he's now “got it”, has solid Dressage scores in the 20's, his jumping is also now solid, and we have been able to qualified for the AEC's at NH in a few short months. We'll move up to T at his next event not only because his scores are good (which again only serves as a sort of barometer), but because he has been given the time to become a safe and respectable ride in all three phases. This might not be the right approach for some, but it worked for us.

I'm not mentioning this personal example for any other reason than to brag on the possibilities our sport offers us, and to offer encouragement to those who are persevering with their dressage. I mention it because even if you are up against the best that Eventing has to offer, the sport rewards hard work and correct work in the end. I feel it does so more than any other discipline and the dream of taking unsuspecting back yard horses or other's rejects and making something nice out of them 'is' altogether possible. This is what I personally love most about our sport. That and the people of course; they're pretty amazing.

It has been inspiring and educating to hear all the ideas on this issue. (It seems that the posters here are not the ones we are all worried about from a safety perspective.) I really appreciate everyone for sharing. It's because our thoughts do not always parallel one another that we are able to learn from one another.

"If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking."
~George S. Patton.

GotSpots
Mar. 5, 2008, 01:56 AM
It has been inspiring and educating to hear all the ideas on this issue. (It seems that the posters here are not the ones we are all worried about from a safety perspective.) Avoiding the easy joke here, but I think this is actually the crux: there's no way of knowing if these posters are, or are't, the cringe-worthy riders (well, except for those of you who have witnessed my long suffering and much put upon beasts save my sorry self - y'all can agree on at least one likely Oh Dear God rider in the group). Because talking a good game and laying it down in the ring are two different things. I don't think hardly any of the scary riders know that they are scary - sure, there's a few who just don't give a darn, but I think many of them honeslty think they're doing ok, or just fine. I'd like to think I've never looked at a dressage test and been truly stunned (both good and bad) at the score, but I admit it's happened on more than one occasion. I'm sure it happens to others as well. The problem is learning to correlate between book knowledge, identification of correct riding by observation, and being able to feel it yourself and/or fix it if you're not there. Getting from a to b to c is a process - and one that should be reflected as you advance in the levels. No one arrives at Novice knowing exactly how to put a horse on the bit, and that's doesn't mean they are incompetent at the level.

VicarageVee
Mar. 5, 2008, 02:21 AM
Personally, I feel that somewhere along the way "competitive" and "sport" has been diluted by the "move-up mentality", and it begs the question, why? Why are riders, who are not even placing at their current level, "WANTING" to move up?



OK, I agree in concept. But, here's a great example: this weekend I watched a ** horse get 40 penalties going Beginner Novice. It was just a bad weekend. Should this horse and rider not be allowed to move up (when both are experienced to Prelim...not together, of course, they are building a new partnership, hence the BN), simply because they did not "place"? The biggest danger in eventing occurs over solid XC jumps, not in the dressage arena, so maybe we could make the regulations about XC penalties, not "placings"?

deltawave
Mar. 5, 2008, 07:30 AM
Why would that rider WANT to move up? Clearly they still haven't worked out their new partnership. Not only did they not place, but the horse didn't jump when he was supposed to. No doubt they'll figure it out, but until they do, how about some more XC schooling and doing one's homework? Along the same lines, why even COMPETE at BN if horse and rider are so experienced?

dgm
Mar. 5, 2008, 08:13 AM
I've finally found the book I was searching for. It's not a coffee table book but rather a soft cover. It is titled ADVANCED CROSS COUNTRY RIDING - How to succeed in Horse Trials
It is written by Jane Holderness-Roddam with photography by Bob Langrish
Published out of the UK in 1997.
If you want a break down on how to ride fences on x-c, then this is the book to buy.


Thank you! I just bought this book online for <$6! I will now eagerly await its arrival... so I can avoid being one of the scary people we're all worried about :)

yellowbritches
Mar. 5, 2008, 08:17 AM
bornfreenowexpensive and yellowbritches re: your quote/thoughts;

"I think it also depends on your area. For me, I'm routinely competing against the likes of Phillip Dutton, Boyd Martin, Kim Severson etc. riding their young horses."

There are many of us out there competing against the same names you refer to and I would venture to say that most of our horses aren't necessarily UL prospects with an "even playing field" when it comes to comparing talent w/ the horse flesh of the pro's. However, what is SO GREAT about our sport, that I think is impossible in most of the other equine sports, is that with some hard work, correct training, and patience just about anything is possible.

