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denny
Mar. 19, 2008, 07:03 AM
Go read it. Or get someone who knows how to paste it here!
Great letter!!! Thanks, Kevin.

Badger
Mar. 19, 2008, 07:10 AM
A Message from USEA President Kevin Baumgardner
Updated: March 19, 2008

Eventers everywhere are deeply saddened by the accidents that occurred this past weekend at the Red Hills Horse Trials in Tallahassee, Florida. First and foremost, our thoughts, prayers, and heartfelt wishes for a speedy recovery go out to our dear friend and USEA board member Darren Chiacchia. Darren is an extraordinary horseman who has worked tirelessly on behalf of the sport of Eventing. We also send our condolences to Jonathan Holling and Missy Miller and those connected with Direct Merger and Leprechauns Rowdy Boy. These beloved horses were the best of the best—they will be missed. Furthermore, the USEA recognizes the excellent work of the Red Hills' Organizing Committee under very trying circumstances.

The sad news from Red Hills comes at a time when the USEA is taking a hard look at the sport of Eventing. During the December 2007 Convention in Colorado Springs, the USEA reaffirmed its commitment to horse and rider safety as the paramount consideration in the governance of our sport. The centerpiece of the Convention, the all-day-Saturday G10 Summit, was devoted exclusively to a full and open discussion of the safety issue among all of the stakeholders in the sport—riders, trainers, coaches, breeders, owners, officials, organizers, parents. A number of positive changes came out of our discussions in Colorado Springs, including the implementation of beefed-up qualification standards at preliminary level and higher that will go into effect this December 1.

Having said that, I remain deeply concerned with the direction the sport has taken over the past several years. It would be unfair and counterproductive at this juncture to focus on any one incident, cross-country course, or horse trials. We should never jump to conclusions regarding single incidents, let alone lose sight of the fact that there is, and will always be, an element of risk in any sport involving horses. And I will never point fingers or be a party to personal attacks on any individual involved in the sport, no matter how much I might disagree with his or her views. But the overall trends, particularly over the last three years, are unmistakable—and in my view totally unacceptable. I know that my concern that the sport has gotten off track is shared by many of our members, amateurs and professionals alike.

We seem to be in an ever-spiraling loop in which the aspect of cross-country that attracted most of us to the sport in the first place, the joy and thrill of galloping rhythmically over jumps across country, has been replaced with questions of extreme technicality and a proliferation of combinations taken at show-jump speed. It appears that the driver behind this emphasis on increased technical difficulty is the need to challenge and sort out the elite combinations competing at the highest levels of the sport. The net effect of this shift in emphasis, however, has not been confined to the upper levels. Rather, because of the need for each level to serve as preparation for the next, the sport has been altered all the way to the novice and training levels. This has left a large proportion of our core USEA membership—the 90-plus percent of Eventers who will never compete above preliminary—asking whether there is a place left for them in the sport.

Our members want courses that provide fun and challenge, and that leave both horse and rider feeling elated and wanting more. Unfortunately, this is all too frequently not the experience that is reported by many of our members. Cross-country should be a positive, exhilarating and educational experience for an appropriately prepared horse and rider. That is particularly true at the levels populated by adult amateurs and youngsters.

And what about our horses? Does the gallop-collect-gallop-collect nature of many of our courses, combined with the rigid adherence to established optimal speeds despite the twistiness of many modern courses, best serve the talents and abilities of our mounts? We owe the highest duty of care and compassion to these wonderful animals—in my view, the bravest and most noble horses in the world.

What can we do? The answer is plenty. To begin with, we need the active participation of our membership. When you are concerned with the direction of the sport you love, it is not good enough to sit on the fence and passively watch events unfold. Get involved! And I don't mean just the "grass roots" USEA membership (which judging by the large number of emphatic emails I have received in the last few days is already energized). We also need the active involvement of a broad spectrum of our Eventing professionals, the riders, trainers and officials out there who do not belong to the small coterie who have dominated the direction of the sport over the past twenty years. I believe there is a "silent generation" of Eventing professionals, most in their thirties or early forties, who are concerned with the current condition of the sport. In large part, these professionals have not actively participated in the governance of the sport or spoken up publicly, perhaps because they feel that their voices won't be heard or, worse, because they feel intimidated by the "old guard" at the top. Well, I have a message for that "silent generation": now is the time to speak up. I challenge all Eventing professionals to take a stand on this critical issue and get involved. It's now or never. I promise that your voices will be heard. And I also have a message for those who would block constructive change in the sport: Expect a fight. Neither I nor the USEA is going to stand idly by while our sport continues down this path.

Over the past several months, Darren Chiacchia has taken a leadership role in terms of looking at how we can modify our national level courses, particularly at preliminary and training, to better suit the majority of horses and riders competing at these levels. Through his position as chairman of the Professional Horsemen's Council, Darren worked with multiple USEA committees and spearheaded the development of a "white paper" on potential changes to cross-country courses that was presented to the Board of Governors in Colorado Springs. Included among the concepts discussed in the white paper were fewer technical questions, more forgiving jump faces, fewer combinations, more realistic optimal speeds and the like. I appointed Darren as the leader of a USEA task force charged with converting the ideas in the white paper into concrete rule-change proposals, to be submitted to the USEA Board of Governors and then forwarded on for action by the USEF Eventing Technical Committee (chaired by my fellow USEA Governor Malcolm Hook). During Darren's convalescence, I have asked Gina Miles, his close collaborator in developing the white paper, to move forward with the task force's work on an expedited basis. A number of other prominent figures in the sport, among them Kim Severson, have also volunteered to become actively involved in this effort. I, too, will work closely with this task force. I believe it is equally important that all segments of our membership forcefully express their views on the necessity of the types of changes being addressed by this task force. Please pass your thoughts on to me—I will forward them to Gina, Kim and the other members of the task force.

On a separate track, the USEA will immediately investigate avenues to work with veterinarians and equine research professionals to find ways to reduce the stressors on our horses and explore the mechanisms of equine cardiovascular failure. If it makes sense to do so, I will ask the USEA Board of Governors to commit funding to this effort. We reaffirm the USEA's commitment to ensuring the well-being of our equine partners as well as the safety of our riders.

As many of you are aware, the USEA Board will be conducting a strategic planning session in Leesburg, Virginia this coming Friday and Saturday. This will be a topic for the meeting and I will solicit additional input on ways to move forward quickly and positively with these initiatives.

Again, this is no time for fence-sitting. If you believe it is time to stand up for your sport, please make your voice heard and volunteer to be part of the solution. Please contact me at kbaumgardner@corrcronin.com or at (206) 621-1480.

KBG Eventer
Mar. 19, 2008, 07:13 AM
Yes, thank you Kevin and Denny!

HiJumpGrrl
Mar. 19, 2008, 07:17 AM
who will be at the meeting in Leesburg? Denny, are you going up for it?

JSwan
Mar. 19, 2008, 07:24 AM
Excellent.

Tamara in TN
Mar. 19, 2008, 07:31 AM
This has left a large proportion of our core USEA membership—the 90-plus percent of Eventers who will never compete above preliminary—asking whether there is a place left for them in the sport.
Again, this is no time for fence-sitting. If you believe it is time to stand up for your sport, please make your voice heard and volunteer to be part of the solution. Please contact me at kbaumgardner@corrcronin.com or at (206) 621-1480.


what a well done letter...you have the chance to do properly what many other sports have done poorly...do not alienate the middle class novice (plus a little better) riders who ride for the FUN of the ride and the fellowship of the meet and not the ribbon or the glossy ad or the ability to swagger around like little roosters afterward...

I have always thought that the last real salt of the earth horse men (at least for the English riders)lay with the eventers and the foxhunters....now will be your chance, as a group, to keep it that way

snsmith
Mar. 19, 2008, 07:32 AM
His letter perfectly articulates what I, a lower level adult amateur, have been feeling. I have been seriously wondering whether I'm interested in remaining involved in this sport, and if you had told me a few years ago I would be having these thoughts I would have thought you were absolutely crazy. I've been involved in this sport since 1986, and I can tell you that the sport that exists now only faintly resembles the sport I love. I will be sending a letter to the USEA Board - Mr. Baumgardner has convinced me that there are people in the governance of the sport that recognize the issues, and I'm going to make sure my voice is added to the others supporting his position.

snoopy
Mar. 19, 2008, 07:39 AM
NOW is the time to stand behind Kevin...we must make our voices heard and we MUST drive this voice in a way that makes it very evident and uncomfortable for those who do not want change, who have no incentive to change, and quite frankly have skimmed a tidy profit off the backs of the many for the benefit of the few.
We must be prepared for the fact that these may be difficult times for the sport, but I for one will do what I can, rally those who are willing to help and shake the bad apples for the tree. There are many, they will not go quietly, but in the end, if we stand together I would sincerely hope that a restructure is in the cards.
I have news for the unholy trinity...your days are numbered.

ss3777
Mar. 19, 2008, 07:41 AM
Great message!! Here is the link:

http://www.useventing.com/aboutus.php?id=1422


After reading that I forwarded the link to over 100 of my "closest" eventing friends, trainers and fellow horse lovers. I then replied to my area one chairman and Kevin and let them know that I was helping to spread the word and ready to be of service. I am not sure what I can do next but I bet this BB will help me with my brainstorming.

annikak
Mar. 19, 2008, 07:48 AM
That was a lovely letter- My DH is the current USPC pres, and I know (deeply and throughly) that it is a thankless, hard job, where the blame get thrown solidly in the wrong direction.

Kevin has done a great job with all the balls being thrown in his direction, and it's obvious that we are in good hands. He has my full support.

ss3777
Mar. 19, 2008, 07:51 AM
I humbly believe that if we keep any kind of personal attacks (veiled or named) out of our "quest" it will make our stance stronger. Not easy ( I have failed in some of my posts) with something that is very personal to all of us. People that oppose our message will shut down given any excuse. Throwing personal rocks is often that very excuse.

Badger
Mar. 19, 2008, 07:52 AM
He gets it!

I've already written a letter of response to Mr. Baumgardener. AND I copied his letter and pasted it into an e-mail and sent it to riders, trainers, parents, and owners that might not see it on the USEA website but who would want to be aware of what is going on with our beloved sport.

snoopy
Mar. 19, 2008, 07:53 AM
I humbly believe that if we keep any kind of personal attacks (veiled or named) out of our "quest" it will make our stance stronger. Not easy ( I have failed in some of my posts) with something that is very personal to all of us. People that oppose our message will shut down given any excuse. Throwing personal rocks is often that very excuse.


It is nothing personal, just business.

pwynnnorman
Mar. 19, 2008, 07:56 AM
I am going to send this as feedback to KB, but I'd appreciate hearing what others think about it as some of it is speculation.

He notes that...


I believe there is a "silent generation" of Eventing professionals, most in their thirties or early forties, who are concerned with the current condition of the sport. In large part, these professionals have not actively participated in the governance of the sport or spoken up publicly, perhaps because they feel that their voices won't be heard or, worse, because they feel intimidated by the "old guard" at the top.

And then states...


During Darren's convalescence, I have asked Gina Miles, his close collaborator in developing the white paper, to move forward with the task force's work on an expedited basis. A number of other prominent figures in the sport, among them Kim Severson, have also volunteered to become actively involved in this effort.


And therein, I believe lies one of the problems--and I have noted this for years and years on these BBs. It is a very well-researched fact that volunteers are not inclined to step forward on their own. Again, this part is NOT my opinion. It is simply a fact: volunteers must be asked. Research also shows that the more directly they are asked, the more likely they will agree--to the point where, when a potential volunteer is asked personally (such as via a personalized letter or phone call), the positive response rate can approach 100 percent.

So, if USEA wants that silent generation to speak up, someone should ask them to do so directly, not urge them indirectly. Who are representatives of that generation? Put THEM on the committee with Gina and Kim, now. And if they already are on it? Then let that be known to serve as an example that would encourage others who share their traits to participate.

Just last night, I had a conversation with a fellow committee member and, coincidentally, we chatted about how we had landed on the committee. It was an interesting conversation--one that fully illustrated what I've written here: that there is a cadre of energetic enthusiasts eager to not just share their views, but to do real work for their organization--if they are asked to. And in other organizations, asking is standard practice, although most save money and time by publishing their requests rather than going the most direct route of personal interaction (which was how my colleague and I were asked). But even that would be a step in the right direction: Devote half a page in Eventing to listing what is needed in the way of volunteers: what skills, what areas of expertise, what committees (ad hoc or standing), and/or what supporting roles.

But in the case of the silent generation, how about asking some of them directly and personally?

This is where I seek others' opinions, though, because I do not know the psyche of that group. Recently, I asked a noted pony breeder to write an article about handling horses in hunter breeding classes and she refused, indicating (on a thread on the Breeders Forum) that to do so would bring the wrath of the "old guard" handlers down upon her. I can't believe that would be the case here, do you? If some of the silent generation were asked directly, would they refuse (due to intimidation, fear of reprisal, or whatever)? Surely not?

Meanwhile here are some very brief webpages which reinforce what I've stated about inviting (and retaining) volunteers:
http://www.allbusiness.com/human-resources/workforce-management-hiring-recruitment/486855-1.html
http://www.techsoup.org/learningcenter/volunteers/page5098.cfm
http://www.pigswillfly.com.au/?p=442

AKB
Mar. 19, 2008, 08:04 AM
Great letter. Something has to be done or people like our family, with several lower level horses, will be gone from the sport. I used to go out and volunteer as a cross country jump judge at our local big events. I refuse to be a part of that now, as I do not want to watch the carnage.

bambam
Mar. 19, 2008, 09:06 AM
Great letter

frugalannie
Mar. 19, 2008, 09:11 AM
Very impressive! Either the man has cloned himself or he has no other life. I was among the many who e-mailed him yesterday, and I received a specific reply with hours. He also posted this letter.

We are fortunate to have a someone with his energy, dedication and abilities, specifically to synthesize the comments of his membership and to identify issues leading our organization. I think it may actually be possible to develop solutions and implement them in the current environment.

Pwynn has made an excellent point, however. I am going to suggest to the USEA that Mr. Baugardner's letter be e-mailed to everyone listed as a pro n the USEA database (I certainly HOPE their database has that capability!). I would not have been aware of his letter without this BB, and there are lots of pros who don't have the time to hang out here or check the USEA website frequently.

throwurheart
Mar. 19, 2008, 09:16 AM
I say bravo!! too. Excellent letter, Kevin.

Badger
Mar. 19, 2008, 09:21 AM
" there are lots of pros who don't have the time to hang out here or check the USEA website frequently"

So those of us who have read the letter online need to either e-mail it to these pros or print it out and put a hard copy in their hand. Take a printout to your next lesson and hand it to your trainer or post it on the barn bulletin board.

LexInVA
Mar. 19, 2008, 09:22 AM
This certainly wasn't what I was expecting at all. Let's see where it goes.

CookiePony
Mar. 19, 2008, 09:26 AM
This is what I wrote on th BOG meeting thread:


I'm impressed. Kevin Baumgardner seems to have "got it." I look forward to hearing the forthcoming rule change proposals (that were already in the works via Darren himself). I am also heartened by the planned study of equine cardiovascular failure.

He also seems to genuinely want to hear from the pros who are not in the "inner circle" (I am amazed that he has publicly said that such an inner circle exists!). So if this is you, please speak up! Your voice is important.

Although pwynn has a point... perhaps we must directly ask some of these pros to participate.

snoopy
Mar. 19, 2008, 09:26 AM
Just to clarify my point in an earier post....

There is a group of individuals who have too many fingers in too many pies and as such have effectively silenced those who have opinions/suggestions that differ from their own. In order to break the lock down of these people there needs to be some loosening of the grip those individuals have on the direction of the sport. Those currently with the power are those who are driving the spot down the road it travels today.

I personally think, in some instances, that it is not to the benefit of the select few to make those changes.

We mustn't forget that all of these think tanks, commitees, are in effect our voice...they should be representing the many...not just the interest of the few.

I have nothing personally against these individuals, I do however dislike those practices that effect us all.

pwynnnorman
Mar. 19, 2008, 09:27 AM
What do you mean, Lex? That people are being more thankful than responsive? I didn't thank because I didn't think thanks were needed. I thought feedback (and further discussion) was needed. Thanks are great and I mean no disrespect for not thanking, but I tend to be a bit impatient.

SparklePlenty
Mar. 19, 2008, 09:27 AM
I have fowarded it over to my barn's secretary and it will hopefully hit the email list today.

I agree w/Pwynn... volunteer's are hard to find and keep especially during the time of olympic selection.

BUT.. i think in this situation if there was a clear direction for those us who who WANT to make a different and are not BNT/BNR etc we would.

If someone would give me direction right now as how to help i would..

pwynnnorman
Mar. 19, 2008, 09:32 AM
BTW, I said this earlier:


And therein, I believe lies one of the problems--and I have noted this for years and years on these BBs. It is a very well-researched fact that volunteers are not inclined to step forward on their own.

But I should have said "volunteers are not inclined to step forward on their own unless they have a vested interest in doing so," which ties in with what recent posts have implied.

mellsmom
Mar. 19, 2008, 09:43 AM
So, if anyone watches the TV show JERICHO.... NUTS!

If you don't it's the battle cry of the town when they go into battle. Actually, it's kind of an interesting story... when CBS cancelled the show, fans were upset and sent tons of nuts to the CBS headquarters. The show is back for a second short season ths year. I'm not sure if it will be cancelled or pickup for a third season, but it's the first time a show has been resurrected by fan outrage.


I just wonder if there's a way for us to show our support for KB's position. Anyone up for sending something to USEA headquarters ? :-)

LexInVA
Mar. 19, 2008, 09:44 AM
What do you mean, Lex? That people are being more thankful than responsive? I didn't thank because I didn't think thanks were needed. I thought feedback (and further discussion) was needed. Thanks are great and I mean no disrespect for not thanking, but I tend to be a bit impatient.


I just wasn't expecting that type of response from Mr. B. That's all. I guess I'm just a cynical SOB. I want this to be more than "feel good" posturing on the USEA's behalf. I really would like to see positive change come from this miasma instead of the same old strawberry cream covered turds we get force fed time and again. I don't want to have that Christmas morning feeling of opening a big box expecting something really awesome only to find it's a bunch of socks.

sugarvfk
Mar. 19, 2008, 09:52 AM
Great letter!

VicarageVee
Mar. 19, 2008, 10:03 AM
Well said, herr President! I'm glad we have a thoughtful, caring individual at the helm.

Per his request to get the unspoken eventing community in their 30-40s organized, why not begin with the Area representatives and the Adult Rider Area Representatives, these people are that target audience?

hookedoneventing
Mar. 19, 2008, 10:03 AM
Anyone know what the new qualification criteria going into effect December 1st are out of curiosity?

pwynnnorman
Mar. 19, 2008, 10:04 AM
I just wasn't expecting that type of response from Mr. B. That's all. I guess I'm just a cynical SOB. I want this to be more than "feel good" posturing on the USEA's behalf. I really would like to see positive change come from this miasma instead of the same old strawberry cream covered turds we get force fed time and again. I don't want to have that Christmas morning feeling of opening a big box expecting something really awesome only to find it's a bunch of socks.

And that's what, in your opinion, you did NOT find in his letter, yes? Or am I getting it wrong again? His tone seemed to imply a much more tart dessert (compared to "strawberry cream covered turds").

Auburn
Mar. 19, 2008, 10:09 AM
I, too, was one of you who wrote and received a response from Mr. Baumgardner, yesterday.

He deserves a huge "Thank you", for sticking his neck out for our sport.

Now, my question is how many of you have written him this morning to ask what you can personally do to help fix this? We have gotten some attention, now let us stand up and do something about it. That "inner circle" has to be broken. The only way to put a dent into it is for ALL of us to get out and affect change.

How many of you are willing to go the distance?

hookedoneventing
Mar. 19, 2008, 10:11 AM
I also thank him for his response!

I will certainly be writing to him myself this afternoon when I get home and have time to sit down and write a response...I am willing to do whatever I can do to help my sport...

asterix
Mar. 19, 2008, 10:15 AM
Anyone know what the new qualification criteria going into effect December 1st are out of curiosity?

Well, that was the only part of that letter that made me feel cynical. If it's the qualifications I'm thinking of, they won't do anything whatsoever to help ensure pairs are prepared for the moveup from training to prelim (I'm not saying this is KB's fault at all, just that I wouldn't have waved that around as an example of improvements in the sport):
Qualifying results to moveup (I think you will need 4):
Less than 50 in dressage
Fewer than 16 jump penalties in SJ
Fewer than 90 seconds time faults on XC (and I assume 0 jump penalties).

This does not exactly represent a high bar, in my opinion.

Samantha37
Mar. 19, 2008, 10:15 AM
Really nice written letter- very effective. I will be writing one today expressing my concerns as well




So, if anyone watches the TV show JERICHO.... NUTS!

If you don't it's the battle cry of the town when they go into battle. Actually, it's kind of an interesting story... when CBS cancelled the show, fans were upset and sent tons of nuts to the CBS headquarters. The show is back for a second short season ths year. I'm not sure if it will be cancelled or pickup for a third season, but it's the first time a show has been resurrected by fan outrage.


I just wonder if there's a way for us to show our support for KB's position. Anyone up for sending something to USEA headquarters ? :-)

Mellsmom- This is no place for battle cries or "siding". If we are going to change eventing, we must do it together with the organizations, or nothing will be accomplished. We are all eventers, and we all want our sport to be sucessful and safe. If you want to send "something" to USEA- why don't you send a letter expressing your concerns as opposed to coming on here and talking about battle cries.

Classic Melody
Mar. 19, 2008, 10:26 AM
Well, that was the only part of that letter that made me feel cynical. If it's the qualifications I'm thinking of, they won't do anything whatsoever to help ensure pairs are prepared for the moveup from training to prelim (I'm not saying this is KB's fault at all, just that I wouldn't have waved that around as an example of improvements in the sport):
Qualifying results to moveup (I think you will need 4):
Less than 50 in dressage
Fewer than 16 jump penalties in SJ
Fewer than 90 seconds time faults on XC (and I assume 0 jump penalties).

This does not exactly represent a high bar, in my opinion.

I wrote to Kevin expressing a similar thought. I know everyone wants to protect Darren and no one wants to be the first to say "Well..." but if you look at the horse's record, honestly, it does not suggest the horse was remotely ready for prelim. Of course we can never know how the horse was schooling, or what pressure Darren was under to develop the horse quickly. But the fact that Darren himself was helping to lead the charge to make eventing safer is really sad. I don't think it's too much for the USEA to require at minimum TWO clean XC trips before moving up. This could protect pros from overeager and/or naive owners.

flyingchange
Mar. 19, 2008, 10:26 AM
Well, that was the only part of that letter that made me feel cynical. If it's the qualifications I'm thinking of, they won't do anything whatsoever to help ensure pairs are prepared for the moveup from training to prelim (I'm not saying this is KB's fault at all, just that I wouldn't have waved that around as an example of improvements in the sport):
Qualifying results to moveup (I think you will need 4):
Less than 50 in dressage
Fewer than 16 jump penalties in SJ
Fewer than 90 seconds time faults on XC (and I assume 0 jump penalties).

This does not exactly represent a high bar, in my opinion.

Ditto.

Plus, these accidents are happening to our tried and tested ULRs!!!!! Not to the ammies moving from T to P!!!! While the move from T to P is a huge one and should not be overlooked, I just do NOT understand the emphasis on it when the vast majority of accidents are not occuring to this group and in this move up.

It's like, oh, let's focus on the moron ammies trying to move up instead of doing the really hard thing which is looking at the [de]volution of course design and the consequences to our UL horses and riders.

LexInVA
Mar. 19, 2008, 10:27 AM
And that's what, in your opinion, you did NOT find in his letter, yes? Or am I getting it wrong again? His tone seemed to imply a much more tart dessert (compared to "strawberry cream covered turds").

I found a small bit of hope in his letter. Nothing more. No sugary treats or fecal matter. The turds are in reference to the "We know what's best for you. Let us handle it." attitude/positions that is often displayed by the USEF and it's umbrella organizations in response to things like the recent events at RH to pacify us.

closetoperfectionfarm
Mar. 19, 2008, 10:27 AM
I have written ny letter too.

Now if all of the ULR would ban together and also stand up.

"you can't have a team with out the players

bambam
Mar. 19, 2008, 10:35 AM
If you do not think what they are doing is enough (and I agree, those criteria won't do jack), then get involved in the process if they will let you- and if they don't welcome the input from us garden variety eventers, then we have a much bigger problem.
If my request to help and be involved is rejected, then I will be disappointed and disillusioned and probably come to the conclusion that the powers that be are simply blwoing hot air in an attempt to shut us up and will go on their merry way of killing the sport

flutie1
Mar. 19, 2008, 10:42 AM
Senator Obama's words in his magnificent speech yesterday seem especially appropriate to this situation - "We can come together and say 'Not this time.'"

Flutie

LexInVA
Mar. 19, 2008, 10:45 AM
If you do not think what they are doing is enough (and I agree, those criteria won't do jack), then get involved in the process if they will let you- and if they don't welcome the input from us garden variety Eventers, then we have a much bigger problem.
If my request to help and be involved is rejected, then I will be disappointed and disillusioned and probably come to the conclusion that the powers that be are simply blowing hot air in an attempt to shut us up and will go on their merry way of killing the sport

That's what I'm afraid of because it's exactly what we've had in the past. Nothing but "Give us your money and trust us." Hasn't really worked well at all.

hookedoneventing
Mar. 19, 2008, 10:49 AM
Asterix and Melody, I totally agree with you...

There has got to be more stringent horse requirements to move up through the levels, especially if the technicality of these courses is not going to change

eqsiu
Mar. 19, 2008, 10:53 AM
Well, I sent an e-mail off with my initial suggestions. I wish I had thought to suggest changing the age limits for horses.

bambam
Mar. 19, 2008, 10:55 AM
well LexInVa, if you have asked to participate before and essentially been told to butt out or know others who have, then perhaps I am being unduly optimistic

Badger
Mar. 19, 2008, 10:55 AM
I know everyone wants to protect Darren and no one wants to be the first to say "Well..." but if you look at the horse's record, honestly, it does not suggest the horse was remotely ready for prelim.

I call this a crock.

I don't know Darren at all. Never ridden with him. But he is an skilled rider who has produced multiple horses. By looking at the record I see that he has been working with the horse for two years. According to the "rules," he could have started the horse at prelim. He didn't. He started the horse at novice two years ago, brought him back out at novice this year, then training, then prelim. He "could" have started the horse at prelim three years ago, when the horse was 4. He didn't.

This sort of Monday morning quarterbacking by people (you or me) who don't know the horse or the rider or the situation has no business replacing the experienced judgement of a rider who has invested years developing that horse.

TheOtherHorse
Mar. 19, 2008, 10:55 AM
GREAT letter! Thank you Kevin! That pretty much summarizes the concerns I've been having also. I'll definitely be writing my letter!

colliemom
Mar. 19, 2008, 11:02 AM
Ditto.

Plus, these accidents are happening to our tried and tested ULRs!!!!! Not to the ammies moving from T to P!!!! While the move from T to P is a huge one and should not be overlooked, I just do NOT understand the emphasis on it when the vast majority of accidents are not occuring to this group and in this move up.

It's like, oh, let's focus on the moron ammies trying to move up instead of doing the really hard thing which is looking at the [de]volution of course design and the consequences to our UL horses and riders.


This was a key point in the email that I sent to Kevin B. last night. I said that the lower level amateurs and young riders are not the ones making headlines.

My letter was long so I have not posted it here, but would be happy to if anyone wants me to. Mr. Colliemom (Area II Chair) wanted to put his name on it instead of mine! I did copy him, though ;) He is getting emails, too, and replying to all, and sending them on.

As I've said, reading all the threads over the last three days (and getting no work done!)... this is a firestorm. We need to keep it going to effect real changes.

Gry2Yng
Mar. 19, 2008, 11:06 AM
Well said Kevin. To quote flutie, quoting Senator Obama, I hope "We can come together and say 'Not this time.'"

Jazzy Lady
Mar. 19, 2008, 11:08 AM
I call this a crock.

I don't know Darren at all. Never ridden with him. But he is an skilled rider who has produced multiple horses. By looking at the record I see that he has been working with the horse for two years. According to the "rules," he could have started the horse at prelim. He didn't. He started the horse at novice two years ago, brought him back out at novice this year, then training, then prelim. He "could" have started the horse at prelim three years ago, when the horse was 4. He didn't.

This sort of Monday morning quarterbacking by people (you or me) who don't know the horse or the rider or the situation has no business replacing the experienced judgement of a rider who has invested years developing that horse.

Thank you

Darren started working with the horse is 2005 actually, so it is a horse he knows well. Those who know his teaching style know that he doesn't rush his students or his horses. When you are consistently riding around *** and **** courses, prelim is not a difficult task, and is a task that most average abilitied horses should be able to do. He did safely jump around Rocking horse the weekend before at preliminary, so it is not a moveup and if the horse went well the weekend before there is no way he could have predicted this to happen. None of us could. Darren has fantastic judgement and he knows a horse's limit. He won't sell you a prelim horse tops and tell you to take it intermediate. It's just not his way. He is one of the most honest horse trainers that I know.

closetoperfectionfarm
Mar. 19, 2008, 11:11 AM
Senator Obama's words in his magnificent speech yesterday seem especially appropriate to this situation - "We can come together and say 'Not this time.'"

Flutie

BRILLIANT!

OvertheRainBow
Mar. 19, 2008, 11:14 AM
To quote Gryzyn, quoting flutie, quoting Obama,
We can (must) come together and say "Not this time"!:)

Classic Melody
Mar. 19, 2008, 11:25 AM
I call this a crock.

I don't know Darren at all. Never ridden with him. But he is an skilled rider who has produced multiple horses. By looking at the record I see that he has been working with the horse for two years. According to the "rules," he could have started the horse at prelim. He didn't. He started the horse at novice two years ago, brought him back out at novice this year, then training, then prelim. He "could" have started the horse at prelim three years ago, when the horse was 4. He didn't.

This sort of Monday morning quarterbacking by people (you or me) who don't know the horse or the rider or the situation has no business replacing the experienced judgement of a rider who has invested years developing that horse.

Look, I know it's an unpopular thing to say. Darren is one of the best in the world, but even the best aren't perfect. I just don't think it would be unreasonable for the USEA to require more than one clean XC to move up, especially at that separate-wheat-from-chaff training-prelim step. I want everyone to come home. Horses and riders. That's all.

vineyridge
Mar. 19, 2008, 11:46 AM
Look, I know it's an unpopular thing to say. Darren is one of the best in the world, but even the best aren't perfect. I just don't think it would be unreasonable for the USEA to require more than one clean XC to move up, especially at that separate-wheat-from-chaff training-prelim step. I want everyone to come home. Horses and riders. That's all.

This is reasonable. More than one good outing before the horse is qualified to move up.

easyklc
Mar. 19, 2008, 12:25 PM
Kudos Kevin! I am proud to be a USEA member, and even prouder that you, as our president have taken the time to address these issues so thoroughly and articulately.

And thank you Denny for posting it!

Janet
Mar. 19, 2008, 12:39 PM
He "could" have started the horse at prelim three years ago, when the horse was 4.
Don't think so.

1.4 PRELIMINARY (P) - Open to competitors from the beginning of the calendar year of
their 14th birthday, on horses five years of age or older. The competitor must have
completed four Horse Trials at the Training Level or higher.

wookie
Mar. 19, 2008, 12:43 PM
kevin,, thank you for expressing something i have felt since competing recognized. i am 41 and have competed to training level. there have been at least 3 events at that level where fences had me terrified--unfair at that level and that early in the season. at one event, marty and kim morani voiced their concerns to the td,, the response-the fence stays, we will put flowers under it. oh thanxs, that airy hanging 3' 3" log going downhill in a treeline (and a skinny), really needed the short bouquet of bright yellow posies to make it more friendly. multiple falls at that fence--one requiring transport to er. then again,, a big table out of nowhere at an early spring event in area 2.. scared me to death--rider coptered out right as i was going in to sj at that fence. didn't ride well. and an event down south that says its training,, but acted like prelim in size and questions. my trainer said,, they are handing you your a@# here. and they did.
so why don't people like me voice up, when i have the response at the show, no-one else complained about that fence, you get disgusted and give up.
at one particular show i was watching intermediate down at chp. young riders division.. it was a blood bath, the td was pale and shakey. one particular fence was killing them, and when i asked when this fence would be taken off the course or at least changed,, a certain financier and big wig stated maybe i shouldn't voice my opinion so loudly.
well now i am pissed.. and this will get me moving.
as an er nurse i have learned alot but one big lesson is trust your gut. if something tells you that fence ain't right--it isn't. don't suck it up and try and be brave like the majority,, remember there is brave and dumb brave.
and i fully agree with the fact that asking a horse and rider to collect, gallop, collect, gallop over huge and tech questions is a huge part of the problem.
has anyone ever done windsprints in track? now imagine doing them with hurdles and turns.
i am in area 2 and would love to get involved. anyone else? please reply.

JER
Mar. 19, 2008, 12:50 PM
Darren Chiacchia is 42 years old. He's been in this sport forever. If he didn't know when to run a horse at which level, he would have been weeded out via natural selection a long time ago.

Janet
Mar. 19, 2008, 12:56 PM
Anyone know what the new qualification criteria going into effect December 1st are out of curiosity?
My understanding (for national HT) is that this will go into effect Dec 1 2008

1.2. Except as noted below, National Qualifying Result (NQR): an NQR is achieved by completing the entire Horse Trial and scoring:
- not more than 50 penalty points in the Dressage Test; and
- No jumping penalties at obstacles on the Cross Country Test, and not more than 90 seconds (36 penalty points) exceeding the optimum time; and
- not more than 16 penalties at obstacles in the Jumping Test.
- A Qualifying Result (QR) at a national competition is an NQR.
...
2.4 PRELIMINARY (P) - Open to competitors from the beginning of the calendar year of their 14th birthday, on horses five years of age or older. The competitor must have obtained an NQR at four Horse Trials at the Training Level or higher.
2.5 INTERMEDIATE (I) - Open to competitors from the beginning of the calendar year of their 16th birthday, on horses six years of age or older. Both the competitor and the horse, though not necessarily as a combination, must have obtained an NQR at three Horse Trials at the Preliminary Level or higher, plus an additional NQR with no more than 20 Jumping Penalties at obstacles on the Cross Country Test.
2.6 ADVANCED (A) - Open to competitors from the beginning of the calendar year of their 18th birthday, on horses six years of age or older. Both the competitor and the horse, though not necessarily as a combination, must have obtained an NQR at three Horse Trials at the Intermediate Level or higher, plus an additional NQR with no more than 20 Jumping Penalties at obstacles on the Cross Country Test.

purplnurpl
Mar. 19, 2008, 12:59 PM
In these situations it's hard not to want to judge individuals and their decisions.

But we must remember that we don't know.
I have heard lots of opinions, on and off the board. Even heard opinions from people that were there. But like any other situation, everyone sees something different.
It's just not our place to judge.

Badger is right.

We need to focus more on the what to do in the future, rather then the 'what if's' of the past.

What happened to Darren cannot be changed now. But what happens to us and our horses in the future can and should.

McVillesMom
Mar. 19, 2008, 01:06 PM
kevin,, thank you for expressing something i have felt since competing recognized. i am 41 and have competed to training level. there have been at least 3 events at that level where fences had me terrified--unfair at that level and that early in the season. at one event, marty and kim morani voiced their concerns to the td,, the response-the fence stays, we will put flowers under it. oh thanxs, that airy hanging 3' 3" log going downhill in a treeline (and a skinny), really needed the short bouquet of bright yellow posies to make it more friendly. multiple falls at that fence--one requiring transport to er. then again,, a big table out of nowhere at an early spring event in area 2.. scared me to death--rider coptered out right as i was going in to sj at that fence. didn't ride well. and an event down south that says its training,, but acted like prelim in size and questions. my trainer said,, they are handing you your a@# here. and they did.
so why don't people like me voice up, when i have the response at the show, no-one else complained about that fence, you get disgusted and give up.
at one particular show i was watching intermediate down at chp. young riders division.. it was a blood bath, the td was pale and shakey. one particular fence was killing them, and when i asked when this fence would be taken off the course or at least changed,, a certain financier and big wig stated maybe i shouldn't voice my opinion so loudly.
well now i am pissed.. and this will get me moving.
as an er nurse i have learned alot but one big lesson is trust your gut. if something tells you that fence ain't right--it isn't. don't suck it up and try and be brave like the majority,, remember there is brave and dumb brave.
and i fully agree with the fact that asking a horse and rider to collect, gallop, collect, gallop over huge and tech questions is a huge part of the problem.
has anyone ever done windsprints in track? now imagine doing them with hurdles and turns.
i am in area 2 and would love to get involved. anyone else? please reply.

snsmith and Wookie, I am TOTALLY with you. I event at novice-almost-training, and most events in our area have questions at all levels that are totally inappropriate. We had an ABC combination involving a down bank at BEGINNER NOVICE at an event last year. What happened to a safe, INVITING introduction to the sport? And I feel like I can do NOTHING about it, because of the "suck it up" mentality that is so prevalent - my complaints are dismissed because no one else will say anything. Yes, most of these accidents are happening at the upper levels - but the increased technicality that is CAUSING them is trickling all the way down to BN. Something has to change. I'm glad to know that there ARE other ammies at the lower levels that feel the way I do!

hookedoneventing
Mar. 19, 2008, 01:10 PM
And I totally agree with you....

My problem with any of these qualifications is that they are missing half of the equation THE HORSE, the other athlete involved here, our partners....they should be just as qualified to move up too...they should be meeting qualifications as well at the lower levels I believe....why is there no mention whatsoever of them having to meet any sort of qualifications here until intermediate? Once again with courses becoming increasingly more difficult I would challenge that to protect our horses we must think about making them gain valuable experience at the lower levels prior to them moving up the levels...yes they may very well have skipped along through 2 novices and a couple trainings, but it has become a very mentally challenging experience for them out there on course and I think until they have also seen several training courses for example and have met said criteria (whatever that might be) then and only then should they (like the competitor be allowed to move up...after all we are a team out there...

poltroon
Mar. 19, 2008, 01:36 PM
It's an excellent letter.

I haven't been to an event in several years due to a young child and a retired horse, but as I work with my daughter on her pony, and hear about all the accidents in the past year, I'm wondering if I wouldn't rather send her into pony jumpers rather than eventing.

I love eventing and I always thought I would be back - but when even the top riders are having serious accidents at preliminary, it gives me pause.

vali
Mar. 19, 2008, 01:47 PM
I just sent Kevin my letter of support and list of concerns, and an offer to volunteer in any way that could help. I used to event at Prelim level and am eventing more at Novice/Training level since having children, but I've been increasingly distressed at the trends in eventing over the many years I've been in the sport. I love eventing, but as a parent of two young children who are starting to ride, I've been questioning whether I will want them to event. I've been at too many events where riders and horses have died, and the courses just aren't as enjoyable to ride or to watch at the current time. I see full coffins at Training and occasionally even Novice level, and you see courses that might have been appropriate as a division championship at the end of the season at events in March. Too many skinnies and awkwardly angled and technical combinations at all levels. I am always overprepared for the levels I compete at and haven't had a fall or stop in competition in many years, but I see stops and falls constantly in the lower divisions.

Spectrum
Mar. 19, 2008, 01:50 PM
Here is a copy of the letter I sent:

To Whom It May Concern:

I would like to whole-heartedly add my support to any initiative designed at re-evaluating the technical aspects of eventing and the sport’s recent trends.

I am a life-long equestrienne and have been riding for over 20 years. My roots were in Pony Club and eventing, but in recent years I have concentrated more exclusively on dressage due to owning a mare who is easily intimidated by jumping.

I have observed the trends in the sport and would like to offer the following comments. Eventing has three stages- dressage, endurance, and show-jumping. Cross country falls as part of the endurance phase, and I believe that in recent years this particular phase has begun to wander from its original intended purpose of testing the physical stamina and endurance of rider and horse. Instead, it has tested at increasing levels the technical abilities of horse and rider, a function to which I believe it is neither appropriate nor was intended based on the origins of the sport.

Eventing already has two highly technical phases designed to test these skills in horse and rider- dressage and show-jumping. These phases are designed to test the technical skills of a team under safe, controlled conditions. Cross country, on the other hand, has increasingly attempted to test these skills in horse and rider when they are travelling at high speeds and when they are most susceptible to both physical injury and mental error- when both parties are tired and have significantly less time available to consider and navigate technical questions. I do not think this is either safe or logical.

If eventing as a sport feels the need to develop more difficult technical questions for horse and rider in order to separate the top pairs more effectively, put these additional technical questions in the dressage and show-jumping phases where they belong and can be offered under the safest possible conditions. Or, increase the endurance requirements of cross country while easing some of the danger by limiting the number and nature of technical questions that can be presented.

When I was growing up, one of my keenest eventing memories was of the Rolex Kentucky event where Courtney Ramsey was injured aboard Stateside. The course offered a “picture frame” jump with an extremely short curved approach, followed by a drop-off on the landing side. Several horses that day refused the fence, and Mr. Ramsey’s horse flipped over the fence and crushed him on the landing side. If I remember correctly, the fence portion was removed for later riders due to safety concerns.

Cross country should not be about testing every facet of bravery a horse and rider can manage. It should not be about asking horses to come down from a gallop to collect and navigate awkward stridings and hair-pin turns that force horses to abandon common sense and have blind trust that their riders will not present them with questions they are unable to answer. It isn’t fair to the horse, and it isn’t fair to the rider either when safety is obviously becoming a larger and larger concern in the sport. Cross country needs to return to its original intended purpose of testing the endurance of a pair while offering honest, straight-forward and enjoyable tests of horse and rider skill.

Thank you for addressing this point and for taking the time to read my letter.

Sincerely,
xxxxxxxxxx

luveventing
Mar. 19, 2008, 02:00 PM
I too was very pleased with Kevin's letter. for ONCE I felt like someone took their fingers out of their ears and LISTENED to what the majority was saying.

I just want to add- I do not know Darren personally, but I do know he is very dedicated to his sport, and spends more time preparing himself and his horses than most ULR out there. I think the OVERALL issue is.....courses that have become too technical and unforgiving and combine that with riders/horses that have moved up to quickly- there is just NO ROOM for error. And that is NOT the way the sport was ever meant to be. Darren's horse was young and green- I would trust that by his methods this horse was ready....but the horse MADE A MISTAKE!

I know how many times young horses just make a mistake and no one should end up in Darren's condition because of that. I truly hold every ounce of hope he has a quick recovery- because afterall, even though this was a terrible accident for him, who on EARTH at this point would be more focused, have more experience, and has been willing to step up and SPEAK OUT than Darren. He better get on the mend quickly and come back to us because we need him to whip things back into shape around here.

Bottom line- I think course design has gone awry and on top of that those riders/horses moving up too quickly are now paying the ultimate price. We need to keep them from moving up as quickly, esp at prelim and up- and make the courses kind enough to give them penalties without killing our horses and riders.

throwurheart
Mar. 19, 2008, 02:04 PM
Bravo, Spectrum!

millerra
Mar. 19, 2008, 02:18 PM
Just a couple more comments ...

I started eventing in the early 90's

Since that time, they have dumbed down (ok, PC word is simplify) the dressage tests of novice (and bnovice) so that people could enter baby green horses . Yet, now the novice courses I rode last year included a downhill, off-set 4 stride combo (flagged separately) and a skinny log, 4 strides to a down bank. The dressage requirements and the xcountry requirements of training and balance do not match - but backwards to the way common sense says it should be. Moreover, the speed has changed from 350 to 400 mpm - so people were jumping at 450 to make the time. Can we "jump fast and flat"? A small fence at 400 - 450 mpm is a road bump. In my humble opinion, it does not encourage a safe jumping style nor teach the horse or rider how to gallop and jump in a balanced manner.

Yet, when we old foggies voiced our concerns, we were patted on the head and said the courses were finally up to "national standards".

Just my 2 cents. and yes, I've written an email of support to K. B. I hope that things will/can change.

Fixerupper
Mar. 19, 2008, 02:23 PM
[quote=Badger;3084761]A Message from USEA President Kevin Baumgardner
Updated: March 19, 2008

But the overall trends, particularly over the last three years, are unmistakable—and in my view totally unacceptable. I know that my concern that the sport has gotten off track is shared by many of our members, amateurs and professionals alike.

We seem to be in an ever-spiraling loop in which the aspect of cross-country that attracted most of us to the sport in the first place, the joy and thrill of galloping rhythmically over jumps across country, has been replaced with questions of extreme technicality and a proliferation of combinations taken at show-jump speed.




I wholeheartedly agree. The course at Aachen for the WEG seemed to solve many of these issues by grouping the technical fences together where they didn't invite approach at too fast a pace and having other areas of the course with the big galloping fences. The technical fences and combinations, particularly those with tricky distances, are just not safe at high speeds.

deltawave
Mar. 19, 2008, 02:29 PM
Being able to collect a galloping horse and package it properly to a trappy fence is a skill all eventers should have. But it shouldn't be the ONLY skill they should have. Test that "button" ONCE OR TWICE on the course, but don't forget to test pure bravery (ditchy stuff, light to dark), jumping ability, galloping ability, obedience, etc, too.

mellsmom
Mar. 19, 2008, 03:53 PM
you misunderstood my message.... what I was trying to say was we, as a group, need to say...enough is enough and we want change. It's not a one person deal, it's ALL OF US as a group acting together to be heard. We must all work together. In order to make an impression it's got to be a united call for changes. We may as a group negotiate what that change needs to be, but as you say we must be committed to insisting that we will not back down until our concerns are addressed.
I was attempting humor when I asked what we should send to USEA HQ.

I agree that the dressage is being dumbed down considerably compared to the technicality of XC. If we expect someone to have certain skills XC, why do we not see them tested in dressage and stadium? It seems like everytime we learn the material required to pass the "test" at a level, the questions change. It is quite telling when people who have been at this sport for a long time have serious issues with the questions we are asking and the trickling down of really difficult questions at the lower levels. Course designers, if you want to add a coffin at Novice, make it an option for those who WANT the challenge. Add some flexibility to your courses and let riders make decisions about what they are ready for. I promise not to complain that I got beaten by someone taking the easy route if I have a stop at a harder option.

pwynnnorman
Mar. 19, 2008, 03:58 PM
I found a small bit of hope in his letter. Nothing more. No sugary treats or fecal matter. The turds are in reference to the "We know what's best for you. Let us handle it." attitude/positions that is often displayed by the USEF and it's umbrella organizations in response to things like the recent events at RH to pacify us.

Ah, I see now. Thanks for clarifying! It does sound like a sea change may be occurring in quite a number of USEF affiliates.

Sandy M
Mar. 19, 2008, 04:00 PM
but it's the first time a show has been resurrected by fan outrage.
:-)


First time? Nope. Two words: Star Trek

More to the point: Both this thread and the general news re Red Hill, et al..... just verifies my good judgment (for me, individually) at having stopped eventing in 1987. I had evented for 10 years, through prelim, done a couple of Intermediate combined tests. I was waaaay too intimidated by what was happened to x-c then, but those courses were simplicity itself compared to now. I, too, do not "recognize" what was once my favorite sport. I'm a DQ now, and while THAT sport too, has its issues (i.e., the qualification brouhaha) , none of them are "life threatening."

eqsiu
Mar. 19, 2008, 04:14 PM
Good lord! I had no idea the Novice speed was 400 now! I haven't evented since 2002, but really, 350 was a fine pace! Why change it?

ellebeaux
Mar. 19, 2008, 04:15 PM
Great letter. Honestly, I feel like we are being listened to.

hey101
Mar. 19, 2008, 04:18 PM
Ah, I see now. Thanks for clarifying! It does sound like a sea change may be occurring in quite a number of USEF affiliates.


Pwynn- I am curious how you feel about all of the recent events- the injuries, the deaths, the discussions on this board, the letter that Kevin has posted on USEA website. As the an owner of a serious Olympic contender, surely you must see more that "inner circle" than the rest of us. I always find your posts highly interesting and thoughtful. Are you willing to boldly state what you think here, or to Kevin, or to "the powers that be"? Somehow you don't strike me as the shy retiring type. :)

Would you pull Teddy from a competition where YOU felt the XC was unsafe- no matter what anyone else had to say about it?

I guess I feel that through you, and Tuppysmom, Denny of course, and a few others, that "we" (the rest of us) get more of an insight into what really goes on than perhaps that "inner circle" would like.

RunForIt
Mar. 19, 2008, 05:08 PM
Thank you Kevin for the thought, the initiative, and the guts to write this letter. We are all the better for your wise leadership - simple explanations to complex problems never work - I believe you're prepared to make sure that doesn't happen.

Thank you so much to everyone who cares enough about event horses and our sport who helped this man take on this role ...

Miss Perfect
Mar. 19, 2008, 05:13 PM
A Message from USEA President Kevin Baumgardner
Updated: March 19, 2008

This has left a large proportion of our core USEA membership—the 90-plus percent of Eventers who will never compete above preliminary—asking whether there is a place left for them in the sport.
kbaumgardner@corrcronin.com or at (206) 621-1480.

I think that Kevin hit the nail on the head with this letter - thank you Kevin! The quote above espescially hit home with me. I have a young horse that I have one goal with - complete a training 3-day.

But, this weekend got me thinking. I have dinner with my parents about once a month. When I walked in pale and distracted, once again, my dad aske me "Who died or was crippled this time?" I then realized that almost everytime I see my parents, I have news of yet another rider or horse, dead or paralyzed.

VERY little in life scares me. I'm game for just about anything. But this sport has been scaring me, making me wonder if there is, in fact, a place for people like me.

It will take every one of us to take action, speak up, and show our support for Kevin to help remove the unecessarily dangerous aspects of this sport.

denny
Mar. 19, 2008, 05:33 PM
I think the initial culprit in this botched up mess was our decision to do whatever it took to stay in the Olympics, even though it meant tearing the speed/stamina/endurance component out of the modern sport.
But it hasn`t stopped there.
Our USEF leadership (and I use that term loosely), in its desire to win medals, has promoted the kind of xc design at the top that it, (the leadership) thinks most likely will prepare horses for what they will see at said Olympics.
Lots of oblique angles, skinnys, narrow jumps, turning questions, sort of a glorified "show jumping in the open."
But it hasn`t stopped there.
In order to do a four star, first they have to do a three star, so same kinds of questions get asked.
Then, to do a three star, they must have done a two star, so same kinds of questions.
And so on, right down the line, even to training, sometimes even to novice.
Despite the fact that this whole deal is only structured for what, 15-25 riders in all of America who have even a chance of making the Team.
So what we are saying, I think, is we don`t want a few USEF officials, employees and lackeys screwing up our entire sport to pay a few salaries by winning the odd medal.
Anyway, that`s MY conspiracy theory!!

pwynnnorman
Mar. 19, 2008, 05:45 PM
Would you pull Teddy from a competition where YOU felt the XC was unsafe- no matter what anyone else had to say about it?

Thank you for wanting to hear from those perspectives. I posted a thread with a proposal that contains, at the end of it, my honest perspective about this whole thing. In sum, as I state in the other thread, I would have much rather had Teddy gain fame as a master of Prelim than risk his neck as a competitor at a four star.

I have two five-year-olds with a lot of talent. I was tempted to send them an eventing route, but I am too often reminded of why, for a breeder, it's just not worth the risk--at least not until they have enough mastery of the challenges, through safer sports (hunters, then jumpers with dressage throughout), to have a better chance of getting themselves out of tough spots and carrying themselves through awkward moments without strain or injury.

There is no longer any glory in putting a good foundation on a horse. It's all about moving on and moving up. If it were really about that foundation, no one would care what the qualifying criteria were.

Janet
Mar. 19, 2008, 05:47 PM
I think the initial culprit in this botched up mess was our decision to do whatever it took to stay in the Olympics, even though it meant tearing the speed/stamina/endurance component out of the modern sport.
That, and the desire for TV coverage.

quietann
Mar. 19, 2008, 06:17 PM
This may sound odd, and it's entirely personal to me, but now I worry about my trainer's comeback to eventing. She hasn't gone higher than Training (and then only a few times) in 20 years or so, because she hasn't had the right horse to do it. But now she has this lovely, lovely horse (from Beth Murphy) and he is definitely capable of P and maybe I with more training. I just worry that if the courses have changed that much, she won't know what hit her. Luckily Area 1 has some big gallopy courses...

And this all makes me glad that I am a chicken and will likely never go above BN, even if my little mare would like to give it a try, because some of the stuff being described as trickling down to N sounds very scary. *Maybe* if everyone can work to get the trend reversed, the scary stuff will stay out of BN, too...

KBG Eventer
Mar. 19, 2008, 07:06 PM
Good lord! I had no idea the Novice speed was 400 now! I haven't evented since 2002, but really, 350 was a fine pace! Why change it?


Some Novices are still 350...actually most of the events I go to (I event at Novice) are 350. I have to point out though...many Trainings are 470...350 to 470 seems like a big difference to me at least :eek:!

400mpm is not TOO hard to do IMO. I have good ole' Paint, and we make the time with a nice, foward canter, but I *do* also move him on a bit more in between fences.

Gry2Yng
Mar. 19, 2008, 07:42 PM
There is no longer any glory in putting a good foundation on a horse. It's all about moving on and moving up. If it were really about that foundation, no one would care what the qualifying criteria were.

Wow! pwynn. Really well put.

retreadeventer
Mar. 19, 2008, 07:56 PM
...this whole deal is only structured for what, 15-25 riders in all of America .... Anyway, that`s MY conspiracy theory!!


Yep. You're right. And they are beginning to see that we 90 percent are about to scream, "the emporer has no clothes!"

BarbB
Mar. 19, 2008, 08:00 PM
I think the initial culprit in this botched up mess was our decision to do whatever it took to stay in the Olympics, even though it meant tearing the speed/stamina/endurance component out of the modern sport.
But it hasn`t stopped there.
Our USEF leadership (and I use that term loosely), in its desire to win medals, has promoted the kind of xc design at the top that it, (the leadership) thinks most likely will prepare horses for what they will see at said Olympics.
Lots of oblique angles, skinnys, narrow jumps, turning questions, sort of a glorified "show jumping in the open."
But it hasn`t stopped there.
In order to do a four star, first they have to do a three star, so same kinds of questions get asked.
Then, to do a three star, they must have done a two star, so same kinds of questions.
And so on, right down the line, even to training, sometimes even to novice.
Despite the fact that this whole deal is only structured for what, 15-25 riders in all of America who have even a chance of making the Team.
So what we are saying, I think, is we don`t want a few USEF officials, employees and lackeys screwing up our entire sport to pay a few salaries by winning the odd medal.
Anyway, that`s MY conspiracy theory!!

Totally agree with this. And I have to admit that I was one of the people who thought that staying in the Olympics was important, that some trade-offs were worth it. I didn't understand what the trade-offs actually were.
Boy! did I change my mind quickly. Of course, by then it was too late, we had sold our soul.
I want the sport back that gave me goosebumps, not the urge to close my eyes.

Lori T
Mar. 19, 2008, 08:53 PM
Excellent letter! I will be putting my thoughts on paper (or computer) and forwarding it. I will also send it to all my contacts.

yellowbritches
Mar. 19, 2008, 08:54 PM
This may sound odd, and it's entirely personal to me, but now I worry about my trainer's comeback to eventing. She hasn't gone higher than Training (and then only a few times) in 20 years or so, because she hasn't had the right horse to do it. But now she has this lovely, lovely horse (from Beth Murphy) and he is definitely capable of P and maybe I with more training. I just worry that if the courses have changed that much, she won't know what hit her. Luckily Area 1 has some big gallopy courses...

And this all makes me glad that I am a chicken and will likely never go above BN, even if my little mare would like to give it a try, because some of the stuff being described as trickling down to N sounds very scary. *Maybe* if everyone can work to get the trend reversed, the scary stuff will stay out of BN, too...
No, I understand your fear, as we have had the discussion this week as to whether or not the boss will enter our big guy in anything this spring. He has been coming back from a minor injury, so hasn't done anything yet, and now we're not sure he'll do anything. This is a horse that, if the moon and stars aligned (and the boss, who has lost his qualifications due to lack of horse power, can get re-qualified), could easily jump around Fair Hill in the fall. Question is, are we willing to risk him?

And on a smaller scale, my two darlings, Paco and little mare...I'm not sure I what I want to do with them. Do I continue on getting them the miles they need at the lower levels in hopes that things will turn around in time for them to enter the upper levels, or do I focus them somewhere else?

I was truly impressed with Kevin's letter. The boss heard his call for pros to step up and speak up and has offered his assistance in anyway he can. I'm right there with him. I love this sport and I want to continue on in it. But I would like to see some semblance of the sport I fell in love with return. No more show jumping over fixed fences. :no:

ezmissg
Mar. 19, 2008, 09:07 PM
I could agree with your rebuttal here 100% except that it overlooks the possibility that the owner really pressured him to ride. I wonder if anyone has mentioned that possibility....hmmmmm? Maybe Darren mentioned it to another ULR..... I only mention this possibility because there have been SO MANY references to pros feeling pressured because this is how they make their living.

I was at Red Hills all weekend, and I KNOW of two ULR's who said things like, "I'm not having any fun with this anymore".....

FWIW. :sadsmile:

Debbie
Mar. 19, 2008, 09:17 PM
The Aachen WEG course was brutal to watch. The lines in the combinations looked off and punishing. If this is what we continue to do to horses, we will deserve whatever we get on the larger public stage.

I was planning to return to eventing, but now I'm looking at foxhunting will real interest. Show jumping was always my least favorite phase, no way I want to do 2 sessions of it.

Kudos to Mr. Baumgardner for taking a stand. As a USEA member, he and the rest of the leadership have my complete support. I truly hope that the USEA can examine our sport strategically and without maintaining any sacred cows. Let's put it all on the table and be guided by sympathy for our equine partners and the safety of their riders and with only their best interests at heart.

If the current course is what it takes to be "successful" on the international stage, then thank you, but NO.

BigRuss1996
Mar. 19, 2008, 09:31 PM
I can assure you that would never happen. Darrens owners would never pressure him to run a horse against his better judgement. They love their horses and they get nothing but the best of care...


I could agree with your rebuttal here 100% except that it overlooks the possibility that the owner really pressured him to ride. I wonder if anyone has mentioned that possibility....hmmmmm? Maybe Darren mentioned it to another ULR..... :sadsmile:

CookiePony
Mar. 19, 2008, 10:00 PM
Posted sometime this evening:


A Further Message from USEA President Kevin Baumgardner
Updated: March 19, 2008

I am very heartened and gratified by the overwhelming response to my letter that was posted last night on this website. Numerous Eventers from all areas of the country and all segments of the sport have emailed me with expressions of their support as well as with many thoughtful comments and ideas. I ask you to continue to provide me with your thoughts. I also want to assure everyone who has written (or will write) that my colleagues in the USEA leadership and I are listening and plan to move forward on these critical issues. I also intend to respond personally to everyone who takes the time to contact me, but please allow me some time to review and assimilate your ideas. Let's definitely keep the dialogue going.

I will report back to the membership in this space following our strategic planning meeting this weekend in Leesburg.

frugalannie
Mar. 19, 2008, 10:33 PM
Brave man! Going to have carpal tunnel by the time he's through!

RunForIt
Mar. 19, 2008, 10:50 PM
I wrote an appreciative, but I hope "direct" letter to Kevin - my closing statement:

Thanks so much for listening. Thanks more for knowing that now, the real work begins and lots of people aren’t going away – we read your letter and believe you. I will look forward to hearing timely progress on the issues you addressed so well in your letter, as well as continued requests for and recognition of member input. If solutions to the problems can’t be found, can we continue to risk our lives and that of our horses and defend eventing – I think not, and so do many others, perhaps even you.

vineyridge
Mar. 19, 2008, 11:24 PM
I have to point out that the institutional failures might be the result of the USET side of the AHSA/USET taking over at the USEF, more or less. And the USET folks do not now, nor have they ever, given a flying squirrel about amateurs and riders who will never play in the big leagues.

Unless the USEA is willing to stand up to the USEF, nothing will get done. JMHO

LexInVA
Mar. 19, 2008, 11:28 PM
I have to point out that the institutional failures might be the result of the USET side of the AHSA/USET taking over at the USEF, more or less. And the USET folks do not now, nor have they ever, given a flying squirrel about amateurs and riders who will never play in the big leagues.

Unless the USEA is willing to stand up to the USEF, nothing will get done. JMHO

+500 points and a chocolate chip cookie for telling it like it is

BuddyRoo
Mar. 19, 2008, 11:35 PM
You guys are WAY over my head from a knowledge standpoint as well as your experience in this sport--so I really don't have anything helpful to add to your campaign for change. But if you wouldn't mind, please consider one more angle as you discuss the future of the sport.

I've been riding for over 25 years but am just now preparing to test the waters in this sport.

I am scared by what I'm reading.

As someone who is NOT yet a member and is NOT yet participating but WANTS to, I am scared. For me, for my horse....I realize that you can walk the course and scratch if you feel that you're in over your head. But as a beginner, I was prone to thinking that the point of BN is to get your feet wet and get some miles. And that a BN course would be set up to offer a reasonably safe and uncomplicated experience for a beginner horse/rider.

As I read people's concerns about variations in difficulty within the same level (even at BN), the trickle down effect of complexity in the questions, etc....I am wondering if I should perhaps reconsider and stick to ring work!

So just wondering if, when you address the big issues at the higher levels, you could also remember to think about me...and the handful of friends of mine who are all trying to get into this sport but are starting to wonder if we should take up knitting.

Janet
Mar. 19, 2008, 11:43 PM
Good lord! I had no idea the Novice speed was 400 now! I haven't evented since 2002, but really, 350 was a fine pace! Why change it?
In case it wasn't clear, the speed for novice can be anywhere between 350 and 400. Very few run at 400.

ksbadger
Mar. 20, 2008, 12:02 AM
There appears to be aspects of this weekend's and past year's tragedies that have been overlooked both in this thread and the others pre Kevin's letter.

Two horses were lost, apparently, to heart problems. Given our wish to protect our partners, it seems strange that the US does not adopt the Canadian practice of checking respiration & recovery rates after XC - with the possibility of being spun if the horse is unfit.

The other is the preponderance of younger eventers in the statistics. With the current after-school load, I wonder if the average YR has the time to acheive the level of fitness - both their own and the horse's - plus the level of cooperation needed at Prelim and above. Even if the experience requirement comes in, it would be theoretically possible to go Advanced after a lifetime 20 rides or less - is this valid?

Blugal
Mar. 20, 2008, 12:04 AM
In case it wasn't clear, the speed for novice can be anywhere between 350 and 400. Very few run at 400.

Whereas in B.C., our Novice equivalent, Pre-Training, is always run at 400, and Training at 450. The "big jump" is to Prelim at 520.

KatieE
Mar. 20, 2008, 12:14 AM
There appears to be aspects of this weekend's and past year's tragedies that have been overlooked both in this thread and the others pre Kevin's letter.

Two horses were lost, apparently, to heart problems. Given our wish to protect our partners, it seems strange that the US does not adopt the Canadian practice of checking respiration & recovery rates after XC - with the possibility of being spun if the horse is unfit.

The other is the preponderance of younger eventers in the statistics. With the current after-school load, I wonder if the average YR has the time to acheive the level of fitness - both their own and the horse's - plus the level of cooperation needed at Prelim and above. Even if the experience requirement comes in, it would be theoretically possible to go Advanced after a lifetime 20 rides or less - is this valid?

I'm not positive, but I don't think pulmonary hemorrhage is caused by a lack of fitness in the horses..... I definitely don't think that the horses that suffered at Red Hills were due to lack of fitness...and being formerly from Canada and a YR my opinion of taking PR's directly after xc is pointless, they are all going to be extremely high, especially right at the end, it would make more sense to give them a period of time and then come back to check their actual recovery.... also trying to get an advanced or intermediate level horse to stand still long enough to get a proper PR rate is almost impossible in some cases, and usually counterproductive to the cause of trying to cool them off and bring them back down to earth.
As far as YR's, I was YR competing at advanced through the end of high school and college, I believe that the YRs almost have an easier time getting themselves and the horses fit, 1-they usually only have one or two horses unlike the professionals with many upper level horses, and 2- just being younger and more likely to be active in other sports increases your fitness level and stamina.... just my opinion for what its worth.

mellsmom
Mar. 20, 2008, 08:24 AM
If you can find yourself a VERY good instructor who is knowledgable about the courses in your area and your preparation, you should be able to compete in our sport with confidence. But, you need to surround yourself will good people who are good horsemen and good riders that have an understanding of what you are capable of. This is really true of all disciplines, but more important for ours. I was always told that you should be schooling a level above the level you are showing. So, if you have done several XC schools in which you feel you are well prepared for XC and in fact you've felt comfortable popping over a few larger fences, or doing a couple of small up and down banks, etc.... and your instructor feels you are ready then you're ready :-) One thing I am funny about is that I will not ride a course I've not seen before. So, if you want to do a few events this year, find out if you can school the XC courses beforehand.... at least go walk them...go watch the event in the spring if you want to ride it in the fall. Assess what is being asked at each event. See how the courses are designed and the questions that are asked. They aren't always the same from season to season, BUT at least at the local level, you will often see less changes from season to season than at some of the rec events. Anytime you can go to an event with your instructor and shadow them, do it. Offer to groom just to get a feel for what it takes. If you go to watch an event, ask someone walking your course level if you can tag along with them and listen as their instructor talks through the course with them. Educate yourself, understand the questions beng asked and prepare yourself and your horse. :-)

throwurheart
Mar. 20, 2008, 08:37 AM
You guys are WAY over my head from a knowledge standpoint as well as your experience in this sport--so I really don't have anything helpful to add to your campaign for change. But if you wouldn't mind, please consider one more angle as you discuss the future of the sport.

I've been riding for over 25 years but am just now preparing to test the waters in this sport.

I am scared by what I'm reading.

As someone who is NOT yet a member and is NOT yet participating but WANTS to, I am scared. For me, for my horse....I realize that you can walk the course and scratch if you feel that you're in over your head. But as a beginner, I was prone to thinking that the point of BN is to get your feet wet and get some miles. And that a BN course would be set up to offer a reasonably safe and uncomplicated experience for a beginner horse/rider.

As I read people's concerns about variations in difficulty within the same level (even at BN), the trickle down effect of complexity in the questions, etc....I am wondering if I should perhaps reconsider and stick to ring work!

So just wondering if, when you address the big issues at the higher levels, you could also remember to think about me...and the handful of friends of mine who are all trying to get into this sport but are starting to wonder if we should take up knitting.

Please don't be scared off. This sport is wickedly fun, has GREAT people and a spirit of camaraderie, and will teach you the biggest cross-section of horsemanship and riding skills that will have you prepared to take anything on.

In my experience doing recognized Novice in two Areas, I did not see the twisty-turney bouncy stuff at all. Good, straightforward cantering courses. The ONLY problem I had while competing (I'm not right now - new/young/injured horse :sadsmile: ) was one event publishing 350 mpm and running it at 400 mpm, and it was the first event of the season. A query to the TD was rudely blown off, which I do think stems from the same arrogance and issues we're all talking about now.

So, other than that one teeny thing, I've had no problems and I think the courses you'll find at the BN and N level are going to be, generally speaking, more old-school xc. Mellsmom's comments are well taken. If you do your homework - school courses, etc. and feel ready to go and over-prepared, you will have an absolute BLAST on xc. Bugs-in-the-teeth grins are pretty common. :D

closetoperfectionfarm
Mar. 20, 2008, 10:33 AM
I have been on a local bandwagon since this has happened.
I have been very vocal in the past with local USEA people, organizers, etc.
I have been "quieted" by these same people who are supposed to be the leaders in our area, because they feel threatened by an outsider disagreeing with them, I am not in the "local inner group"
I know first hand from an ULR ( who no longer rides UL though)who has been the "rider rep" at many of the HT here, that they act " insulted" if you question them.
So I can understand why some people do not want to speak out publiclly,
BUT, YOU as I have ,can Name names in your letter to Kevin. Name the Organizers, name the TD's , name the Area Chairs,NAME them.
I get NO response from our Area, but I got a doosey from Kevin.
Skip these little "love their power" people and go to the top, trust me, you will be heard.
As for the Rider Rep thing, he had questiond the TD, Organizers, CD at various HT and EACH time, was made to feel like... who are you to question US??? We know what we are doing and thanks but no thanks for your input.
So, all I can say is Keep it up and let your feelings be known to your local little power group too, even if you become a thorn in their sides!

Jealoushe
Mar. 20, 2008, 10:58 AM
am I the only one wondering if the non-thoroughbred increasing has anything to do with it? It seems like now there are less thoroughbreds and more accidents. A lot of cross-breeds are scopy jumpers yes, but are they as scopey and careful at the end of a course? or when they are running out of petrol? I am actually very curious to see if anyone else was wondering about that...

Fixerupper
Mar. 20, 2008, 11:02 AM
re the pulmonary haemorrhage...were these the only two horses that bled...or were they the only two horses 'tested' ????

GayleN
Mar. 20, 2008, 11:21 AM
I am solid TR level rider who has NEVER wanted to go Prelim. I still enjoy eventing but have found this to be the only sport where the rules change every year. I have not liked the direction eventing has taken since I first started about 15 years ago. I tried foxhunting with my local hunt and am having lots of fun. I get to gallop cross country upwards of an hour or two, meet a lot of nice horse people, don't have to worry about losing a lot of money if a meet is canceled, discovered how interesting it is to watch good hound work and find I am very qualified to keep up with hounds thanks to my event experience. Maybe unhappy lower level eventers should try out the foxhunting in their areas. You already have the outfit. If any of you are lucky enough to be near Rombout Hunt in NY, come on out, it's a blast!

hey101
Mar. 20, 2008, 11:49 AM
I still enjoy eventing but have found this to be the only sport where the rules change every year. I have not liked the direction eventing has taken since I first started about 15 years ago.

GayleN- you echo the sentiments I wrote in my own letter to Kevin... relevant portions excerpted below.

We love our horses and above all want to do right by them. It is very hard to spend the time and money training and preparing for a competition, taking time off of work and away from family to travel and compete at events, and then arrive at the event to find that the bar for XC has been raised YET AGAIN and in spite of all our hard work and money spent, we are still not ready. I know of not one rider who desires to go out and knowingly overface themselves at any level. And yet our coaches have told us we are ready for this level, or perhaps we have already been competing at this level when it was "easier", so in spite of our misgivings, we give it a shot- sometimes it turns out well, other times it does not.

I have no problem with a difficult standard for XC- the sport is hard and should remain hard. But if the difficulty at a given level is an elusive, ever-increasing standard, it is unfair to those of us who form the foundation of support for the sport and especially our horses. We look to the guidance and collective experience of our leaders, officials, and coaches to set the standards for the levels so that all riders at all levels can safely and honestly prepare their horses and themselves for competition.

I am very encouraged by the definitive, bold stance you have taken. Please continue to communicate with the membership as a whole, and offer concrete suggestions for what each of us as an individual can do to bring about change. Right now you have a lot of people who want to help, but we are not sure HOW to help. Please continue to speak for us, and to us.

Janet
Mar. 20, 2008, 11:59 AM
I still enjoy eventing but have found this to be the only sport where the rules change every year.
There are many other disciplies that have far more rules changes than Eventing. AL, AR, EQ, SB, just for starters. And the jumpers have made a lot of changes in recent years.

vineyridge
Mar. 20, 2008, 08:38 PM
Splash of cold water, but y'all must recall that Kevin Baumgardner was one of Amy Tryon's two attorneys for her FEI hearing. Their defense was "Le Samurai's death was just one of those things that happens in eventing, so she shouldn't be really punished".

Isn't that one of the attitudes that needs addressing? Isn't that the paradigm of the BNR attitude toward the sport?

Can he be trusted? :confused:

deltawave
Mar. 20, 2008, 08:42 PM
Amy was not being "defended by" anyone because she was not on trial. Last I checked, having legal advice was neither illegal nor immoral.

Yes, I think he can be trusted. The sport and especially the traditions of the sport have no better friend than he, IMO.

Debbie
Mar. 20, 2008, 08:48 PM
Back in the days when we still had hope of retaining the long format, I coordinated fundraising for a page ad in the Rolex program touting the cause, Mr. Baumgardner was one of the first and largest contributors. That would indicate to me that he has "gotten it" from the beginning.

LynLyn
Mar. 20, 2008, 08:48 PM
I truly believe that the demise of the long format was lead by the warmblood breeders in Europe. While they excel at dressage and stadium jumping , they have never been able to handle the B and C phases in a timely manner. Having the vet check after R&T and steeple chase served to help catch horses with cardiac/pulmonary issues.

Over the years I have also watched the drive to make this more spectator friendly. (read commercially attractive to TV) As a someone who takes a boat load of photographs, I understand that the old style XC courses would not make for as interesting and colorful a photo. As a horse owner I have watched my old horse make it around intermediate and been grateful that the courses in the Midwest are still pretty horse friendly. Wayne is a great galloping course. But many of the other venues have made the course so technically demanding that carnage is going to become more and more common. I can only imagine the mental fatigue that riders must feel - particularly those who are riding 5 horses. (That is another can or worms)

Lastly is the issue of what it takes to qualify to move up. I fear the changes that will go into effect in December are not stringent enough. When ever I jump judge and ask TD's about "dangerous riding" they usually say that I will know it when I see it. I am not happy with that reply. When I see someone tearing around on the forehand this side of out of control on a lower level course, to me, that is dangerous riding.

RunForIt
Mar. 20, 2008, 08:54 PM
For what it's worth, Kevin took a stand and INCLUDED EVERYONE - named them - professionals to amateurs - that said to me I could keep an open mind. Didn't say to me "it's all fixed, Kevin will take care of things" - I'm very willing to work with him - revolutions can happen peacefully ...

Imagine...

vineyridge
Mar. 20, 2008, 08:56 PM
Amy was not being "defended by" anyone because she was not on trial. Last I checked, having legal advice was neither illegal nor immoral.

Yes, I think he can be trusted. The sport and especially the traditions of the sport have no better friend than he, IMO.

That's good to know. :) Some here had questions about him at that time. :yes:

BTW, one can and does have a defense at an administrative hearing where your conduct is likely to result in punishment. I was speaking of the theory of her side on why she shouldn't be severely punished, not of her team as defense counsel to a defendant.

KBG Eventer
Mar. 20, 2008, 11:02 PM
Splash of cold water, but y'all must recall that Kevin Baumgardner was one of Amy Tryon's two attorneys for her FEI hearing. Their defense was "Le Samurai's death was just one of those things that happens in eventing, so she shouldn't be really punished".

Isn't that one of the attitudes that needs addressing? Isn't that the paradigm of the BNR attitude toward the sport?

Can he be trusted? :confused:

I know this got cleared up, but here is an article I found by Kevin about saving the long format in 2004. Kind of a different matter anyways but um yeah :)... http://www.savethe3day.org/kbeditorial.html

pwynnnorman
Mar. 21, 2008, 06:15 AM
I suspect that [the fact that] eventing is a sport where an unknown $600 Thoroughbred off the track can come out of nowhere and steal the show—has always rankled the well-regulated Continental European equestrian set. Not enough Ordnung, you know.


Great stuff, even though I don't favor the long format for all the reasons he listed so explicitly in that 2004 commentary.

OT, but, I gotta ramble a bit because reading that reminded me of the biggest issue in that old debate: lack of equally explicit reasons in favor of the long format. Now, IF that side of the issue could list reasons the way it is so easy to list reasons on the other side--maybe even springing out of recent events--well, I think that would strengthen that position a lot. Right now, I still couldn't play an effective devil's advocate to the side I'm on because the other side's arguments remain, comparatively, a bit vague.

Not saying that the short format has NOT caused the recent spate of tragedies, but I'm also not saying the the format itself has (vs. the riders' decisions in competing under the format). Another way to put it: how would having steeplechase have prevented any of the occurances at Red Hills or any of the deaths at other events? Isn't it just an assumption that having to condition for RT&S would result in fitter horses and riders overall? Or that health issues would be "caught" before the horse started x-c? This gets me back to the "test" concept behind x-c. the fact is that you can design a really good test, but there will always be that people fail it.

The only negative ramification I can speculate on off hand right now is the way some pros have so very, very many more rides under them these days verses in the past. If the long format were still out there, I wonder if it'd be that much tougher to organize and retain enough staff to keep large strings running. And, surely, it'd be that much tougher to ride more than two horses in a long-format competition (leading to even more biz-related ramifications, perhaps). Edited to add: And, come to think of it, perhaps moving up would indeed be more "cause for pause," given how much more time it might take for, say, a new mount to obtain the level of fitness and maturity required? Interesting: Would we see as many 8-year-olds doing 3-stars if it were the long format? Hmmm.

But I'd remain just as worried about the safety of YR types under the long format, if not more worried. I encounter too many students who know exactly what'll be on the test and still fail it. And even more who aren't even prepared for the class, due to the conditions behind their educational experience (e.g. no access to a computer, too many family demands, insufficient skills from having barely passed previously classes, poor teachers in the past, etc.). Unfortunately, these students often don't learn how underprepared they are--and/or how they simply cannot prepare adequately--until they enroll, struggle and, ultimately, fail.

Hope my analogy wasn't too subtle.

denny
Mar. 21, 2008, 07:50 AM
Even though I think the classic three day event was, and still is, the true complete test of horse and rider, I don`t think this is the true issue here.
The main problem is with xc course design. Horses can gallop and jump over very big, pyschologically daunting (to the rider) obstacles, and they can negotiate tricky, twisty series of fences. But not at the same time, and not at speed, at least not very safely, for many of them.
If xc design at the Olympic/World Championship level is being forced down that path, then I can see that our US Team officials might feel forced to follow.
That`s bad for our top riders, but there aren`t very many of them, and they are very proficient, by and large.
The problem is even worse in its trickle down effect. Preliminary used to be pretty straightforward, training, novice very much so.
Now, those levels, where most people ride, are also getting scarey. Not for the big guys, with younger/greener horses, but for our weekend warriors and kids who want to be challenged, sure, but who aren`t too thrilled about winding up hurt, or having their horses hurt.
I`d be all for moderating xc design top down, but if the USEF won`t oblige, that`s when the rest of the sport should disconnect itself from that slippery slope.
This is really not about long versus short format, I don`t think, not at its heart, but about reasonable xc design.

deltawave
Mar. 21, 2008, 07:57 AM
I was just speculating last night (cleaning stalls, the root of all philosophy) about the number of rides a lot of ULRs have at shows these days. Perhaps we need to limit this, too, for safety's sake? Can you REALLY and TRULY be on your game 100% six or seven times in one day on a grueling XC course??

I can hear the howls of protest already as dollar signs start flashing red everywhere, but really, is the seventh horse a BNT rides on Saturday getting the same ride, the same judgment, the same strength and response time as the first horse? He deserves to.

Debbie
Mar. 21, 2008, 09:28 AM
True, Denny, this is not about the long format. I only referenced KB's support for it as an example that he understands the more universal appeal of the sport -- galloping forward not taking back to show jump every fence.

The issue at hand is safety of all our riders. Too often those discussions drift to the "scariness" of ill-equipped lower level riders, but those folks aren't killing themselves - although they may be giving spectators heart attacks. :winkgrin: To me, what has become wildly unacceptable is that the tests and questions are so unfair to our horses and as such are taking a totally unacceptable toll on our riders. As those course trends drift down the levels an even larger population of horses and riders are put at unacceptable risk. Yes, there will always be some degree of risk, but we've gone way beyond the inherent risk of the sport.

There are lots of potential rabbit holes in this discussion: tables with overly vertical faces; pulmunary issues; lower level rider qualifications; long vs short. We need to avoid being distracted by any one of these to the exclusion of the bigger picture. To me, the most damning description of the damage done to our sport last weekend wasn't the high profile losses of two horses and Darren's injury, it was the description of Saturday night in the barn and the triage atmosphere of the horses that did "successfully" complete the test. I wasn't there, but if that is true than let's not lose sight of that and the welfare of all those horses that are still with us, but are being diminished rather than emboldened by the sport.

Hannahsmom
Mar. 21, 2008, 09:53 AM
The problem is even worse in its trickle down effect. Preliminary used to be pretty straightforward, training, novice very much so.

Now, those levels, where most people ride, are also getting scarey. Not for the big guys, with younger/greener horses, but for our weekend warriors and kids who want to be challenged, sure, but who aren`t too thrilled about winding up hurt, or having their horses hurt.

It's interesting that you bring this up. I sat in on an Area meeting several years ago where John Williams was talking about course design and the trickle down effect. I even asked him then what was going to happen to the 'straight forward galloping type courses' for those riders who aren't blessed with living in an area with lots of open ground or fox hunts. I can't remember his exact answer but the impression I took away was that those kinds of courses were disappearing. That makes me sad for those of us who used to love to event just to have that opportunity.

colliemom
Mar. 21, 2008, 10:45 AM
To me, the most damning description of the damage done to our sport last weekend wasn't the marquis losses of two horses and Darren's injury, it was the description of Saturday night in the barn and the triage atmosphere of the horses that did "successfully" complete the test. I wasn't there, but if that is true than let's not lose sight of that and the welfare of all those horses that are still with us, but are being diminished rather than emboldened by the sport.


Perfectly said, IMO.

It will be interesting if we can see what the long term effects are to these individual horses. How "diminished" have they been? Will they even want to play anymore? Some, sadly, will not. They will have given their all in response to their rider's request, and been beaten down and punished.

Not what this sport is about.

Sannois
Mar. 21, 2008, 10:48 AM
Perfectly said, IMO.

It will be interesting if we can see what the long term effects are to these individual horses. How "diminished" have they been? Will they even want to play anymore? Some, sadly, will not. They will have given their all in response to their rider's request, and been beaten down and punished.

Not what this sport is about.

on what she meant in the piece you quoted? Is she saying there was alot of Damage control with the horses after CC at Red Hills??
That is awful if it is true. That cant be what this sport has become! :eek:

colliemom
Mar. 21, 2008, 10:53 AM
That is what was being reported. Perhaps Debbie can point out a specific post, but it sounded like even the horses who "successfully" negotiated the courses were banged up, exhausted, and needed a lot of triage.

It used to be that horses who answered the questions of a course came off of it more confident than they started. That doesn't sound like what happened at Red Hills.

Fixerupper
Mar. 21, 2008, 12:14 PM
To me, the most damning description of the damage done to our sport last weekend wasn't the marquis losses of two horses and Darren's injury, it was the description of Saturday night in the barn and the triage atmosphere of the horses that did "successfully" complete the test. I wasn't there, but if that is true than let's not lose sight of that and the welfare of all those horses that are still with us, but are being diminished rather than emboldened by the sport.

What she said...

vineyridge
Mar. 21, 2008, 12:28 PM
Not only are the pro riders riding several horses per outing, but eventing has become for them very like the hunter/jumper circuit. They are competing the same horses almost every weekend, summer and winter. And training during the week. Their horses have got to be tired and "ring sour". It's possible that is one risk factor that the upper level riders face that the smurfs don't.

I've been thinking that Teddy is possibly being a pony twit these days because he has had no time off since he went to Florida, and he does have the brains to express his unhappiness. Just speculation here, but they have been training him hard down there.

bambam
Mar. 21, 2008, 01:18 PM
I've been thinking that Teddy is possibly being a pony twit these days because he has had no time off since he went to Florida, and he does have the brains to express his unhappiness. Just speculation here, but they have been training him hard down there.
That is a horse whose welfare I would not question- my recollection is that Teddy becomes a "twit" as you put it ;) when he has too much time off and that is why Karen ran him at an intermediate or 2 last year so he could blow off steam

frugalannie
Mar. 21, 2008, 01:31 PM
Deltawave, great minds think alike (I flatter myself, I know!0.

In my last e-mail to KB, and also posted on the Chron of My Horse thread about safety, I wrote that the number of rides per rider per competition needed to be capped and weighted by level.

I feel quite strongly that no matter how good a rider is, mental and physical fatigue have to increase with the number of rides. And yes, many can succeed, but one day it catches up with them. I'm not sure how the levels should be weighted (three novice rides equal one Advanced?), but intuitively I believe that since there is a greater margin for error at the lower levels, more rides there can be tolerated without an appreciable increase in risk. That is not true for Prelim and up.

One we went to short format, the number of rides per pro per competition went up in many cases.

Gnep
Mar. 21, 2008, 03:39 PM
I completly agree with Dennies judgement about the X-C design. Luckily their are still a few designers out there that keep things reasonable, but they are under a lot of preasure from the course inspectors.

I am one of the people that publicly disagreed with Kevin involvement in the AT case, I still think it was a conflict of interest.
But that has nothing to do with what he has stated as his idea for Eventing and what he has said in the past, his message and ideas are consistened and that is what I look at.
We should support him, give him the support and help him so the USEA regains its leadership for Eventing back

snoopy
Mar. 21, 2008, 03:45 PM
I am one of the people that publicly disagreed with Kevin involvement in the AT case, I still think it was a conflict of interest.
But that has nothing to do with what he has stated as his idea for Eventing and what he has said in the past, his message and ideas are consistened and that is what I look at.
We should support him, give him the support and help him so the USEA regains its leadership for Eventing back



VERY much agree with this post. I also have to wonder if Kevin himself was under any pressure from the USEF to support AT at the time, this I have no idea. But in any event I support the decision he has made with regards to the future role the USEA has in eventing.

Debbie
Mar. 21, 2008, 03:58 PM
My post was referring to this:

what a freaking massacre out there.

about a 30-40% success rate over all divisions. cmp tried to off us all today.

poor darren & sweet horses. so many good riders and horses out there struggled today, i saw tons of lame horses in the barns tonight it was unbelievable. and this, in march? after such a tragic year for our sport? are you kidding me?
__________________

Which was posted by yellow rose on one of the original Red Hills threads.

A follow up post on the Sunday jog also indicated some pretty banged up horses. Again I WASN'T there and yes, these horses are athletes and athletes get bruised and are sore, but XC shouldn't leave a high percentage of the horses sore and demoralized. There HAS to be a clear, correct answer to a question that allows the successful horse to feel like a winner. I don't ride at this level, but I have felt the suckiness of awkward spots on many occasions. Combos that only yield awkward spots (the video of one rider that was posted from last weekend being an example) aren't fun to watch, they aren't fun to the horse and they aren't what our sport is (or at least was) about.

bambam
Mar. 21, 2008, 04:11 PM
I agree with DW and Gnep- I voiced my concerns/objections about KB representing AT to the BOG but that has no relevance here and based on his letter and old editorial on the long format, he certainly seems to get it.
The USEA gets my support in this until they show they are not worthy of it and it is way too early to make that call.

Debbie
Mar. 21, 2008, 04:18 PM
I work for an association for a living. Associations are what their members make them. Can a small group become the tail that wags the dog? Only if the members let them. More associations is seldom the answer --EMPOWER the one you have especially when the leader is begging you to take action.

As has been pointed out, a lot of these issues are happening TO the USEA, thanks to the USEF and FEI. So let's help the USEA push back or at least draw a line in the sand about the levels they can control.

vineyridge
Mar. 21, 2008, 07:34 PM
That is a horse whose welfare I would not question- my recollection is that Teddy becomes a "twit" as you put it ;) when he has too much time off and that is why Karen ran him at an intermediate or 2 last year so he could blow off steam

He really has been working hard, if you've been reading Pwynn's blog. I don't think his welfare is an issue at all; I'm just not sure he isn't smarter than his people. :cool:

mcd
Mar. 21, 2008, 09:58 PM
Only because this thread seems to have a bunch of intertwined discussions on it I will post a release from Red Hills which I pulled off eventingnews.com - it's the very last sentence which makes me sit up and go WTF - in my mind, the point of the release is to emphasize that the deaths of these two horses had NOTHING to do with speed / height / CD / safety etc... and were a tragic case of something which could happen at any time etc. blah blah... until that last sentence about speed and accidents. Something about you can't have it both ways???

"Pulmonary Hemorrhage Blamed For Fatalities At Red Hills
Tallahassee, FL, USA

Post mortem examinations completed by the Large Animal Clinical Sciences Department of The University of Florida on two horses which died during the recent Red Hills Horse Trials competition, revealed the cause of death of both animals was Pulmonary Hemorrhage. "Despite the excellent organization of the Red Hills Horse Trials, the competent veterinary team on site, and the rapid response in both cases, nothing could be done to save these horses and there are no known methods to have prevented these rare occurrences," the report stated.

"According to Eleanor Green, DVM, Chief of Staff, Large Animal Hospital, University of Florida, complete post mortem examinations were performed on both horses, Saturday evening, March 15, 2008. The owners gave permission to share information about the cause of death.

Preliminary results have indicated that Direct Merger, ridden by Jonathon Hollings, died because of Pulmonary Hemorrhage, which is bleeding into the lungs. Leprechauns Rowdy Boy, ridden by Missy Miller, also had a Pulmonary Hemorrhage; in addition, and during the fall at the jump, the animal sustained a severe fracture between the third and fourth cervical vertebrae of his neck.

Fatal Pulmonary Hemorrhage is a rare condition in elite equine athletes, yet in cases of sudden death during exertion, it is at the top of the list of possible causes. The scenario is similar to sudden death from heart disorder in basketball players, in that the occurrence is very uncommon, while a heart disorder would be the most likely cause when a young, healthy athlete dies acutely during exertion. It is exceedingly rare for two horses to be affected on the same day during the same competition," the report concluded.

Dr. Mike Sigman, DVM, Veterinary Delegate of the Federation Equestrian Internationale which oversees Eventing Competitions worldwide, headed the Veterinary team at the Red Hills Event. Sigman said "consideration for horse safety and response to incidents is always exceptional at Red Hills. Both incidents were handled as well as possible. Everything that could have been to aid these two horses was done. If we could have saved the animals we would have. Unfortunately no one could have helped them. When speed is involved in any sport, accidents will happen."



On another note, whomever posted about "cmp tried to off us all today" - I was talking to a friend who also made a comment in passing about his courses having a higher than average accident rate (I'm paraphrasing here) - so how come nobody has raised a fuss? Because of who he is? It's sport people, not Survivor...

mcd

pwynnnorman
Mar. 21, 2008, 10:31 PM
Since this thread seems to have evolved into one where it's OK one to bounce a variety of things around, I have two questions I'd be interested in responses to...(And, nope, I'm not going near those comments about Teddy.)

Question #1: Why doesn't one hear of rotational falls (and other, similar tragic errors) occuring (much) during schooling sessions (and what might the implications of that be)?

Question #2: Why doesn't one hear of tragic falls occuring more frequently with older, upper level horses?

On #2, what I was speculating is that perhaps the age alone of the horse is relevant. Y'know how they can save your butt? Maybe an older horse who has been around the block a few times knows how to dig itself out of a too-deep spot--or is smart and secure enough to just say, "no"? I worry a lot about all the eight-year-olds doing three stars. It would seem to me that a great rider can nurse them around thanks to superior training and talent, but what happens when the rider errs, for whatever reason. Don't you think that that may be the time when the younger horse may simply be unable to fend for itself and crash instead? Are there any statistics on the age of horses involved in incidents?

HiJumpGrrl
Mar. 21, 2008, 10:44 PM
Wynn, to be honest, it is quite rare that I hear of upper level horses schooling XC at all! But I wonder if it has anything to do with fatigue? Running an entire XC course at speed is quite different metabolically speaking than the stop-start of a schooling session.

Wasn't Kim Meier's fall while schooling? and not related to jumping? or am I mistaking her for someone else last year...

Janet
Mar. 21, 2008, 11:22 PM
Wasn't Kim Meier's fall while schooling? and not related to jumping? or am I mistaking her for someone else last year... I am pretty sure it was jumping, but not cross country.

Gnep
Mar. 21, 2008, 11:57 PM
PWy
The rotationals happen in training to, rather rare, opposit to comon believe ULs shool very seldom X-C, because of the danger of injuries. And quiet frankly the stuff you get up there when you show up, you just want to ride when it counts.

But there are so many accidents that happen during training, that make the show stuff a minor affair, just in the eye of the public, thats the differancs and the bean counters are around.

bosox
Mar. 22, 2008, 07:50 AM
It's sport people, not Survivor...

EXACTLY!!!!!





Kim was in a jumping lesson when she had her fall. Not doing XC.

pwynnnorman
Mar. 22, 2008, 09:09 AM
Wynn, to be honest, it is quite rare that I hear of upper level horses schooling XC at all! But I wonder if it has anything to do with fatigue? Running an entire XC course at speed is quite different metabolically speaking than the stop-start of a schooling session.

Wasn't Kim Meier's fall while schooling? and not related to jumping? or am I mistaking her for someone else last year...

Kim's was the one I was thinking of while writing.

I wasn't wondering about how often they school. I know they don't school "a lot," but they do school some, especially if they are carrying less experienced riders. I know. I've watched. And I've been around enough cross country schooling days, too, to watch and wonder.

It's the connections I'm trying to get at, though, not the absolutes. The connection between how that YR goes down to that table out schooling (and all the elements that go into it) and how she/he does or DOES NOT do so in competition. What gets lost between schooling and showing? Lots and we could list them. But at the heart of it is WHY does it get lost and what is the best way to retain it?

Thinking out of the box here, OK? What if part of the problem, for example, is trainers' fear of litigation? What? Where'd that come from? From the possibility that not enough schooling at speed over fences goes on, perhaps? I'm now connecting this with Mark Phillips' training sessions in which he had riders jumping "at height". I'd love to hear from him why he thought that was necessary--along the same lines I'm wondering here.

There are so many little, insidious things that might be impacting what is occurring. I'll be honest and admit that I don't think it is the course design at all. I watch eventing videos from the UK and other places and see equally tough questions, etc. GRanted, they've got similar problems with safety, too, but it makes you wonder: Is it the courses or the horses (and riders)?

Another example: fear of tables due to knowledge of past tragedies. If you are fearful, but do nothing to conquer your fear, what happens then? If you don't school tables at the END of your x-c schooling day when your horse is tired and you are tired, how will you know what you should fear and what you can recognize and do something about?

This gets to the "finding a good trainer/coach" issue others have introduced, of course. But that's a huge question, isn't it? Not having suffiicient training, compounded with insufficient "mileage" at one level before moving on to another--well, that's why I wonder about the courses vs. horses thing. I'm not saying course designers haven't erred, but I'm of the opinion that the real problem isn't the courses at all, but rather these insidious little changes that have occurred BEHIND the sport that we perhaps haven't given enough attention to.

I know too many riders going Prelim on greener horses without coaching and with only occasional access to x-c schooling (often sans coach or groundperson). Eventers aren't like hunter-jumper riders who won't do anything without their trainer and who take lesson after lesson with one trainer, getting to know that trainer's program very thoroughly. Eventers seem to jump around a lot, taking a lesson here and a lesson there. The haphazardness results in inconsistency, surely. And that inconsistency must result in gaps in knowledge and skill, too. If you only see your trainer once a month, isn't it possible that the trainer may never see (and you can't feel anyway) how your horse hangs its left foreleg when it is tiring, for example?

Has anyone examined the training and coaching programs behind some of the tragedies? Even if this isn't as significant as I think it might be, it is troublesome if only because it provides additional ammunition for those who criticize the sport. [Oh, heck, I criticize the sport for the way twenty-somethings are left out there to sink or swim on their own so much. I think it is too dangerous a sport for that.]

Auburn
Mar. 22, 2008, 09:50 AM
PWynnnorman,

I wish that my coach lived closer than an hour's drive away. With gas prices the way that they are, I can't get a lesson more than twice a month. When I lived in NE Ohio, I had a weekly lesson and could measure my progress. My coach always went to x-country schooling days and taught us to ride the course the same way that we were schooling it.

As to your comment about the serious rider injuries in relation to coaching, are you considering Ralph and Darren into your synopsis? I am not certain, with whom Ralph was working, but Darren.....

Your idea about the younger horses not having enough milage to be smart about their own safety, when a rider is making a mistake, is a valid point. I, too, believe that some horses are moved up the levels so fast that they don't have time to develop their own protection/safety skills.

As an owner, who has the opportunity to observe what is going on with the other owners, do you feel that there is pressure from the owners for the BNT's to move young horses up too soon? If not from them, then why do you believe that this is happening?

pwynnnorman
Mar. 22, 2008, 10:10 AM
My concern isn't really for the BNTs. They are pros and so should take responsibility for how they pursue their profression. My concern is for the twenty-somethings and the ammies and the wanna-be-pros.

And I have very, very little mileage as "an owner." So please don't consider my views or experiences as representative. Yes, I've met a couple of owners, but I haven't had conversations with a range of owners about these things. The owners I have spoken with are all OCET associated, with one exception, so they aren't representative either.

So when I say I've never conversed with a single owner who gave a rats patootie about the pace of their horse's advancement, that's probably not a valid statement for generalization.

ss3777
Mar. 22, 2008, 10:46 AM
"I'll be honest and admit that I don't think it is the course design at all"


Pwyn (or anyone else that was there)-- Did you happen to see or walk the complex that Darren had his fall at? I am curious because I was told second hand that it was pretty tricky and that the element that Darren's horse fell over had a ground line of 3 cannon balls and that all 3 elements were fairly upright. If this is true (need confirmation) I would call this the type 0f CD that needs to reexamined. Also I remember reading that Bruce or someone in his camp, rode around an upper level course with some device that calculated mpm. What that person discovered is that in order to make the time the rider had to go way above the level required speed, in between the many “technical complexes” in order to come close to the time. Is that proper course design? Should horses and riders be “running the Derby” between complexes, could that be safe? How many riders made the time at RH? If you are a prelim rider, are you not going to trust that CMP would know more than you about times and that if the optimum time posted is “X” than a well conditioned, competitive, well trained, seasoned pair should be able to make the time?

Food for thought, would love some confirmation on some of that stuff……………

pwynnnorman
Mar. 22, 2008, 11:00 AM
Yes, I saw it. And I'd say those were good points. And, by gosh, if there's anyone whose views should be listened to quite, quite attentively, it's gotta be Bruce's. I'd LOVE to hear so much more from the likes of him. What a perspective he must have on how the sport has evolved, including course design and course designers (but also students and horses, too).

As to the actual challenge of the jump, I'm no judge of the design of any individual fence and how jumpable it is, while I appreciate how jump placement can impact ridability. However, what I've also heard now from several folks was that Red Hills Preliminary is just not a "move up" course. It's a Prelim course for "those experienced at this level," as it is described in the omnibus. I think that might need to be taken into account, too.

Debbie
Mar. 22, 2008, 12:17 PM
http://tallahassee.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080322/NEWS01/803220328&referrer=FRONTPAGECAROUSEL

The Tallahassee Democrat has picked up on these discussions.

AiryFairy
Mar. 22, 2008, 12:45 PM
[QUOTE=vineyridge;3090389]Not only are the pro riders riding several horses per outing, but eventing has become for them very like the hunter/jumper circuit. They are competing the same horses almost every weekend, summer and winter. And training during the week. Their horses have got to be tired and "ring sour". It's possible that is one risk factor that the upper level riders face that the smurfs don't.
QUOTE]

This is no comment on Darren specifically, but I was stunned when I read upthread that the horse he was on had competed preliminary the previous weekend - IMO that's too much too soon, it seems a rather punishing thing to put a horse through once a week, especially if the courses have gotten so technical and difficult as people are saying. Why is the sport so driven that that kind of schedule is necessary, and not frowned upon for the welfare of the horse?

arnika
Mar. 22, 2008, 01:02 PM
Basically, $$$$$.

No slight to Darren, the OC's or any other rider/trainer that has multiple students/owners. The opportunity is there to make a good amount of money from boarding, training and riding multiple horses for multiple owners and people are taking advantage of it. Human nature.

Also human nature that the students want to advance rapidly, the owners want their horses to advance rapidly and it would be (I'm assuming here and you know what that makes me:winkgrin:) very difficult to look at your clients and tell them No.

sofiethewonderhorse
Mar. 22, 2008, 09:34 PM
So when I say I've never conversed with a single owner who gave a rats patootie about the pace of their horse's advancement, that's probably not a valid statement for generalization.


Well, I'm pretty new about the horse owner thing too...but I've never cared about the speed that our horse progresses; in fact, other way around...it's very comforting to know that our horse is being brought along in a slow, methodical way :yes:

I can safely say, I know two other owners (I do not know Pwynn) who feel the same about their advanced horses.

subk
Mar. 22, 2008, 11:19 PM
I've been out of pocket for the last week and a half only to come back this evening to find this firestorm. I haven't waded through it all yet, but this comment of Denny's has really struck a personal cord with me:


In order to do a four star, first they have to do a three star, so same kinds of questions get asked.
Then, to do a three star, they must have done a two star, so same kinds of questions.
And so on, right down the line, even to training, sometimes even to novice.

Last spring I took a young Novice horse to a clinic with a Non-BNT but one who is very well known and respected throughout my region as a good trainer. Without hardly any preparation this clinician had our Novice group dropping into the water 2 strides to a crossrail in the water--water takeoff to water landing. Someone else was riding my horse and in hindsight I should have pulled him immediately--I know better. All the horses were absolutely awful through the question; multiple refusals, horrible jumping efforts, sacry moments. The clinician pulled the riders aside to tell them all how badly they rode, that they must have more grit, be tougher, etc. Again the horses did the complex and while they all got through it, it was not pretty. My young horse who had never had any issues with water, or drops was completely and totally freaked out.

At that point I told the clinician my horse was done. I told my rider to jump him over something easy, have a positive experience and quit. Clinician was not happy (and probably embarrassed) that I would "quit." He dressed me down in front of the group by telling me that my horse was not prepared for the level and I shouldn't have brought him to the clinic. To which I said that it was only Novice and I had expected Novice questions. He said that they were Novice questions to which I responded that a water to water question has NEVER been a novice question and if that's what this sport had turned into I wasn't much interested in it any more. It was not a pretty scene.

What I didn't relate to the clinician was a long discussion I had had a few years earlier with Sally O'Connor and Pat Maycuth (both UL TDs) about whether/and when water to water questions were appropriate at INTERMEDIATE and PRELIMINARY, and why it was they considered them so technical. Yet, this clinician thought they were perfectly fine for a Novice school.

People seem to have forgotten that all the while that xc has changed we are all still riding the same horses--literally. Technicality is showing up at lower and lower levels riders (and trainers) are assuming since they are on LL xc courses that they must not be too difficult.

RunForIt
Mar. 22, 2008, 11:34 PM
I've been out of pocket for the last week and a half only to come back this evening to find this firestorm. I haven't waded through it all yet, but this comment of Denny's has really struck a personal cord with me:



Last spring I took a young Novice horse to a clinic with a Non-BNT but one who is very well known and respected throughout my region as a good trainer. Without hardly any preparation this clinician had our Novice group dropping into the water 2 strides to a crossrail in the water--water takeoff to water landing. Someone else was riding my horse and in hindsight I should have pulled him immediately--I know better. All the horses were absolutely awful through the question; multiple refusals, horrible jumping efforts, sacry moments. The clinician pulled the riders aside to tell them all how badly they rode, that they must have more grit, be tougher, etc. Again the horses did the complex and while they all got through it, it was not pretty. My young horse who had never had any issues with water, or drops was completely and totally freaked out.

At that point I told the clinician my horse was done. I told my rider to jump him over something easy, have a positive experience and quit. Clinician was not happy (and probably embarrassed) that I would "quit." He dressed me down in front of the group by telling me that my horse was not prepared for the level and I shouldn't have brought him to the clinic. To which I said that it was only Novice and I had expected Novice questions. He said that they were Novice questions to which I responded that a water to water question has NEVER been a novice question and if that's what this sport had turned into I wasn't much interested in it any more. It was not a pretty scene.

What I didn't relate to the clinician was a long discussion I had had a few years earlier with Sally O'Connor and Pat Maycuth (both UL TDs) about whether/and when water to water questions were appropriate at INTERMEDIATE and PRELIMINARY, and why it was they considered them so technical. Yet, this clinician thought they were perfectly fine for a Novice school.

People seem to have forgotten that all the while that xc has changed we are all still riding the same horses--literally. Technicality is showing up at lower and lower levels riders (and trainers) are assuming since they are on LL xc courses that they must not be too difficult.

wow, just finished a similar discussion with a friend about a recent BN course at a big venue in Area III - I've been out of the loop so long I couldn't believe what she was telling me! A baby trakener, and little skinny house wedged between two trees so that if you have a runout, you very well may hit the trees! Stadium had an in and out - at BN! Glad you pulled your horse, subk - helps me tuck away the guts to pull mine if necessary.

vali
Mar. 23, 2008, 12:19 AM
I think that amateur rider, and horses, have gotten less used to thinking for themselves. Eventers used to be more independent, and grew up riding outside the ring and jumping outside the ring. Now eventers seem more like h/j riders, where they can't do anything without a trainer. Likewise, we used to train our young horses to sort things out for themselves, and now there is the tendency to "manage" every stride, whether it's in dressage or on cross country. I have always found that the bravest cattiest horses I've had have not been the most submissive in dressage, but the priority now is on a horse that will be obedient in dressage. Sometimes I think this is to the detriment of their ability to think well on cross country. I take lessons regularly with an upper level trainer, but I also keep my horses at home and feel comfortable schooling lower level fences with a companion. It's worked for me, I haven't had a cross country jump penalty in several years, but then I do know my limits. I would hate to see eventing become even more like the h/j world, where no one can school or compete without a trainer.

Atigirl
Mar. 23, 2008, 10:09 AM
I agree with Denny on the trickle down effect. I have seen it out here in Area VII. I have competed since the early 80s. I have no intention of being a big name rider or trainer. I do though enjoy taking a horse and teaching it the skills needed to move smoothly through the levels. I have seen such poor course design at the lower levels (a ditch on BN that was the fourth fence!) They now have a log option, but not before 1/3 of the little kids ate dirt. How is that supposed to encourage green ridders or inexperienced horses. I some times feel that the lower level courses are being designed to prep the horses for prelim, intermediate and advanced. But we all know that not all of these novice horses are going to go that high. The fundamentals of each level should be just that. It shouldn't matter that you have a horse that can go to the higher levels or one that tops out at training.

Hony
Mar. 23, 2008, 10:27 AM
It's worked for me, I haven't had a cross country jump penalty in several years, but then I do know my limits.

This is just speculation but I wonder if N courses and T courses are getting tougher because a large group of people ride these levels exclusively and get so good at them that they all have clear rounds all the time.

On another note, I am curious as to why all the concern over amateurs. It seems to me that most of the recent accidents have occured at the higher levels with fairly experienced riders.
I am led to believe that this is a course building issue more than anything. I have heard that the course at RH had a lot of jumps set off turns so that horses couldn't see them and assess them until they were quite close to the fence.
I think that change is going to be done in baby steps while figure out what the factor is that is hurting people. IMO immediate steps that can be taken are limiting the number of jumps per 100m and adding ground lines to fences. Also, teaching course designers how to make questions that want to be answered vs. questions that don't want to be answered.
Two good examples of this are the use of offset cabins at the Waredaca T3DE in 2006 and the offset brushes at Midsouth * this year.
At Waredaca the cabins had a couple of boards,painted a darker colour on the centre of each face that the rider could line up to ride the line correctly.
At Midsouth the brush was cut in such a way to guide the horses through the question. In addition the brush top would prevent rotation if the horse go to close because they would brush through it.

pwynnnorman
Mar. 23, 2008, 12:34 PM
I think the solution is just to have more female course designers. ;)

Auburn
Mar. 23, 2008, 12:52 PM
Yep! Jackie F. Smith is a great CD.

vineyridge
Mar. 23, 2008, 01:53 PM
Likewise, we used to train our young horses to sort things out for themselves, and now there is the tendency to "manage" every stride, whether it's in dressage or on cross country.

I think this puts the finger on the change in the sport at XC. The courses demand it, so the riders demand it. One mistake by the rider, and the horse and rider are at risk.

adamsmom
Mar. 23, 2008, 01:56 PM
It seems to me that most of the recent accidents have occured at the higher levels with fairly experienced riders.

I don't believe that's completely accurate.

Atigirl
Mar. 23, 2008, 02:09 PM
Originally Posted by Hony
It seems to me that most of the recent accidents have occured at the higher levels with fairly experienced riders.


I don't think that is entirely true. Some "no name" rider at a lower level might not get the same type of coverage as a big name rider like Darren. Christoper Reeve was not a pro and was competeing at training level when he had his accident. And I have to wonder if it would have gotten the coverage it did if he wasn't famous. While I do believe the higher and bigger fences have higher risk of more serious injuries all levels do have injuries. The question is how to keep BN riders and horses just as safe as UL riders and horses. Accidents are happening at all levels and at all events.

GotSpots
Mar. 23, 2008, 03:08 PM
I think this puts the finger on the change in the sport at XC. The courses demand it, so the riders demand it. One mistake by the rider, and the horse and rider are at risk.
OK, let's not lose sight of the real world here. You are at risk every time you get on a horse. Heck, in most states, horses are defined as being per se risky (see the equine liability laws). In spite of that, I think there are many, many, many questions on the overwhelming majority of XC courses where if the rider "misses" the distance or "makes a mistake" or loses their position, their stirrup, or their reins, it works out. In response, the horse might not jump in perfect form, might take an extra chip, might take a flyer at the fence, might run out, or might stop. All of those things could happen just as easily at a stadium fence. Is there some incremental difference in jumping a solid obstacle? Possibly. But that difference is inherent anytime you jump something solid. And it has NOTHING to do with course design. Sure, there are absolutely issues that come up on XC courses where a mistake by either horse or rider has tragic consequences, but it's not the result of EVERY mistake either makes; rather, for such a fall to happen, there has to be a perfect storm of multiple mistakes all coalescing at the same point. I'd say the overwhelming, massive, percentage of mistakes have no worse consequence than a less than perfect jump, because the horse fixes the rider's mistake, the rider fixes the horse's goof, the course designer accounts for either's goof, the fence builder has left in leeway for all three, or the caliber of mistake by any isn't that great.

Yes, there are issues in our sport that need to be addressed, and lots of smart folks thinking about how to best address them. But let's not get overdramatic here: there are also thousands of rides every year all over the world having a blast and being relatively smart and safe doing it.

subk
Mar. 23, 2008, 03:24 PM
Likewise, we used to train our young horses to sort things out for themselves, and now there is the tendency to "manage" every stride, whether it's in dressage or on cross country. I have always found that the bravest cattiest horses I've had have not been the most submissive in dressage, but the priority now is on a horse that will be obedient in dressage. Sometimes I think this is to the detriment of their ability to think well on cross country.
Yes! This is why I oppose a minimum dressage score as a requirement to move up for the guise of safety on XC. Years ago there were XC machines out there that even though they were dependably in the bottom third after dressage were super safe on XC. They were highly desirable horses, used to teach the ropes to new riders. Today you couldn't give one away.

colliemom
Mar. 23, 2008, 05:58 PM
Yes! This is why I oppose a minimum dressage score as a requirement to move up for the guise of safety on XC. Years ago there were XC machines out there that even though they were dependably in the bottom third after dressage were super safe on XC. They were highly desirable horses, used to teach the ropes to new riders. Today you couldn't give one away.

Yep. I've got one. Bottom third after dressage pretty regularly, but jumps around clean, catty, and bold, and VERY safe at Prelim. In seven months on the market last year, I got one phone call. And that was a tire kicker.

Sad that a horse like that is no longer able to teach someone else the ropes. So for now, I will continue to school her, we continue to get better and better, and she is getting a bit better at the dressage. So watch out this year! :-)

vineyridge
Mar. 23, 2008, 06:11 PM
GotSpots, you are absolutely right.

I was thinking of the mental strain on both horse and rider of "managing every stride", and how courses today do require that skill far more than in the past. With multiple and very technical elements on solid jumps, the risk from a mental or physical mistake for a tired rider IMO has to be multiplied. Seems obvious, doesn't it, but I suppose is also something that needs to be researched.

BuddyRoo
Mar. 23, 2008, 06:34 PM
On another note, I am curious as to why all the concern over amateurs. It seems to me that most of the recent accidents have occured at the higher levels with fairly experienced riders.

If I may....I think the reason there is concern over ammys is due to the trickle down effect that has already been discussed. If ammys make up (per Mr. Baumgardner's numbers) 90% of active membership, then it seems to me that in order to keep the sport going, it means maintaining the influx of new members--many (most!) of which are ammys. And of those, many are going to be found at the BN and Training levels. If those levels are seeing the trickle down of technicality and SJ type "placement" requirements, it's likely folks are going to be scared off. Which hurts the sport. So they do matter.

Maybe they're not getting killed. But do they have to get killed to count?

subk
Mar. 23, 2008, 06:56 PM
With multiple and very technical elements on solid jumps, the risk from a mental or physical mistake for a tired rider IMO has to be multiplied.
I wouldn't limit the mental fatigue factor to riders only. I think horses also get mentally fatigued and probably sooner on course than the rider.

RunForIt
Mar. 23, 2008, 07:13 PM
I wouldn't limit the mental fatigue factor to riders only. I think horses also get mentally fatigued and probably sooner on course than the rider.

would hazard a guess that horses who are moved through the upper levels quickly, not getting a chance to develop a way to "horse read" certain kinds of questions, over many kinds of terrain, would fatigue even more quickly AND process later fences less effectively.

GotSpots
Mar. 23, 2008, 07:24 PM
Yep. I've got one. Bottom third after dressage pretty regularly, but jumps around clean, catty, and bold, and VERY safe at Prelim. In seven months on the market last year, I got one phone call. And that was a tire kicker.

Sad that a horse like that is no longer able to teach someone else the ropes. So for now, I will continue to school her, we continue to get better and better, and she is getting a bit better at the dressage. So watch out this year! :-) You know - and this is a wee bit of a tangent, but I actually think there are alot of us looking for that horse. Heck, I just bought one of those last year, after searching pretty hard to find him! In five years of competition, going from Training level to Advanced, the beast had NEVER broken 40 in the dressage ring. I absolutely adore him, he's safe, catty, and a brilliant jumper, and he's slowly improving in the white box. I almost wonder if it's a marketing or size or age thing on yours - I SWEAR I looked for a long time to find mine, since very single time we found a "super safe jumper, amateur friendly, one star" horse it was sold before we got there.

I do agree with the point that there is mental and physical fatigue from the courses that don't let up, and I think that only increases at the upper levels. The longer the course, the longer horse/rider have to keep that adrenalinized focus up, and that edge burns off earlier and earlier in the course.

pwynnnorman
Mar. 23, 2008, 07:37 PM
would hazard a guess that horses who are moved through the upper levels quickly, not getting a chance to develop a way to "horse read" certain kinds of questions, over many kinds of terrain, would fatigue even more quickly AND process later fences less effectively.

I was wondering about that, too. That's why I asked on another thread if anyone had data on the ages of horses involved in serious falls.

Badger
Mar. 24, 2008, 02:16 PM
USEA - Important Notice
[March 24, 2008]

USEA President Kevin Baumgardner’s Report on the Strategic Planning Meeting March 21-22 in Leesburg, Virginia.

I told you that I would report back to the membership after our Strategic Planning meeting in Leesburg, which took place this past Friday and Saturday. Before I do so, please allow me to describe the avalanche of responses I have received from concerned members since I posted my message on the USEA website early last week soliciting your input. So far, approximately 500 members have emailed or called me. Dozens more have contacted the various Area Chairs or the USEA staff. Those who have contacted us have included a broad cross-section of our membership—grass-roots Eventers as well as some of the biggest names in the sport. I have heard from adult amateur riders at every level, trainers and coaches at every level, young riders at every level, Olympic gold medalists, riders who are just taking up the sport and hoping to compete at beginning novice, members who have been involved in the sport for forty-plus years, Badminton champions, riders whose lifelong goal is to move up to preliminary, veterinarians, officials, organizers, course designers and builders, owners of four-star (and in some cases Olympic medalist) horses, spouses and parents of elite-level riders, and many, many concerned parents of aspiring young riders. I have also received a number of emails from Eventers in Canada, New Zealand and England. I have heard from many people who are considering leaving the sport, are currently on the sidelines considering whether they are comfortable re-entering the sport, or who are wrestling with whether to allow their children to take up (or continue in) the sport.

Perhaps most significantly, I have heard from nearly 200 of you who have identified yourself as members of the "silent generation" of Eventing professionals, a group who have heretofore usually not spoken up about their concerns regarding the direction of the sport. What is truly extraordinary is that dozens of well-known riders and trainers—some of whom have been competing at the four-star level and vying for U.S. Equestrian Team positions—consider themselves part of that "silent generation."

Equally extraordinary is what you have to say. These have not been one-line messages. Instead, the vast majority of you have poured out your hopes, dreams, fears and frustrations in great detail, and have often confided in me your personal stories in Eventing to help put your insights and suggestions into better context. I am deeply impressed by the thoughtfulness of your messages and the nearly universal recognition of the complexity of the issues our sport faces. It is clear that you "get it," and you are hoping that we (those of us in the governance of the sport) get it too.

I have returned dozens of your messages, but no one has yet invented a 30-hour day, so I must confess that my capacity to respond in a timely fashion to everyone who has called or written has suffered a major meltdown. Even many of my close friends in the sport have not yet received a response. I ask all of you to please forgive me for the delay in responding. I am reading every message I get—and sharing your ideas with my colleagues—and will respond personally to each and every one of you who emails or calls. That process will just take some time. The USEA will also take steps to set up regular forums for communication with members and otherwise to keep the dialogue with the members going, and we will additionally be developing ways to utilize the talents of the scores of you who have volunteered to be part of the solution (and to get more involved with the Association generally in various capacities). Again, please bear with us as we process all of this extremely valuable (and very heartening) input.

And finally, please do not read my disclaimer about being swamped by responses as a cry for mercy. If you have something to say (or even if you already contacted me but now have something more to say), don't hesitate to email or call me. There was no artificial deadline created by the Strategic Planning meeting, and we still want (and need) to hear your voices. Again, my email address is kbaumgardner@corrcronin.com, and my phone number is (206) 621-1480.

What message did you give us? Well over 90 percent of those who responded said some variation of the following:

We must reverse the prevailing trends in cross-country course design at all levels—that is, let's tone down the emphasis on technical difficulty, on packing courses with tight turns and complexes taken at show-jumping speed, and on sorting out the field. Instead, let's swing the pendulum back towards courses that emphasize the rhythm of the gallop and that are focused on being horse and rider-friendly .

Another message that came through loud and clear:

We must slow down optimal speeds where appropriate given the nature of the course, constraints imposed by the size of the venue, terrain, footing, etc.

Then there was this:

The direction of our sport should not be dictated in a top-down fashion by a few entrenched individuals; instead, we need accountability at all levels and need new voices to be heard in the governance of Eventing in this country.

And finally this:

Let's make Eventing fun again.

Those were by far the four most prevalent messages. Your emails also contained dozens of other creative ideas on topics including safety, how to open up governance of the sport, etc. I did my best to synthesize and communicate your input to the participants in the Strategic Planning session (who included, among others, a majority of the USEA board of governors).

So what did we do in Leesburg? To begin with, we scrapped the long-established agenda and, with the excellent on-the-fly help of our facilitator Bud Crouch, spent virtually all of the session on this one topic. It was an intense and emotionally exhausting day-and-a-half. We discussed, debated and argued with uncompromising frankness the issues faced by the sport. We tried to confront head-on the truths that lie right under the surface of those issues. One of those truths is that Eventing is a risk sport—nothing we do will ever change that fact. Another truth is that anyone who gallops an Event horse out of a start box must exercise a good measure of personal responsibility. Yet another is that anyone who tells you there is a quick and easy way to resolve the multiple challenges facing the sport is either a fool or a liar (or both). The issues are complex, and so will be the solutions. For that reason, we discussed a wide range of safety-related ideas (many suggested by members in their messages) including such diverse examples as instituting mandatory competitor meetings before cross-country, increasing minimum ages for riders to compete at preliminary and intermediate, increasing the availability of ICP-certified instructors, funding a study relating to the cause and prevention of pulmonary hemorrhages in sport horses, and finding ways to identify and penalize dangerous riding on a much more regular basis—there were many more, I couldn't even begin to list them all. We also agreed—and here acknowledge—that there are legitimate concerns about conflicts of interest that need to be addressed.

But in the end, convinced that the complexity of the issues facing the sport should not be an excuse for inaction, we determined that the most pressing immediate need was to deal with the cross-country course design and optimal time issues. So we unanimously voted to take immediate action to reverse the trends in course design and to slow down speeds where appropriate. We also unanimously voted on a set of six guiding principles that address our overall philosophy in responding to the four main areas of member concerns communicated to us.

We did not formulate specific cross-country course design or speed standards (although we discussed those topics at length, and came up with some ideas). Instead, we decided that it was appropriate to give the USEA Eventing Standards Task Force—the group I appointed in December to address this very issue, and that has been chaired by Darren Chiacchia—a strong directive to develop proposed standards on an expedited basis so that they can be submitted for action by the USEF Eventing Technical Committee at the meeting that will take place on the Wednesday before the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event. As I mentioned in my earlier message, Gina Miles has agreed to serve as acting chair of that task force during Darren's convalescence.

The specific motion that was the end-product of our discussions, first passed on a unanimous vote of the Strategic Planning Group, then immediately ratified and adopted by a unanimous vote of the Board of Governors (a quorum of the Board was present at the meeting), reads as follows:

The USEA Board of Governors, on March 22, 2008. hereby unanimously resolves to:

1. Adopt the six Guiding Principles as a policy statement of USEA:

USEA Guiding Principles
1. We will not wait for the FEI or the rest of the world; we will lead.
2. The sport shall emphasize the success of horse and rider, not a philosophy of elimination.
3. Identifying and implementing appropriate standards of course design and speed at each level.
4. Addressing and respecting our members' concerns at competitions and in the governance of the sport.
5. Encouraging and developing opportunities for members to participate in all facets of leadership at all levels.
6. In all of our endeavors and pursuits, we affirm our commitment to the welfare of the horse.

2. Direct and authorize the Eventing Standards Task Force to take immediate action to reverse the trends in course design and slow down speeds where appropriate, consistent with Item 3 in the Guiding Principles.

3. Direct and authorize the Eventing Standards Task Force to present rule change proposals in accordance with Item 2 above, to be acted on by the USEF Eventing Technical Committee in its April 23, 2008 meeting.

4. Provide the Eventing Standards Task Force with communications received from USEA members to guide them in making these rule change proposals.

So here's the plan: The Eventing Standards Tasks Force is scheduled to meet (via telephone) this coming Thursday, March 27, to start the process of hammering out proposed rule changes. As noted in paragraph 4 of the motion passed by the Board, we will provide the task force with the emails and other communications I and my colleagues have received from you (with the exception of those messages that you have asked me to hold confidential) to help guide them in this process. Again, we hope and expect to have rule change proposals regarding cross country design and speed standards drafted, approved by the task force and submitted to the USEF Eventing Technical Committee (chaired by USEA Governor and Strategic Planning participant Malcolm Hook, who is also a member of the Eventing Standards Task Force) in advance of the Rolex meeting in late April. I am a member of the Eventing Technical Committee, as are several other USEA Governors.

We will update you regularly in this space as this process unfolds.

I am very pleased to report that USEF Safety Committee chair Andrew Ellis has contacted the USEA and informed us that he endorses this effort.

I should emphasize once again that we in the USEA leadership are not losing sight of the other issues identified by the membership, including the need for more two-way communication between the leadership and Eventers at all levels of the sport, the need for fostering frank discussion without the perception of intimidation, and the need for introducing "new blood" into the governance of the sport. Nor are we planning on abandoning the many other safety-related ideas put forth by our membership. To the contrary, we plan to address those ideas once this initial expedited push on cross-country course design and speeds has taken place. This will be a continuing process.

And I want to mention one other thing that I believe is crucial to this process: We must not become bogged down in finger-pointing or characterize this issue as "good guys" versus "bad guys." We are at a crossroads now in the direction of our sport, and all of us, and the sport itself, will be losers if we divert our focus from taking positive steps forward and instead become mired in personal attacks. That is not to say we should avoid standing up and fighting for what we believe in, but to my mind one of the great strengths of our sport has always been the quality of the people involved—all of the people involved—so let's pull together and move forward as a community.

Again, please don't stay on the sidelines. We solicit your input, and fully expect to be accessible and accountable to our membership.

Please email your responses to kevin@useventing.com

Contact Information of the Sender
United States Eventing Association
Old Waterford Road, NW
Leesburg, VA 20176
703-779-0440

tx3dayeventer
Mar. 24, 2008, 02:28 PM
Yep. I've got one. Bottom third after dressage pretty regularly, but jumps around clean, catty, and bold, and VERY safe at Prelim. In seven months on the market last year, I got one phone call. And that was a tire kicker.

Sad that a horse like that is no longer able to teach someone else the ropes. So for now, I will continue to school her, we continue to get better and better, and she is getting a bit better at the dressage. So watch out this year! :-)

Crap, if you werent so far from Texas I would seriously look at your horse. As I am sure most of you already know my *** mare died (natural causes) earlier this year and I would give my right arm and possibly my left to have exactly what you described. I dont really give a hoot about our dressage score but I want to KNOW that if I make a mistake, leave a stride out, half halt one too many that the horse is going to help both of us out. I dont care about the Team anymore I just want to go have a safe, fun xc run and come back to the barn with that stupid goofy smile we all get after an awesome go.

frugalannie
Mar. 25, 2008, 12:27 PM
Tried to post last night, but computer wouldn't co-operate.

Once again, KB has impressed me with his willingness to tackle the issues we've raised, and even more his desire to be open about discussions and accessible to the membership.

I particularly like "We will not wait for the FEI or the rest of the world: we will lead." And "The sport shall emphasize the success of the horse and rider, not elimination". But of course the prime thing is the affirmed committment to the welfare of the horse.

Great start, Kevin and the SP Committee. Looking forward to seeing progress made on the issues identified.