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denny
Mar. 19, 2008, 07:51 AM
From everything I`ve read, seen, heard, the single most important set of people in modern eventing for the good or ill of our sport are xc course designers.
A horse friendly, knowledgeable, caring designer can construct courses which can challenge but not hurt or intimidate for the appropriate level. You come off these courses feeling positive and exhilarated.
Whereas an arrogant, know it all, adversarial kind of designer seems intent on discovering what you and your horse CAN`T DO, rather than what you CAN do.
As far as I can determine, there is no ranking system, or control system over these people.
Sure, the TD and/or Rider Rep can theoretically make waves, but look at the reality.
You get to an event with, say, those huge white boxes like the ones at So Pines that all the riders hate. And yet keep appearing year after year. Each one of those thing weighs a ton, and how, at the last minute, are you going to modify those? Examples like this are legion.
The key is to educate xc designers not to conceive of bad jumps, horse unfriendly jumps, BEFORE they get built.
But who teaches future xc designers?
Often, the current ones who are already the problem. And this is a huge problem.
I think we need a ranking system for xc designers like college rankings of professors.
You know, the rankings that tell it like it is.
And these should come from compilations of opinions from lots of people, not just some angry individual who got eliminated.
So these people are held accountable.
If I were a xc designer, and I read that my courses were "often vertical, with trappy, difficult lines,---loves to use big square tables----poor use of ground lines---etc, might it not make me shape up?
Or discourage events from employing me until I did?
We rank riders, we rank horses, we rate insructors, why don`t we rate the people who have the greatest control over where our sport is heading?

BigRuss1996
Mar. 19, 2008, 08:20 AM
I agree....it's a great idea

Jeannette, formerly ponygyrl
Mar. 19, 2008, 09:31 AM
Great concept - but I have 2 nuances/complications/factors to mention which I suspect must be quite important.

One - the designer builder relationship. My understanding is that often a designer will say "I want an imposing table here, and a half coffin there." Then the guys with the chain saws and heavy machinery come along, and I bet can possibly unwittingly have huge impact on the resulting course, depending on whether they use rounded material at the front edge of the jump, or whether the owner tells them "The sponsor tent will be there. Make this pretty!"

I'm sure everyone involved is well meaning, and talented. I suspect that some builders must be hugely observant of how horses jump and think, and others less so. Some likely get to travel to more courses and see other builders work, others are likely sticking closer to home, for better or worse. I thought it was very interesting Pegasusmom's comment that John Williams did a lot of the building himself when he took over at the CHP, because I have seen John watching horses jump his jumps, and studying their hoofprints afterwards to see what lines they took. I've also heard him talk about groundlines - what ones are useful, and which ones look useful but are in fact trappy.

Which sort of leads me to mysecond nuance of course design - any given year, *someone* is listed as the designer at a course - but a lot of courses are tag team efforts. Designer A starts with the blank slate, then 4 years later Designer B gets to re-mold the course. Year 1 she might take off the two fences which offend her most from the existing course, but she likely doesn't have the budget to totally remake a course, cwertainly not in 1 year...

Of course, there are enough new facilities out there that some clearcut "This is THIS designer and THIS builders' work" , but I figure if someone might be making a spreadsheet, might as well consider various layers early.

On this hypothetical spreadsheet I would be intrigued to see a column for how recently the designer has competed in eventing.

DLee
Mar. 19, 2008, 10:05 AM
I feel that the course designer should have no other position involving power (as in being a team captain or anything.)

flyingchange
Mar. 19, 2008, 10:06 AM
This is a great idea.

Trish Gilbert - I've done N and T courses designed by her. courses are very challenging but fair. Nothing trappy. good use of groundlines. Lots of room to gallop and establish a rhythm. courses seem to be aimed at rewarding the horse and building confidence.

Tremaine Cooper - same as Trish Gilbert. Makes really good use of the terrain.

Craig Thompson - seems to cater to horses/riders moving up and really needing to establish confidence. Like his courses.

Nina Fout - seems intent on catching riders and horses out. Makes more use of the maximum difficult side of the curve than the normal area. Courses do not flow. Uses terrain to maximize difficulty. I know I am not alone in this opinion.

Robert Butts - Waredaca is always, ALWAYS designed well. Always solid for the level, but not designed to catch you out. Designed to instill confidence if you are ready for the level. Love his courses.

John Williams - Have only done SP. Courses are tough but reward the horse and rider that are ready for the level. VERY good use of groundlines to make the tables inviting. Good use of terrain. Wouldn't use his courses for move ups (at least not SP), but for horses who have had at least a few runs at the level and are ready for more of a challenge within the level. Horses and riders feel a sense of accomplishment after course, but not overfaced.

LisaB
Mar. 19, 2008, 10:34 AM
I agree with flying. Especially on Nina. When in the hell is CDCTA and Middleburg going to get a clue as to why no one enters? It's so frustrating! Maybe the ranking would let them know how we feel. Maybe I'm smoking something.
Anyway, I would like to add
Brian Ross and VA
David O'C - rubicon's n/tr. I've heard to not enter prelim as it's quite up and down but I don't have first hand exp.
Tremaine Cooper
Trish Gilbert

My instructor has ridden some of Mike E-S courses and she gushes over them (as much as a pro eventer "gushes"). I wish he wasn't retiring as cd!

We should also include sj because there are some events that really knocked me out because of rather silly courses and I won't go to them.

Yet another great idea Denny!

c_expresso
Mar. 19, 2008, 10:35 AM
As always, Denny has a brilliant idea. Is this something we could suggest if we write to our Area reps?

Jazzy Lady
Mar. 19, 2008, 11:21 AM
I said this on another thread but I am going to repeat it here.

It is a CONFLICT OF INTEREST to have a selection trials for the US team over a course designed by the captain. The pressure and the stakes are far too high in an already dangerous sport.

That being said, I truly hope that MES will continue to teach course building and his influence will remain because he is a damn good designer.

I will ride John's courses anyday. They have all looked beautiful.

Derek DiGrazia is a challenging designer, but his courses flow well for the most part and his lines encourage running out, not flipping and injury. This is how lines should be if not ridden properly.

europa
Mar. 19, 2008, 11:28 AM
As a reformed show jumper/hunter all I can say is bring on the breakaway cups.

If it is all going to be this technical then for heaven's sake give the horse and rider an out. Stop making everything soo solid in the technical portions of the run. The XC jumps were intended to last year after year in your pastures. With the settings as they are now they can afford to move things around and lighten things up.

We have all kinds of new materials that can be used to promote safety.....why not advance from the dark ages? The courses have changed why not the materials. Just look at the jumper rings of today......nothing is stationary and the poles aren't real wood. Why is that? HMMMMMMM

Just my thoughts....now I will retreat while everyone shoots at me. BON BON in hand.

Hony
Mar. 19, 2008, 11:29 AM
It is a CONFLICT OF INTEREST to have a selection trials for the US team over a course designed by the captain. The pressure and the stakes are far too high in an already dangerous sport.


I'm sorry, I don't follow why this is a conflict of interest. Perhaps you could elaborate?

Auburn
Mar. 19, 2008, 11:39 AM
It is a conflict of interest, because the guy who designed the course is the guy who is picking the team. If the course is dangerous, who is going to challenge him?

Eventer13
Mar. 19, 2008, 11:41 AM
I'm sorry, I don't follow why this is a conflict of interest. Perhaps you could elaborate?

Well, if I were looking to be chosen for the team, I would be hesistant to make any negative comments about the coach's course design. Even if I thought it was dangerous.

Snapdragon
Mar. 19, 2008, 11:47 AM
Europa, that's something that I've thought about for awhile. Why can't the jumps be made out of more forgiving materials? I'm not sure what those materials would be. I'm also not sure if having different types of materials would cause another set of problems, but at least, one of the problems wouldn't be rotational falls.

scubed
Mar. 19, 2008, 11:50 AM
I have only ridden through preliminary (and one or two intermediate courses). Experience on multiple horses at novice and training level. We should find out if we have a good programmer in the group. We could have the equivalent of tripadvisor for courses and course designers. You could assign 4 things to a courses 1) number of oxers for how big, 1-5; 2) number of Ts for how technical 1-5; 3) number of hills for terrain and; 4) overall rating 1-5 where 1 is easy move up, more like prior level and 5 is serious championship level course. You would also write a little few line review. For example: Training level (Tremaine Cooper) at 2007 Radnor:

2 oxers
2 Ts
1 hills
2 level
A nice inviting course. Some difficulty level in large ditch in half coffin combination prior to midpoint of course. Must ride through several gates. Water complex well conceived, but footing not well dealt with, making approach difficult. Fairly flat, easy to see from fence to fence. Well decorated, fun course limited by need to use primarily portables.

David O'Connors courses are great - challenging, but flowing and really asking interesting, but doable questions at the level

John Williams - also, he is likely to speak up if he is riding at an event and sees something that he perceives as dangerous and works hard to make his courses serious, but inviting

Trish Gilbert - great, friendly courses

Tremaine Cooper - well thought out courses with good flow and tough questions appropriately placed

Nina Fout - haven't ridden her courses, but having seen them, they wouldn't be my first choice

Mark Phillips - I have never really liked his courses. Have thought they are within the lines of the rules, but not the spirit of asking questions appropriate to the level (remember I've only ridden his training and prelim courses)

Robert Butts - great courses at Waredaca, but his name is on others I like less

Brian Ross - always great, but variable in difficulty level, so it is hard to know exactly what to expect.

Jazzy Lady
Mar. 19, 2008, 11:57 AM
Sure Hony. My thinking behind my statement is this - Every designer puts their stamp on a course that they deem perfectly fair and rideable. Captain Mark, after the carnage at Red Hills and after many riders displayed displeasure in his courses, stated that he didn't understand why there were so many problems and he doesn't know what people were expecting. Here's the problem. He expects these courses to ride well but he doesn't ride them himself. Most riders thought all of these courses unfair for the horses and not in the true spirit of eventing. Well I'm sure there were many potential team members that thought the same, but what can they do? Their hands are tied if they wish to make the US team. If they speak out against the designer at an event and the designer was unrelated to the US team and to the selection process, that would be one thing and I would think more would be willing to take a stand. However, when the designer IS the head of the team and is very much involved in the selection process, how do you speak up against what he feels a fair course if you want a shot at the team?

hey101
Mar. 19, 2008, 12:59 PM
I rode an M E-S course in early February and thought it was fantastic. LOTS of galloping room, very fair, inviting questions, and ~just~ enough difficulty to challenge my horse and me for the level. Granted it was BN in early Feb, so it should be inviting. But I was more than thrilled with it. I walked the N, T, and P courses and felt they were also fair, open and gallopy, with just enough difficulty for that time of year.

Hannahsmom
Mar. 19, 2008, 01:29 PM
I like the ranking idea, although I personally love M-E-S's course at Richland, at least how it was several years ago, haven't been in the last year or so.

I'm not sure how the ranking idea would work out. I have one memorable case of a course design from a person who I believe is a very good course designer but as it turned out my horse and I both misjudged the jump badly due to shadows at the early time of day. Square dark table with large shadow thrown in front from early sun, dew sparkling, freshly blacked table sparkling with dew. Add in that the previous jump was a huge ditch and black sloping wall, and you can guess what happened. Thankfully my horse has incredible heart and a lot more scope than I dreamed of. The rest of the course was fabulous but we had a near miss. I'm sure the designer never dreamed that would happen.

I think even good course designers need to be there to see how the course is jumping so they can make adjustments if necessary as I believe most have the best ideals at heart. Would that be a good use of money? I'm heartened to hear about JW being there on course and watching how things are going. Maybe a rating system from competitors would make it more compelling for designers to make things more rideable? Just throwing some ideas around....

scubed
Mar. 19, 2008, 01:32 PM
I believe that DO'C has a proposal (I don't know in what stage or how formal) to require that course designers be there when events are being run over their courses. I do think this is a good idea

europa
Mar. 19, 2008, 01:41 PM
Why........so the lynch mob can get to them. :(

McVillesMom
Mar. 19, 2008, 01:49 PM
I agree, Mike E-S and John Williams are brilliant.

Many others (at least in this area) - not so much.

We definitely need some sort of system in place to bring the levels back where they belong. Many, if not most, of the courses in this area feature questions that are NOT appropriate for the level. As a competitor, I feel like there is NOTHING I can do about this. The "suck it up" mentality of eventers makes me feel like I am the only one who will complain, and my concerns will be dismissed as a result. My only option is not to ride - which frustrates me, because I enter a certain level based on my expectations of what a course should be at that level. Has anyone actually looked at the guidelines for levels of horse trials in the rule book lately? They make me laugh...because almost NOTHING that we see around here actually conforms to the guidelines.

Sorry - I just wrote an email about this very issue to Kevin Baumgardner (in response to his message on the USEA website) so I'm a little fired up right now. What he said was right on - things are getting way too technical, all the way down to BN. I find the number of "starter" or equivalent levels that are popping up everywhere a little disturbing - this tells me that *Beginner Novice* is too hard!

I like the idea of a rating system. My fear is that people who are used to the courses that we are seeing in recent years don't know any better. That, plus the "suck it up" mentality, may not make a rating system as useful as we would like. Hopefully I'm wrong about that, but I agree that we need to do *something* to police course design, and get the levels back where they belong.

Mary in Area 1
Mar. 19, 2008, 02:01 PM
All I know is, there is WAY too much power on the hands of certain people, and there is actual FEAR of crossing them. I am personally aware of an event where one course designer designed the course, and it was so technical and rode so badly that the organizers called another course designer in to SECRETLY tweek the course to make it safer and more rideable. WHY are they afraid to go back and confront this person and ask for the modifications to be made? Because the EGO is way larger than the ability and the knowledge. These are the people we need to remove.

hey101
Mar. 19, 2008, 02:47 PM
All I know is, there is WAY too much power on the hands of certain people, and there is actual FEAR of crossing them. I am personally aware of an event where one course designer designed the course, and it was so technical and rode so badly that the organizers called another course designer in to SECRETLY tweek the course to make it safer and more rideable. WHY are they afraid to go back and confront this person and ask for the modifications to be made? Because the EGO is way larger than the ability and the knowledge. These are the people we need to remove.

so WHO was it? You ask why people were afraid to go back and confront the individual- are you willing to stand up and say who the designer was that designed the course so badly that secret modificaitons had to be made the night before (which is INSANE by the way)? Why are people so afraid to say what they think?

For example, the comments earlier on Nina Fout. I don't know her from Adam, but I really seriously doubt that she is out to hurt or trap riders. Perhaps she really DOESN"T KNOW that her courses ride so badly. Just because she is a top rider doens't mean she automatically can design courses. Feedback, especially criticism, can be hard to take- but HOPEFULLY, the people in charge of designing the courses that we are sending our horses over, will take the feedback constructively and LEARN from it, and make changes to their design style.

bludini
Mar. 19, 2008, 03:08 PM
... to require that course designers be there when events are being run over their courses. I do think this is a good idea... Keep in mind that it is also an expense for the venue to have the course designer attend the event. Our event is struggling to break even. Add to that the several thousand dollars it would cost to require our designer attend. PLUS, they design all over the country and I know that our designer has THREE events running on the same day! How is he supposed to be at all three? That's the purpose of the designer's inspection pre-event AND that the TD can override some design aspects.



One - the designer builder relationship. My understanding is that often a designer will say "I want an imposing table here, and a half coffin there." Then the guys with the chain saws and heavy machinery come along, and I bet can possibly unwittingly have huge impact on the resulting course, depending on whether they use rounded material at the front edge of the jump, or whether the owner tells them "The sponsor tent will be there. Make this pretty!" VERY TRUE



Which sort of leads me to mysecond nuance of course design - any given year, *someone* is listed as the designer at a course - but a lot of courses are tag team efforts. Designer A starts with the blank slate, then 4 years later Designer B gets to re-mold the course....Again, VERY TRUE. Further, Sometimes the organizer decides that they cannot carry out or fulfill EVERY change the new designer has discussed on the course that year. They may leave something in that the cd feels strongly about simply because "it's been there for the last X years"

'nuff from me.

bridlewise
Mar. 19, 2008, 03:21 PM
It is a conflict of interest, because the guy who designed the course is the guy who is picking the team. If the course is dangerous, who is going to challenge him?

Sorry to disagree with you but Mark Phillips DOES NOT pick the team. His advice mabe considered but that is what the selection committee is for, and that is what they do, not the coach.

bornfreenowexpensive
Mar. 19, 2008, 03:26 PM
Why........so the lynch mob can get to them. :(


no...so they can watch first hand how their course rode. You can have all the horses jump clear over a jump or through a combination but it could be riding horrible...holding our breath the whole time and just being lucky. If the CD is there that day...they can see what is happening first hand. The fix could be simple....or not. Often in CD, there are unanticipated responses by the horse and rider to a question or question. I think most CDs want to create courses that ride well...and I can't think that any of them are happy if a horse or rider gets hurt on their course especially if it turns out to be a result of course design.

You learn and improve by being there....not by hearing about things 2nd and 3rd hand.

I think it is a very good idea....but it could be very hard to implement from an organizer's perspective. Perhaps such a rule should just be limited to the ULs. Especially if you have a good CD....they may need to be at other courses and could have conflicts. But I do think the intent of the rule is a good one.

lstevenson
Mar. 19, 2008, 09:41 PM
If I were a xc designer, and I read that my courses were "often vertical, with trappy, difficult lines,---loves to use big square tables----poor use of ground lines---etc, might it not make me shape up?
Or discourage events from employing me until I did?
We rank riders, we rank horses, we rate insructors, why don`t we rate the people who have the greatest control over where our sport is heading?


Fabulous idea.

The only problem I see with that is what Jeannette said about the course designers sometimes having to work with what is existing and a small budget. There has got to be a way around that problem though. Maybe if that is the case a notation should be made to that effect, and the CD's ratings are not actually changed based on those events? But on any course that the CD designs fully, he should be fully accountable.

RunForIt
Mar. 19, 2008, 09:55 PM
I have several big questions about course design (this thread is dealing with what would have been my third question area):

at what point in time and WHY did courses change from gallop, balance, jump, (sometimes balance, jump again) and gallop away into the version encountered at Red Hills this weekend and to some extent across the country? Who/what group decided to make these changes - were the reasons published to the USEA membership? What principles/standards of eventing framed these changes?
is there any way to determine if courses are unsafe to jump PRIOR to leaving the start box? If so, shouldn't these criteria be published by levels and part of every rider's training? How can someone evaluate risk if there's no way to assess a course until its ridden? Then it can be too late!

sixnmt
Mar. 19, 2008, 10:02 PM
I agree! I would also like to add Ian Stark, the new course designer of Galway whos course is big and gallopy and flows very well. The horses come off feeling like a million bucks!

Eventer724
Mar. 19, 2008, 10:24 PM
I agree with Denny that course design is a big factor in today's sport. It is starting to seem like more than just sheer coincidence and dumb luck that the number of fatalities can almost be counted on TWO hands within the past two years...all in FL on courses designed by Mark Phillips...Two riders have died at Ocala (Amanda Bader and Eleanor Brennan) and there have been at least three horse fatalities...and Darren is on life support...SOMETHING NEEDS TO CHANGE!!! There were never this many casualties in such a short period of time back when eventing was a sport of grit....not who can jump the max table and roll back to a set of two corners... Today it is showjumping in a field BUT...we are still required to run like a bat out of hell...gallop, collect, gallop, collect......horses are not jumping out of a good gallop...rather they are constantly being fussed with to adjust to things that are way too technical...so when asked to get going at a good lick again, they perhaps aren't paying attention...riders are also so programmed now for technicality that when course designers do put those big tables in the middle of a field to give the "cross country" effect, riders are forgetting how to ride them...or they are going way too fast because they are trying to make up the time they have lost while collecting their horses for all the combinations...max tables off of turns, trakehners followed by skinnies...why must the courses be designed this way? People are riding backwards, horses are hanging legs, but really....the course design is unfair and doesn't allow people to make mistakes...sure the occasional fall is acceptable...but punishment for a wrong distance to a seemingly impossible combination or table in the field should not be fatal...that is too big a price to pay...something needs to change quickly before eventing and more of its participants become a thing of the past.

PolestarFarm
Mar. 20, 2008, 12:55 AM
You get to an event with, say, those huge white boxes like the ones at So Pines that all the riders hate. And yet keep appearing year after year. Each one of those thing weighs a ton,

Hey! I actually have an up close and personal association with those white boxes! Riding one of the best jumping horses I have ever owned, Goldfinch, on Intermediate he left a tiny fraction of a knee at that box (I have photo proof that we did not "miss") and we ended up A over T and crashing at the feet of my horrified husband! Too damn vertical and white - and the funny thing was that CMP warned the course walk on that day that someone would flip on it. If I were a betting person, I would not have betted on me and Goldfinch, but there you have it. If he knew that it was too vertical and placed in a downhill approach, why didnt he say anything and move it? Or did he want me to sit in a chair on vicodan for the next week?

Janet
Mar. 20, 2008, 01:47 AM
I believe that DO'C has a proposal (I don't know in what stage or how formal) to require that course designers be there when events are being run over their courses. I do think this is a good idea
I think that was RAyers proposal.

It is impractical with the current number of course designers- they would need to be at several events the same weekend.

Hannahsmom
Mar. 20, 2008, 07:45 AM
IIt is impractical with the current number of course designers- they would need to be at several events the same weekend.

I understand this point by you and Bludini. In which case, could knowledgeable respected riders riding at the course's levels be asked to watch how the aspects rode and formally report back? I know they would need to be compensated for their time and effort, but would this be a good use of some education or other funds so Horse Trials don't need to bear all the cost? I know TD's are there, but not all of them ride at the various levels and they are often busy with ruling aspects. And although a rider can fill out a report, wouldn't it be better to get an unbiased perspective? Someone who just by watching can sort out "it's an unprepared rider and horse" thing vs. a "that didn't work out as it should have" thing?

I just know that when I crossed over from hunters in the '80s, I was able to do so without a lot of trouble on the courses. I don't think I could do that today. Maybe that's considered a good thing, I dunno.

pegasusmom
Mar. 20, 2008, 07:49 AM
I think that was RAyers proposal.

It is impractical with the current number of course designers- they would need to be at several events the same weekend.


Thank you. It's not only impractical, in many cases it's impossible. And there is absolutely no data to support that having the course designer on-site will result in fewer injuries.

My course designer frequently competes at my horse trials. And I have seen him go to the mat to argue with a TD and PoGJ over an issue on XC and lose the argument. The PoGJ has the final say-so on the course, not the CD.

There also seems to be a perception that the TD and PoGJ aren't watching the courses carefully, and that the TD is so busy with inquiries that he or she can't watch XC. Not true. I can't speak for every event, but I try hard to hire officials who are going to stay on top of problems as they occur. We review each and every set of data with regard to fences after each event to see what fences rode how and give our CD feedback. Course design is an inaccurate science, and there are fences that you are sure will ride one way that ride totally differently on the day.

There is not one simple fix for where we are headed. I look at the demographics on my competitors - how many have ever galloped a racehorse, steeplechased, foxhunted, or done anything on a horse's back AT speed?? How many recycled UL horses are packing "under level" riders around (thanks to modern veterinary medicine) and giving their riders a false sense of security? How many more "trainers" are there out there who really don't have a clue what they are telling thier students? And I have said this before - we live in an age of instant information. Years ago, the Red Hills tradegies would have been a paragraph in COTH. Now we have instant reports, video and a computerized game of "gossip".

I do believe the current statistics support that we are headed in the wrong direction. And, as the parent of a young man currently competing at Preliminary with an eye toward those red and blue flagged fences, I do have a vested interest seeing things improve. And there are XC courses his father and I will not let him run over.

BTW Meike - those d%$@ white boxes have been re-built. . . . but I still don't like them!

Hannahsmom
Mar. 20, 2008, 08:04 AM
Thank you. It's not only impractical, in many cases it's impossible. And there is absolutely no data to support that having the course designer on-site will result in fewer injuries.

My course designer frequently competes at my horse trials. And I have seen him go to the mat to argue with a TD and PoGJ over an issue on XC and lose the argument. The PoGJ has the final say-so on the course, not the CD.

Well, it depends who has the correct skills for the job. I would like the course designer to be someone that we can count on for the expertise, it is what they are hired for. I don't know the specific situations you are talking about, but something doesn't seem right in the situation you describe. On teams in the corporate world, you assign specific roles to personnel with the right skills. That's like having a validation co-ordinator code or the C# programmer do their own validation....a recipe for disaster and a failed project in my experience.

pegasusmom
Mar. 20, 2008, 08:21 AM
Hannahsmom - all I can tell you is that I am in my sixth year of organizing two events, and am heavily involved with the management of three others - two of which run advanced. In the the corporate world, where does the buck stop? Ultimately with the CEO? In the military (which I am most familiar with) it stops with the unit commander. Course designers are subordinate to the PoGJ.

No one can predict, on any given day, with any given group of competitors how things are going to work out. Case in point was the training level course at The Ark a few weeks ago. Established track with fences that have been in place and used frequently over the last year plus. One fence in particularly that has been on the course since it's inception. Two 20% fences - in fact they were closer to 33%. (BTW any fence that has a 20% or higher percentage of problems has to be reported and written up. We take a hard look at those percentages at the events I am involved in.)

Again, there is not one quick fix for this and everyone who participates in this sport needs to take responsiblity for themselves and their horses.

Hannahsmom
Mar. 20, 2008, 08:36 AM
No one can predict, on any given day, with any given group of competitors how things are going to work out.

Agreed 100%.

On a side note, I have ridden at the venue that I think you are talking about at the 'mid' levels and loved the courses as a rider, at least 5 or 6 years back I did. That's how long ago it was. :)

I'm not saying my idea was the only way or the right way, I thought we were just throwing some ideas around in this thread.

denny
Mar. 20, 2008, 08:52 AM
Here`s a question we need to find the answer to:
The USEF has seminars for officials/TDs, xc designers, etc, who then get put in authority to make decisions which directly affect us and our sport.
Who are these people that teach these seminars?
Can someone make a list?
Because if the fox is in the henhouse, I think we need to know just who these foxes are.
I trust the USEA, but I sure don`t trust the USEF.

pegasusmom
Mar. 20, 2008, 09:03 AM
Hannahsmom - heave away :D You probably know the hierachy at horse trials, but I am constantly floored by the number of experienced riders who don't, and don't know the rules.

Denny has a very good point. Who are those foxes? (and why do I feel like partially gnawed on drumstick from time to time?)

Denny -I'll ask Pat M. when I see her today.

piccolittle
Mar. 20, 2008, 09:15 AM
Someone has probably already said this, but I think this is a fantastic idea and here's why:

"Average, for horses with some experience at this level."

I hate this description. Everyone hates it, because it doesn't say anything meaningful about the course. Every once in a while on here we start up a discussion about what should be done to give riders more insight into the courses before they arrive at the event. A list of course designers with reviews or ratings and comments like the ones Denny posted would be an incredible resource- and one that I know I would consult before entering any event.

I don't care what specific obstacles I encounter, I just want the course to be well-designed and appropriate for the level that my horse and I are prepared for.... unlike a particular event I attended this summer. I am trying to figure out who the CD was there so I can decide whether or not to attend any more of this person's events.

Auburn
Mar. 20, 2008, 11:10 AM
bridlewise,

I am sorry if I was mistaken. Please tell me who is on the Olympic selection commitee, for eventing?

Badger
Mar. 20, 2008, 11:20 AM
What is going on in course design abroad?

Are you seeing Red Hills types of courses in Australia and Europe and The UK? Are those areas prepping for the Olympics with the same sort of trickle-down collected accuracy questions at the low levels?

Jazzy Lady
Mar. 20, 2008, 11:25 AM
I dunno. Has anyone seen the video from the 2002 WEGS in Spain?

It was CRAZY. It was long format and the xc was crazy ridiculously hard. NOBODY took the short route at 2 questions. So I think even when the format was long, the courses still became technical. Many of the riders said that course was more of a **** 1/2 star... nuts. I watched the best in the world crash and burn on the video. Riders felt the need to ride because it was a team thing, but it wasn't pretty.

So is this a problem that is just starting, or are we not looking at global course design well enough?

Hony
Mar. 20, 2008, 11:26 AM
I looked a bunch of the pics of Mark Todd at Puhinui *** and most of the fences I saw had clear ground lines. I'm not sure where the pics were but they were probably a good example of what's happening in NZ.

flyingchange
Mar. 20, 2008, 11:31 AM
I dunno. Has anyone seen the video from the 2002 WEGS in Spain?

It was CRAZY. It was long format and the xc was crazy ridiculously hard. NOBODY took the short route at 2 questions. So I think even when the format was long, the courses still became technical. Many of the riders said that course was more of a **** 1/2 star... nuts. I watched the best in the world crash and burn on the video. Riders felt the need to ride because it was a team thing, but it wasn't pretty.

So is this a problem that is just starting, or are we not looking at global course design well enough?

Yes, I watched that video and was disgusted - it looked like horse torture to me.

So did Aachen in 2006 - stupid technical - though not as bad as Jerez.

Janet
Mar. 20, 2008, 11:34 AM
Here`s a question we need to find the answer to:
The USEF has seminars for officials/TDs, xc designers, etc, who then get put in authority to make decisions which directly affect us and our sport.
Who are these people that teach these seminars?
Can someone make a list?
In 2007, Roger Haller and Sally Ike conducted the TD / Eventing Judge Training Session. Brian Ross and Loris Henry conducted the TD / Eventing Judge Testing.

luise
Mar. 20, 2008, 11:34 AM
I dunno. Has anyone seen the video from the 2002 WEGS in Spain?

It was CRAZY. It was long format and the xc was crazy ridiculously hard. NOBODY took the short route at 2 questions. So I think even when the format was long, the courses still became technical. Many of the riders said that course was more of a **** 1/2 star... nuts. I watched the best in the world crash and burn on the video. Riders felt the need to ride because it was a team thing, but it wasn't pretty.

So is this a problem that is just starting, or are we not looking at global course design well enough?

Anyone have a link to an online video?

snoopy
Mar. 20, 2008, 11:41 AM
[QUOTE=Janet;3087519]In 2007, Roger Haller and Sally Ike conducted the TD / Eventing Judge Training Session. QUOTE]



:no::no::no::no:

Mary in Area 1
Mar. 20, 2008, 11:41 AM
Can someone PLEASE explain to me why Roger Haller is at the top of EVERY list of powerful people in this sport? What kind of continuing education is HE required to do? What are HIS credentials? Is HE the FOX???

Mary in Area 1
Mar. 20, 2008, 11:42 AM
Snoopy and I need to go out for drinks!

snoopy
Mar. 20, 2008, 11:47 AM
For those to young to remember...Mr Haller is the one who designed that "gem" of a course in Kentucky in 1978...The conditions were bad enough, but a lesson in how NOT to design a course. Lets just say that I am certain...oh never mind

mbarrett
Mar. 20, 2008, 11:49 AM
If I were a course designer, especially at the international level, and a horse and or rider died on my course, how could I look at myself in the mirror each morning? I would be grief striken. Why would I contiune to "stay the course" if someone died?

If a horse or rider died on one of my courses, I would think I am doing something wrong and I need to change the way I design courses. I would rethink everything that I am doing and make it better and more horse and rider friendly, not harder.

Everyone talks about rider responsibilty, how about course designer responsibilty?

To me, more than one rider death is one step away from involunterly manslaughter. SOMETHING has to change!

flyingchange
Mar. 20, 2008, 11:55 AM
mbarrett -

yes, but you are human and allow yourself to have a conscience and to introspect, qualities that are alien to "The Captain." He just "can't understand" when bad-things-happen on his courses, and that seems to be the extent of his attempt to self-evaluate.

I tell you one thing - I do wish that USEA mag would get rid of his commentaries and replace them with the thoughts of someone who actually has the capacity to do just that - think.

snoopy
Mar. 20, 2008, 11:57 AM
yes in order to recitfy a problem....one has to admit that one exists. That is the big picture we are up against on so many levels.

luise
Mar. 20, 2008, 12:01 PM
.

ideayoda
Mar. 20, 2008, 12:12 PM
The question is who will do the evaluating of the courses? Top courses should ask questions which will be like an Olympic venue (designed to work on the riders minds, not the horses imho), and this years will be flatter than normal. And how can they get blamed for a heart anuerism in a horse? Or the jumping technique of a horse? The few vids I have seen on line show poorly ridden technique for x country (climbing/holding/lack of bascule/seated riders/etc). The fact is (and I have had this discussion with many course designers) that riders are riding a kind of clean and jerk bascule, too hollow and overjumping early in the rounds, and not nearly enough caprilli technique, and which no longer do the work which went into roads and tracks, on a heavier type horse, and often in high heat.

bridlewise
Mar. 22, 2008, 06:42 PM
bridlewise,

I am sorry if I was mistaken. Please tell me who is on the Olympic selection commitee, for eventing?

Auburn, you aren't the only one. From many of the posts I've read, most people think that Mark Phillips picks the team. he doesn't pick the team, the training lists or the developmental riders. He may make suggestions but he does not have a vote. If the ULRs are afraid to say anything about the courses because they think he picks the team, maybe somethiing needs to be psoted in BIG RED LETTERS. A lot of people rely on them to voice their opinions about the course, to help others. And if people had said something to the proper authorities at Red Hills, i.e. TD, Ground Jury, etc. I am sure something would ahve been done. No riders complained to the rider reps or anyone else. They need to open their mouths to the right people. There should ahve been a rider's meeting on Friday as there is at CCI's for rider's to voice their concerns. Anyway, the selection committee is: Peter Green, Mark Weissbecker, Ann Getchell, Bea DiGrazia and Ann Taylor. They choose the teams-though in reality, it comes down to who is still sound and competent.

RunForIt
Mar. 22, 2008, 08:23 PM
Auburn, you aren't the only one. From many of the posts I've read, most people think that Mark Phillips picks the team. he doesn't pick the team, the training lists or the developmental riders. He may make suggestions but he does not have a vote. If the ULRs are afraid to say anything about the courses because they think he picks the team, maybe somethiing needs to be psoted in BIG RED LETTERS. A lot of people rely on them to voice their opinions about the course, to help others. And if people had said something to the proper authorities at Red Hills, i.e. TD, Ground Jury, etc. I am sure something would ahve been done. No riders complained to the rider reps or anyone else. They need to open their mouths to the right people. There should ahve been a rider's meeting on Friday as there is at CCI's for rider's to voice their concerns. Anyway, the selection committee is: Peter Green, Mark Weissbecker, Ann Getchell, Bea DiGrazia and Ann Taylor. They choose the teams-though in reality, it comes down to who is still sound and competent.

and as much as I respect each and every person on this committee, as an intelligent, thinking person, am I - even for one minute - supposed to believe that any of these selectors would place a person on the team that was not also targeted/rated highly in some way by CMP?! NOPE!!!

snoopy
Mar. 22, 2008, 09:01 PM
and as much as I respect each and every person on this committee, as an intelligent, thinking person, am I - even for one minute - supposed to believe that any of these selectors would place a person on the team that was not also targeted/rated highly in some way by CMP?! NOPE!!!

;)

Gnep
Mar. 22, 2008, 09:22 PM
I am working with a CD for which I have the greatest respect, since he is a rider himself, very experianced and a real horse person, his main concern, to bring everybody home in one piece.
His courses are no pick - nick, all jumps are according to level, size and hights wise. But he pays an unusual time in placing the jumps, terrain, time of year, probable weather conditions, type of entries etc. etc.
It is an endless process for him, never satified, never 100% sure if he has done the right choise. He attends the shows he designed, which limits the shows he can do.
He watches every ride, interviews riders and is never satisfied.
If he were not such a down to the detail CD, I guess I would not built jumps.

I ride those courses myself and I have jet to encounter a course that is boring or does not ride well and if any rider thinks that something is not right and tells him, he will go out to that jump or combination and check out why it did not ride right.

I think that is what it needs and what we need

shea'smom
Mar. 22, 2008, 09:30 PM
Where are official course designers listed? I looked on the USEA site.

RAyers
Mar. 22, 2008, 10:06 PM
I believe that DO'C has a proposal (I don't know in what stage or how formal) to require that course designers be there when events are being run over their courses. I do think this is a good idea

I proposed that rule last year. DOC presented it to the committee. It got shot down.

Reed

pegasusmom
Mar. 22, 2008, 10:19 PM
Where are official course designers listed? I looked on the USEA site.

I don't know that they are. They are listed in the USEF Officials book that gets published every year. And it may have changed, but if I am recalling correctly, you do not need a certified course designer at lower levels, only prelim and above.

shea'smom
Mar. 22, 2008, 10:24 PM
Thanks, Dana. So, is CMP certified in this country?

retreadeventer
Mar. 22, 2008, 10:26 PM
ahhh....this could be a difficult thing to do.
For instance.....

mention was made of Tremaine Cooper designing the Training course at Radnor this past fall. I had the very good fortune to win my division there. The ditch half coffin was further affected by expected heavy rain overnight. They put some new stone dust or something at the base of the ditch in anticipation of the ground takeoff being torn up due to soft footing. But it wasn't that soft and the rain held off a little, and the bright colored footing ended up being dry. Where it was in front of the ditch, which laid out about 5 feet, made the horses feel as tho they had to jump the whole deal - a lot of training level horses didn't think they could do that obviously. I have a tiny advantage in that I have a track at home with stonedust for the harness horses, and my horse sees that type of footing, but he still took a big peek at the ditch and I rode him pretty good to keep him from the stop.

So....rather than blame the fence.....there are often circumstances beyond the control of the course designer....and such a small thing as flower placement or footing can affect the jump and then the designer gets blame. There must be some fairness in the assessments of a person when things may or may not be their fault.

TexasTB
Mar. 22, 2008, 10:41 PM
yes, but you are human and allow yourself to have a conscience and to introspect, qualities that are alien to "The Captain."

Possibly one of the most insightful comments I've ever read on this BB
:lol::lol:

Janet
Mar. 22, 2008, 10:47 PM
Where are official course designers listed? I looked on the USEA site.
Go to the USEF site.
Select either "Licensed Officials" or "Searches". either will give you the option of selecting the "Licensed Officials Search" (as long as you are a USEF memeber). Then just select Eventing CDs

Janet
Mar. 22, 2008, 10:49 PM
Thanks, Dana. So, is CMP certified in this country?
Not on the list. But it appears he has an FEI CD licensed. That is valid for USEF events as long as he gets permission from the USEF Eventing Committee.

bridlewise
Mar. 23, 2008, 12:46 PM
and as much as I respect each and every person on this committee, as an intelligent, thinking person, am I - even for one minute - supposed to believe that any of these selectors would place a person on the team that was not also targeted/rated highly in some way by CMP?! NOPE!!!

Well, RunForIt, that may be your OPINION, but believe me, I know from whence I speak, that though Mark Phillips can make recommendations and make his thoughts heard, he DOES NOT have a vote and none of the selectors are influenced by him in so far as to pick someone for the team justbecause he wants them. And as much CMP bashiing as there going on on these treads, he only wants to win medals. And we have, at every CCIO that we have contested wihth him at as chef d'equip. I'm not saying he doesn't make mistakes, he does. I'm just saying that he has nothing to dowith picking the team. And even if he did, and these ULRs who might be in contention for a team, are afraid to stand up and say something about a course, when it needs to be said, just because they might not get picked for a team-then shame on them for not being the role models for the sport and standing up for what's important. They are just as much to blame as the CD, TD, etc.

Tuckertoo
Mar. 23, 2008, 06:47 PM
I'm just saying that he has nothing to dowith picking the team. And even if he did, and these ULRs who might be in contention for a team, are afraid to stand up and say something about a course, when it needs to be said, just because they might not get picked for a team-then shame on them for not being the role models for the sport and standing up for what's important. They are just as much to blame as the CD, TD, etc.

Thank you! :yes:

This is exactly how I feel. Besides, they'd get more support from the majority of the sport's participants who feel the same way, because we'd all appreciate the fact that they are seeing straight and are standing up for what is right. They'd rather not have themselves or their horses hurt/killed either I imagine. Nothing, not even a spot on the Olympic team, is worth that.

subk
Mar. 23, 2008, 07:33 PM
Well, RunForIt, that may be your OPINION, but believe me, I know from whence I speak, that though Mark Phillips can make recommendations and make his thoughts heard, he DOES NOT have a vote and none of the selectors are influenced by him in so far as to pick someone for the team justbecause he wants them.
As a former Long Listed rider in the MP era I disagree. That was not what I witnessed at the time. He not only had influence with the selectors he had influence with the schedules and competition decisions of team-hopeful riders.

TB or not TB?
Mar. 23, 2008, 08:04 PM
Could someone explain what is needed for one to become a course designer?

What classes/courses must one take, and what is the process involved?

TB or not TB?
Mar. 25, 2008, 08:57 PM
Bumping this.... still unsure of the answer.

Janet
Mar. 25, 2008, 10:57 PM
Could someone explain what is needed for one to become a course designer?

What classes/courses must one take, and what is the process involved?
You need to apprentice several times, you need to take the training course, you need to take an exam, you need to get a bunch of recommendations/references., and you need to be approved by the Licensed Officials Committee of USEF (not USEA)

There is a document you can get describing the entire process. If it isn't on the USEA or USEF web site, email Nancy at useventing.com, and ask her.

msghook
Mar. 25, 2008, 10:58 PM
Hey101, sorry to be the one to break it to you but you rode a Bert Wood course in February. MES used to design the upper level courses, Ian Stark now does them. Bert does the lower level courses.
Favorite CDs
Derek diGrazia - he's one of the few top level designers who understands the lower levels.
MES - you need say no more.
Ian Stark - only seen one course, will see some more this weekend. Flow nicely.
Tremaine Cooper - usually steady, sometimes inconsistent.

scubed
Mar. 26, 2008, 10:38 AM
Licensing information is here: http://www.usef.org/contentPage2.aspx?id=natlic

Course designer requirements are near the bottom after judge and TD

hey101
Mar. 26, 2008, 12:22 PM
Hey101, sorry to be the one to break it to you but you rode a Bert Wood course in February. MES used to design the upper level courses, Ian Stark now does them. Bert does the lower level courses.


well I stand corrected then- thanks. :) I thought his course was wonderful. :yes: