PDA

View Full Version : Should you win on dressage



enjoytheride
Oct. 5, 2009, 12:44 PM
I know that dressage is important and I really want to improve my dressage scores.

However, I have noticed a ton of people "winning off their dressage scores." and I have even told people that you need to have the dressage in order to win.

So while sitting at home being bored I wondered if that should be the case.

Does that mean that stadium and XC are too easy if all you need is a good dressage score to win? Does that mean we are now placing a proper emphasis on dressage in our horses? Does it become more difficult to win based on your dressage score as you move up or down the levels?

A topic for a monday conversation!

GotSpots
Oct. 5, 2009, 12:53 PM
At what level? Very different conversation if you're talking about BN/N vs. Advanced.

Catalina
Oct. 5, 2009, 01:00 PM
Well, based on the couple of times I have won on my dressage score, I would say yes; all the other times when I have not, I would say no :lol:.

No, seriously, at BN/N, the stadium and XC are appropriate for the level and there are certain horses that can do well in dressage and jump everything clean, so it is not unusual to see lots of people winning on their dressage. It's pretty much a fact of life at the lower levels.

Mach Two
Oct. 5, 2009, 02:48 PM
I agree, at the lower levels it's the norm, and courses should be designed at N and T so that a well prepared horse and rider can go clear. Sometimes a rail in the stadium sorts it out, sometimes a time fault or two sorts it out.
I have also moved up a fair amount on a horse with very average dressage who always jumped around clear, when the dressage leaders had a stop on XC.
And upper levels are usually sorted out long after dressage is over, with time and rails.

Blugal
Oct. 5, 2009, 04:16 PM
At the lower levels, yes you should win on your dressage score.

I think part of the problem of the mini-Badmintons at Novice these days is that too many "perpetual novice" riders felt that they weren't being challenged enough or that the same people were always winning on their dressage.

I say Tough Cookies to that, either improve your own dressage, move up a level, try a different sport/horse endeavour, or get a young horse that isn't a novice packer. It'll make life more interesting without the rest of the truly Novice competitors having to see a bank-jump-drop-ditch-cabin combination at Novice (yes, I've seen that).

Bobthehorse
Oct. 5, 2009, 06:12 PM
The phrase "winning off your dressage score" doesnt mean your dressage was amazing and thats why you won. It only means that you went double clear and didnt rack up any more penalties, thus your final score was the same as your dressage score. You could be last after dressage, and if you go double clear and everyone has buttloads of penalties in the other phases, you could still win, and youd be winning off your dressage score.

Eventingjunkie
Oct. 5, 2009, 06:30 PM
It's ridiculous to say you won off your dressage score...you actually "won" because you jumped clean cross country and stadium and had no time penalties.

Speedy
Oct. 5, 2009, 06:51 PM
At the lower levels, yes you should win on your dressage score.

I think part of the problem of the mini-Badmintons at Novice these days is that too many "perpetual novice" riders felt that they weren't being challenged enough or that the same people were always winning on their dressage.

I say Tough Cookies to that, either improve your own dressage, move up a level, try a different sport/horse endeavour, or get a young horse that isn't a novice packer. It'll make life more interesting without the rest of the truly Novice competitors having to see a bank-jump-drop-ditch-cabin combination at Novice (yes, I've seen that).

I don't mind if folks are going mostly clean around SJ and XC and agree that it should be possible or even desirable at Novice - BUT - some Novice riders are trying to move up and actually want more complexity to confirm that, when there is more room for error, they are comfortable with the harder questions that they might be asked at Training - and the same is true for the experienced rider on a horse that is poised to move up to Training for the first time - nothing wrong with wanting to be able to introduce some of the harder questions to the horse when things are a bit more manageable. Wanting a more complex test in SJ or on XC is not in and of itself a bad thing or necessarily indicative of the bored or soured "perpetual novice" rider, IMO, although it would be nice if the move up courses were distinguished more clearly in the Omnibus, so that riders who need and want the basics don't find themselves surprised by what is being asked.

OverandOnward
Oct. 5, 2009, 07:10 PM
It's ridiculous to say you won off your dressage score...you actually "won" because you jumped clean cross country and stadium and had no time penalties.

This is an excellent point. It goes to what values are at the heart of the sport. What is the goal and aim of the sport.

Is it to prove that horses performing well in dressage can also jump cross-country and stadium? (Even further ... that good dressage horses can also turn in double-clears in the jumping phases?)

Or that good cross-country horses can also be good at dressage and stadium?

And so forth.

Of course historically cross-country is at the center of the sport. But when the top 5 or 10 regularly finish without jumping/time penalties, it is natural that being competitive means a lot of focus on dressage. Many riders who go to the trouble and expense of competing do so expecting to be competitive.

eventer_mi
Oct. 5, 2009, 07:30 PM
Since i have YET to win off my dressage score (always jump clean, but dressage ain't quite good enough), I have to say that it's not because the other two phases are too easy, it's because the calibre of dressage has gone waaaay up.

When I started eventing about 10 or so years ago, I could win the event off a score of high 30s, or at least place in the top three. Now, that same score puts me towards the bottom end of the pack. My riding has gotten better, but the horses that I'm competing against are no longer someone's backyard pony, but a very high quality TB or WB, with a very competent rider on board. Alas, I have not been able to make that leap in quality of horses (for many reasons), so while my scores are now between 27-35, my placings still remain the same.

You can see this most obviously when you see that a 27 doesn't even qualify you for first place - that person who nailed a 23 got first, the 25 got second, the 26 got third....

archieflies
Oct. 5, 2009, 08:09 PM
I contemplated this a bit last week after an event... I know it's good to have lots of clear rounds at BN/N, but when only one person in my N division (er, that would be me) had any jumping penalties, then the ribbons did become purely a dressage show. This wouldn't matter to me on an average course that people happened to just ride well on... but on a course that really was too easy (again, I say that but I still had a stupid stop) it becomes a little annoying. The courses should be safe and doable, but not so easy so as to become moot. It should be a contest of jumping horses that also do dressage, not dressage horses that can also complete an easy jumping test. I might feel differently if I could ever break south of the high thirties in dressage. :)

enjoytheride
Oct. 5, 2009, 10:23 PM
Now is this because by their nature N and BN are virtually impossible to have problems on XC and stadium? Because the quality of horse has gone up? Should BN and N have hard questions to answer? Do N and BN problems have more problems in stadium where the rails fall?

Does it need to change?

riderboy
Oct. 6, 2009, 07:19 AM
At he lower levels the outcome seems almost always decided by the most subjective phase of the competition. We all know it takes a lot of hard work,time and money to compete and it can be quite discouraging to have that dependent on a sometimes confusing and shifting "reward" system aka dressage. We have good judges here but it can definitely be hit or miss. Personally, at the lower levels, I think too much weight is placed on the dressage phase. Having said that I have no better system in mind so I just accept it.

JeanieClarke2141
Oct. 6, 2009, 07:47 AM
Look at Preliminary results. Prelim is still defined as a level for young and greener horses on their way up the levels. Prelim courses have enough size and complexity and require enough pace to ensure that the division is not often pinned according to its dressage scores. It's also the level with the most horse and rider falls.

IMO, speed at Preliminary is a problem - People go too fast in order to win, because they know others in the division will have faults and open the door to victory. Competitiveness overrides horsemanship.

I like that the lower levels have slow speeds and fewer jumping faults - it removes temptation. Some of the most competitive Novice and Training horses out there are scoped out - and/or performing to the extent of their training in front of the jumps - at their levels. It would be innapropriate to tempt their riders to take risks knowing that others might have faults that would allow them to move up in the ribbons.

frugalannie
Oct. 6, 2009, 08:26 AM
IMHO, winning off your dressage score means getting such a fabulous score that you have a stop XC, a bunch of time faults or a couple of rails in hand. You've had other problems, but the dressage score "masks" them.

Jumping quadruple clear is just really good riding. Now, if everyone in the division jumps quadruple clear (not one time fault anywhere or rail in stadium), then I think the courses may be a bit too easy.

SparklePlenty
Oct. 6, 2009, 08:50 AM
as silly as this may sound - but i do like to "finish" on my dressage score.. not necessarily "win". But that shows that i was double clear stadium and Xcountry. So i can come in 6th place and finish on my dressage score and know that my horse is a rockstar!.. :) :cool:

riderboy
Oct. 6, 2009, 09:45 AM
as silly as this may sound - but i do like to "finish" on my dressage score.. not necessarily "win". But that shows that i was double clear stadium and Xcountry. So i can come in 6th place and finish on my dressage score and know that my horse is a rockstar!.. :) :cool:
Right, I agree with that. I honestly am more pleased with the quad clear than a low dressage score. I've had low dressage scores and the best I had I also had a stupid XC runout and I was far,far more bummed about that than I was happy about my dressage.

Shrunk "N" Da Wash
Oct. 6, 2009, 09:57 AM
It is nice to finish on your dressage score. But it is quite amusing when your dressage score is head and shoulders above the rest allowing for a rail or two and maybe some time faults... Every win I have had I've lead after dressage. Except for 1 show I moved up from third. Although I'm just messing around at novice atm.

The event I was at on Sunday was interesting. I tied for first after dressage on my two horses but they were ahead by 7.5 pp. My one horse had a rail in stadium and went to second. Then on xc there was a fence that more then 1/2 the division had a stop at (nice roll top but the horses were quite worried about, i think it was the location) my horse in second got it but the other is greener and he stopped. The one that got the fence went clear but we got a bit carried away and were 8sec fast (we have no watches up here at novice). But at the end the speedy one won and the one with the stop was 6th. Now that's what I call a fun, interesting day of eventing!

EmmyTheHemi
Oct. 6, 2009, 08:50 PM
as silly as this may sound - but i do like to "finish" on my dressage score.. not necessarily "win". But that shows that i was double clear stadium and Xcountry. So i can come in 6th place and finish on my dressage score and know that my horse is a rockstar!.. :) :cool:

Roger that! Of course, I don't get all bummed out if I have a good dressage score. ;) But on those days when I don't (and they are legion), I am still happiest to know we were double clear in both jump phases. Those days feel better than the days of a great dressage score and a rail in stadium....

2LaZ2race
Oct. 6, 2009, 09:21 PM
There was an x-Advanced horse in the ELEMENTARY division at a recent horse show I went too... and no, there's no back story about injury or extenuating circumstances. There were a lot of other horses who were obviously beyond the level they were entered in; there was a horse that recently did a training 3-day in the Beg Novice Horse division, and a women who just bought an experienced eventer/fox hunter in the Intro division. These horses as well as a few others busted out low 20's dressage scores when the rest of the horses were in the mid to high 30's or 40's.

I'm not sure if people just don't understand the differences between "Horse" and "Rider" divisions or if they really are just ribbon hungry. :no:

Meredith Clark
Oct. 6, 2009, 09:25 PM
as silly as this may sound - but i do like to "finish" on my dressage score.. not necessarily "win". But that shows that i was double clear stadium and Xcountry. So i can come in 6th place and finish on my dressage score and know that my horse is a rockstar!.. :) :cool:

Shameless brag!!! :winkgrin:

I couldn't believe the dressage scores in Juice Pony's division recently.. we weren't even close to the top 3 and I thought we had a very good test! Whatever.. we finished 5th on our dressage score and got a prudy pink ribbon :lol:

retreadeventer
Oct. 6, 2009, 09:26 PM
RELATIVE INFLUENCE OF THE TESTS. In principle, the Cross-Country Test should
be the most influential of the three tests of a Horse Trial. The Dressage Test, while less
influential than the Cross-Country Test, should be slightly more influential than the Jumping
Test.

This is from the rulebook.
I seem to remember there was a slight movement afoot to change the way the dressage tests are calculated in order to bring the relative influence either up, or down (I can't remember what that discussion was finding fault with). You could also change the way the stadium faults are scored as well, they were thinking of making the rails 5 points in the lower level tests or something at one time, to help with the influence and getting away from the "dressage race" aspect.
I think it is difficult to win at any recognized event today no matter how easy the jumping tests may seem, or how great the dressage queens are.....winning is hard! Most of the time I think the ones that win are deserving at all the levels.

Equa
Oct. 6, 2009, 09:27 PM
We all know why dressage is important to eventers on a philosophical and practical level, but there is also another factor - it "seeds" the horses/riders prior to XC and jumping. When you apply the 1.5 to the dressage, as is done at FEI level (and at the national level in Australia) it gives a greater spread of marks. I guess this means a really good test is rewarded, while a really bad test is hard to catch up from.

asterix
Oct. 6, 2009, 10:48 PM
There was an x-Advanced horse in the ELEMENTARY division at a recent horse show I went too... and no, there's no back story about injury or extenuating circumstances. There were a lot of other horses who were obviously beyond the level they were entered in; there was a horse that recently did a training 3-day in the Beg Novice Horse division, and a women who just bought an experienced eventer/fox hunter in the Intro division. These horses as well as a few others busted out low 20's dressage scores when the rest of the horses were in the mid to high 30's or 40's.

I'm not sure if people just don't understand the differences between "Horse" and "Rider" divisions or if they really are just ribbon hungry. :no:

Well...Elementary is not recognized, so I guess you can enter any horse you like in it. As for a T3d horse in BN horse, that is not legal. It's not that people don't understand, it's that people don't pay attention, I think, to the entry form or the rules.
I am sure it is hard as an organizer to double check everyone's quals on entry, hundreds of them.
I do know someone who qualified for AECs in a rider division which she should not have been in...they DO check for AECs and she was not allowed to compete.

OverandOnward
Oct. 6, 2009, 11:54 PM
As I'm reading these comments from experienced competitors I'm thinking that maybe the divisions need a re-think. I already think the names are ridiculous - if statistically 85% of eventers never go past Novice even though they compete for years, then the term "Novice" is inaccurate, at best.

I hear frequently that 'soft' BN/N courses are not what many riders with division experience want, but 'max' BN/N are intimidating to true new entries to that level. And in locations where 'soft' BN/N courses are common, that probably isn't helping riders prepare to move up.

Maybe a different set of division names and a more graduated scale that better classes 'soft' vs 'max' courses would help produce scores at the top of the division that show more challenges in the jumping phases, appropriate to the riders entered. If that makes sense. Radical idea - do away with "bn" and "n" and allow events to choose 2 of 4 available grades for the 2 courses they choose to offer. If that makes sense. Example, grade 1 = old 'soft bn'; 2 = old 'max bn'; 3 = old 'soft n'; 4 = old 'max n.'

Just a thought. :)

Beam Me Up
Oct. 7, 2009, 01:11 AM
I seem to remember there was a slight movement afoot to change the way the dressage tests are calculated in order to bring the relative influence either up, or down (I can't remember what that discussion was finding fault with). You could also change the way the stadium faults are scored as well, they were thinking of making the rails 5 points in the lower level tests or something at one time, to help with the influence and getting away from the "dressage race" aspect.


In my relatively short (~15 yr) event career these have been changed several times. I hope these are in the right order . . .

When I started we used USDF dressage tests and the scores depended on test (for example, 1st 1 had fewer movements than 1st 3, thus events that used 1st 1 would have lower scoring dressage than those using 3, and training would always have lower dressage scores since those tests had fewer movements yet) but all in all were quite a bit higher than today. I remember breaking 100, but I think, depending on level and test, winners were in the 40s-60s.
At this time x-j rails were 5 and 1st stop was 10, but time was only .25/sec.

Then it went to the BHSA event tests which were shorter in movements and therefore scored lower (winners 30s/40s I *think*). SJ remained the same, making it relatively more influential than dressage compared to the USDF test days.

Then the dressage changed to USEA tests, which scored even lower, but more consistently (among levels, between the 2 tests for each level). SJ later changed to the 4 for rails/1st stop and 1/sec. With both dressage and s-j lower scoring, x-c became more influential.

Point of ramble:
I'm not sure there is a right/wrong on how the phases are weighted. It has varied in the past and could be tweaked in the future, depending on what the sport wants to emphasize. Just being aware of this helps me remember that really it is about your ride and not the (arbitrary!) way the final scores are computed.

At lower levels more pairs will jump clean, making dressage more relatively important at lower levels than higher, which we all seem comfortable with because we want lower levels to be educational.

canterlope
Oct. 7, 2009, 05:43 AM
BMU, your dressage test time line is ever so slightly off.

In the early '90s, Eventing used the AHSA tests written for regular Dressage competitions (Eventing did not have its own tests). In 1998, the AHSA enacted tests specific to Eventing. Since then, those tests have been rewritten a few times (and the AHSA changed its name a number of times finally settling on the USEF), but they are basically the ones still in use today. Next year, the newly rewritten 2010 USEF Eventing tests will come into use.

FWIW, the USDF only writes and "owns" the Intro A & B, First through Fourth Level Freestyles, Pas de Deux, and Quadrille tests. The USEA does not write or own any Dressage tests. And the BHSA Eventing tests were not used for nationally recognized Eventing competitions in the time frame under discussion.

With regards to the OP's question, I'm with EventingJunkie. Winning on your Dressage score means you have a horse that has mastered all of the skills required of a successful Eventing equine athlete, not just those required of a successful straight Dressage horse. Just because a large part of those skills are represented by zeros in your final score does not mean they are less important that those that have numbers greater than zero attached to them.

With regards to soft/max courses at the lower levels, we constantly go around and around on this issue. Mainly because we ask these courses to serve many purposes, some of which are diametric opposites. We want them to be safe, inviting, and educational for horses and riders new to the sport/level. At the same time, we also want them to be challenging enough to prepare horses and riders for the move up to the next highest level. Is it really possible to achieve both with the same course? Maybe, but it is a very thin line that needs to be toed in order to accomplish this.

Personally, I am a bit uneasy with the fact that we have courses that run the gamut from soft to max. I think we would be better served if all of our courses were built to the maximum specifications allowed by the rules for a number of reasons. The competitors would always know what to expect and what would be expected of them before they even arrived on grounds. The gaps between the levels would remain constant. And, we could avoid the problem of competitors running successfully over only soft courses, believing they are ready to move up because of this success, and then crashing and burning at the next highest level because of deficiencies in skills not revealed by those soft courses.

The common argument against this concept is that it is unfair/unsafe to require new competitors to negotiate or attempt to negotiate courses built to maximum specs and that there needs to be softer courses to help introduce them to the sport. This argument raises two questions in my mind. First, should nationally recognized events be expected to introduce the sport to riders who have never participated in it or is this something that should be expected of unrecognized events? And second, are we really introducing these riders to the sport or are we actually introducing them to some "lite" version when a course is below the specs of the level?

When I go to a nationally recognized Dressage show and enter a Second Level class, I should expect to be held to a certain standard and be judged on a fairly uniform scale that will let me know if my skills and those of my horse are on par with competitors from all parts of the country showing at the same level. It would be foolhardy of me to take a horse that has only competed up to First level and expect it to be given a pass solely because it is showing at Second Level for the first time. The same when I go to a nationally recognized Jumper show. If I enter a 1.10m class, I'd better be prepared to jump 3'7" fences and not expect them to lower the fences or ignore pulled rails solely because I am or my horse is new to the level. Call me crazy, but I think the same should be true for Eventing, especially at nationally recognized competitions.

Catalina
Oct. 7, 2009, 10:23 AM
Well said canterlope :D.

JumpingBug
Oct. 7, 2009, 11:19 AM
"JeanieClarke2141
Look at Preliminary results. Prelim is still defined as a level for young and greener horses on their way up the levels. Prelim courses have enough size and complexity and require enough pace to ensure that the division is not often pinned according to its dressage scores. It's also the level with the most horse and rider falls."

Sorry but have you watched Bn through training. I do not believe that prelim level has the most falls. Maybe the horse falls as it tends to be the dividing line and a tough jump up for many green horses but christ I watched them fall off all weekend in T and below and 1 prelim fall.

sch1star
Oct. 7, 2009, 11:19 AM
Personally, I don't like seeing a set of final scores even at the lower levels with no or extremely few changes across entire divisions as a result of sj and xc. I guess that sort of makes the question, "should you lose on your dressage score?"

I agree with Canterlope that more standardization could be a positive. This year I walked a BN course with no water, no ditch, no bank at the same event as a N course with all three, and the water had a related distance out to another fence, plus several combinations! I thought both courses were nice - was the BN inviting, yes - was the N fair for the level, sure, I thought so - but you would probably not want to see someone move from that BN course to that N course. FTR the Omnibus descriptions did reflect the gap - BN easy, good for first time and N average. No complaints intended here for the event itself, but man, it must be tough to be a course designer in the current environment.

My issue was more that I felt I would like to see a pass-through water, a little ditch, and a small bank up or down on this course for BN. I see and understand from the discussion not everyone feels that way. It almost sounds as though we could be calling for another level of recognized competition at, say, 2'3", to accommodate what we're now referring to as "soft" BN, and BN would then become the max version, with more of those "special questions" which could be legislated out of whatever the new smaller division were called.

We have unrec Elem now, but in this area at least, it's just what you would expect: very inconsistent. Running the gamut from tiny 6" logs on the ground to elaborately constructed mini versions of their big cousins, from courses with hills, woods, water crossings and skinny faces to courses of natural crossrails in one flat field.

retreadeventer
Oct. 7, 2009, 09:40 PM
Canterlope, agreed with the dressage standards and jumping standards points.
The only thing I would like to point out is that cross country courses vary so widely from facility to facility, that to force all to fit into a standardized box set of parameters would take away from the individual characters of each and every facility.
Even a facility with a fairly predictable course can have such factors as weather, overnight rain, drought, etc. change the course's level. Weather can change a course's level within hours!
To lose that individuality, the character of each special venue for an event, would not help the sport even if it standardized the questions, which, in reality would be pretty difficult to do. Organizers don't want to take a $3 can of spray paint to a fence number to keep people from jumping the wrong fence and getting eliminated. I can't imagine what kind of persuasion it would take to rebuild entire courses.
I would like courses to be classified within the levels, a very simple system, such as a designation of A or B - you know an A is a New to the level course and a B is a prepare to move up to next level course. I know organizers are digging their toes in on this, but I can't see how they are going to stay away from some kind of course designation or more specific evaluation in the future. Entries thruout the sport are down this year and we have to figure a way to keep the attraction of the sport going and get that 90 percent coming back. Maybe course designation is just a tool that can be used to do that. I don't know.

canterlope
Oct. 8, 2009, 03:35 AM
Sorry but have you watched Bn through training. I do not believe that prelim level has the most falls. Maybe the horse falls as it tends to be the dividing line and a tough jump up for many green horses but christ I watched them fall off all weekend in T and below and 1 prelim fall.JB, JC2141 is correct. Numbers compiled by the USEF/USEA show that more falls occur at Preliminary than any other level. These numbers also show that you are statistically more likely to fall at Preliminary than any other level.

mandalea
Oct. 8, 2009, 04:03 AM
I was always told that your dressage set up the standard, and it was really the most important of the 3 phases, as this was where you go the most points from ?

canterlope
Oct. 8, 2009, 04:53 AM
Canterlope, agreed with the dressage standards and jumping standards points.
The only thing I would like to point out is that cross country courses vary so widely from facility to facility, that to force all to fit into a standardized box set of parameters would take away from the individual characters of each and every facility. We already have set parameters for our Cross Country courses. They are summarized in Appendix 2 of the rule book.
To lose that individuality, the character of each special venue for an event, would not help the sport even if it standardized the questions, which, in reality would be pretty difficult to do. Organizers don't want to take a $3 can of spray paint to a fence number to keep people from jumping the wrong fence and getting eliminated. I can't imagine what kind of persuasion it would take to rebuild entire courses.I am not sure we are talking about the same thing here. For me, there is a big difference between wanting to "standardize" our courses and wanting them to be built to the maximum specifications allowed. Standardization evokes images of every course out there being exactly the same which is not what I am advocating. I fully support courses having their own unique character and it would indeed be a bit boring and detrimental to the sport if they weren't. However, it is possible for courses to retain their uniqueness and still be built to the maximum specifications allowed by the rules.

At the Advanced, Intermediate, and Preliminary levels, it is rare to find a course where a majority of the jumps are not built at or near maximum specs. Yet, each of these courses are unique in character. They have their own rhythm, flow, and challenges as it should be. At the Training, Novice, and Beginner Novice levels, it is rare to find a course where a majority of the jumps are built at or near maximum specs. I've measured some courses at these levels where only two or three jumps were at maximum height with none of them at maximum width.

If it is possible to build the A-P courses to max specs while still maintaining their unique character, I have a hard time understanding why this would not also be possible at T-BN.

saje
Oct. 8, 2009, 07:35 AM
Canterlope, I like that idea in theory (all courses to max specs) but it might create a problem for those of us in areas where schooling events (hell, ANY events!) are few and a long drive away. I don't have a decent schooling event closer than 4+ hrs from me, and no XC course that's open regularly for schooling closer than 2+ hrs.

For BN you can create most of the questions in a field using regular jumps, it gets harder at N and T. The big 3 - water, ditches, banks - are impossible unless ou own land, equipment, and a handy helpful spouse or friends. I'm lucky that my horse is bold and sensible and it doesn't take much exposure for him to figure things out, but it's still taken me a long time just to get to Training with him. If he were a more sensitive sort I'd probably still be at Novice.

I think there is a place for "move-up" courses, the question is how to *really* delineate the toughness of a course. And we've hashed that question out here before too...

GotSpots
Oct. 8, 2009, 08:41 AM
At the Advanced, Intermediate, and Preliminary levels, it is rare to find a course where a majority of the jumps are not built at or near maximum specs. Except for drops. Which seem to rarely be at or near maximum specs - until you have a heart attack walking the course at a three day (used to always be at Radnor where most people gulped). Other than that, agree with everything you've said.

Bobthehorse
Oct. 8, 2009, 11:29 PM
Now is this because by their nature N and BN are virtually impossible to have problems on XC and stadium?


Its really not that impossible. It happens often enough around here. No, you wont win if you have 2 rails or a stop on xc. But you could still ribbon, depending on everyone else's day, the course, the size of the division, how wicked your dressage score was, etc. I had plenty of stops at N this year, and Ive competed through Prelim. BN and N are supposed to be intro levels and inviting, but you cant make a course easy enough for every single combination out there.

canterlope
Oct. 9, 2009, 05:22 AM
Canterlope, I like that idea in theory (all courses to max specs) but it might create a problem for those of us in areas where schooling events (hell, ANY events!) are few and a long drive away. I don't have a decent schooling event closer than 4+ hrs from me, and no XC course that's open regularly for schooling closer than 2+ hrs.

For BN you can create most of the questions in a field using regular jumps, it gets harder at N and T. The big 3 - water, ditches, banks - are impossible unless ou own land, equipment, and a handy helpful spouse or friends. I'm lucky that my horse is bold and sensible and it doesn't take much exposure for him to figure things out, but it's still taken me a long time just to get to Training with him. If he were a more sensitive sort I'd probably still be at Novice.

I think there is a place for "move-up" courses, the question is how to *really* delineate the toughness of a course. And we've hashed that question out here before too...saje, I never know what people mean when they say "move-up" course. Are they talking about a course for competitors getting ready to move up to the next highest level (hard) or a course for competitors who have just moved up to the next highest level (soft).

At any rate, for the situation you described, is the issue a matter of fence size or fence variety? In other words, are the maximum specification for each level inappropriate or do the lower level courses lack the variety of fences needed to adequately prepare competitors for the move up to the next highest levels? Personally, I believe it is variety, not size, that is the issue.

Thomas_1
Oct. 9, 2009, 07:26 AM
I personally regret this more modern tendency.

I'm of the strong opinion it's one of the contributory factors to some of the horrendous accidents at the lower levels.

Personally speaking I'd much rather have a horse that excelled in the element that you could get killed at.

OverandOnward
Oct. 9, 2009, 11:06 AM
I've bookmarked this thread. The comments are excellent. :)

And the same thought keeps coming back ... the USEA should forget the current division structure bn/n/t/p/i/a and start over. Create a new division structure that better serves the eventing community of today.

Is it permitted to think that in eventing today? Just wondered. :winkgrin:

lesbrill54
Oct. 9, 2009, 11:15 AM
Part of peoples discontent with "winning on your dressage score" and "what is eventing all about anyway" comes from regarding the lower levels as competitive rather than educational venues. I am both not all that good at or interested in dressage for its own sake and when I take a horse BN, N, or T< I'm more concerned in how it jumps around than how I place in dressage. Well to be honest I just event for fun and am not very competitive, but it seems to me that the time to concentrate on the elements that win you the ribbon is when all the elements that keep you from getting killed jumping are all in place, or- nobody dies in dressage[not in my opinion synonymous with getting the horse rideable] If you're competing at the lower levels think of it as educational for either you or your horse and stop focusing in the ribbons.

slp2
Oct. 9, 2009, 09:33 PM
Posted by Canterlope:


With regards to soft/max courses at the lower levels, we constantly go around and around on this issue. Mainly because we ask these courses to serve many purposes, some of which are diametric opposites. We want them to be safe, inviting, and educational for horses and riders new to the sport/level. At the same time, we also want them to be challenging enough to prepare horses and riders for the move up to the next highest level. Is it really possible to achieve both with the same course?I agree, but here's how I think it could be done. Let's take a Training level x-c course as an example. Offer a "horse" division and an "open" division. Use the same basic course, but in the "horse" division, have the time on the course be slower (say 420 mpm). Also, make some of the trickier fences optional, make a bending line combination separately numbered instead of A and B, etc. Those are just some examples. Then for the "open" division, create a course for those who are ready to "move up". Make the speed faster and have no options, throw a couple smaller prelim fences in there. Make the combinations into A, B, and C, instead of numbered separately.

All you have to do to make this work is another course map, and some extra numbers. Similar to when an event is holding the area championships at a certain level. There is a slightly harder course--there are some jumps or complexes that the non championship division does not do. Make the "horse" division designated for horses that have not gone above that level. The "Open" division is open to any and all that want to sign up for it. It gives people the opportunity to do a "softer" course if they are just moving up and a "stiffer" course if they are ready to move to the next level.

OverandOnward
Oct. 10, 2009, 12:09 AM
... If you're competing at the lower levels think of it as educational for either you or your horse and stop focusing in the ribbons.

I admit I have a problem with this message. Keeping in mind that 85% of eventers will not compete above Novice (I believe it is 85%) ... The first trips at a level are of course about introduction and accuracy and all that, not ribbons. But over time I am not training and hauling and paying hundreds of dollars in entry fees for a schooling ride. I compete to be competitive. If the sport doesn't support competitive competitors, I would like to see a decision made to drop the entry fee for ll's to that of a cross-country school, don't score and just hand out participation ribbons. Of course for that I don't need to pay so much for instruction and clinics and training ... and all the income to professionals that helps keep the ul's going.

I greatly prefer the sport to make such adjustments so that competition is just that, and encourages the right competitive behaviors and values. Blaming everything on the competitors is most definitly not the answer. When all the customers are having the same problem, they are all responding to some common condition, and the conditions are causing the problem, not the customers. In this case imo it's clear the divisions as designed today are not what is needed.

Ja Da Dee
Oct. 12, 2009, 10:52 AM
As long as we score using penalty points, people will finish with their dressage score. I'm certainly not an advocate of setting horses up for failure so we will have a greater point spread at the lower levels. BN/N should have most horses going clear, maybe some time faults. Maybe if we want to add some points to XC, make an exact or very narrow Opt time, and give PP's to anyone outside that range?

I wouldn't object to requiring someone to move to an Open division of the same level if their horse has completed x number of novice rides without jumping penalties, similar rules for moving people out of the Rider divisions.

I would object to requiring people to move up to a different level.

NeverTime
Oct. 12, 2009, 03:24 PM
Agree with all those who say the lower levels are meant to be introductions to the sport. If you can't win there, improve your dressage or get over your desire to spend $100 to win a 5-cent ribbon. Go for the experience.

Why should it be the job of the course designer to make four different variations on a level so that you can test when and whether you are ready to move on? Riders should be figuring this out for themselves outside of competition, in schooling or clinic situations.

Why should it be the job of the organizer to offer multiple speeds at one level? Sounds like an administrative nightmare. No one is holding a gun to your head saying you MUST go 450 mpm if you are going training. If you are new to the level, you actually are allowed to demonstrate personal responsibility and go slower if that's what you or your horse needs. No, you won't get a ribbon for doing that, but why would you expect one if you are new to the level?

Don't understand why people want to make so many changes to the sport that are designed to "level the playing field" when it *is* a competition, after all.

bornfreenowexpensive
Oct. 12, 2009, 04:56 PM
Can't believe this made 3 pages.....of course you should win on your dressage score. Isn't that the goal? The ideal event horse is one that excells in all three phases. Super dressage, fast and brave xc and careful and clean in stadium. I strive to finish on my dressage score at each outing.....even a first time out for a horse at novice and training as for most of my horses, making time at novice and training isn't a big deal. If someone beats me....well, they did better. If I get crappy scores in dressage....of which I have gotten many.....I work on improving my dressage. I have had several horses who were jumping machines...super fun xc...not so much fun in dressage. We worked hard to improve our dressage but I continued to ride and compete them because they were soooo much fun to jump, and I learned a lot about riding xc on them....but never was bitter just because we were beaten. If some one has the better event horse....one that is good in all three phases....well, then they should beat me if my horse and I are weak in one phase. The sport doesn't need to change just because the competition has gotten tougher.