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View Full Version : SHAME ON POPLAR FOR USING LOWER RINGS WITH UNSUITABLE FOOTING



Shortstroke
Mar. 28, 2011, 11:27 PM
Who else got to experience the treacherously deep footing in the lower arenas at Poplar this past weekend? A friend of mine showed me a picture of her daughter's horse in Ring 5 taken just before lunch and the footing was so deep it covered the lower part of the cannon bone. It certainly didn't improve in the next 4 hours of use! Everyone involved knew the footing was terrible (that is why they haven't used the rings in years), but they didn't care. They just assigned the lower levels to ride there since they don't matter anyway. They moved Ring 4 to the grass at lunchtime and said #5 was better but it wasn't. They even had to close the warm-up ring after lunch. They knew the footing wouldn't hold up which is why they were advising people to use the upper warm up ring first thing in the morning. I think it was a shameful situation. What is going to happen when they host Area III championships?

BaroquePony
Mar. 28, 2011, 11:42 PM
Well, I basically quit competing (and paying my dues) after I felt like I needed to have a well-conditioned endurance horse just to ensure that I could ride a correct test and be prepared for footing that was usually very expensive, but frustratingly improperly designed :yes:, among other things.

FlightCheck
Mar. 29, 2011, 09:02 AM
and did your friend complain to the TD? Fill out an evaluation form? Choose not to ride because she/he thought the footing was unsuitable?

LisaB
Mar. 29, 2011, 09:03 AM
Toughen up cupcake

OverandOnward
Mar. 29, 2011, 10:23 AM
Everyone you know who felt the same way needs to get it in writing to the appropriate person or persons - including the organizer, but also in USEA officialdom. Silence to the principals is consent. That's just a natural law of humanity. IMO it is also fine that you came to this forum and alerted other LL's that you are unhappy with the venue, and why. :yes

LL's can only be treated badly if they (we) allow it, time after time. If that makes sense. LL's do represent 85% of the sport, although you can't always tell that by the way they are treated. :)

FlightCheck
Mar. 29, 2011, 11:40 AM
OP:

I DID ride in that ring on Friday, and made my thoughts known to the appropriate people. I am hoping that your friend did likewise.

My reply was not meant to be snarky - but did your friend do any of those things?

I'm not really sure what could have been done - there was no more room, and dressage already ran past 6pm...

ltevent
Mar. 29, 2011, 12:11 PM
Those arenas had not been used in recent years not because "they knew it was bad" but because it wasn't ready and needed to cure. The footing had been tested by riders before the event, but it obviously didn't hold up after so many horses rode over the same track. Ring 4 couldn't be moved until the end of the division for fairness. Besides that, there just wasn't any more room.

Those lower arenas do not have a solid base, which was part of the problem and will be remedied. Just like with the fences removed from the Advanced water on cross-country, sometimes you just don't know how it will go until you get there. Be happy Poplar was willing to accommodate such a large group of competitors, and at least are big enough to admit mistakes and fix it for next time.

If you don't like it, just don't go back. Simple as that.

Shortstroke
Mar. 29, 2011, 12:22 PM
OP:

I DID ride in that ring on Friday, and made my thoughts known to the appropriate people. I am hoping that your friend did likewise.

My reply was not meant to be snarky - but did your friend do any of those things?

I'm not really sure what could have been done - there was no more room, and dressage already ran past 6pm...

Yes. My friend did speak to the owner. They could have moved #5 to the grass also.

Emmas Hot Brass
Mar. 29, 2011, 12:34 PM
What is going to happen when they host Area III championships?

our may isn't usually rainy like march, and so deep, yucky footing shouldn't be a problem for Area III's. the tsunami this past weekend is something that happens occaisonally... no ones outdoor arenas were great. Poplar is one of the best facilities in the Area.

Hindsight is always 20/20. If you write Donna, I'm sure she would explain all of the decision making factors.

C'est la vie. torrential downpours are part of GA spring.

Shortstroke
Mar. 29, 2011, 12:37 PM
It isn't clear in my original post that I also showed in Ring #5 toward the end of Fri afternoon. So I know exactly how unsuitable it was. I do not agree that objecting to bad footing = cupcake. And yes, I did enter the ring and complete the test because until I was in there I did not realize how deep it actually was and I trusted management who said, when they moved #4 to the grass, that #5 was better. Well, as I found out, it wasn't. And yes, I am completing the Evaluation Form. I compete at Training and this is my first complaint ever. I am not a whiner. The footing was truly shameful.

fivecats
Mar. 29, 2011, 03:04 PM
The sand arenas will not be used for the Area III Championships. Grass arenas will be used if addiitional arenas are needed.

BaroquePony
Mar. 29, 2011, 03:36 PM
Three new world class dressage rings at a new venue in Texas .... twelve hours of rain .... enter at C ... halt at X .... sink half way up to your cannon bones :lol: engineers :no:

clpony
Mar. 29, 2011, 07:20 PM
:yes:
i agree with flight check

does not much good to commiserate on the board.
so hope op let organizers know as well.
indeed my pony was not happy at all with the footing as she sank down. but we muddled through.

footing in xcountry warm up sunday not so great either, but so it goes.

RunForIt
Mar. 29, 2011, 07:21 PM
While I completely understand the ire of trotting down centerline with your horse/pony sinking up to its pasterns, please keep this in mind...no one spends the amount of time and money the Stegmans have in order to have poor footing. The problem was not apparent before the event began. The fact that they are trying to make an even better eventing venue doesn't obscure the fact that the footing was not acceptable this weekend. I wish the best footing always was perfect, just like I wished holes didn't happen in the grass dressage arenas at Full Gallop last May, problems happen...complain to the right folks. I'm sorry you had a bad experience, but I'll guarantee you that the folks at Poplar will rectify the problems before anyone comes down centerline again.

Shortstroke
Mar. 29, 2011, 10:32 PM
The sand arenas will not be used for the Area III Championships. Grass arenas will be used if addiitional arenas are needed.

How do you know that?

RunForIt
Mar. 29, 2011, 10:50 PM
How do you know that?


The sand arenas will not be used for the Area III Championships. Grass arenas will be used if addiitional arenas are needed.

five cats knows it...take it to the bank. if five cats says something I believe it and I don't believe much. Know this, your problem has been heard, your problem has been taken seriously...you had good reason to be upset. You are dealing with people who organize events because they love the sport and they care about doing it right. It didn't go right this weekend. Five Cats just told you what will and won't happen next event - wanna bet that's exactly what will be? I'm not a betting woman and I know this one is a sure thing.

Shortstroke
Mar. 29, 2011, 11:05 PM
five cats knows it...take it to the bank. if five cats says something I believe it and I don't believe much. Know this, your problem has been heard, your problem has been taken seriously...you had good reason to be upset. You are dealing with people who organize events because they love the sport and they care about doing it right. It didn't go right this weekend. Five Cats just told you what will and won't happen next event - wanna bet that's exactly what will be? I'm not a betting woman and I know this one is a sure thing.

Obviously, you must know Fivecats. For those of us who don't, it would be good to hear it from Poplar Place management or whoever is in charge of Area III championships.

GotSpots
Mar. 29, 2011, 11:40 PM
Instead of griping on a message board, why not call Poplar directly, or reach out to the Area III chair or the organizer of the Area III championships? They don't owe you some sort of public response on a board they may not read or see. If you called them, or asked a polite question by email, I bet you'd get a fair answer.

Honestly, I wasn't at the show, but there is no question in my mind that the folks who looked at that ring honestly believed the footing had set and would hold up. No one - not an organizer, not an official, not a volunteer - wants footing to be bad or unsuitable. No one is out there trying to hurt horses or riders. At worst (and I wasn't there, so no idea how bad it was), it was an honest mistake or misjudgment, by folks who put on a bunch of great events and do a ton for the sport at all levels, both as organizers, but also as long time volunteers to the sport.

Camstock
Mar. 30, 2011, 12:52 PM
Here is what I am sure of:

Poplar Place management did the best it could with the cards it was dealt.

A reasonably fit, sound horse ridden in even a somewhat balanced manner is likely to stay sound quite nicely after doing a 3-minute dressage test in very deep footing.

Empathy and a spirit of community are superior to judgement.

retreadeventer
Mar. 30, 2011, 01:31 PM
But....if things go wrong and the ring gets deep after use, then it should be changed as soon as a division is cleared. If there is no room for a new one then tests should be rescheduled after another ring with better footing clears, or the following day, or after repair of the footing. That's the right set of things to do. The officials need to work in concert with organizers on making those changes. When they don't make changes, it is because they don't see the need; and that is where competitors come in to ask for change through the proper channels. I am all for being polite and following the rules, but it is your money that makes that carousel go round, too. If you put on a big event then you need big land and lots of options. Heck even little events need alternative parking lots, etc. This is a land-hungry sport.

The fact that other riders go on does not mean its right to go on for you and your horse. Everyone makes their own decision.

Complaining is, at times, the only way things can be fixed -- even though it tends to make people testy.

The trend toward back-forty-ing the lower levels is getting increasingly "uncomfortable", both in discussion here and elsewhere. But I know the reaction of MOST of the officials and organizers that I know personally will be: "we don't have a problem". If I could change one thing this year in the sport, it would be to help all officials and organizers understand that it takes so much for a "little" someone to complain, to ask for a change, and that it is REALLY really bad, in order for a common lower level rider without the protection of a big-name trainer, or other standing, to make a complaint at an event. Don't you hate complaining? I do and have to really get courage up to say something, and when I do, and some official shoots you down, boy do you feel small and insignificant. Been there, done that. And you know what I do? I go back to my trailer, take my braids out, load up and vote with my feet. And don't go back. And all the way home I think about all the crappy things my family says about eventing and think to myself, what on earth am I trying to do this for?

Blugal
Mar. 30, 2011, 02:02 PM
OR, you could couple the complaint with an offer to help make things better the next time. Nobody owes it to you to hold an event. Next time maybe they will only take half the entries, at double the price in order to meet the competitors' demands. If you would prefer a wait list/ballot system like the UK, why not offer to set it up?

barnrat
Mar. 30, 2011, 03:43 PM
God,
Thank you for letting me live in the South where my biggest problem is deep footing during a dressage test.
Amen

McQueen
Mar. 30, 2011, 04:09 PM
Poplar did not expect the sand arenas to fail as they did. They will not be used again until they have been fixed. The organizers strive for perfection in everything they do and were just as disappointed with the outcome of their efforts with the arenas.

flutie1
Mar. 30, 2011, 06:34 PM
The tone of some of these posts is mind boggling. Believe me, organizers don't wake up in the morning with the goal of providing a crappy experience for riders. Managing footing is incredibly tricky. You can be assured that Poplar will fix the problem.

leilatigress
Mar. 30, 2011, 07:29 PM
The tone of some of these posts is mind boggling. Believe me, organizers don't wake up in the morning with the goal of providing a crappy experience for riders. Managing footing is incredibly tricky. You can be assured that Poplar will fix the problem.
LIKE this post!

Kanga
Mar. 30, 2011, 08:13 PM
We were there, I had students riding in this arena. It was not great footing as many people have stated and it really is up to you as the rider of your horse to decide weather or not to ride in it. Poplar did not "MAKE" anyone ride in this arena, any one of you could have WD your horse.

It is frustrating for me to hear so many people complain about the most well organized, well run event in our country. PLEASE DO NOT DO THIS! We don't have many left and are constantly losing great events across this country. They realized their mistake and it won't happen again. This is one of the highest quality shows we could ask for in the US, help them don't hurt them or they could be gone too!!

Some of you really should go and event in England for a while and see what riding in knee deep mud really is, then you won't be complaining so much about the footing you meet in this country. I never heard the Brits complain at all when you could barely see the cannon bones of the horses. Everyone needs to put their big girl panties on here and get over themselves!!

SevenDogs
Mar. 30, 2011, 09:50 PM
The tone of some of these posts is mind boggling. Believe me, organizers don't wake up in the morning with the goal of providing a crappy experience for riders. Managing footing is incredibly tricky. You can be assured that Poplar will fix the problem.

Agree with Flutie, Kanga, GotSpots and others. DO SOMETHING CONSTRUCTIVE (note the capital letters match the title of this thread). Coming on an internet bulletin board and ranting is NOT CONSTRUCTIVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I thinks those that start these threads (and those that add to the fire) should be required to actually volunteer with an organizer and see what actually happens in putting a show together.... exactly how much blood, sweat, and MONEY goes into them.

I have been accused of always coming out on the side of Organizers on these threads.... and to that charge, I happily yell GUILTY. Organizers are the unsung heroes of our sport. Without them, you have nothing. They, more than any other demographic, take great financial risks in organizing shows. You wouldn't catch me dead taking those risks, so I am going to defend our Organizers to the end of time.

If you find a show isn't meeting your needs, talk to the Organizers (nicely), file evaluations, and/or, if the issue isn't resolved to your satisfaction, DON'T GO next time!!!! It really is that simple.

Further, those that enter a Spring Horse Trials better understand that it is likely rain WILL be a part of the equation. Rain makes mud. If you enter a Spring Horse Trials and don't consider that the event might get canceled or you might need to withdraw if the footing isn't right for your horse, you are kidding yourself.

Shortstroke
Mar. 30, 2011, 09:52 PM
On the one hand, I fail to understand why it is politically incorrect and even mean for lower level competitors to express their frustration when faced with bad conditions compared to everyone else at a competition. I don't buy that. On the other hand, it has turned out that these rings will not be used until repaired. Perhaps this thread had nothing to do with that decision. Indeed, it most probably did not. However, it did get the news out to people like me. I am very appreciative that this decision has been made. Go Poplar!

SevenDogs
Mar. 30, 2011, 09:57 PM
On the one hand, I fail to understand why it is politically incorrect and even mean for lower level competitors to express their frustration when faced with bad conditions compared to everyone else at a competition.

The objection is not that you expressed your frustration, OBJECTION IS WHERE AND HOW YOU DID SO.

Anonymous posts on an internet bulletin board using inflammatory titles (with all caps... really?) are meant to hurt the venue, not make constructive criticism. Did you even bother to talk to the Organizers either at the show or after? If so, you may have found out that they were not happy either and had plans to change things.

Did you bother to fill out an evaluation form? ... or did you just come ranting on a bulletin board?

fooler
Mar. 30, 2011, 11:33 PM
There are times I wonder how we survived riding horses before the 1990's, when footing became 'The Thing'.
Area III had one of the best events ever and each year in the Omnibus they always reminded us to consider pads as the footing was clay with rocks. This event hosted the only 3-Day event in Area III for years and later ran a HT with a long waiting list.

As competitors our choices are to speak to the officials and/or organizers, deal with the footing (as will your competitors) or WD. Complaints should be directed to the officials and/or organizers and if you feel strongly enough about the situation to the USEA and USEF.

Comp

denny
Mar. 31, 2011, 08:43 AM
Just about everyone who has ever run an event----and I speak from 50 years experience in this---thinks that noone should be allowed to ride in one who hasn`t helped at one.

LisaB
Mar. 31, 2011, 08:52 AM
Just about everyone who has ever run an event----and I speak from 50 years experience in this---thinks that noone should be allowed to ride in one who hasn`t helped at one.

Amen

Camstock
Mar. 31, 2011, 11:12 AM
Just about everyone who has ever run an event----and I speak from 50 years experience in this---thinks that noone should be allowed to ride in one who hasn`t helped at one.

+1

FlightCheck
Mar. 31, 2011, 11:17 AM
+2

scubed
Mar. 31, 2011, 11:52 AM
+3
I've spent time dragging, digging, picking up rocks, mowing, etc. etc. etc. plus looked at the specs for building a dressage ring and how to do the footing. Its March. It is not so surprising that a new ring might have a shake out period given the weather. The organizers at Poplar are one of the truly class acts of our sport.

Make your complaints professionally and constructively in the spirit of the sport. Be kinder than you need to be to volunteers, organizers, sponsors and others who allow us the opportunity to do what we love.

Shortstroke
Mar. 31, 2011, 11:23 PM
Just about everyone who has ever run an event----and I speak from 50 years experience in this---thinks that noone should be allowed to ride in one who hasn`t helped at one.

I completely agree with you and I actuallly volunteer on a regular basis. At the event in question I volunteered over 12 hours - 7:30AM to 12:30PM on Fri and 11:30AM until almost 7PM on Sat.

Shortstroke
Mar. 31, 2011, 11:33 PM
The objection is not that you expressed your frustration, OBJECTION IS WHERE AND HOW YOU DID SO.

Anonymous posts on an internet bulletin board using inflammatory titles (with all caps... really?) are meant to hurt the venue, not make constructive criticism. Did you even bother to talk to the Organizers either at the show or after? If so, you may have found out that they were not happy either and had plans to change things.

Did you bother to fill out an evaluation form? ... or did you just come ranting on a bulletin board?

Yes, I did send in an evaluation form. Also, a good friend was wondering if she should bring her horses back to Poplar in the future because she didn't want them to show in the lower arenas again. I told her she should go to the office and ask. I was getting ready for stadium so I couldn't go with her. She came back and said that the answer was a maybe.

Shortstroke
Mar. 31, 2011, 11:45 PM
+3
I've spent time dragging, digging, picking up rocks, mowing, etc. etc. etc. plus looked at the specs for building a dressage ring and how to do the footing. Its March. It is not so surprising that a new ring might have a shake out period given the weather. The organizers at Poplar are one of the truly class acts of our sport.

Make your complaints professionally and constructively in the spirit of the sport. Be kinder than you need to be to volunteers, organizers, sponsors and others who allow us the opportunity to do what we love.

I agree with you regarding a shakeout period for a new ring. I don't believe the rings in question qualify as new. Also, the weather definitely was not a factor. I'm all in favor of being kind. In fact, my objection to what happened is that it is not kind for the lower levels to bear the brunt of having to compete in footing inferior to all of the other rings at the show. Perhaps a coin toss would be a more equitable solution.

akor
Apr. 1, 2011, 08:25 AM
I must say I am a bit taken aback by the comment that people should "just be happy" that Popular was willing to "accomodate" so many entries...

Unless Popular was allowing lower level people to enter pro bono or something else that I am not aware of whereby they did not have to pay or paid a very reduced rate, I suspect that those so many entries paid an entry fee and Popular received revenue off of that.

I don't think footing is something that falls under the "you can't talk if you haven't done it" category. To me, the "don't talk if you don't volunteer or run" things are matters such as stabling assignments, check in, management of rings and ride times, unexpected horrible weather/mud rain management, electrical issues, water placement, too few porta potties, etc...or, if a hunter show, schooling say, where you don't require prepost and then a mob shows up all wanting to show, then, yes, perhaps, they would go in a less favored ring. But, to my knowledge, eventing venues KNOW how many horses are going to show up in advance.

However, re footing....
I'm a little Midwestern hick and I know that if the arena doesn't have a good base that it will get chewed up fast and become unsuitable footing "right quick." A bit disturbing that organizers of a well known trial like Popular would not have the same sense. I frankly would rather believe that they just winged it an hoped for a contrary result than that they were truly clueless on such a basic knowledge point. I would have stayed out this thread if not my feeling that it was turning into a "just shut up and take it" type of thing.

And, yes, I am a child of the 70s when caring about saddle fit, arena footing, helmets, etc was something out of star trek, but hopefully we have evolved a bit and don't need to use that an excuse not to make things better now.

Noctis
Apr. 2, 2011, 09:34 AM
I was pretty miserable in the footing (and the warm up arena), and sent in an evaluation form as well. I was really in between WD and going, and decided to try. And I've worked MANY events (including THIS one, competing as well) organized smaller shows etc. On a small pony like mine that footing was nearing mid cannon, which I couldn't tell until I was in ring 4 (the MUCH deeper of the two). I was glad to hear that they will NOT be using those rings for Area III's (confirmed with Donna).

I LOVE going to Poplar, and can't say enough good things about Donna and Gary, but this was not a great experience (though XC was amazing and the SJ course was an absolute blast minus the darn weather!) in dressage. Kudos to them for moving the arena, just wish they'd moved it with all the complaints the day before with warm-up.

And great post Retread, you said it well. It was NOT that easy to get the gumption up to say something, especially as a "smurf".

ltmac
Apr. 2, 2011, 10:30 PM
If you don't like it, just don't go back. Simple as that.

Honestly, this sums it up.