I can say this with confidence as I have been able to win twice over respectable pro's and place a close 2nd to one of the names on your list this year in large divisions with a youngster that is "anything" but naturally talented. (And I am not a pro myself!) In fact, this poor horse was shunned by an Aiken trainer who claimed he would never make an event horse; don't bother. When I found him as a youngster he couldn't canter a straight line without falling on his head, and whomever started him over fences....well, put it this way, he was unsafe over an 18" cross rail....at a trot! And he liked to try to run away after the fence, before the fence, when he saw the fence..... But, after sitting on him for 10 min. I knew he had a good work ethic, was trainable and brave (and super sweet!) so I passed up some other more talented horses, spent less than half the budget I was looking to spend and took him home to boot camp. (Yes, I am a gluten for punishment!) For 5 months I did not let this guy even glance at a fence; just loads of correct flat work until he could sit on his butt, balance w/ some degree of self carriage and half halt. (Yes, it took 5 long 5 day/week months.) He had to be taught balance as physically he was not built to be a dressage or jumping talent, or lead-line prospect for that matter! Anyway, because of the hard work put in with his flat work, he's now “got it”, has solid Dressage scores in the 20's, his jumping is also now solid, and we have been able to qualified for the AEC's at NH in a few short months. We'll move up to T at his next event not only because his scores are good (which again only serves as a sort of barometer), but because he has been given the time to become a safe and respectable ride in all three phases. This might not be the right approach for some, but it worked for us.

I'm not mentioning this personal example for any other reason than to brag on the possibilities our sport offers us, and to offer encouragement to those who are persevering with their dressage. I mention it because even if you are up against the best that Eventing has to offer, the sport rewards hard work and correct work in the end. I feel it does so more than any other discipline and the dream of taking unsuspecting back yard horses or other's rejects and making something nice out of them 'is' altogether possible. This is what I personally love most about our sport. That and the people of course; they're pretty amazing.

It has been inspiring and educating to hear all the ideas on this issue. (It seems that the posters here are not the ones we are all worried about from a safety perspective.) I really appreciate everyone for sharing. It's because our thoughts do not always parallel one another that we are able to learn from one another.

"If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking."
~George S. Patton.

You make a good point, one that I was thinking but didn't get a chance to put into words. The very cool thing about this sport is that we AREN'T always segregated in our own little peer groups. Unlike in the hunters, where juniors ride with juniors, ammies ride with ammies, and pros ride with pros, we often can and do end up in divisions full of some of our best riders. Yeah, often on our best days they still make smoke us, but that is not always the case. I've held my own many times, and have beaten a whole host of them on occasion. It is a fun experience, and the cool thing about the sport.

Kcisawesome
Mar. 5, 2008, 10:01 AM
What about for the UL rider who has the basics down themselfs and has an exceptional horse who is a beautiful ride over ul courses and simply falls apart over low jumps. Would you suggest that (maybe olympic potential) horse to stick to beginer novice until he can beat the Grand Prix dressage horses on their secound careers?

Or what about the horse who consistently EVERY TIME wins beginer novice but absaloutly refuses (yes he has mental issues) to jump around a novice course?

What about the horse whose dressage is coming, will come, and is almost there...but does not enough years in his life to wait until he creams BN before moving up?

^Thats where my horse has been. I have found it extremely frustrating dealing with the conflicting advice trainers and riders have given me. Trainers told me to move up. Riders/fellow competitors told me to stay where I was at. I was told by riders that consistant 40s at novice meant I would be dangerous training(these people did not know me or my horse). I was told by trainers to MOVE UP QUICKER! And that I was wasting time at novice. So, since I personally was completely bored of novice and was comfortable over all training stuff at home, I moved up. INSTANTLY I had much better dressage scores (mid 30s), MUCH better xc rounds (we've always been double clear, but they were much more in control and safe), and alot less rails stadium....

and after a few events at training.....the trainers say move up, the riders say STAY. (I wasn't winning..I was gettings 5ths-8ths)...Same battle...Dressage was not "good enough" to win, both xc and stadium were a piece of cake, but my horse was getting harder and harder to keep together over them...I listened to my trainer..dressage didn't matter, we moved up when I could get the right striding to every fence, three training courses in a row. And...look at that! 33% and a first place at my first Prelim. My next two prelim's had pretty pathetic dressage (50 for blowing up/stopping/backingup/trotting/swapping leads on the extended canter), but I had UL trainers telling me that we made prelim XC n' stadium look easy.

I already have trainers telling me to go intermediate (after we get experience at prelim under our belt). And that the dressage will come. It is coming. It is getting better, yesterday I made a breakthrough on trot and finally got a real medium trot! She is getting more and more comfortable with counter-canter, I am getting better at riding every secound of her test...etc. But were we to listen to our fellow competitors and wait until we won BN...I would be riding an awful BN horse rather than a stellar Prelim horse

And in fact with my newer greenie, I've done a couple BNs...and as far as I can tell, there is not much of a difference between BN and Novice..just a couple inches and some more difficult questions. I'd opt to do novice with him so he can get more experience with water/ditches/combinations while still doing low jumps rather than to keep him at BN until he consistantly wins (which wouldn't take that long....but I'm trying to give him a good education rather than drill him and his legs over stuff he already knows.)

magnolia73
Mar. 5, 2008, 10:21 AM
There are a lot of "what abouts"- exceptions. And most exceptions seemed to be owned / ridden by those with knowledge. Yes, Phillip Dutton can judge what a horse can and can't handle far better than any dressage judge.

BUT- there seem to be a lot of riders (and trainers) who don't have his insight or even the insight of many of the posters here. They need a guideline for moving up. A good, fairly reliable indicator is a good, obedient dressage test which should indicate rideability or a lack of overfences. Granted, these aren't the people dying, and perhaps it is OK that they go up the levels with no idea of half halts and balance getting over jumps via momentum. When I see a kid in Novice sitting on her horse afraid of a blow up, I worry about her when the horse wants to get moving on XC. When I see a kid unable to tell leads and being dragged around their canter circle.... yeah- should not be jumping unless that miraculously fixes itself witha 2'6 solid jump in front of the pair.

Fence2Fence
Mar. 5, 2008, 10:29 AM
I've finally found the book I was searching for. It's not a coffee table book but rather a soft cover. It is titled ADVANCED CROSS COUNTRY RIDING - How to succeed in Horse Trials
It is written by Jane Holderness-Roddam with photography by Bob Langrish
Published out of the UK in 1997.
If you want a break down on how to ride fences on x-c, then this is the book to buy.

Thank you. Another COTHer who was interested in the book and just placed an order through Amazon!

LookinSouth
Mar. 5, 2008, 10:45 AM
No one arrives at Novice knowing exactly how to put a horse on the bit, and that's doesn't mean they are incompetent at the level.


They should know how IMO. How can one expect to ride a 3ft course correctly without having the knowledge of being able to ride the horse back to front and on the bit??? Just because they can stay in the saddle and clear the fences doesn't mean it is good riding that is worthy of moving up.
I cannot fathom riding at that level and NOT being able to do this unless it is the result of a certain horse with resistance issues and not correlated to the riders skills/knowledge.

If trainers/riders think it is okay to go around Novice not having this basic flatwork in place I can understand why the issue of hollow, high headed and stiff horses is often an issue at the lower levels in eventing.
And of COURSE the dressage scores are going to be lacking if the rider can't get a horse on the bit. :confused:

IMO if the rider does not have basic, correct flatwork in place they have no business jumping a 3ft course. Stay at Elementary non-sanctioneds.

LookinSouth
Mar. 5, 2008, 10:48 AM
Why would that rider WANT to move up? Clearly they still haven't worked out their new partnership. Not only did they not place, but the horse didn't jump when he was supposed to. No doubt they'll figure it out, but until they do, how about some more XC schooling and doing one's homework? Along the same lines, why even COMPETE at BN if horse and rider are so experienced?

Exactly.

CBinVT
Mar. 5, 2008, 12:38 PM
There are many different types of riders out there with different goals and ambitions. I don't think a dressage score should be the end all in determining whether you are ready to move up. Your dressage work is very important, I don't think that anyone is disputing that. I don't see a problem with good riders of difficult horses moving up, I see it with horses who carry their riders - that is to say allows for quick move-up without actually learning how to ride. Both stand a chance at placing, so if placings get used as the standard for move-ups than we may just be moving up some of the wrong riders. That is not to say that all who buy made horses don't deserve then, are not capable of riding them, and are not ready to move-up - but some are not, and many of them I see winning.

No matter what kind of process is put into place, people will find loopholes. SOME of those not ready to move-up will, and it is very hard to avoid. The original question was about sportsmanship, which I equate to respecting your fellow riders, your animal, the judges, stewards, etc. And accepting the results of the weekend graciously without putting up a stink because we as riders failed to do something correctly. Blaming it on your horse or other competitors.

If this discussion is about move-ups, ribbons shouldn't matter period end of story. Performance should. Test comments should, not all bad tests criticize the rider as weak- use what they are saying to TRY and make it better. The jump efforts needs to be safe for both horse and rider. I think a true safe jump is like a coach told me "hunters with speed" Fluid courses ridden out of stride without penalties or rails. This should be the key, and we as riders, trainers, coaches, etc need to recognize where our riding level is before we move-up because unfortunately not every

bornfreenowexpensive
Mar. 5, 2008, 01:17 PM
Avoiding the easy joke here, but I think this is actually the crux: there's no way of knowing if these posters are, or are't, the cringe-worthy riders (well, except for those of you who have witnessed my long suffering and much put upon beasts save my sorry self - y'all can agree on at least one likely Oh Dear God rider in the group). Because talking a good game and laying it down in the ring are two different things.


Ok....this has my paranoid self thinking that you are talking about me...since I have had a few OH dear God moments....hate it when that happens. But I do definately agree with your post. At least understanding the concepts is a start....I wish I had understood them better when I was younger...but that is SOOO true of many things in life.

fooler
Mar. 5, 2008, 03:32 PM
There are many different types of riders out there with different goals and ambitions. I don't think a dressage score should be the end all in determining whether you are ready to move up. Your dressage work is very important, I don't think that anyone is disputing that. I don't see a problem with good riders of difficult horses moving up, I see it with horses who carry their riders - that is to say allows for quick move-up without actually learning how to ride. Both stand a chance at placing, so if placings get used as the standard for move-ups than we may just be moving up some of the wrong riders. That is not to say that all who buy made horses don't deserve then, are not capable of riding them, and are not ready to move-up - but some are not, and many of them I see winning.

No matter what kind of process is put into place, people will find loopholes. SOME of those not ready to move-up will, and it is very hard to avoid. The original question was about sportsmanship, which I equate to respecting your fellow riders, your animal, the judges, stewards, etc. And accepting the results of the weekend graciously without putting up a stink because we as riders failed to do something correctly. Blaming it on your horse or other competitors.

If this discussion is about move-ups, ribbons shouldn't matter period end of story. Performance should. Test comments should, not all bad tests criticize the rider as weak- use what they are saying to TRY and make it better. The jump efforts needs to be safe for both horse and rider. I think a true safe jump is like a coach told me "hunters with speed" Fluid courses ridden out of stride without penalties or rails. This should be the key, and we as riders, trainers, coaches, etc need to recognize where our riding level is before we move-up because unfortunately not every

PERFECTLY STATED!!!

colliemom
Mar. 6, 2008, 12:25 PM
... bad riding results in bad placings.

While I don't disagree with this statement, I think it's worth noting that bad placings do not always result from bad riding.

On any given day, in any division of 15 riders, someone has to finish last. That person may be very well trained, very well prepared, and very good rider. But they may have just shown up on a day when 14 others were a little bit better than they were.

I think it is a slippery slope to equate placings with competence. I have a horse who schools dressage very well at home, and is easily doing Intermediate (eventing) level dressage work. This work does not carry over to events, and her dressage scores at Prelim are not generally considered competitive. She is a very very very good cross country horse, though. Well prepared, easy to rate, balanced, catty, and with tremendous scope. Because of that, she generally places well (lots of pastels, with some yellow thrown in!) in the final results.... when I remember to jump all the fences! :lol: But in a big division, with really really competitive entrants, we would probably place well down the board. I'll take my horse over many I see scoring well in the dressage, though, if safety is (as it should be) a focus. (Unfortunately many people don't think that way, though... when this horse was for sale last year, I got one phone call in 7 months.)

I take my preparation very seriously, and I am a very competitive person. I have had several trainers tell me I am too critical of my skills, and that I am "better than 90% of the riders entered". Just because I don't always place well does not mean I am a bad rider or my horse is not well prepared.

sunhawk
Mar. 6, 2008, 12:42 PM
I truly beg to differ that good dressage equals good jumping and gallopiing ability cross-country. There is a huge difference between a horse that can move pretty in a fenced arena in a dressage frame, from a horse that can balance himself up and down hills galloping over different footings, with an uphill carriage. I don't believe horses should approach jumps in a dressage frame, they need their heads up, looking where they are going. Yes they need to be able to shorten and length strides, but they don't need a rider that dictates where and how they place every step, they need to be able to think for themselves.

colliemom
Mar. 6, 2008, 12:43 PM
... given a choice, I'd rather sit on an event horse strong in jumping then in dressage....that is just me.

I'm right there along with you!! :yes: :yes: :yes: