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View Full Version : No start box?



riderboy
Jan. 15, 2012, 09:12 PM
I know a lot of horses get quite fired up heading in to the start box. Would there be any safety benefit to just eliminating the start box and having a simple start line on the ground? No running starts, of course. I've never seem an accident at a start box but I've heard of some.

JER
Jan. 15, 2012, 09:23 PM
riderboy, a starting line wouldn't look nearly as cool as the start box on the helmet cam videos.

:D

Catie79
Jan. 15, 2012, 10:03 PM
My horse gets just as wound with a plain start at schooling shows, since I'm still excited and someone is counting down. She knows what's next. I don't think getting rid of a start box would actually change anything. She'd still get fired up, I think I'd actually have a harder time getting a clean start without that fixture there to face her backwards.

And it's kind of cool, I'd miss it.

CarolinaGirl
Jan. 15, 2012, 10:35 PM
All of my horses fall asleep if I stand in the start box too long lol... apparently I'm one of the few with this issue though. And breed has nothing to do with it as most have been OTTB's or TB crosses lol. I never get worked up about the start box and I also never allow them to tear out of the box... if they seem up I walk and then nicely ask for a trot and then canter/gallop.

deltawave
Jan. 15, 2012, 10:55 PM
There is always the option, nowadays, of just walking in from the back of the start box as time counts down and going. It is not at all necessary to stand in there at all, if one's horse has the heebie jeebes about it. Just approach as they are counting you down, walk through, and go.

Back in the day there was no "back door", but I believe it's mandatory to have one now.

Our first Prelim Gwennie REARED in the start box! :lol: As if my nerves weren't already shattered! :eek:

skippy60
Jan. 15, 2012, 11:18 PM
Its tradition to have a start box... and it doesn't make a difference. You would have more of a chance of a false start (therefor disqualification) if there was a start line. ...just stick with the box they work better

baxtersmom
Jan. 15, 2012, 11:27 PM
False start isn't a DQ, just penalties. And tradition is not much of an excuse for keeping something if there's a better (ie, safer) way to do things.

We just weave in and out of the start box and try to time it so we walk through at or after the end of the countdown. I'm sure it would be a bigger issue at a higher level, but the few extra seconds on the clock aren't a big deal for us. My guy does seem to be able to count, unfortunately, or at least knows what it means when I tap my watch a -5 seconds, lol.

Hawks Nest
Jan. 16, 2012, 01:05 AM
Honestly I don't see how removing the start box will really help too much. These days the box is so big you can turn easily in it and as other pointed out, you can walk in at the last minute and go right out which plenty of eventers do. No matter what you are going to have a relatively hot horse wanting to explode in some sort of direction.

deltawave
Jan. 16, 2012, 01:19 AM
No matter what you are going to have a relatively hot horse wanting to explode in some sort of direction.

Only if they learn to behave that way! My trainer's horses all stand on a loose rein in the start box, because they are never gunned out like their tails are on fire. Even her upper level horses WALK the first step or two out of the box and are then asked to pick up the canter and move on along.

I will admit to not being able to do this. :lol: My nerves are so jangly that I can barely speak in the box. :lol:

JER
Jan. 16, 2012, 01:43 AM
Only if they learn to behave that way! My trainer's horses all stand on a loose rein in the start box, because they are never gunned out like their tails are on fire.

I've never 'gunned' a horse out of the start box in my life but that didn't stop my complacent mongrel (TB-Belg-Saddlebred) gelding from becoming one of those horses who had to be led in to the box by a groundperson. The anticipation of going out on XC got him excited and this is a most unexcitable horse.

He's a very well-mannered horse who will stand and stay (by himself) on command so I saw no reason to get after him for something that had a very simple solution. I preferred to work with his enthusiasm, as it spilled over -- to his rider's benefit -- to his performance on the XC course.

So I'd agree that some might learn to behave that way but I also think we can cut a generous horse some slack in a situation where we're already asking so much of them.

:)

riderboy
Jan. 16, 2012, 07:24 AM
riderboy, a starting line wouldn't look nearly as cool as the start box on the helmet cam videos.

:D

You're right. I'm sure I could get some great footage if we switched to using a starter's pistol! :lol:

AKB
Jan. 16, 2012, 07:34 AM
We owned a horse who used to rear in the start box. He would begin acting up about 100 feet from the box. Over a year, my daughter taught him to be calm in the box. She always walked out of the box and made him take his first fence from the trot. Eventually, the box lost its excitement.

FlightCheck
Jan. 16, 2012, 08:07 AM
I remember someone (Sue Smithson, maybe?) whose "start box" consisted of poles on the ground.

retreadeventer
Jan. 16, 2012, 08:29 AM
The starter needs an "end" to the start line ... I think start boxes evolved from the early copycat stuff American eventing was doing to keep up with the Joneses in Europe, and the desire to be as professional as Badminton or Burghley with fancy this and that... I agree, what need is there for a "box". Why not just have a side guide or two so the starter can see the chest cross the line for timing purposes. I know of a couple of upper level horses that no traditional start box would definitely benefit. As in SAFER.

Hilary
Jan. 16, 2012, 08:32 AM
I think the box helps the starter keep the horse in a small enough space to know when he goes across the line. Just having a line/tape might make it harder for them to determine when someone did/didn't go across it.

I've had start box menaces- including one who was prepared to jump out if you headed her towards the side by mistake, but I've trained the green ones that they walk or trot out.

But I will admit that when you're on a confirmed criminal who knows exactly what's coming, leaving the start box at 700mpm is a bit of a thrill. ;)

CdnRider
Jan. 16, 2012, 08:46 AM
I think most importantly the start box keeps the people on the ground safe!! I would not want to be a groundsperson trying to count down a horse that is all riled up with just a starting line. I'm positive someone would get run over!!!

EventerAJ
Jan. 16, 2012, 09:13 AM
I think most importantly the start box keeps the people on the ground safe!! I would not want to be a groundsperson trying to count down a horse that is all riled up with just a starting line. I'm positive someone would get run over!!!

That's a good point. The box does shield the starter's tent/area, allowing the volunteer(s) to count you down and send you off safely.

I've avoided Start Box Issues with my UL mare by doing lots and lots of circles through the box since the beginning of her career (or, well, since they invented the rear side opening). I rarely stop/stand inside the box, I just keep circling through it so she never knows exactly when we'll get to go.

Some horses will still get riled up and need a leader on the ground, but much of it can be managed well with the system we have now.

oldpony66
Jan. 16, 2012, 10:09 AM
You're right. I'm sure I could get some great footage if we switched to using a starter's pistol! :lol:

:lol::lol::lol:

FitToBeTied
Jan. 16, 2012, 10:42 AM
One of my eventers also does pairs racing in the spring at the end of the hunt season. We do flying starts on the pairs from 50 yards back and he has no problem with the start box. There is also no problem with ground safety as the start area is roped off. I don't see any disadvantage to not having a start box. The start box seems to be more of a rider issue than a horse issue.

eponacowgirl
Jan. 16, 2012, 10:59 AM
My perch cross starts acting like a heathen as soon as we do our first forward, galloping xc warmup fence. She acted like a heathen at the beginning of roads and track at the T3D and I assure you she had no idea what was going on. But she was studded up, tacked up to jump, had her XC boots on and someone was counting down.

Line, box, flags, whatever... if they act silly, they will act silly.

wildlifer
Jan. 16, 2012, 11:14 AM
I like the box. And I think for most horses, they know when XC is on and box or no, they know what they are about to do, so they would be excited regardless. Heck, if my older guy sees a log on the ground, he lights up and asks me if a XC course is imminent!

JER
Jan. 16, 2012, 11:28 AM
You're right. I'm sure I could get some great footage if we switched to using a starter's pistol! :lol:

Not if you were riding my 3 year-old OTTB. You can fire a starter pistol right next to him and he doesn't move a hair.

(This is what you learn when someone accidentally fires a starter pistol while standing a metre away from your horse.)

The start box is iconic. Don't mess with it. :D

Robin@DHH
Jan. 16, 2012, 12:03 PM
Yes, but that OTTB might be a little different if you used a bell to signal start. And if you had doors flying open on the front of the start box, casey bar the door. <g>

riderboy
Jan. 16, 2012, 12:11 PM
The start box is iconic. Don't mess with it. :D

Just trying to think "outside the box." :D

JER
Jan. 16, 2012, 12:21 PM
Yes, but that OTTB might be a little different if you used a bell to signal start. And if you had doors flying open on the front of the start box, casey bar the door. <g>

Oh, not my Danny. He's not only bombroof, he'd enjoy a good explosion.

If eventing isn't exciting enough for him, I'll have to find him a job as a police horse.

Holly Jeanne
Jan. 16, 2012, 12:59 PM
I don't event but I do work as a timer at Rolex and at WEG last year and I always walk with my charges to the start box. Most of them seem to walk into the start box just in time to take off and keep the horses moving near the start box until then. I've only seen one horse have a meltdown and that horse was having a meltdown long before it actually got to the start box. I wasn't the timer but the rider warned the timer that the horse would do that.

Wordplay1832
Jan. 16, 2012, 01:46 PM
I like the box. It would be one thing if it was forbidden to walk through/keep moving while you were counted down, but the fact that you have several options of how to get into/leave the box means you can tailor it for your horse.

I have a mare who loves XC and does prance around and stuff before, but being able to just circle around the box and walk through it as we are waiting seems to calm her down, then we leave it calmly at a trot and then go on with our course. I've ridden one who could not care less about getting fired up for the box (she was kind of lazy by nature) and one that pretty much always had to be led in as well. All three of these were thoroughbred mares with three different ways of going out of the box. Funny enough-the one that got the most excited hadn't raced ever, though she had run intermediate before I rode her for a season, but my horse that is kind of in the middle had. I don't think it's related to that, she's just enthusiastic about everything. I don't think it brings back memories of the starting gate, and I don't ask her to burst out of the start box anyway.

I don't think eliminating the start box would help-the horses would just learn what the new signal for "we're going xc" is and get excited about that too.

JenJ
Jan. 16, 2012, 03:24 PM
I like the start box, even though my first horse used to rear every time along with the countdown. Now I keep my young horse moving around / through the box, even halt for a second or two in the box while facing a rail, then trot out quietly.
Reading this thread and thinking about the start box has given ME the familiar butterflies / adreneline / excitement / nerves feeling, and our season in Ontario doesnt start for four months!.

Auto Be A Storm
Jan. 16, 2012, 06:29 PM
I have the rare quiet horse in the start box. Storm has never gotten worked up in the box, we always walk around in in and out and when the count down happens we walk over enter at 3 and trot off at 1, then I pick up the canter!!!! I am counting myself very lucky with that one, I have seen some terrible start box problems and I am so happy I don't have to deal with that!!!

I have known some horses to not care if there is a box or not, the minute they hear the count down they knew......crazy smart animals!!!

Lori B
Jan. 16, 2012, 06:47 PM
I have a friend who took her old foxhunter out Training, years ago, and it was a box w/o a back door. He was a bit fired up, and she turned him around while he was waiting to start. And so he decided that it was necessary to JUMP out of the box.

As long as there's a backdoor, it seems pretty manageable.

(LOVED "acts like a heathen" above. )

fooler
Jan. 16, 2012, 07:20 PM
I like the box. It would be one thing if it was forbidden to walk through/keep moving while you were counted down, but the fact that you have several options of how to get into/leave the box means you can tailor it for your horse.

I have a mare who loves XC and does prance around and stuff before, but being able to just circle around the box and walk through it as we are waiting seems to calm her down, then we leave it calmly at a trot and then go on with our course. I've ridden one who could not care less about getting fired up for the box (she was kind of lazy by nature) and one that pretty much always had to be led in as well. All three of these were thoroughbred mares with three different ways of going out of the box. Funny enough-the one that got the most excited hadn't raced ever, though she had run intermediate before I rode her for a season, but my horse that is kind of in the middle had. I don't think it's related to that, she's just enthusiastic about everything. I don't think it brings back memories of the starting gate, and I don't ask her to burst out of the start box anyway.

I don't think eliminating the start box would help-the horses would just learn what the new signal for "we're going xc" is and get excited about that too.

This!! Starting box, gate, rails on the ground - all have the same meaning to us and our horses.;)

Just hang out at a local 'horse show' and watch the timed event classes. Those horses are revved up and bouncing all over the place. Ages ago my BF barrel-raced a really fast QH gelding. That is when he would go in the arena. I watched him back up some 100+ yards: very, very, very quickly with 2 - 200+lb guys hanging off either side of the bridle (they were trying to lead the horse up the gate).

So as long as there is a 'start line' there will be excitable horses and riders.

Oh good grief. . . now I have the tune 'Excitable Boy" in my head. All your fault Riderboy.:yes:

subk
Jan. 16, 2012, 08:05 PM
Yep, its simply the start of XC not the box that is creating excited horses (and/or riders.)

I think the box actually promotes saftey as it helps the people on the ground as well as giving riders several options--whether it's having something to negotiate around or hold the horse against. I had a horse that would jig, but I could turn him backward facing a corner and almost drop the reins and he would stand quietly...until the moment I picked the reins up. Then all bets were off.

Divine Comedy
Jan. 16, 2012, 09:32 PM
My guy is really chill when he's around the start box IF I let him stand. He looks like he's taking a nap. If I try to walk around, it's jig jig jig and tenseness. I take him into the box at 15 seconds, and then he is immediately fired up, especially as he hears the countdown from five. He usually lets loose a mild buck as he leaves the box, and I definitely need to hold on as it is zero to sixty. I have to admit, it's one of my favorite parts of eventing, that feeling of power as he launches himself forward.

I was super grateful for a back door in the box once. I was in the box, being counted down from five, and I hear the starters radio go off, calling for a hold. She literally calls out five...four...three...two...one...HOLD! I somehow managed to turn my boy around and force him out the back door, but there was definitely some hi jinx for the next few minutes as he threw a temper tantrum. I was extremely grateful for the starter to have held me before I started though, so much easier to have one continuous course than to be held after the first fence...

tres grey
Jan. 16, 2012, 09:46 PM
When I evented my guy, he was THE WORST to warm up crosscountry. Dead to the leg, flung himself over things, really lackadaisical over everything. It got to the point where I was like three jumps and I'm out.

Then as soon as he saw the start box, he puffed himself up and all of a sudden, I remembered why I rode him in a 3-ring and combination noseband... :lol: I like the start box; it's like my horse's Eye of the Tiger.