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View Full Version : Pro/Con: The short format is an experiment that has failed.



Classic Melody
Mar. 16, 2008, 10:19 PM
I know this ground has been covered before, but in light of recent events, I think a new discussion is appropriate. With a shocking number of horse and rider deaths and serious injuries in the last 18 months, isn't it time to seriously reconsider the short format? I'm a strictly lower level rider, but wasn't a main argument for the short format the idea that it was SAFER for horse and rider?

On the other hand, perhaps eventing is experiencing painful but necessary growing pains as the sport evolves into a modern format. We're not in the cavalry any longer. Training and conditioning methods must adapt, and we're just in the gray space between the past and the future right now. And, of course, it's hard to say how many of these accidents would not have happened with the long format, or how many were just plain unlucky.

All I know is, I found watching multiple horses WIPE OUT on a hairpin turn after a drop at Fair Hill CCI*** last year to be totally harrowing and not really thrilling.

Thoughts?

RiverBendPol
Mar. 16, 2008, 10:54 PM
Phases A, B, C were part of the 3-day from the get-go FOR A REASON. Those phases prepared the horses for the cross country course. The new courses are idiotic and obviously are failing. I am too worn out to express myself well tonight, but I do agree, this has been a mighty expensive experiment. Maybe Eventing needs to shut down for a while. I am grateful to have a youngster right now, a 5 year old who will not be doing any YEH this year, and with no aspirations for P and I for at least 4 years. Maybe by then the game will have sorted itself out.

yellowbritches
Mar. 16, 2008, 11:00 PM
Can we please keep in mind that this was a CIC and NOT a CCI? Darren was doing a prelim horse trial.

In the past year, how many deaths were on a CIC or HT, and how many were on a CCI (Elenaor Brennan I know was a CCI).

I don't think this has anything to do with long vs short format but true cross country courses which encourages bold, forward riding, and overly technical courses that encourage backwards riding.

PhoenixFarm
Mar. 16, 2008, 11:07 PM
Can we please keep in mind that this was a CIC and NOT a CCI? Darren was doing a prelim horse trial.

In the past year, how many deaths were on a CIC or HT, and how many were on a CCI (Elenaor Brennan I know was a CCI).

I don't think this has anything to do with long vs short format but true cross country courses which encourages bold, forward riding, and overly technical courses that encourage backwards riding.

But I see it as a trickle-down effect. As the CCI courses change to reflect the short format, so the CIC and horse trial courses will change to attempt to prepare horses and riders for the new challenge.

To me, it all started to go to hell when A, B, and C left, and course designers at the top had to come up with new ways to make things challenging and to attempt to make up for the fact that a very important warm up phase was removed. Now, these 5 or so years later, what they have down at the top is trickling down and effecting horse trial, even lower level horse trial, course design.

deltawave
Mar. 16, 2008, 11:14 PM
It appears a "done deal" that the upper levels or so-called "pinnacle" of our sport has become this incredibly difficult technical entity known as XC. Horses and riders are called on at virtually every fence to be absolutely spot-on perfect or risk not just a glance off or a stop but real danger. What, then, is the POINT in teaching a horse to be a relentless galloper, capable of incredible feats of stamina and courage of the type demanded by the old format? Nope, that kind of horse is useless in today's sport. We need one that is capable of pulling off multiple incredible feats of athleticism every 20-30 seconds or so, from a show-jumping canter, who can also tolerate a dead run for 20 seconds in between jumps and come back, ready to do it again.

No doubt courage is still required, but not the kind of courage that comes naturally to horses. To move effortlessly and to be naturally athletic is what Mother Nature intended. Obedience and a willingness to partner with a human is a happy accident. Ergo, dressage works. To RUN and JUMP and to KEEP GOING is what Mother Nature intended, even in the face of exhaustion. Courage is built in. Ergo, XC works. (or used to, when it was a test of what came naturally to a horse) To come back AGAIN after an exhausting day, because he must or because his partner asks, and to do what he's been schooled to do and because the creature is a natural athlete, comes naturally to a horse. Ergo, stadium works.

But to run-stop-jump-jump-turn-run-turn-jump-run-turn-jump? Unnatural. The farther away from what comes naturally to a horse we get, the stupider and less safe the sport is going to become. :(

Are there any horses still competing successfully at the upper levels who have ever done a *** or **** long-format CCI?

RiverBendPol
Mar. 16, 2008, 11:15 PM
Amanda, reread the original post-nothing was said about Red Hills, nor Darren. Classic Melody simply posed a question re: long vs short formats. Please let's not turn this into another Red Hills/DMC/CMP basher. Just discuss the original question.

grayarabpony
Mar. 16, 2008, 11:18 PM
I hate the short format. I liked the sport best the way it was in the mid-90's, a very nice balance of dressage, XC, and showjumping.

yellowbritches
Mar. 16, 2008, 11:23 PM
I know this ground has been covered before, but in light of recent events
I may be reading too much into it, but that seems to be saying something about Red Hill (or the horrible rash of deaths in the past year + ).

But, regarding the OP's question, while I think the long format is a beautiful thing, I don't think the short format is the evil thing that we often try to make it out to be. In theory, it still tests the endurance and horsemanship, most of our top riders will tell you the horses still need to be as fit. Where the plan has fallen down is in building overly technical courses with many complex combinations that you need to sprint to, then collect, collect, collect to make it around the course.

I think bugs still need to be worked out of the system, but I don't think the short format, at least IN THEORY, is the evil behind the issues. It still boils down to course design.

closetoperfectionfarm
Mar. 16, 2008, 11:25 PM
SIMPLE SOLUTION
Make the courses like they were meant to be in the calvalry, which is the BASIS for this sport.....
galloping to....SINGLE natural obstacles- PERIOD.
Eliminate the ridiculous non stop combinations that have to be show jumped.

Eliminate the ridiculous combinations made of equally ridiculous disney characters
=SIMPLE SOLUTION.... Why is that so hard?
It would still be a tough testing competion, just not a death march.

yellowbritches
Mar. 16, 2008, 11:25 PM
DW- Upstage has been going strong for years. He has the occasional blips, but I don't think he shows any sign of slowing down. Same goes for Antigua, and Glenncarrick certainly didn't seem to care about the format change. I'm sure there is more, but these are the couple that immediately come to mind.

RunForIt
Mar. 16, 2008, 11:26 PM
I may be reading too much into it, but that seems to be saying something about Red Hill (or the horrible rash of deaths in the past year + ).

But, regarding the OP's question, while I think the long format is a beautiful thing, I don't think the short format is the evil thing that we often try to make it out to be. In theory, it still tests the endurance and horsemanship, most of our top riders will tell you the horses still need to be as fit. Where the plan has fallen down is in building overly technical courses with many complex combinations that you need to sprint to, then collect, collect, collect to make it around the course.

I think bugs still need to be worked out of the system, but I don't think the short format, at least IN THEORY, is the evil behind the issues. It still boils down to course design.

do you think that the short format has changed the way upper level horses are prepared for events? There's less to do, so has the conditioning been cut back?

TB or not TB?
Mar. 16, 2008, 11:26 PM
I hate the short format. I liked the sport best the way it was in the mid-90's, a very nice balance of dressage, XC, and showjumping.

This should be repeated over and over again. :sadsmile:

azeventer
Mar. 16, 2008, 11:28 PM
It appears a "done deal" that the upper levels or so-called "pinnacle" of our sport has become this incredibly difficult technical entity known as XC. Horses and riders are called on at virtually every fence to be absolutely spot-on perfect or risk not just a glance off or a stop but real danger. What, then, is the POINT in teaching a horse to be a relentless galloper, capable of incredible feats of stamina and courage of the type demanded by the old format? Nope, that kind of horse is useless in today's sport. We need one that is capable of pulling off multiple incredible feats of athleticism every 20-30 seconds or so, from a show-jumping canter, who can also tolerate a dead run for 20 seconds in between jumps and come back, ready to do it again.

No doubt courage is still required, but not the kind of courage that comes naturally to horses. To move effortlessly and to be naturally athletic is what Mother Nature intended. Obedience and a willingness to partner with a human is a happy accident. Ergo, dressage works. To RUN and JUMP and to KEEP GOING is what Mother Nature intended, even in the face of exhaustion. Courage is built in. Ergo, XC works. (or used to, when it was a test of what came naturally to a horse) To come back AGAIN after an exhausting day, because he must or because his partner asks, and to do what he's been schooled to do and because the creature is a natural athlete, comes naturally to a horse. Ergo, stadium works.

But to run-stop-jump-jump-turn-run-turn-jump-run-turn-jump? Unnatural. The farther away from what comes naturally to a horse we get, the stupider and less safe the sport is going to become. :(

Are there any horses still competing successfully at the upper levels who have ever done a *** or **** long-format CCI?

Thnaks DW, can't say it any better......

yellowbritches
Mar. 16, 2008, 11:30 PM
do you think that the short format has changed the way upper level horses are prepared for events? There's less to do, so has the conditioning been cut back?
I know for a fact that is not the case.

I suggest reading William Fox-Pitts book. He talks about the end of the long format and getting accustomed to the short format, but he states SEVERAL times that the horses need just as much fitness work. By no means has he cut back.

I know of at least a couple of BNRs that I think almost take the galloping to an illogical extreme. I'm obviously not privy to every UL riders fitness program, but I am to a couple, and I still see just as much good, quality fitness work being done (both the long hacks and trots and the gallops). In our barn, while Dunny still isn't even seriously jumping after his lay up, we are already starting to think about his fitness work and already getting him out and hacking every day. Once we have a better idea as to when he will return to competing, we will work backwards and start adding in more serious fitness work with swimming (to save his legs some), gallops, and lots and lots of hacks and trots. Same can be said for any horse in our barn that reaches the UL.

Kcisawesome
Mar. 16, 2008, 11:44 PM
Bring back the long format! :yes: And I would LOVE to try out some of these "Galloping courses of yesteryear" that everyone talks about.

Edit:

Okay, this is actually VERY important to me. I am sixteen years old currently and I can confidently say that I am this sport's future. That is, I want to/will be your next Phillip Dutton or Karen O'connor and I am 100% devoted to it. I am currently working my way up the levels for the first time with a fabulous horse. This horse is not only a one in a million perfect mix of altheticism, courage, heart and kindness, but she is my best friend and has delt with my crap for years now and will continue too. I want the best for her. This is the horse whom you treat like a Qween because those couple minutes on cross country she becomes pure gold.

In my opinion, this sport should be the ultimate test of a horse and rider. Can they dance, can they run and can they put on their best face and dance again? As Deltawave said, this comes naturally to the horse. It comes naturally to MY horse. In MY opinion, she is a perfect event horse.

But when the course becomes so taxing, so emotionally taxing..It becomes unfair, it becomes a trap. It takes a horse like mine and punishes her for trying so hard. When she trys her hardest and does her best, it just asks her to do it again...and again...And again...Until it is emtionanally and physically difficult. Then, if mistakes are made, we get hurt.

Obviously you want to seperate the best from the good by the end of the weekend, but why must EVERYONE get so brutally beat up trying?

I want courses that are forgiving enough that it is a question of who is brave and fit, NOT of who is still on their feet.

What can I personally do? What must be done to bring back the long format? I can complain and hope forever, but what can I acctually do to help bring it back?

wanderlust
Mar. 17, 2008, 12:19 AM
I suggest reading William Fox-Pitts book. He talks about the end of the long format and getting accustomed to the short format, but he states SEVERAL times that the horses need just as much fitness work. By no means has he cut back.

I know of at least a couple of BNRs that I think almost take the galloping to an illogical extreme. I'm obviously not privy to every UL riders fitness program, but I am to a couple, and I still see just as much good, quality fitness work being done (both the long hacks and trots and the gallops).

The problem with this, though, is that it is not a galloping sport anymore. It is, as DW so correctly stated, a jump, stop, turn, jump, jump, sprint off, stop, jump, sprint sport. And that 1: is totally exhausting in a way that high-level sustained effort is not; and 2: requires *very* different conditioning than the gallop and trot sets of yesteryear.

I'll confess, I have little interest in the sport these days. After growing up eventing and continuing to do so for years after moving out to California, it is not the sport I knew or loved. I cannot EVER remember a huge number of catastrophic deaths and injuries such that have occurred over the past few years. I occasionally ponder going back, but until things change significantly in the sport, I will be bringing my horses up through the hunter/jumper ranks.

lstevenson
Mar. 17, 2008, 12:36 AM
Eliminate the ridiculous combinations made of equally ridiculous disney characters



I agree. These fences are not horse friendly. And the constant technicality is too much. See my thread about CMP course design.

And although I am a long format supporter, this is a course design problem IMO, not really a matter of format. I don't think the results at Red Hills would really be any different if there had been R&T's and steeplechase before that same course.

seeuatx
Mar. 17, 2008, 01:30 AM
Eliminate the ridiculous non stop combinations that have to be show jumped.
SIMPLE SOLUTION.... Why is that so hard?
It would still be a tough testing competion, just not a death march.

I completely agree with this. I am too young to reminisce about eventing's heyday in the 70's, by the time I started playing in the sport lead weights were being done away with. But I remember a lot of awesome looking Phase D courses. They were open and inviting... if you had the guts for them... I was dying to get to that level.

Even if they were to never bring back A,B, and C phases, D phase did not need to be modified much at all. I don't think a few combo's, or a few tricky spots are out of line in an upper level course (though please not at the same element). But, I also don't think the entire course should be a nonstop rollercoaster of Speed-slow-tricky spot combo-speed-slow-tsc.

BarbB
Mar. 17, 2008, 01:51 AM
Any of you who have The Horse in Sport on tape can find the segment on eventing. There is a lot of narrative by Col. Frank Weldon, discussing what goes into the design of an upper level course. Two statements come to mind that the sport appears to have lost sight of...

one:
The course should be so difficult that the best will be tested, but not so difficult that the rest will come away with nothing.

two:
The obstacles should be such that they are easy for the horse to jump, but difficult and frightening for the rider.

Weldon designed the toughest courses in the world, came up with obstacles that no one had ever thought of (Weldon's Wall) and did not design punishing, no let up courses. He tried to reward the bold horse and rider.
Unlike some modern courses which seem to be designed to tear a horse's confidence to shreds.

Personally, I think the sport has lost its way.

WindWillowStable
Mar. 17, 2008, 02:08 AM
Things have changed in the past few years. Since I have been in jumper land for 8 years I may not have business to comment but I competed through intermediate and before I made the switch to jumpers not many people nor horses had died...so therefore, SOMETHING IS OFF and maybe I'm not the best person to comment... but I witnessed upper level courses first hand at an early age and they are completely different now...much more tough and much more technical, not to mention more solid, so therefore less forgiving!!!!

And for the ones of you that keep saying it's a freak accident...wake up! SOMETHING ISN'T RIGHT...and I don't give a flying f **** what level it is, this many freak accidents shouldn't happen, I don't care what sport it is!!! When more and more people and horses are dying on the course then it's time to reevaluate and make some changes.

What's is it going to take for everyone of us to stand up and say enough, make some changes! People spend hundreds of dollars to go to a horse trials and compete...would you rather be faced with an impossible course that may scare you or your horse by weeding out the weak or would you rather the scores stay close all weekend...this isn't a cross country competition, this is a combined training competition. So before making the cross country next to impossible, discuss a way to challenge competitor's though out the weekend while giving them confidence. I've come off a challenging course and instead of saying "hell yeah, we did it!" I came off saying "Thank God, we lived"...that isn't a positive feeling and you don't learn from it!

It doesn't come down to if a person is moving a horse/rider up faster than it should be moved up...eventing should be prepared for people who are moving up too fast because every sport has that.. in the long run, if a horse and rider moved up too fast then it will be proven by someone not placing well, not getting seriously injured of worse. It should be proven by them not making the US team, by having a stop at a tough question, by a dressage test that puts them so far back they can't keep up, by someone strictly saying...you aren't ready, rather you are qualified or not. Life is about people trying to push themselves, not whether we are in over their heads or not...we should be punished by moving up too fast...not killed!

As I said, freak accidents are going to happen...but eventing has had just too many freak accidents in a short period of time and if something isn't done soon then even I personally believe upper levels of eventing should be gone. These horses are capable of jumping these heights, 4 foot is nothing for an athletic horse...so make these jumps jumpable and make it where if a horse misses one step they will recover...if jumping was meant to be perfect we would be doing the hunters!

retreadeventer
Mar. 17, 2008, 02:13 AM
Very good point, that intelligent design may be the thing lacking.

PalominoMorgan
Mar. 17, 2008, 04:41 AM
I was shocked at how "show jumpy" the XC footage lately looks on YouTube. I am an ammy owner who would like to do some eventing at the lower levels for the fun of it. My goal is to not break my horse while I do it. Maybe I'll just have to do hunter paces instead. There seems be lots more "galloping" room between fences on those types of courses than what I'm seeing in XC footage lately.

I remember watching Rolex on ABC's Wide World of Sports when I was growing up in the 90's. THAT was the image I have in my mind of what eventing was about. *sigh*

Maybe it is time I try to find a "Save the 3 Day" patch for my saddle pads. I realize that we're sort of beyond the point of saving it and that now we are hoping for a restoration, but it could be my subtle way of saying I miss the way things used to be. There were reasons for all the phases before and watching XC rounds from recent upper level events can be down right terrifying. It sure isn't helping my husband embrace the idea of me plunking around a lower level course for the fun of it. :(

ss3777
Mar. 17, 2008, 07:39 AM
cons:

in order to make XC a defining phase (with out the endurance component) jumps became so technical (false ground lines (would that be what you call 3 cannon balls?), vertical fences,departure from natural looking galloping fences) horses and people died.
lower level folks decide that maybe this is NOT the sport I want to move up in, I want my horse and me to live another day thank you very much!!
confidence in the "system" is shattered



pros kept (at least temporarily) in the Olympics which ironically is not the most challening event just the most prestigious to those not in eventing


More later............need to go to the barn

piccolittle
Mar. 17, 2008, 08:17 AM
Why, why, why does everyone insist on bashing the short format???? Could it not be a natural evolution of the sport that people began to catch on about the influence of dressage on final scores, thus dressage scores improved, thus cross country needed to become more difficult in order to maintain its weight on scores?

I've said this before, and I'm not talking about any specific event or incident: an Advanced HT (NOT FEI) is probably more difficult than a CIC**, but we don't point to the lack of phases A, B, and C to explain accidents there.

So how exactly is it that you guys feel the short format has created more accidents? I agree that the more technical cross country is to blame at all levels, but TBH I am happy that I do not *have to* trot and gallop for miles carrying lead weights (on my tiny TB) before heading out to cross country if I wanted to compete at FEI.

The way I see it, there are a couple options (couldn't think of all of them at the moment):

1) The fact that steeplechase etc were eliminated meant that people could get away with riding warmbloods who were built for dressage and not for endurance, thus creating the potential for a more fatigued horse who would make mistakes.
**BUT wouldn't having a horse who was bred to jump well make you safer on cross country, as opposed to having a horse who was bred to run to the point of exhaustion, but might not be as talented or clean with its legs? Most of the horses out there who we would consider "warmblood" are mostly TB anyway. I hardly think anyone would be stupid enough to take a horse out to a *** who physically wasn't capable of it.**

2) The short format cross country does not provide an adequate warm-up, therefore can cause more problems for the horse on course, physically and mentally.
**This one I can kind of understand. I agree that steeplechase probably gets the horse pumped to jump boldly and gallop. However, wouldn't the horse be more tired on cross country (thus more likely to make a mistake) after completing three additional phases, than if they just had to run the one? Again, I hardly think any UL competitor is going to start their horse on a tough course absolutely cold, or without sufficient conditioning. Go to any UL rider's barn; they take conditioning very seriously. Even I gallop my Novice horse around the warm-up for a while, to get us both psyched and get him ready to run.**

So honestly, I don't really see what your beef is with the short format. Blame poor training methods, insufficient conditioning regimes, whatever. Blame, IMHO, the ridiculously technical and scary (for horses) cross country courses we see recently. But don't just point to the lack of A, B, C, at an FEI level competition and claim that it causes more accidents. Regular horse trials don't have those phases, and accidents seem to have been mostly happening at Prelim.

Anyone care to enlighten me as to what, specifically, you feel is more threatening about a CIC than any other format event? Adding the endurance phases back in isn't going to make the cross country any less technical. I think that's where we have to start: with modifying the courses themselves to make them more inviting.

(flame away! ;) )

denny
Mar. 17, 2008, 08:25 AM
The question I keep asking, myself and others, is: "Where is the LEADERSHIP?"
Something fundamental is broken in this sport, and when something is broken, someone needs to fix it.
Who is/are that someone?
Is it the President/Board of Govs of the USEA?
Is it the president/Board of the USEF?
Is it the High Performance Com of Eventing?
Because I don`t see anyone stepping up to the plate.
And in a leadership vacuum, little people are free to make lots of bad decisions.
Personally, I am very disappointed in the lack of leadership from our current upper level riders. It seems that they don`t run for office on our various boards, and while they complain vehemently in private, few of them have the moral courage to speak up in a public way.
So is there a Neal Ayer hiding out there? Because if there is, now would be a good time for you to get involved.

BigRuss1996
Mar. 17, 2008, 08:29 AM
Amen....




The question I keep asking, myself and others, is: "Where is the LEADERSHIP?"
Something fundamental is broken in this sport, and when something is broken, someone needs to fix it.
Who is/are that someone?
Is it the President/Board of Govs of the USEA?
Is it the president/Board of the USEF?
Is it the High Performance Com of Eventing?
Because I don`t see anyone stepping up to the plate.
And in a leadership vacuum, little people are free to make lots of bad decisions.
Personally, I am very disappointed in the lack of leadership from our current upper level riders. It seems that they don`t run for office on our various boards, and while they complain vehemently in private, few of them have the moral courage to speak up in a public way.
So is there a Neal Ayer hiding out there? Because if there is, now would be a good time for you to get involved.

Kcisawesome
Mar. 17, 2008, 08:34 AM
Its the same thing that has been said over and over agian. Getting a horse to peak fitness so that he can do a long format is difficult, but natural.

Getting a horse in peak fitness so that he can do a short format is difficult and it is NOT natural.

Stopping and going and stopping and going is VERY tiring on a horse. My horse, a high-strung Thoroughbred does very well with long distance galloping and jumping, but stopping and going exhausts her.

I DONT WANT to ride warmbloods in a glorified and dumbed down dressage/stadium competition. I want to ride the best athletes of the horse world in a test of an athlete that tests if they can do their best better.

At peak fitness a good horse can gallop for a very long time without getting beat. But you can not train a horse to be emotionally fit in the same way. Emotions take ALOT out of a horse. We've all seen horses drenched in sweat before they go out on course because of tensness. That tires a horse out more than anything. And the short format is emotionally taxing. It punishes the best horses.

If you want perfect jumpers, Go do showjumping. If you want dressage scores. Go do dressage. But please, please keep eventing as the test of a true athlete that it is. I certainly do not want to have to switch to steeplechase riding.

snoopy
Mar. 17, 2008, 08:42 AM
The question I keep asking, myself and others, is: "Where is the LEADERSHIP?"
Something fundamental is broken in this sport, and when something is broken, someone needs to fix it.
Who is/are that someone?
Is it the President/Board of Govs of the USEA?
Is it the president/Board of the USEF?
Is it the High Performance Com of Eventing?
Because I don`t see anyone stepping up to the plate.
And in a leadership vacuum, little people are free to make lots of bad decisions.
Personally, I am very disappointed in the lack of leadership from our current upper level riders. It seems that they don`t run for office on our various boards, and while they complain vehemently in private, few of them have the moral courage to speak up in a public way.
So is there a Neal Ayer hiding out there? Because if there is, now would be a good time for you to get involved.


Denny

Neil used his wealth for a greater good unlike those of today who use it for ill gotten gain. We will not see another Neil...not in our lifetime.

yellowbritches
Mar. 17, 2008, 08:42 AM
The problem with this, though, is that it is not a galloping sport anymore. It is, as DW so correctly stated, a jump, stop, turn, jump, jump, sprint off, stop, jump, sprint sport. And that 1: is totally exhausting in a way that high-level sustained effort is not; and 2: requires *very* different conditioning than the gallop and trot sets of yesteryear.

I'll confess, I have little interest in the sport these days. After growing up eventing and continuing to do so for years after moving out to California, it is not the sport I knew or loved. I cannot EVER remember a huge number of catastrophic deaths and injuries such that have occurred over the past few years. I occasionally ponder going back, but until things change significantly in the sport, I will be bringing my horses up through the hunter/jumper ranks.

This is why I said in an earlier post that IN THEORY the short format is not a bad thing. It is the DESIGN OF THE COURSES that is a bad thing. If the courses are big and bold and encourage riding forward and have big rider frighteners that are confidence builders for the horses (ala Centaur's Leap at Burghley), we'd be on the right track. However, despite the courses not being gallopy, the horses still need to be fit and strong.

I'm with piccolittle on this. It is NOT the short format's fault. It is the courses.

I know I've thought this, don't know if I've said it, but eventing to me is about the cross country. It isn't about the dressage or show jumping and it isn't about R & T and steeplechase. It is about going cross country. I LOVE the long format and think it is a very, very cool thing, but in the long run, I event to go cross country. As long as I still have that element (and I don't have to fear for my life to an illogical extreme as I feel I need to right now), I am happy with the format we have.

BigRuss1996
Mar. 17, 2008, 08:45 AM
Sadly...how very true...



Denny

Neil used his wealth for a greater good unlike those of today who use it for ill gotten gain. We will not see another Neil...not in our lifetime.

deltawave
Mar. 17, 2008, 09:03 AM
But the long format has become so much more IRRELEVANT, don't you see? With today's XC courses (be they Horse Trials or "three day" courses) being technical, trappy questions of pure ability to spring off the ground from an awkward spot, why bother with a test of pure galloping ability? That's the saddest part. :no:

Auburn
Mar. 17, 2008, 09:03 AM
Before we enter an event, how do we tell who designed the course?

If CMP has put his stamp on 30 courses, then I really would like to know which ones he did. I never want to put my horse in the kind of danger that went on last weekend!

Unfortunately, I would love to see eventing return to the long format, but do not ever see that happening. Therefore, we have to find a way to make the short format work, SAFELY. We have to find a way to force course designers to go back to galloping courses. Horses were not meant to use so many short twitch muscles, then speed up to long twitch, then back to short, time after time. Sprinters train differently, than long distance runners.

If the young riders, who are trying to get CMP's attention will not step up to the plate, then how about Jimmy Wofford, Mike Plumb, Bruce Davidson and yes, Denny, taking on CMP? I know that you guys could take him in a fair fight! ;) Put him on a "slow boat to China"?

Denny, have you ever considered becoming "The Coach"? You worked with LeGoff and know his system. You would definitely bring sanity back into the USEA. If you would consider it, we would start a grass roots campaign to get you in and give CMP the boot. Please? :)

deltawave
Mar. 17, 2008, 09:06 AM
DENNY FOR PRESIDENT! :D

denny
Mar. 17, 2008, 09:12 AM
I think Kevin Baumgardner is a plenty tough guy to be president of USEA. He just needs to take control.
As for the coach job, it should be someone in his/her 40s/50s, (not mid 60s) hopefully someone who lives in this country and knows and cares about our entire system, not just a mercenary.

Auburn
Mar. 17, 2008, 09:34 AM
Denny,

How old was LeGoff, when he was coaching? He always looked ancient to me. ;) You are a fit man, who is more than capable, even if you are in your mid 60's! :yes: Please consider it? Or, tell us who you believe is the right man for the job.?

Hilary
Mar. 17, 2008, 09:40 AM
Just a thought regarding the two horse deaths and the courses.

Horses can be bred to be the fastest land animal for a quarter of a mile. They can be bred to run 100 miles in one day, or even run endurance races that last several days.

But maybe these courses are asking them to be both, and that they just cannot do, even with the best of conditioning.

When I was a kid we heard of one or maybe 2 horses dying of "heart attack" type events (yes, I know they dont' have heart attacks like people do, but they do have issues with their hearts) over a period of 5 years. Now two in one day?

c_expresso
Mar. 17, 2008, 09:44 AM
Maybe the USEA/USEF/FEI could put a limit on the number of combinations... ie: only one bounce, two one strides, etc, obviously softer the lower the level, but still it would prevent these ridiculous combinations.

Part of the problem is that all these tough combinations put a lot of mental stress on the horse and rider, as does the stop-go-stop-go. When you are mentally tired, that is when one makes [fatal] mistakes, even on the "let up" fences.

BigRuss1996
Mar. 17, 2008, 09:46 AM
So..maybe the first step would be for everyone to write to Kevin and ask him to step up to the plate and DO something about this and take control of this issue??.
Not that that will work but... might be more effective then us all sitting here on the chrinicle forum complaining to each other. It is OUR sport and the majority of the membership is made up of smaller voices but when they all start speaking up it becomes one big voice.... I think before we can expect any changes to come we have to get their attention.
They are so into "growing the membership"......well maybe it is time "the membership" spoke up and voiced their opinions of what is being done to the sport instead of just quietly watching them ruin a sport we all love and doing nothing. There is power in numbers and the governing bodies are much smaller then the membership and they have no sport to govern with out the members...we all make their jobs possible (owners, riders, breeders, etc...). Anyone who holds a membership card needs to speak up andlet them know that this is not acceptable....

Am I wrong here?




I think Kevin Baumgardner is a plenty tough guy to be president of USEA. He just needs to take control.
As for the coach job, it should be someone in his/her 40s/50s, (not mid 60s) hopefully someone who lives in this country and knows and cares about our entire system, not just a mercenary.

LisaB
Mar. 17, 2008, 09:54 AM
Here here Denny.
BUT never ever have any one of those mentioned come up to this board and spoken. See? This is what we're missing! Balls. Denny, you have them. You don't mind hearing us out. Why? Because you're comfortable in your position and stance on the subject. These guys obviously aren't comfortable stating their positions on the subjects at hand.
I agree with WindWillow. Any horse or rider death is inexcusable and we are seeing an increased number. The % is still down there but the # is up. And don't the short format and technical format folks always states 'it's safer'? Ummm, what do you have to say now?
And Denny, are you thinking of Jimmy or David for Chef?
Again, we can bitch and moan on an internet board. But really, what can we do to get Foggy the hell off our continent?

Daydream Believer
Mar. 17, 2008, 09:56 AM
I will echo those who remembered the 90's as being a great mix for eventing. I evented steadily from 1980 through the late 1990's...took a short break due to horse troubles and came back in 2001-2 and was shocked at even the lower level courses...how technical they'd become. For a first time out, I rode a very experienced training horse (back from a long recovery from a pasture injury) around what was advertised as an "average difficulty" novice course and felt like I was doing a scaled down championship training course. That same course at the upper levels that this event also ran, had three horse fatalities about that same time...two at the same fence.

Circumstances like 11 foaling mares and an intense breeding season and being a farm owner/manager currently are making it really hard for me to get a horse ready and be consistent in his training...and I wonder sometimes if I should try again when I read threads like this one. I love the sport also, miss the fun and camaraderie and I hate seeing how it has become. I hate hearing of these terrible accidents and fatalities. I hate seeing the loss of the long format also and really hope we can get the leadership back to make the right kind of changes.

Auburn
Mar. 17, 2008, 09:57 AM
How do we do this? In the 60's, we had sit in/protest marches. Do we set a date for our membership to take charge? Can we get a group at Rolex to start a protest? Of course, because of media coverage, nobody would show up. After all, we wouldn't want to put a bad spin on our sport. :confused: I'm just throwing out ideas, so I hope that I don't need a flame suit?

Many animal activists would love to see the demize of our sport. How can we shout our concerns, without further hurting our cause?

Is Denny the only BNT/BNR, who listens here? Is he the only one who truly cares about the safety of our horses and riders?

denny
Mar. 17, 2008, 09:58 AM
Jack was only mid 40s when he coached that `74 team. He lived hard, though, lots of nicotine, red wine, late nights, so he looked ancient!!
What we had back then was a great relationship between Jack, USET coach, and Neil Ayer, USCTA president. They were concerned with every aspect of US eventing, knew the key organizers, the whole gamut of riders, and worked together to build our infrastructure.
Today, it`s a fragmented situation, with a top down, trickle down effect, influencing xc design even at the training level.
I wonder if the USEA shouldn`t just cut loose the 2 top levels, advanced and intermediate, which only comprise a few hundred riders, and focus on the other 15,000.
Or maybe get a coach who is willing to work WITHIN our system, and who cares about ALL of US eventing, not just the top 10-15 riders, and who can rebuild the broken pipeline to move aspiring riders into true Team potential candidates.
It`s time to start to fix US eventing, and even if the long format is a done deal at the upper levels, then let`s create a short format system that works without hurting so many of our horses and riders.
What we have now is too often bad news. Not always, but too often.

tommygirl
Mar. 17, 2008, 10:04 AM
Have changed. On horses with more scope, you feel that you can go slower to XC fences... problem: the fences don't fall when you miss. The speed that the horses used to go, in a galloping style, to less technical fences, allowed the riders to be thrown clear.

Also, I think the changes in the show jumping and dressage phases have caused more problems in the sport than the deletion of A, B, C. Now, you have to have so much more scope and "dressage" movements for 2/3 of the competition, that breeding has not caught up to the challenge. TB are struggling with the dressage and show jumping and warmblood crosses are struggling with the XC. Seems to me that everyone looses.

Jeannette, formerly ponygyrl
Mar. 17, 2008, 10:04 AM
Before we enter an event, how do we tell who designed the course?

If CMP has put his stamp on 30 courses, then I really would like to know which ones he did. I never want to put my horse in the kind of danger that went on last weekend!

:)

Auburn - current CD for each event is in the omnibus listing.

It would be interesting to go through and make a chart of CD's and courses!

Of course it is pretty common for a facility to have a course built by one CD - say Mark P at the Fork, then some years later bring in another CD to make changes - last year David O'C took over as CD there. In the first competition after that I didn't notice many changes, but would guess there will be some changes each year.

GB Trail Rider
Mar. 17, 2008, 10:08 AM
:
SIMPLE SOLUTION
Make the courses like they were meant to be in the calvalry, which is the BASIS for this sport.....
galloping to....SINGLE natural obstacles- PERIOD.
Eliminate the ridiculous non stop combinations that have to be show jumped.

Eliminate the ridiculous combinations made of equally ridiculous disney characters
=SIMPLE SOLUTION.... Why is that so hard?
It would still be a tough testing competion, just not a death march.

:yes:

riderboy
Mar. 17, 2008, 10:18 AM
Tell you what- let's redo our interstate highway system adding a lot more sharp turns and stoplights and then let's raise the speed limit to 90 mph . The old timers had this sport figured out a long time ago and why the heck they changed it I don't know.

closetoperfectionfarm
Mar. 17, 2008, 10:21 AM
The question I keep asking, myself and others, is: "Where is the LEADERSHIP?"
Something fundamental is broken in this sport, and when something is broken, someone needs to fix it.
Who is/are that someone?
Is it the President/Board of Govs of the USEA?
Is it the president/Board of the USEF?
Is it the High Performance Com of Eventing?
Because I don`t see anyone stepping up to the plate.
And in a leadership vacuum, little people are free to make lots of bad decisions.
Personally, I am very disappointed in the lack of leadership from our current upper level riders. It seems that they don`t run for office on our various boards, and while they complain vehemently in private, few of them have the moral courage to speak up in a public way.
So is there a Neal Ayer hiding out there? Because if there is, now would be a good time for you to get involved.

YES, we need more of you Denny! With BALLS,
so here goes my flamesuit and I don't give rip if this pisses off anyone,
HELLLLLOOOOOOO out there,
Bruce Davidson
Karen O'Conner
DAVID O"CONNER
Philip Dutton
Jan Byyny
Jon Holling
Heidi White
Kim Severson
Allison Springer
Bonnie Mosser
Becky Holder
Clark Montgomery
Buck Davidson
etc etc etc- SPEAK UP- Ya see, we can't have a team with out the players
BUT we can have a team with a new coach, there is power in numbers so ban together and be heard, for all of us out here in smallsville who compete.

boppin along
Mar. 17, 2008, 10:30 AM
YES, we need more of you Denny! With BALLS,
so here goes my flamesuit and I don't give rip if this pisses off anyone,
HELLLLLOOOOOOO out there,
Bruce Davidson
Karen O'Conner
DAVID O"CONNER
Philip Dutton
Jan Byyny
Jon Holling
Heidi White
Kim Severson
Allison Springer
Bonnie Mosser
Becky Holder
Clark Montgomery
Buck Davidson
etc etc etc- SPEAK UP- Ya see, we can't have a team with out the players
BUT we can have a team with a new coach, there is power in numbers so ban together and be heard, for all of us out here in smallsville who compete.

YES!!!!!!!!!!

frugalannie
Mar. 17, 2008, 10:43 AM
Just going back to the discussion of what the short format XC courses have become...

Deltawave's description (run, turn, jump, turn, turn etc...) reminded me of one thing only: a polo pony's job description. Except the jump, maybe, and sometimes even that. BUT...

They do their jobs on manicured, flat ground, and they aren't jumping anything bigger than the sideboards.

We're trying to turn our horses into polo ponies that have to jump big, unforgiving fences. On the face of it, it won't work.

I truly hope Mr. Baumgartner and the leadership of the USEA find the path to lead the organization to a better place. Because where we are isn't good.

snoopy
Mar. 17, 2008, 10:48 AM
[QUOTE=LisaB;3078967]Here here Denny.
And Denny, are you thinking of Jimmy or David for Chef?
QUOTE]


I would not be keen on david...he is too involved in the current management, is a product of the current system, I believe he would not effect real change.

mbarrett
Mar. 17, 2008, 10:54 AM
OK, I'm a nobody in the eventing world. I am a full member of the USEA and have only evented at the unrecognized level. The discussion on this thread has fired me up.

Was it Big Russ who suggested contacting the USEA President? Well, I will write my letter tonight. Maybe my little drop in the bucket won't make a difference, but if we all write letters, all of those little drops will fill the bucket.

I'm not just going to complain, but that's a good place to start. I'm going to offer my modest suggestions for fixing the problem.

I challenge all of you, whatever your competition level or interest level in eventing, to write the president of the USEA with your concerns.

If we don't do it, no one will. We owe it to our horses, riders and our sport.

GotSpots
Mar. 17, 2008, 11:18 AM
Just one thought to add - alot of these issues being discussed involve things controlled by USEF, not by USEA. The USEF Eventing committee and the Rules committee are the key places you want to aim your comments at - not just at USEA, Kevin, and the Board of Governers of USEA (of which Darren is a member).

snoopy
Mar. 17, 2008, 11:21 AM
Just one thought to add - alot of these issues being discussed involve things controlled by USEF, not by USEA. The USEF Eventing committee and the Rules committee are the key places you want to aim your comments at - not just at USEA, Kevin, and the Board of Governers of USEA (of which Darren is a member).


VERY true...if you want your voice to be heard it needs to be directed to the right place.

BigRuss1996
Mar. 17, 2008, 02:26 PM
So make two copies and send one to USEA and one to USEF just to cover all bases. Though please do not try to tell me the two don't relate to one another.

RAyers
Mar. 17, 2008, 02:29 PM
My answer, BURN THE FEI! SHE'S A WITCH!.

I don't think the short format is a failed experiment. It is a evolutionary dead end for the sport.

The short format can work by simply lengthening the courses at ALL levels (e.g. a 3,000 meter Training, 3,500 meter P, 4,000 meter I and 4,500-5,000 meter A ) and getting rid of traps and tricks on XC. It brings the conditioning and management of the horse to able to do high quality dressage on a fit horse back into play.

The first 1,000-1,500 meters on all courses can be a warm-up with straight forward fences and lines that encourage a nice frame and pace.

Reed

Ja Da Dee
Mar. 17, 2008, 03:12 PM
My answer, BURN THE FEI! SHE'S A WITCH!.

I don't think the short format is a failed experiment. It is a evolutionary dead end for the sport.

The short format can work by simply lengthening the courses at ALL levels (e.g. a 3,000 meter Training, 3,500 meter P, 4,000 meter I and 4,500-5,000 meter A ) and getting rid of traps and tricks on XC. It brings the conditioning and management of the horse to able to do high quality dressage on a fit horse back into play.

The first 1,000-1,500 meters on all courses can be a warm-up with straight forward fences and lines that encourage a nice frame and pace.

Reed

I love this idea!!

tx3dayeventer
Mar. 17, 2008, 03:32 PM
My answer, BURN THE FEI! SHE'S A WITCH!.

I don't think the short format is a failed experiment. It is a evolutionary dead end for the sport.

The short format can work by simply lengthening the courses at ALL levels (e.g. a 3,000 meter Training, 3,500 meter P, 4,000 meter I and 4,500-5,000 meter A ) and getting rid of traps and tricks on XC. It brings the conditioning and management of the horse to able to do high quality dressage on a fit horse back into play.

The first 1,000-1,500 meters on all courses can be a warm-up with straight forward fences and lines that encourage a nice frame and pace.

Reed

Reed you are a freakin' Genius!!!!! Sign me up for this format. Although IF I ever event again (reining is sure looking better, I can still go to the WEG a lifetime goal) I would much rather do the extinct long-format. But just like the dinosaurs... the long format will not be heard of again. Especially after this past weekend, I have no desire to compete at the top level again. Wow, I guess I need to go work on my spins after work today on my trusty reiner/cowpony.

jumpjesterjump
Mar. 17, 2008, 03:39 PM
My answer, BURN THE FEI! SHE'S A WITCH!.

I don't think the short format is a failed experiment. It is a evolutionary dead end for the sport.

The short format can work by simply lengthening the courses at ALL levels (e.g. a 3,000 meter Training, 3,500 meter P, 4,000 meter I and 4,500-5,000 meter A ) and getting rid of traps and tricks on XC. It brings the conditioning and management of the horse to able to do high quality dressage on a fit horse back into play.

The first 1,000-1,500 meters on all courses can be a warm-up with straight forward fences and lines that encourage a nice frame and pace.

Reed


I completly agree!! :) I jump judged this weekend at Southern Pines for the BN and N, there were jumps on the novice course that to me looked like they could be on the training course and same with some of the BN could be on a Novice course. When i started eventing the courses at the lower level were very invinting, to build confidence. This weekend fence 8 a/b on the novice was a fence they used on the championship course (it ws 12or13) a few years back; it is a bank up, three stride to a log on a down hill slope (that fence had quite a few problems throughout the day, it didn't have that many at the championships).

If the long format is a thing of the past then we need to do as RAyers, said lengthen the xc and make the first part of the course a warm up. We don't need to have all these super technical questions on XC, if you want to throw some in on SJ fine, but save it for the fences that will fall down, not the solid ones.

frugalannie
Mar. 17, 2008, 03:45 PM
Given that we are all computer types, and at least in my case, not very fond of snail mail, would someone post e-mail addresses for the people who need to hear our comments?

seeuatx
Mar. 17, 2008, 03:49 PM
My answer, BURN THE FEI! SHE'S A WITCH!.

I don't think the short format is a failed experiment. It is a evolutionary dead end for the sport.

The short format can work by simply lengthening the courses at ALL levels (e.g. a 3,000 meter Training, 3,500 meter P, 4,000 meter I and 4,500-5,000 meter A ) and getting rid of traps and tricks on XC. It brings the conditioning and management of the horse to able to do high quality dressage on a fit horse back into play.

The first 1,000-1,500 meters on all courses can be a warm-up with straight forward fences and lines that encourage a nice frame and pace.
Reed

YES!!!!!!! :yes::yes::yes:

It is the perfect answer, enough endurance, enough questions, and quality of training over who can last the longest. These courses would pinpoint those who have done their homework, without putting their lives on the line at every fence.

I love the idea of encouraging first fences to set the pace, and then ask a few questions in the middle, and then open galloping fences at the end.

Where was the quote (it was on one of these threads), saying basically that eventing should separate the winners and the losers, but that the winners would just get around better than the others.

Fiat Lux
Mar. 17, 2008, 03:57 PM
Just going back to the discussion of what the short format XC courses have become...

Deltawave's description (run, turn, jump, turn, turn etc...) reminded me of one thing only: a polo pony's job description. Except the jump, maybe, and sometimes even that. BUT...

They do their jobs on manicured, flat ground, and they aren't jumping anything bigger than the sideboards.

We're trying to turn our horses into polo ponies that have to jump big, unforgiving fences. On the face of it, it won't work.

And polo ponies only have to do that for one or two 7 1/2 minute chukkers at a time, with a break between chukkers!

RAyers
Mar. 17, 2008, 03:57 PM
If the long format is a thing of the past then we need to do as RAyers, said lengthen the xc and make the first part of the course a warm up. We don't need to have all these super technical questions on XC, if you want to throw some in on SJ fine, but save it for the fences that will fall down, not the solid ones.

Hey, it isn't me who made the suggestion. Gnep brought this up last year. He suggested going back to the old long course HTs that existed in 60s and 70s. I just really agree with him and brought it up again. :) We just need, and can, to adapt it to today's sport.

Of course, this will then push the horse type back to TBs (God forbid) so WB breeders and owners will scream, and of course the land folks will get up in arms because of longer tracks, yadda, yadda, yadda and we will be back to sitting on our asses while powers that be watch us circle the flame.

First, I do not think a longer course needs more fences. So we can reduce the overall footprint of the venue.

Second, there are lots of good WB "breeds" (e.g. Sele Francias, Traks) that have the stamina and endurance needed.

Third, if nothing is done to fix what is happening, we will be screwed regardless of how good people's intentions are.

Reed

yellowbritches
Mar. 17, 2008, 04:46 PM
The longer course is what I've ALWAYS thought the short format should be. If we take away the roads and tracks, we need to add in to the D. It would still very, very much be an endurance question, but would still take less room to run and still be less wear and tear on the horses (especially if mentally, if we could get away from the technical sprint, collect, collect, collect, sprint pattern we have right now).

3Day-Eventer
Mar. 17, 2008, 05:16 PM
I put this on the CMP thread too, but I thought I'd add it here.
The USEA Board of Governors is having a Strategic Planning meeting THIS weekend to discuss the future of our sport. I suggest that everyone call or write and let them know what YOU want done with YOUR sport!!

RunForIt
Mar. 17, 2008, 06:19 PM
This is why I said in an earlier post that IN THEORY the short format is not a bad thing. It is the DESIGN OF THE COURSES that is a bad thing. If the courses are big and bold and encourage riding forward and have big rider frighteners that are confidence builders for the horses (ala Centaur's Leap at Burghley), we'd be on the right track. However, despite the courses not being gallopy, the horses still need to be fit and strong.

I'm with piccolittle on this. It is NOT the short format's fault. It is the courses.

I know I've thought this, don't know if I've said it, but eventing to me is about the cross country. It isn't about the dressage or show jumping and it isn't about R & T and steeplechase. It is about going cross country. I LOVE the long format and think it is a very, very cool thing, but in the long run, I event to go cross country. As long as I still have that element (and I don't have to fear for my life to an illogical extreme as I feel I need to right now), I am happy with the format we have.

So, maybe what needs to be reinstated then, is true cross country - gallop, balance, jump, and gallop away...I almost wrote this when I read your earlier reply to my first question, then made myself read the rest of the posts - glad I did.

If anyone asks what's the difference in eventing "now" and "then" - check out Beth Murphy-Keane's ride on Tantibes at Red Hills...excellent ride for show-jumping over jumps that don't fall down and shouldn't be called cross country.

boppin along
Mar. 17, 2008, 06:20 PM
I put this on the CMP thread too, but I thought I'd add it here.
The USEA Board of Governors is having a Strategic Planning meeting THIS weekend to discuss the future of our sport. I suggest that everyone call or write and let them know what YOU want done with YOUR sport!!

Can you please list names, emails...
Let's all start firing emails like mad to the right places before this weekend!

grayarabpony
Mar. 17, 2008, 06:33 PM
My answer, BURN THE FEI! SHE'S A WITCH!.


Reed

:yes:

CANTEREOIN
Mar. 17, 2008, 06:43 PM
Deltawave could pipe in here.

But in the sport of basketball - with it's short quick turns, short bursts of speed, and periods of intense movement, then rest - there are many healthy, fit, middle-aged (35-50) players that die of heart attacks. Alot of them have never had a history of heart problems...

Could the short format be similar and be that hard on a heart?

JER
Mar. 17, 2008, 06:49 PM
A comment on TB vs. WB:

It's not so much the breed/breeding but the type of horse. An old-style XC course required a horse with a ground-covering gallop and a good cooling system. The modern course takes the emphasis off the gallop. But there were plenty of WBs and heavier-type horses, like ISHs and draftXs that did the old-style courses just fine.

A catty, clever horse could figure his way through the old course combinations, but the combinations/skinnies/turns are so relentless in the new courses that cattiness and cleverness have given way to a permanent coffin canter. This requires a different sort of horse.

pwynnnorman
Mar. 17, 2008, 06:51 PM
Wasn't part of the long format problem where to put steeplechase and R&T? The track at Red Hills sure did turn back on itself a lot. I'm wondering where the extra length with galloping fences would come from (although I think it is a great idea, too). I thought the biggest impetus (no, not the only impetus) behind the short format came from event organizers (no, not all of them--some) due to the infrastructure the long format requires.

RunForIt
Mar. 17, 2008, 07:09 PM
Wasn't part of the long format problem where to put steeplechase and R&T? The track at Red Hills sure did turn back on itself a lot. I'm wondering where the extra length with galloping fences would come from (although I think it is a great idea, too). I thought the biggest impetus (no, not the only impetus) behind the short format came from event organizers (no, not all of them--some) due to the infrastructure the long format requires.

over the years, I've watched many of Atlanta's great long-distance road races fall victim to "progress", as near-by rural roads became busy conduits to subdivision after subdivision. THESE RACES ARE NOT NOW BEING RUN ON THE TRACK AND CALLED 30Ks or 1/2 marathons aren't being run on 10k courses with runners going round and round...they simply died away. Hope that doesn't happen with XC, but I'd rather see it die an honorable death in some venues, than have this bastardized version of the sport that existed before continue...its hurting horses. People have a choice - its hurting horses.

RAyers
Mar. 17, 2008, 07:13 PM
Wasn't part of the long format problem where to put steeplechase and R&T? The track at Red Hills sure did turn back on itself a lot. I'm wondering where the extra length with galloping fences would come from (although I think it is a great idea, too). I thought the biggest impetus (no, not the only impetus) behind the short format came from event organizers (no, not all of them--some) due to the infrastructure the long format requires.

Good point! I am not saying go back to long format but have simply LONGER courses with the same number of fences.

A winding course can still be a bit gallopy if we get rid of having to jump 30 fences in 4,000 meters (approx. 1 per 133 meters). If we have the same number of fences over 5,000 meters you are down to about 1 fence per every 167 meters (an increase of 25% of the available space on course!). The horse would have a chance to BREATHE. You can still run on the same space but maybe have to have a few more simple flat turns sans fences etc.

Heck, I do my gallops on a spit of plateu that is 1/2 mile long and about 100 meters wide (with about a 200 foot drop off on one side). My horse still gets a chance to keep speed up even though we have to make some "tight" turns. So I know that without fences, a tight course can still be a galloping course (The old Trojan Horse was like this).

JER, you too bring up a good point. I was only anticipating one of the "age" old arguments for the short formats. I agree, ISH and others are quite sufficient. I am not as knowledgeable about those things so I trust you.

Reed

StrawberryFields
Mar. 17, 2008, 07:20 PM
i HATE HATE HATE the short format. I think it is dangerous and obviously has been failing. I got into this sport because I wanted to do a real three day and ride at the top. after all this accidents I am not so sure now. unless they change something. its a pity, really....

vineyridge
Mar. 17, 2008, 07:27 PM
I still want to know why there can't be punishment for a course designer if there is a critical injury or death on one of his/her courses. Or if a horse died.

You'd need to be willing to have a full adjudicative process, but such a system could be the equivalent of the rules against animal cruelty for riders. :yes:

eqsiu
Mar. 17, 2008, 07:29 PM
The short format is not the villain here. I've never heard people at a horse trials say OMG the horse trials format is evil, even when there are injuries or death. A short format is the same thing (mostly) as a horse trials.

The technical courses are the problem. I don't know why riders insist on having cross country count the most. Why not let the show jumping get more technical? You wouldn't have people racing around trying to get the lowest time because as long as you don't get tiem faults you're okay. Cross country would still be the tie breaker. Limiting the number of combinationa and related distances on a course would only make the pace more important. Who can argue that pace is not a good thing to worry about? If 1 sec is the difference between winning and second, you're going to pay more attention to that. We don't need to scare our horses.

I also think that the age limits for horses need to be changed. Say, prelim at 6, intermediate at 7, and advanced at 8 would do several things. #1-it would limit the number of outings a horse has per year (yes I know there would still be asshats running the legs off their horses) and #2 may allow each horse a few more outings at each level. That way you get the mileage without the brain fry. We don't need to push our horses so fast. We should be aiming for a horse that lasts. I would love to see more horses in their late teens at Rolex. Those are the valuable horses. Not the brilliant stars that burn bright and short, but the steady on reliable horses.

Jazzy Lady
Mar. 17, 2008, 07:30 PM
I really like where this train of thought is heading. When I walked the intermediate course at Pine Top the first thing that stood out on the course map was the length of it. It looked very long compared to majority (except of course midsouth) the prelims I had completed with my horse. I was also concerned because my prep course was a very short 4:41 prelim course.

I didn't get to ride it, but I did watch. The horses were jumping in fantastic form at the end. They were fit and ready to go again. There were some TOUGH elements on that course, but they had a beautiful big and galloping course. They got to breath, and they got to regroup and re-gain their rhythm.

These courses DO still exist and are supported, thankfully, and need to be looked at as courses to aspire to, not turn away from.

Jazzy Lady
Mar. 17, 2008, 07:32 PM
I still want to know why there can't be punishment for a course designer if there is a critical injury or death on one of his/her courses. Or if a horse died.

You'd need to be willing to have a full adjudicative process, but such a system could be the equivalent of the rules against animal cruelty for riders. :yes:

I would think that would be a logistical nightmare. What if someone died doing a completely inappropriate thing? What if it was an upgrade that was qualified on paper but simply SHOULD NOT have been doing that level, or a variety of other things that could go wrong that would NOT be the CD's fault? The CD can be blamed for an unfair and horse unfriendly course. It is still the rider's decision to run.

Merle
Mar. 17, 2008, 07:37 PM
Okay, I ask this in sadness: do you guys HONESTLY think anything will change? Is there any chance of this short format changing at all in the right direction?

I ask this as a very motivated 21 year old rider with a talented young TB but at the moment, I do not want to ride the upper levels. Also, my horsey fiance does not want me there -- for fear of me (or the horse) getting injured and just because it does not look fun.

Looks like I'll be heading off to dressage land for a while and maybe, sometime, hopefully, coming back. This is NOT cool! :no:

denny
Mar. 17, 2008, 07:53 PM
Born2 Event,
This stranglehold that a few powerful individuals have on US eventing will only be broken when enough people have the gumption and the guts to say NO MORE.
No more traps, no more wide vertical front tables, no more semi-false ground lines, no more jerk their teeth out turning "questions", no more sprint like a maniac, yank to slow down, jump, jump, jump over skinnies, corners and angles, sprint to the next complex, just to do it again.
And if you wonder why those people don`t get it, there is a one word answer.
ARROGANCE. They know more than the rest of us. If you doubt that, just ask them.

RAyers
Mar. 17, 2008, 07:53 PM
Okay, I ask this in sadness: do you guys HONESTLY think anything will change? Is there any chance of this short format changing at all in the right direction?

I ask this as a very motivated 21 year old rider with a talented young TB but at the moment, I do not want to ride the upper levels. Also, my horsey fiance does not want me there -- for fear of me (or the horse) getting injured and just because it does not look fun.

Looks like I'll be heading off to dressage land for a while and maybe, sometime, hopefully, coming back. This is NOT cool! :no:



Born2Event, I say this not only to you but to myself and everybody here, Things WILL change but WE are going to have to hitch up the big boy pants like and stand up for our horses and sport. That means walking out when you feel things are not safe even if you lose an entry fee. It means being involved in the governance of the sport at a local and Area level.

Jefray Ryding said it best to me years ago, "You are the ONLY advocate for your horse so do it right."

So get invloved, especially as a young rider and don't EVER be afraid to speak up. Suffering in silence does not make a hero.

Reed

yellowbritches
Mar. 17, 2008, 07:57 PM
Okay, I ask this in sadness: do you guys HONESTLY think anything will change? Is there any chance of this short format changing at all in the right direction?

I ask this as a very motivated 21 year old rider with a talented young TB but at the moment, I do not want to ride the upper levels. Also, my horsey fiance does not want me there -- for fear of me (or the horse) getting injured and just because it does not look fun.

Looks like I'll be heading off to dressage land for a while and maybe, sometime, hopefully, coming back. This is NOT cool! :no:
I'm terrified that it won't.

I am in the same boat as you. I have a very nice horse with the right ingredients, and I am lucky enough to have a second horse that could easily become another UL ride for me, however, I am at the point right now that I do not want to risk either of them (I'm speaking of Paco and little mare) or myself for the sport. And as I sit thinking about Darren's poor family, and other families that have either lost loved ones or have suffered through watching loved ones come to terms with paralysis, I'm not willing to put my family through that, either. If this sport were more like NASCAR or Formula One, or even the NFL (all dangerous sports with real potential for serious injury or death) and we made millions of dollars risking our necks, it would seem more reasonable...there would be something to leave families if the horrible happened or there would be money to take care of us. But we do it because we love the sport, the thrill, and the horses. Right now, it is not enough for me :no:

Merle
Mar. 17, 2008, 08:31 PM
Amanda, this is exactly how I feel. It is sad but it's the honest truth. Putting myself, my family, and my horses on the line because of a passion is not worth it.

Denny, I fear there is no way we can change their arrogance. This has made me think a little. So we must step around them, step up to the plate that they are not stepping up to? Are there any people out there riding the upper levels who are going to be in an uproar? And if we can make a change and finally have back a little of yesteryear's eventing, how can we have the new generation of upper level riders not arrogant?

And finally, RAyers, I must say I am in a bit of a tizzy over this all. I say YES, I will hitch up my big boy pants and will make a tizzy. I may not put myself in harms way until there is a change but at least I will make some noise.

denny
Mar. 17, 2008, 08:37 PM
I had a long talk this morning with Kevin Baumgardner, USEA President.
He`s on board with all of this . But the vested interests will try to silence anyone who gets in their way. You probably know who those people are, and if you don`t, I`m not going to be the one to say it on a public forum!
But support Kevin. He is absolutely one of the good guys.

closetoperfectionfarm
Mar. 17, 2008, 08:45 PM
I'm terrified that it won't.

And as I sit thinking about Darren's poor family, and other families that have either lost loved ones or have suffered through watching loved ones come to terms with paralysis, I'm not willing to put my family through that, either.. Right now, it is not enough for me :no:
That brought tears to my eyes. I feel the same way as a show Mom with 2 YR.
Nothing is worth that price to pay, especially a SPORT and a 10 cent ribbon

snoopy
Mar. 17, 2008, 08:50 PM
I had a long talk this morning with Kevin Baumgardner, USEA President.
He`s on board with all of this . But the vested interests will try to silence anyone who gets in their way. You probably know who those people are, and if you don`t, I`m not going to be the one to say it on a public forum!
But support Kevin. He is absolutely one of the good guys.


Denny

Just "why" should we NOT name those with "the vested interest"? I am just wondering what your thought process is on that matter. Do you feel it inappropriate, slanderous, etc? It is very frustrating because I wish people knew just who those people are....for those that do not

boppin along
Mar. 17, 2008, 08:52 PM
I had a long talk this morning with Kevin Baumgardner, USEA President.
He`s on board with all of this . But the vested interests will try to silence anyone who gets in their way. You probably know who those people are, and if you don`t, I`m not going to be the one to say it on a public forum!
But support Kevin. He is absolutely one of the good guys.

I don't understand why anyone would have a vested interst in a failing system, I can't IMAGINE that ULR would condon this type of nonsense but maybe I am naive, BUT,
How can we contact Kevin.... Bring it on!!!!!!!!
Let's get this baby rolling folks!!!!

snoopy
Mar. 17, 2008, 08:54 PM
I don't understand why anyone would have a vested interst in a failing system, I can't IMAGINE that ULR would condon this type of nonsense but maybe I am naive, BUT,
How can we contact Kevin.... Bring it on!!!!!!!!
Let's get this baby rolling folks!!!!


AHHHHH!!!! That is because the current system does NOT fail these individuals...infact it has made them very wealthy indeed.

RAyers
Mar. 17, 2008, 08:57 PM
Born2 Event,
This stranglehold that a few powerful individuals have on US eventing will only be broken when enough people have the gumption and the guts to say NO MORE.
No more traps, no more wide vertical front tables, no more semi-false ground lines, no more jerk their teeth out turning "questions", no more sprint like a maniac, yank to slow down, jump, jump, jump over skinnies, corners and angles, sprint to the next complex, just to do it again.
And if you wonder why those people don`t get it, there is a one word answer.
ARROGANCE. They know more than the rest of us. If you doubt that, just ask them.

Give me their names and I would be glad to go toe-to-toe with them (actually I know I already have with a few). They seem to be incapable of understanding FACTS, SCIENCE, and PHYSICS. Hence why my upper level career will never be more than a footnote. :D

your humble lamb/Don Quixote, ;)

Reed

crazy_horse1095
Mar. 17, 2008, 09:06 PM
The idea that I keep coming back to is: What about all the BNR's?
Do they-
a) see no problems with our sport
b) see problems but can't think of any solutions
c) see problems but just don't care as long as they're happy
d) ignore the problems because they don't want to speak up and get involved in the politics

Surely the vast majority of ULRs see the problems, have ideas on how to solve these problems, and are eager to fix them. So why aren't they?:confused:

Granted the closest I've ever gotten to a BNR was shaking KOC's hand, but surely if they were doing something about it, even a lower no-name eventer like myself would hear about it????

denny
Mar. 17, 2008, 09:10 PM
This is from my USEA Omnibus, Winter/Spring 2008, page 281.

Kevin Baumgardner
9706 SW188th
Vashon, Wa 98070
206-621-1480
kbaumgardner@corrcronin.com

snoopy
Mar. 17, 2008, 09:13 PM
This is from my USEA Omnibus, Winter/Spring 2008, page 281.

Kevin Baumgardner
9706 SW188th
Vashon, Wa 98070
206-621-1480
kbaumgardner@corrcronin.com


If this man is to truly work for us, we must truly work for him. We need to arm him with enough "amo" so that he CANNOT be silenced.

denny
Mar. 17, 2008, 09:14 PM
Did you ever hear of the Nixon White House mantra:
"Reward your friends, punish your enemies."
This, above all else, is why most aspiring Team riders keep their mouths shut.

magnolia73
Mar. 17, 2008, 09:22 PM
To those riders who stay silent- how are you going to make the team from a hospital, on a broken horse or one that has lost heart? It's a little disappointing if they think there is a problem and do nothing about. And its a disappointing attitude from a sport that seems to value winning not very highly- that the real satisfaction comes from the doing and the partnership. Making money- you don't make money at the Olympics. Buy and turn around a couple of horses if you need the money. Do what the darn hunter people do.

These great horses- Teddy, Dobbin- all of them- are even more incredible, aren't they? Carrots and a prayer that we come up with a safer way to seperate the best from the best.

RunForIt
Mar. 17, 2008, 09:22 PM
With the latter posts in mind, let's put all the rhetoric aside, and list what we see as needing revisions. I'd suggest that this is a time to set emotion aside (keep it going to fuel the fires though), and objectively list real problems that need to be addressed, suggest alternatives, and maybe rank the items on the list. If many of us go to Kevin and other with common concerns, then we're more likely to make an impact. What do y'all think?

ss3777
Mar. 17, 2008, 09:25 PM
I just sent my first e-mail to Kevin. May the grassroots efforts make a difference for our horses and our sport!!!

retreadeventer
Mar. 17, 2008, 09:25 PM
Thank you Denny, you have said all you could say and I know how it can be. There are people in this sport who have gone to their graves with secrets about battles with those arrogant ones.

I have had firsthand experience with the arrogance and not a long time ago either, just last year as a volunteer. (Thank goodness for a "good guy" who happened to be with me at the time.)

There is a committee, a certain committee, at the USEF, that if one were to take a look at the members, would answer their curiosity as to what would be considered the "arrogant" ones. There is one person in particular I believe whose time of service needs to be over with, but that's my own personal opinion.

asterix
Mar. 17, 2008, 09:26 PM
I've been reading all of this with sadness, but at this moment I feel a little bit of hope.

I just spent all weekend, while this was happening, in a wonderful clinic with Jimmy Wofford. The emphasis all along was on giving us the tools we needed to set the horse up for success, and, especially on XC, giving the horses the incremental exposure to questions that they need for success.

One thing we can all do, no matter what the level, is be committed to getting good help when we need it, be committed to making our OWN decisions about whether the course of the day is right for the horse in the trailer, and being vocal when something does not seem appropriate.

I know this has made me think more clearly about my season ahead, hopefully at preliminary with a lovely, lovely horse who I would NEVER want to overface...that is up to me. But I will try harder to speak up when I think there is a question that is overkill, and I will certainly support any effort we can make to introduce longer courses with a more open design, as Reed/Gnep have proposed.

I do not know if we can change the sport that the ULRs contend -- but, you know what? They're going to have to do that for themselves. We can work to change the sport at the levels we can influence. I hope.

sandyliz
Mar. 17, 2008, 09:29 PM
I'm not sure how effective petitions really are, but if one could be done electronically, it would gather a lot of signatures and might count for something.

denny
Mar. 17, 2008, 09:46 PM
Here`s the thing.
When you are on the "inside", you get lots of goodies. Trips all over the world, with the Team paying your way.
Big salaries.
Contracts to build and/or design xc courses.
TD jobs.
Judging jobs.
Airfare to and from England.
The list goes on. Why would you want to kill the golden goose just for the sake of improving the sport for a bunch of beg.novice/ novice/training /preliminary smurfs?
Even if they comprise 97% of all US riders.
This is why Kevin needs support, he needs to know that a large constituency is behind him.
Maybe that needs to be a seperate thread, so it doesn`t get lost in this one?

3Day-Eventer
Mar. 17, 2008, 09:51 PM
Here`s the thing.
When you are on the "inside", you get lots of goodies. Trips all over the world, with the Team paying your way.
Big salaries.
Contracts to build and/or design xc courses.
TD jobs.
Judging jobs.
Airfare to and from England.
The list goes on. Why would you want to kill the golden goose just for the sake of improving the sport for a bunch of beg.novice/ novice/training /preliminary smurfs?
Even if they comprise 97% of all US riders.
This is why Kevin needs support, he needs to know that a large constituency is behind him.
Maybe that needs to be a seperate thread, so it doesn`t get lost in this one?

Denny,
I just started a new thread about the meeting this weekend. Feel free to add to it.

snoopy
Mar. 17, 2008, 09:55 PM
Here`s the thing.
When you are on the "inside", you get lots of goodies. Trips all over the world, with the Team paying your way.
Big salaries.
Contracts to build and/or design xc courses.
TD jobs.
Judging jobs.
Airfare to and from England.
The list goes on. Why would you want to kill the golden goose just for the sake of improving the sport for a bunch of beg.novice/ novice/training /preliminary smurfs?
Even if they comprise 97% of all US riders.
This is why Kevin needs support, he needs to know that a large constituency is behind him.
Maybe that needs to be a seperate thread, so it doesn`t get lost in this one?


BUT Denny WE are the golden goose...WE are laying the golden eggs for them to eat. They simply cannot keep tapping the well or it will run dry. Please all keep this in mind. We fund all those perks. We DO have a voice....and most importanly a cheque book to go with it.

kt-rose
Mar. 17, 2008, 10:07 PM
YES, we need more of you Denny! With BALLS,
so here goes my flamesuit and I don't give rip if this pisses off anyone,
HELLLLLOOOOOOO out there,
Bruce Davidson
Karen O'Conner
DAVID O"CONNER
Philip Dutton
Jan Byyny
Jon Holling
Heidi White
Kim Severson
Allison Springer
Bonnie Mosser
Becky Holder
Clark Montgomery
Buck Davidson
etc etc etc- SPEAK UP- Ya see, we can't have a team with out the players
BUT we can have a team with a new coach, there is power in numbers so ban together and be heard, for all of us out here in smallsville who compete.

And what about the owners? None of my horses have gotten to quite this level. And I didn't worry much at Novice and Training but once they hit Prelim, I walk the courses and watch them warm up. I haven't stepped in often, but if the horse is having an off day or if the course is outside my comfort zone because of footing, design or whatever, I've got no problem saying 'not today'. Ultimately, they are our horses, they are our responsibility and no matter which ULR is sitting on them, the buck truly stops with the owner.

I have 7 horses. Five are either eventing or bred to event and will as soon as they grow up. When I starting reading about Red Hills and yet another dark day for our sport, I said to my husband that I really thought I was almost done with this sport I have loved for so long. But that I had no idea what I would do if I didn't event. He said I couldn't walk away. That even in the years when no horse of mine gallops out of the start box, the process is too wonderful, challenging and rewarding, and that the best thing for the sport would be for every one to do the right thing for their horse on any given day -- and that instead of walking away I should enjoy the lower levels where my horses are just having fun and add my voice of concern as they move up the levels. I think he is right.

That said, I think that a course must reward our horses for being brave and forward and if it is going to be punishing for that horse on that day -- for whatever reason, be it bad design, hard ground, lousy footing or harder than expected for a horse green at that level, we need to have the gumption to walk away and come back another day. I don't think think this is short v long format -- more a question of whether any given horse is ready for that course on that day and if 50% of the riders/owners walk a course and decide it is not ok for their horse on that day, I think we might get the attention of those folks that might make things change. It's all a fine line but I bet there are a lot of us who know in our gut when we walk a course if it is good for the horse we brought that day or bad for him and we need to have the courage to go with that.

vineyridge
Mar. 17, 2008, 10:15 PM
I would think that would be a logistical nightmare. What if someone died doing a completely inappropriate thing? What if it was an upgrade that was qualified on paper but simply SHOULD NOT have been doing that level, or a variety of other things that could go wrong that would NOT be the CD's fault? The CD can be blamed for an unfair and horse unfriendly course. It is still the rider's decision to run.

Every time there is a rider or horse death there is already an investigation. I would expand that to critical injuries. If punishment for the CD or Course Builder were involved at the end, either through the FEi (not likely) or the USEA, s/he could ask for an Amy Tryon type hearing, and the voices of the people who actually rode the course could be heard through depositions and direct testimony. At the end, the issue will either be not guilty, swept under the rug, or the CD/CB will have to suffer suspension. There will be records of disciplinary action kept, so anyone ought to be able look up a CD/CB who has had a death on course before hiring him/her or riding one of his/her courses. I also think that something must be seriously wrong with the trial ride system; I'm thinking that is where more course documentation through overhead video of the trial rides would be enormously useful.

It's also one of the ways to get the safety statistics that are needed.

No CD should ever design a course that is HORSE unfriendly--to me that means cruel, given what cross country is. It's not so much the smurfs who are getting critically injured and killed, it's the folks with lots of experience. When that happens, something is wrong.

As to horse deaths, they will probably be excused on the basis of sudden heart failure as they always have.

KBG Eventer
Mar. 17, 2008, 10:23 PM
So would it help at all if a 15 year old Novice YR emailed Kevin?

If it makes anyone feel better I know several Area 3 YR have been discussing ways to make the sport safer (like over dinner after the events at Red Hills). Most of them are trying to make it to NAYRC this year too.

VicarageVee
Mar. 17, 2008, 10:24 PM
And what about the owners? None of my horses have gotten to quite this level.

I haven't stepped in often, but if the horse is having an off day or if the course is outside my comfort zone because of footing, design or whatever, I've got no problem saying 'not today'. Ultimately, they are our horses, they are our responsibility and no matter which ULR is sitting on them, the buck truly stops with the owner.



Ditto. This is what I have said in the past. As an owner of 2 UL horses I always tell my rider if the ground is wrong, a combination is wrong, if the horse feels off at ANY point in the course, withdraw. WITHDRAW! What's money compared to the loss of an amazing soul? I want that Lorry full as we drive home, there will be other, better days.

2ndyrgal
Mar. 17, 2008, 10:50 PM
As an 'older" rider, with many years and miles under my belt, this will be my first year in eventing. I think that the technical courses lately are utterly and completely wrong. So you have a warmblood that is stellar in dressage, whoopee. Let the big boy go out and gallop and jump big imposing, but fair fences that prick his ears, back him up and bit, put his rider's heart in his throat for a minute til they land safely on the other side. My big rangy TB might be less than stellar in dressage, but he's going to jump around safely and clean your clock on the time. We'll be close in points and let CMP design the bloody show jumping course any way he damn well pleases, with a 2 jump head start for his buddies and let them have at it. I'm not sure anyone died over an eventing s/j course. Ok, so it's a short format, I agree, it's the course design, too damn many hard, impossible, heart breaking jumps. It just guts them, the horses that can't do it, won't and the horses who try and fail will be hurt. You can, because of the nature of a good event horse, one with the look of eagles who gives his all, set him up to fail. Because he trusts and tries so much, he'll keep trying when a lesser horse would save himself and quit. It's all starting to be much more than just a bad year. How many brilliant lives both horse and rider, will be irrepairably changed before the "arrogant ones" will realize that pride goes before a fall? And it seems it's the ULRs that are paying the price. Because just like the horses, those with the most heart, believe that if someone designs a course, he's a horseman, and they should be able to do it. So they try. I go for my very first eventing lesson with an experienced coach, on an old campaigner on Thursday. I'll take my big old horse to his first event this summer. We'll gallop and jump around a course so small that he can trot every fence. We'll be fine. Maybe by the time we get to Training level, they'll have fixed it all. Is the Rolex course design out yet? At least it's still gallop and jump and there isn't a true winner until Sunday. I read the rule book, and was looking at the criteria for the xc on each level. Nowhere does it say it is to be designed to be an eliminator. The word inviting is used throughout. Imposing. The course designers need to look at the course they build and say, "what if" something goes a bit wrong. Can you recover safely? Keep calling them on the carpet Denny, I have to believe that when someone as young and talented as Darren has this bad of an accident, even the BNRs have to, in the dark, maybe only to themselves, say "but for the grace of God". They need to put their invincible capes away and realize it could be them next week. Not if. When.

Classic Melody
Mar. 17, 2008, 10:54 PM
Wasn't part of the long format problem where to put steeplechase and R&T? The track at Red Hills sure did turn back on itself a lot. I'm wondering where the extra length with galloping fences would come from (although I think it is a great idea, too). I thought the biggest impetus (no, not the only impetus) behind the short format came from event organizers (no, not all of them--some) due to the infrastructure the long format requires.

Perhaps the first 6-8 fences could be a circular track at the beginning of the course, 3-4 jumps that are jumped twice each?

Lots of great comments and ideas on this thread. I hope some good comes of it.

Legatus
Mar. 17, 2008, 11:00 PM
It is very interesting to me that we continue to return to the same question repeatedly over the past four years, “Which format should eventing embrace?” Anytime there is a transformation, there will be those that willingly accept and those that resist the change. I hear far more noise being made in the camp of those that would like to see the long-format dominate the sport than from the camp of those wishing to move to the short format. Funny, then that one BNT (who supports the long-format) advised Andrea and me not to really push the subject. If the majority of the sport wants a long format—who’s to stop the sport from moving that way?

Now, the arguments about short vs. long. By its nature short format was supposed to be safer. Eliminate the high-speed, high-stress steeplechase and reduce the overall tax on a horse from the roads and tracks phases. That was part of the intent. Then, anecdotal evidence started coming out suggesting that the long-format was actually better for recovery. Murray, Senior, and Singer took a look at this question and chronicled it in their article “A comparison of cross-country recovery rates at CCI2* with and without steeplechase competitions.” What they found at the 2* level is that the recovery rates were roughly the same. While the long-format had did have a slight advantage to recovery, it remained marginal. They do admit, however, that someone needs to look at the recovery rates at the 3* and 4* levels.

Additionally, and more importantly, the anecdotal evidence also suggested that following phases A-C, the horse had a boost of energy for phase D. Unfortunately for the long-format supporters, the evidence seems to remain anecdotal. A look at physiology, however, might shed some light on this. I’ll start with a look at what happens when either we or our horse runs. There are graduations of heart rates. At the bottom we have our resting heart rates as we move up we’ll encounter the aerobic zone, the lactic or anaerobic threshold, the anaerobic zone, and finally maximum heart rate. Remember, aerobic simply means “with oxygen.” When we run slow and long (Phase A and C) we are in the aerobic zone and our bodies are producing lactic acid at a rate at which our muscles can absorb it. Once we cross over the lactic threshold, our bodies produce lactic acid faster than we can absorb it and use it. This is the anaerobic zone.

Phase B and D are in the anaerobic zone. After Phase B the horse has been producing more lactic acid than it can absorb for 1-2 miles. Phase C allows the body to start reabsorbing that lactic acid. Now, lactic acid has long been demonized as a bad thing. Recent studies are confirming that it is actually the most efficient fuel for muscles. The muscles during Phase B get inundated with lactic acid, which continues to “top-off” the muscle through Phase C. By the start of Phase D, the muscles have been fueled-up with lactic acid and are ready to run, this time, perhaps, a little faster than before.

Theoretically, then, it makes sense that a horse could indeed run faster and stronger (and thus safer) during cross-country of a long-format than a short-format. The conclusion then is that the physiological system receives no benefit from a short-format event.

If short-format is not safer than a long-format (as evidenced by the recovery rates and the results of our gedankenexperiment), then what is the benefit of it? I see two real arguments: land and money.

The land argument goes something like this, “Having roads and tracks used up too much land that is now no longer available; long-format also required extensive hacks, trot-sets, and gallops. This land is no longer available for training and competition due to urban sprawl. Therefore, we should eliminate the roads and tracks and steeplechase.”

There are, of course, several fallacies in this argument. First, many events already had the land required for long format (Rolex, Radnor, Foxhall, etc). It is possible that fewer new events could be created with enough land for a long-format, in which case I would say, “horse trials are a great alternative, existing for a reason.” The second fallacy is in the training. Many posters have already stated that the short-format requires just as much conditioning (and perhaps more if you return to our thought experiment as a higher lactic threshold would be necessary for horses not receiving their “bump” of energy) as the long-format. These horses and trainers are not magically being conditioned. They are out there trotting, galloping, and hacking—just as before. The land argument has too many holes to truly be an effective argument to explain the necessity for switching from the long format.

The second argument boils down to money. The cost of long-format events, however, does not factor into this argument at all. While I generally do not subscribe to “Elites Theories,” I do believe that Denny is on to something. This argument goes something like this, “I’m trying to make my living as an eventer and I want more horses so that I can shoot for the Olympics. Eventing brings in virtually no money so I will look for sponsorships and training agreements. If I am too busy at an event riding Roads and Tracks, I cannot compete thirteen horses and will thus lose money. Let’s push for short-format.” This, unfortunately, does not have holes in it.

As a corollary, perhaps some of the same people that thought the above regarding money also thought, “I want to ride in the Olympic Games so that people bring their horses to me and I can attract big sponsors. The Olympics are now short-format. Why waste time on long-format events?” By riding at the Olympics, a rider can gain name recognition and press coverage. If their goals are driven by money, then they will steer clear of larger, more prestigious events and focus on the Olympics.

So, here we are with no long-format. Within the short-format the technical difficulty did begin to rise. There are a couple of reasons for this. The first is capitalism at its best. Second, there needs to be a discriminator to determine rankings.

Having finite resources, most eventers are unable to travel to every event in their area. Each event has to ensure its own vitality. As such, they bring in course designers that can make the course flashy and difficult, in order to attract more “customers.” Each event does this and soon Novice course look like Prelim courses from seven years ago.

With the loss of steeplechase and roads and tracks, the playing field was essentially flattened. In an effort to keep some emphasis on cross-country and still have it matter in the new form, it had to become more difficult. Course designers, consequently, have begun pushing to maximum efforts and sizes of fences. What’s worse, they’ve begun asking questions of far greater difficulty.

These combined effects are what we’re now feeling. Sentiments of, “I really just don’t want to do this anymore,” are becoming more commonplace as competitors realize that the risk of injury has increased dramatically with the increasing complexity at each level. Questions are trickling down the levels and it is not impossible to imagine the scenario I mentioned above where modern Novice course have questions that used to be reserved for Prelim. This is and will continue to lead to over-facing horses. The Veterinary Journal published an article in 2005 entitled, “Risk factors for cross-country horse falls at one- and two-/three-day events.” Their findings include that the angle and spread of combinations, landings into water, and a history of refusals all significantly effect the likelihood of a fall. Additionally, take-offs from water, drop landings, and other factors also have important effects. If we are asking these questions earlier and earlier at lower levels, we are only inviting disaster.

As Cherneshevsky asked in his seminal work, “Chto delat?” What is to be done? There are several things that can be done. First reduce the difficulty of course design. This will lead to the issue of how to discriminate re-arising. I would contend that a short term fix would be to weight the phases of an event. Reiner Klimke said in Military or, if you prefer, Horse Trials, ”Those responsible have a duty to see to it that all sections of a three day event retain ther proper influence on the final resound.” He then proceeds to describe the contemporary FEI regulations that the sections would be worth the points arrayed as follows: Dressage-3, Roads and Tracks-1, Steeplechase-5, Cross-country-8, and Show Jumping-2. Perhaps weighting events as follows would be beneficial Dressage-3, Cross-country-5, Show Jumping-3.

I believe the idea of lengthening cross-country is a good step to returning eventing to where it belongs as the ultimate test of equine athleticism. In its history, eventing used to have cross-country courses that at the advanced levels would range from 4.5-7km. This is not unreasonable to see again—and is a great start towards rebuilding the long-format.

A letter writing campaign is a great idea. I encourage you to write snailmail as opposed to e-mail, though. First, there is an intimidation factor that can occur when someone walks into their office and they have a stack of 200 letters covering all their work. They are physically forced to look at them in order to move them. Secondly, it is more personal and shows that you are truly passionate about this subject. You have taken the time to not just crank out a few lines on an email but rather write a note explaining your position. Finally, reading on a computer screen is slower than reading on paper. Also, e-mail is far more likely to be ignored than a letter (my inbox averages about 450 unread emails at any given moment).

As far as leadership goes, it is out there. I agree. Someone needs to get onboard to help harness all of this creative energy before it becomes destructive energy. I don’t know who the ideal candidate is, but it needs to be someone that can really be “transformational” and get a lot of different groups on board. A movement to improve eventing cannot be successful without the referent power of the Denny Emersons, Jimmy Woffords, Bruce Davidsons, Mike Plumbs, and Bonny Mossiers. Equally, it will not be successful without the current stars, the up-and-comers, the organizers, etc.

Here's to creating "our" vision of eventing!
-Andy

"Raising discourse and killing threads since the internet was started."

2ndyrgal
Mar. 17, 2008, 11:09 PM
Well said Andy. Denny, did you notice your name always seems to be first on the list?

frugalannie
Mar. 18, 2008, 09:20 AM
Some terrific ideas here, thanks to Gnep (via Reed), Classic Melody (I hope your idea doesn't get lost!), and Legatus (Andy) to wrote a position paper with a quote in, Russian was it? Impressive!

If we want to be heard by a strategy meeting to be held this weekend, snail mail may not suffice, but I would suggest printing out your e-mail and sending in hard copy as well (for those who let 450 e-mails pile up in their in-box).

I'm only a peripheral player in eventing, but I love it and will always strive to improve myself and my horse's performance. I'm not nearly well connected enough to know about whom all of the broad hints are being given. So if someone in the know would PM me, I'd appreciate it, and I will be discreet!

slp2
Mar. 18, 2008, 11:34 PM
Another idea (really like the idea of longer x-c courses with the same amount of jumps) is to add "recovery rates" to an element of the scoring. After all, if the x-c phrase is a test of endurance--why not add back in the "horsemanship" equation--and test to see if the ride has done their homework and adequately conditioned their horse? I would love a "10 minute" box at all levels.

I was originally attracted to eventing because I used to do competitive trail rides. In that sport--it is all about the recovery rates and how good your horse looks *after* 25 or 50 miles at a brisk pace. I loved the fact that a vet checked your horse before and after the ride. The conditioning beforehand and knowing how to properly get your horse to the right fitness level before the competition was the challenge.

blackwly
Mar. 19, 2008, 12:01 AM
Bravo, Legatus. I couldn't have said it better in a thesis!

sixnmt
Mar. 19, 2008, 01:36 AM
I totally agree! I began in this sport during the 70's as a teenager and now as an ulr I am amazed at how much the sport has changed---not for the good.......

grayarabs
Mar. 19, 2008, 05:36 PM
Will preface that I have never competed this discipline nor ever will - but I watch the horses galloping and jumping with tears streaming down my face.
I totally agree with poster "closetoperfection". My vision of this sport is a mostly TB horse - with the long version - was it not:
Roads and Tracks, Steeplechase, Dressage, XC, SJ?
(Myself - my least favorite of the above is SJ).
I think the sport should be more about endurance, soundness - galloping and jumping -
I wish they would change the format to include R&T, SC, SJ, D, and leave out the difficult, technical questions that you all refer to in XC. XC is exhilerating to watch - must be awesome to be doing it - just please take away the unfair jumps!!! Like "CTP" said - galloping to single inviting obstacles - not a maze of bewildering, dangerous too-technical fences. Let the horse run and jump and be proud!!! Let the rider ride a course best suited for the horse's welfare - without feeling guilty/worried about running XC.
There will still be a winner after R&T, ST, SJ, D and XC - horses having to perform well in all five - reinstate what we lost - and make XC less dangerous, please!!!!

Viva
Mar. 19, 2008, 11:19 PM
There is obviously no shortage of impassioned opinions about short vs long, but in some ways I think we're missing the point: what the hell is at the root of this rash of severe injuries and fatalities? Darren was riding at a prelim level horse trials. Short vs long is a non-issue in this case. Bruce Davidson's crash at Over the Walls a few years back was at prelim as well, if I remember correctly. Rider experience obviously wasn't the problem either. Does anyone know the actual statistics about severe horse or rider injuries or fatalities: how many occur, at what levels/format, and in what situations? Jim Wofford pointed out in a recent article that we made some mistaken assumptions about the last round of awful accidents and deaths, and the results were the twisty-turny technical courses that are causing so much trouble today. If we don't get to the bottom of it this time, with some actual hard evidence, we'll be having this conversation again--with a higher body count. Nobody wants that, no matter how arrogant they might be. It seems like it would be easier for ULRs to speak out without fear of losing their spot on the team if they have some proof to point to, instead of just an opinion that clashes with the chef d'equipe's.

Legatus
Mar. 19, 2008, 11:46 PM
Viva,
I think you missed my point. The problem seems to stem from that switch from long to short format as the highest form of competition. What resulted was a quick change in course designs to accomodate two things: 1) a way of continuing to weight XC in the rankings and 2) a way to keep the sport "exciting" enough to draw sponsors. Some embraced the change. Others did not. Regardless, there was a trickle down effect that has resulted in increasing complexity of course design with tougher questions being asked earlier and earlier.

The easy solution is to bring back the long format, lower speeds, restrict number of "tricky" combinations. Look at my other post for the physiological benefit of the long format. Since the long format sadly, probably won't come back, we need to look at making short format safer so that we can stop/reverse the trickle down effect. Gnep and Reed had a great idea of making the course longer. You can still lower speeds and restrict the number of trick combinations, raise the standards of minimum safety. If course designers won't police themselves, then USEA (or its membership) will step in and set those standards.

Ultimately, the proof is out there. I referenced several sources in my other post--all that point us towards a way ahead.

Viva
Mar. 20, 2008, 12:14 AM
Legatus--
I understood what you were talking about and I agree, courses have changed to reflect the change in the ultimate goal. What I meant to say is that in order to make the right changes to make things safer, we need more objective information, such as the Vet Journal article you cited re: falls at HT's and 2-day events. If the short format is (sadly IMO) here to stay, we need hard data about why accidents are happening and how horses run best in this format to make it truly safe for us and our horses. You said "the proof is out there"--I think it's fragmented though, and it needs to be brought together and analyzed as a whole so that the decisions about course design, qualifications etc. are really going to make the sport safer. Without a really careful analysis, we run the risk of making changes that make us feel better but don't have any real impact. If this has already been done, I'd love to know where to find it, because I don't remember seeing anything along these lines that's comprehensive.

Sannois
Mar. 20, 2008, 08:33 AM
DENNY FOR PRESIDENT! :D

Although I agree with Denny that Kevin Baumgartner would be awesome in the position. We need a real leader!
Denny you have been my hero since the 70s. This change in the sport must really break your heart! :no: