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denny
Apr. 18, 2007, 09:00 AM
We must all be aware of what seems like a very large number of serious eventing accidents to both riders and horses in the past year or so.
I`m planning to explore the issues in a Between Rounds article, and would appreciate some input.
Several riders were talking about this the other day, and there seemed to be agreement that the topic could be broken down into various sub-headings:
1.Bad riding---Riding too fast, riders jumping up the neck, riders too unfit, riding with stirrups so long their legs are swinging---in other words, all the sins we all like to commit!
2.X-C course construction----Fences too vertical, fences too technical, fences with poor "profiles", like no groundlines, etc., jumps not appropriate for the competition level, jumps placed too awkwardly on the terrain (steep hills, off tight turns, etc.)
3.Inappropriate horse for the rider----Horse too strong or too hot or too big or too green or a rusher or a quitter----the whole litany of horse problems.
4.Pure bad luck---horse trips in a hole, horse slips on takeoff, etc, etc
5."Actuarial Issues"---There are just thousands of horses competing these days, so the odds are simply greater, etc.

Anyway, many of you watch events all the time. What do YOU think is going on? What can be done to make the sport safer? Is it the responsibility of us as riders and horse selectors, of coaches, of x-c course designers, of technical delegates, of the USEA, who?

IFG
Apr. 18, 2007, 09:07 AM
Denny,

I appreciate that you are addressing this issue. I am a Novice Rider, and really have no specific suggestions regarding the potential causes of these accidents, but I am an epidemiologist. As an epidemiologist, I am trained to design studies that examine the associations between exposures and outcomes. So, if you want any advice on how to design a study to examine these issues or how to organize or analyze the data, please feel free to contact me.

I think that it would be productive to examine the rates of horse and rider accidents (minor, major, and fatal) over time and relate these rates to such "exposures" as weather, speed, etc.

Feel free to PM me.

Ilana (Lany)

RAyers
Apr. 18, 2007, 10:25 AM
From a competitor, official and spectator ppoint of view, my opinion is that it is the responsibility of everyone to make the sport safer. It is the responsibility of the rider to be accountable for their training, fitness and understanding of the sport. It is the responsibility of the course designers and builders to truely know the ground, the type of course, and competition so the course is appropriate for the levels. It is the resposibility for the USEF, USEA, FEI to make rules and regulations based on reasoned common sense (HORSESENSE) and not to react in a knee-jerk way to perceived trends or incidents (e.g the false reasoning that the short format is better for horse than long format).

The biggest way to make the sport safer: COMMUNICATION!!!!! Officials, riders, owners, trainers, etc. must keep open lines of communication. Organizers must be willing to work together across events to help each other (no of this "This is MY kingdom" attitude). Riders must be willing to confront unsafe conditions and the officials must be willing to listen and justify decisons openly. Egotistical and arrogant attitudes must go. Yes, that is a dream but what the heck.

I agree the sport has to evolve but packaging it as some cool extreme sport, while getting new interest, also dilutes the heart of what it takes to do this discipline well and safely.

That's my opinion. I could be wrong.

Reed

HiJumpGrrl
Apr. 18, 2007, 10:26 AM
Hi Denny,
I think #s 1 and 3 get blamed a lot (bad riding, inappropriate horse) for accidents. I think both of these go back to lack of training/instruction or bad training/instruction. I think that if instructors were certified some way (either through existing things like ARIA or through a unique entity), we might see less in the way of accidents.

Eventing is a bit different than other disciplines in that competitors often go to events without their instructor on hand. I don't want to discourage that--after years in the jumpers and eq, I truly appreciate that I can spit without having to ask permission first. But maybe we're taking it to extremes? Some folks bring along green horses with little-to-no help, perhaps inappropriately. Maybe they NEED more help than they're getting, from QUALIFIED trainers? I'm not sure how you would officiate this, however.

Or maybe not... most of the high-profile accidents are happening to folks at the upper levels of the sport, where such a small percentage of eventers compete. Some of the incidents are just plain old bad luck, as you mentioned. Others may be because a question is too difficult or inappropriate for level. There is no doubt that the technicality of the sport has increased over the last 10 years. I have heard it said that questions at some T courses are equivalent to what has been P in the past. With the loss of the traditional format and much of the endurance challenge, the technical difficulty has had to increase to keep up interest. Progression is important. An undynamic sport does not survive. But maybe we're taking it too far.

As to where the responsibility falls, I think it must be shared. That's a cop-out answer, I know. I think the dangerous riding rule has to be enforced more often. I think competitors need to be more aware of their capabilities, and think in the best interest of their horses more often rather than have a "higher, faster" mentality. And I think that coaches need to be riders' Jiminy Cricket, if you will, and guide riders to make correct decisions about level of competition, and which courses to tackle.

I look forward to reading the article.
Elena

eventer_mi
Apr. 18, 2007, 10:39 AM
I'm with Elena on this one. The vast majority of "scary riding" I see (and that sometimes results in accidents) is probably due to the rider and horse not having the quality training that they need. As you already know and we've discussed this, anybody can hang ou their shingle and pretend to be a trainer. I know of one local "trainer" whose students routinely put in scary rounds - with mom and dad standing by with video camera in hand! The problem is that the average rider doesn't know how to tell the difference between good training and bad, and when they finally do figure it out (if they ever), the whole "cult of personality" is already firmly in place and they can't find a way out of a bad situation. I speak from experience too many times, here. It's not that I WANT to go riding around while everybody is holding their breath and waiting for me to somersault off my horse's head - it's just that I don't know any better and someone who DOES know better is encouraging me to get out there and compete before I'm ready. I think that's the case of most adults - in children, there may be a little bit of that feeling of immortality that causes them to go "higher, faster".

I also think that the lack of preparation is hurting a lot of people. NOt everybody these days grows up on the back of a horse, or (in my case) didn't really get to ride one on a regular basis until I was a grown adult. The vast majority of us did not grow up trying to catch chickens from the backs of our ponies ;^).

Most of us don't have ready access to good places to xc school, and when we do, we have to find a way to pay for the gas to get there (ouch) and take the time off of work to do so. So, we get one good xc school in a season, if we're lucky, and we hope that that one experience of going over a ditch is going to be enough to suffice us for all the ditches that we will encounter during that season.

Hope this helps...looking forward to the article as well.

purplnurpl
Apr. 18, 2007, 10:45 AM
1. Poor XC course design--)
a)Fences too vertical -- XC country fences are made to be taken at speed. Everyone knows that vertical fences can cause flips. Personally, vertical fences scare the jeepers out of me.
The question: Can you recollect your horse for a more upright type fence? This question may be a bit technical for the T, N, BN courses but doable because speed is never faster than 450mpm. But is it fair to ask the P, I, A horses to make the faster time AND recollect to a show jumping type gallop during their run? Yes, but the question should be asked fairly and many times is not.

b) To technical, poor profiles--courses are becoming more and more technical. More skinny fences, more fences with poor ground lines, no ground line, or a fake ground line. We need to remember that our fellow athletes are 'just horses'. Fair questions [for the horses] need to be asked. Give them good solid ground lines so that they have a chance to judge depth properly.

c) Speed - the training level courses I have ridden are now wheeled at 450 and 470. Often I come up 200 meters or so short (even when I walk paths that are too tight to actually ride). One course in particular I had to flat out gallop in between fences on muddy footing. 6 out of 30 Training riders made the time. I felt for the average Training Level rider and horse this was a very unfair question to ask. I really feel TDs need to crack down on the speeds and wheel them APPROPRIATELY! There were many falls and two instances when the ambulance was used for Training Level.

2. Bad Luck:
I have had people look at me like I am crazy when I talk about luck.
For me, luck is 50% of the game. One great example: At a HT last year I lead through all phases, my horse has no XC issues. In the bag right? Nope, he slipped while swapping leads and almost fell down, there were no fences involved and the footing was spectacular. I ended up hanging off of his head and due to time faults I ended in 4th. Pure luck was involved.


It all has to fall into place. The person in 1st has a stop (or slips) lol. No one makes the time. A horse randomly spooks. You get up on the right side of the bed. A super star horse/rider brain farts and goes off course...
A horse takes over and makes a bad decision. The rider is distracted. The horse uncharacteristically leaves a leg behind. The horse finds the one rut on the landing onto the water to trip in.

You could be a fantastic rider and be sitting on the best horse in the field, but if luck is not on your side...

Look at Pippa Funnell at Burghley when she won the Grand Slam.
Bettina Hoy had a stop at the smallest fence on course and Zara Phillips had a rail in SJ. Yes, Pippa rode a fantastic show...but the rest was her good luck.

One BNT maybe Graham or Wofford? wrote: William Fox Pitt is one of the best riders in the world, he's just not lucky.


I placed luck above poor riding because sometimes a poor rider can get around when the force is with him/her.

3. Poor coaching/riding: I agree with Eventer Mi.
There are also instances when a student is unhappy with their own progression and instead of dealing with their abilities they find a coach to pay that will tell them what they want to hear. That alone puts pressure on the more conservative coaches to allow students to compete at levels above which they should actually be. A concern that will always exist.
I was lucky. I found a fantastic, conservative coach that puts student safety above winning.

Rayers said it well:
From a competitor, official and spectator point of view, my opinion is that it is the responsibility of everyone to make the sport safer. It is the responsibility of the rider to be accountable for their training, fitness and understanding of the sport. It is the responsibility of the course designers and builders to truly know the ground, the type of course, and competition so the course is appropriate for the levels. It is the responsibility for the USEF, USEA, FEI to make rules and regulations based on reasoned common sense (HORSESENSE) and not to react in a knee-jerk way to perceived trends or incidents (e.g the false reasoning that the short format is better for horse than long format).

lizathenag
Apr. 18, 2007, 10:48 AM
I think it is important for everyone to realize that the best we can hope for is harm reduction. The is the chance for injury every time we get near a horse (or get in a car for that matter). All the rules and prepartaion in the world won't change that.

The worst injury I have had in my 50 years of riding was walking across a parking lot and slipping on some oil. I ride a well schooled, well cared for horse with a helmet, gloves, appropriate footswear, vest, well fitting tack and take regular lessons. And I am aware that @#&* happens.

mythical84
Apr. 18, 2007, 10:51 AM
Hmmmm ... I've been doing XC warm-up at a local event for a few years and I'm amazed at how many riders look honestly scared when going into the start box. I just think to myself, "isn't this supposed to be fun?" I know that some people get nerves, but those that look like they're about to hurl make me a little nervous.

And I also agree that the courses are getting more difficult. I'm going to a Novice horse trials this weekend, and I had to make sure that I schooled a trakehner before the show. A trakehner for a N horse trials! Two summers ago I had a giant white triple bar in my N stadium course followed by an equally scary in-and-out ... let me tell you how many problems there were that day.

I can't really comment on the upper-levels as I've never competed above novice, but those are my 2 observations from the lower-levels.

RAyers
Apr. 18, 2007, 10:54 AM
I want to add that another way to make the sport safer is that "We," the not big name riders, must be willing to voice our opinions and ask questions without fear of offending the big names/stars of the sport. In other words the "cult of personality" that the FEI said it wants to create around horses and riders should not mean that those folks are above reproach. For example, if there is a genuine concern on the part of a novice rider riding a David O'Conner XC course, they need to be willing to stand up to David and stick to their ideas and not let them be simply dismissed by the idea that "He is David O'Conner. He knows all about this stuff."

I am not disparraging David O'Conner but I am using his name as an obvious example.

Reed

Hilary
Apr. 18, 2007, 11:09 AM
Having been on the recieving end of a very stern lecture from my instructor about being too fast and not safe on XC one day I think we have to have 2 approaches. One, is for the instructors to have the wherewithall to have those hard conversations when they see their students riding poorly. And two, just as if not more importantly, that student has to listen and respond- accept that they need to fix it. Take those extra lessons, don't compete until you solve the problem

That same day, I had a chance to watch about 15 horses on course with her - I wanted to see how it was done correctly. (in this case, balancing the horse before the big table after a short gallop - this was at Training or Prelim, I can't remember) She 'approved' about 3 rides, and felt the rest could stand some improvement. I was surprised in a way at the low number of really good rides, but since I hadn't felt my own ride was 'that bad', I realized I had some things to learn.

It was not easy to hear, but she didn't tell me to be mean, or disparaging. I needed to hear it so I could fix it. If I didn't realize it on my own, someone needed to tell me. Next time, I hope I will be able to recognize it myself and fix it. (or not let it happen)

What scares me most about these latest accidents is that two of them were professionals, competent, GOOD riders. Our best. If our best can't get it right, what does that say? How can I be confident I will be safe if I do everything "right" if our best cannot always do it?

JER
Apr. 18, 2007, 11:19 AM
What scares me most about these latest accidents is that two of them were professionals, competent, GOOD riders. Our best. If our best can't get it right, what does that say? How can I be confident I will be safe if I do everything "right" if our best cannot always do it?

Exactly.

I understand all the concerns about "scary riding" but recent history indicates that scary riding does not lead to serious accidents.

scubed
Apr. 18, 2007, 11:22 AM
Luck and cycles are certainly part of it, as well as the nature of the sport, so I agree with those who have said we need to remember that eventing is unlikely to ever be an "accident free" sport and that's probably not where we are trying to get.

I am curious about equipment issues. We go for traditional, with some notion of improved certification for safety, but what might people who design safety gear in car racing, ice climbing, hockey, kayaking, etc. have to contribute to design of helmets, vests, stirrups and how they are attached to the saddle, etc. that might improve outcome of falls, refusals, slips, etc.

I also think there is an important role for the fence/course design, perhaps an expansion of the course advisor role to lower levels trials, even if those courses are only inspected on a periodic basis, and stricter rules about whose name goes on the course design (I think there are courses that in the omnibus have names on them, where that person did originally design the course, but hasn't seen it in years) along with some type of inspection of courses that were built before we had certified course designers.

I agree with the posters who have said that everyone shares in the responsibility and that efforts to reduce dangerous riding are a good idea (as hard as it can be to figure out in practice). We talked at the last USEA meeting about having "roving" ICP instructors available at events to help those who don't have instructors of there own. I think especially having ICP instructors do XC course walks for folks who don't have a trainer would be great (and I would hope riders would be willing to pay for this - yes I know; the sport is expensive, flameproof suit ready, but we pay for safety in other venues).

Along with IFG, I do the kind of research in my day job that trys to build predictive models for bad outcomes with complicated inputs including luck, so would be happy to help if there might be ways to improve record keeping and analysis.

Also, when there is an incident of serious horse/rider injury involving a fence, do we have anything that happens beyond the TD at that event. That might be another role for more experienced course advisor types.

kacey'srider
Apr. 18, 2007, 11:34 AM
I agree. MOST of the recent accidents have been with upper level riders. My goal is to get to the upper levels, I, A. But, seeing so many accidents at these levels recently, makes me wonder if it really IS what I want to do.

As far as lower levels go. At a recent event, I saw SO many riders who couldn't even round up their horses going novice. I think that there has to be some other type of requirements to be able to go and jump at a certain level. I personally feel that if you don't even have the ability to round up your horse, you don't have any business steering him around a course of jumps.

What about requiring a certain score in dressage to be able to proceed to the jumping phases. I know that those of us who are bringing along babies may not make it to the jumping phases on those days when our horses just won't listen, but that just means we go to another trial to try again and go home and do more homework first. Kind of a "back to the basics" approach to sort of force people to be prepared. Let's face it, if you can't do the dressage, you really shouldn't be jumping.

Also, I see so many people riding at shows with out coaches. We need someone out there watching these people saying "No, not today." for them when they really don't need to be riding at a certain level. Do we need to require the coaches to sign for BN, N...

Most of the time, but not always I know, by the time people make it to training level, they are pretty compitent and don't always need to have their coach there. I personally always do, but that's just me. I have a good friend who competes beautifully, wins regularly and has an amazing understanding of riding and of her and her horses capabilities. She usually does not have a coach. But, on those days where she just doesn't feel 100%, she's not afraid to ask me to come and be her eyes and give her advice from the ground.

This is all a really hard call. B/c as eventers, we are all confessed adrenaline junkies. :winkgrin:

Thanks, Denny! :winkgrin:

bornfreenowexpensive
Apr. 18, 2007, 12:04 PM
Well....I've seen a lot of bad falls. I do think that most of them actually were just bad luck. I know that my most recent fall was me not riding right and missing at a coffin.....it happens. That is part of the sport. Nothing was wrong with the fence, nothing was wrong with my horse other then being too bold and jumping too big (problems that I don't mind working with;) ) and I screwed up my end of the bargin and knew it even before I hit the ground. I understood why I fell at the coffin....and many a good rider has had a spill at a coffin (hence the name)....it would have scared me a lot more if I hadn't known I was in trouble, and didn't understand why I fell. We are working on the issue that led to the problem but often...those are issues you don't even realize you have until you are on a course (i.e. the horse getting strong after a good gallop 3/4 of the way around a x-c course). But it wasn't a bad fall and both my horse and I were fine.....but if I had landed a different way or my horse stepped a different way....it could have been a different story....that is the bad luck aspect.


It is a tough sport....there will be falls....some will be from scary riding, some will be because a good rider misses ....some will be from a rank bad horse....some will be because a good horse makes a mistake. Some falls will be nothing, some mistakes will not result in a fall...and some falls will be tragic.

I think the focus of any rider should be to do their best to be prepared....but I want to be challanged out on course....I want to ride those verticle fences or hard combinations... I want there to be a fence or two on a course that scares me bit but that at the same time I can analysis and know that if I ride right, we will be fine. Let me tell you I laid awake thinking about jumping into the foundation at Plantation for the first time, yet it rode fantastic....I will probably lay awake the night before the first time I jump in the leaf pit at Morven...but I know that rides well. That is the fun part of this sport, being afraid of a fence and then having it ride like a breeze.

Yes, I will occassionally make a mistake and when that happens, I hope that luck is on my side. I need to be prepared for the level that I'm riding and I need to be on a horse that is capable...but there is no question that this sport is dangerous and always will be....I think that working on keeping course designers educated and qualifications for moving up the levels (like currently exist) are good safety measures....but I worry that people think that they can make this sport safe. The only way to make this sport truly safe is to get rid of the horses and the jumps and have us all ride a merry-go-round.

west5
Apr. 18, 2007, 12:11 PM
First and foremost accidents do happen.
We've all had them and often not during a hard competition but because a horse tripped while trotting around, fell and landed on you.

Re:
1> Bad Riding
3> Bad Coaching

On one hand we must all take responsibility for ourselves -- particularly as adults. Parents of teen riders should be talking to them about what to do when they feel over-faced.

Be smart. Be self-regulating. Be safe.

When I was with a coach who sent me up a level the first event of the season after virtually no preparation it was the beginning of the end of our time together. I don't believe he did it "on purpose", and nothing happened, but I realized that I needed to take more control over my own program. I found a new barn/trainer. I put safety first. I drive an HOUR farther than I used to because I feel that strongly about the quality of training.

Secondly, somebody must speak up and say "you and/or your students need to go home and work more before you compete again at this level". If I as an adult amateur can tell something is wrong with the riding or training it sends a real signal that they shouldn't be out there. If it is that obvious there is a real problem.

Last summer I watched two students (adults at Novice) of the same trainer trying to "gallop" into the stadium arena. (I surmise to maintain the canter that they had from the warm-up.) It was dangerous to them and it was dangerous to all the horses and riders waiting at the in-gate. They needed a talking to and so did their trainer. Even if it had to happen after the event, somebody in charge should have said something.

In terms of the accidents at the upper levels I do believe that you need to sit down and look at real concrete statistics as IFG suggests. Real cold hard facts: numbers of people competing, types of accidents, the types of jumps (including the approach) where the accidents happen, footing etc. It could be increased number of people = increased number of accidents or it could be something more than that but really a statistical analysis needs to be done. Otherwise it is just conjecture.

west5
Apr. 18, 2007, 12:19 PM
.

What about requiring a certain score in dressage to be able to proceed to the jumping phases. I know that those of us who are bringing along babies may not make it to the jumping phases on those days when our horses just won't listen, but that just means we go to another trial to try again and go home and do more homework first. Kind of a "back to the basics" approach to sort of force people to be prepared. Let's face it, if you can't do the dressage, you really shouldn't be jumping.

:

I really don't agree with this statement as I personally choose horses who may put in a mediocre (really blah but not "wrong") dressage test but are spectacular jumpers because that is where I perceive the safety issues to be. Yes, I work on dressage constantly. I actually really enjoy it but find it "harder" than jumping.

I have also seen a lot of novice riders put in a decent dressage test and feel that I have to hold my breath while they are jumping around (stadium no less).

GotSpots
Apr. 18, 2007, 12:26 PM
How many times have we walked a course and had coaches, experienced riders, trainers say "This fence/combination rides like crap." More than I'd like to recall, particularly in walking some OI and A courses. And, more times than not, that fence does, in fact, ride like puckey and/or there's a major issue there. Obviously my pet peeve is ditch/wall combinations that don't ask a fair question (when three horses fall at the same fence in one compeition, in the same way - you think it might be a fence design issue? Go figure) but there are lots of similar examples: coffins that always seem to come out on a half step, downhill questions that horses slide into, jumping into the sun issues, vertical fences that everyone crawls over etc. We need course designers and TDs to not only take riders seriously when they raise these issues, but we need riders to speak up when there is an issue. And, we need to put in place some mechanism to learn from mistakes/issues/goofs.

For example, at AECs last year, the first horses on course in the Prelim division came back half-blinded by the sun and their riders urged the TD to hold the division for half an hour. Problem solved. But, at Southern Pines this spring? Once again, first four-five horses half-blinded by the sun until Phillip Dutton told them they needed to hold the division. Once is an honest mistake. But repeated at back to back shows? Should have been caught. I don't mean to single out CHP: it's a great facility and the folks down there do a stupendous job. But that's the kind of thing that gets people hurt, and I'd hate to see anyone open up to a lawsuit from a repeat issue like that.

The responsibility goes both ways. Riders need to step up and take responsibility. They (and I'm just as accountable as anyone else) need to work on being safe, sane, trained, fit, appropriate and prepared for the level they've entered. Trainers and owners need to say "it's not your day" when it isn't, and we need to be able to say it ourselves. And TDs need to listen when riders are saying courses are measured too long or a fence is questionable and open the dialogue. And then, we all have to cut each other a little bit of slack: sometimes there's luck, sometimes there's flukes, sometimes things just don't go our way, sometimes our instinct is just plain wrong no matter how hard we train and try.

And sometimes, sometimes we go through these hideous spells where some of our best and brightest have horrid accidents, and we search for some sort of meaning or explanation or reason, since perhaps that will somehow give us comfort that "it" won't happen to us.

IFG
Apr. 18, 2007, 12:31 PM
I realize that eventing is dangerous, but I agree with Hilary and others who ask why accidents (serious accidents) are happening to seasoned professionals and students of seasoned professionals.

I wonder if recent changes in the sport have not made it so technical that horses and riders are more fatigued XC than before and potentially more prone to accidents.

This is a question that can be studied by examining the numbers of accidents as a function of the number of combinations on course, etc.

frugalannie
Apr. 18, 2007, 12:34 PM
Denny, thanks for taking this issue on. Given recent events, your always thoughtful approach will help put our concerns in perspective and provide cogent discussion points.

I can't begin to comment on the causes or possible corrections without getting all the facts, as so many others have mentioned. Additional issues I'd like to investigate about upper level riders in particular are focus and fatigue. I marvel at those who are riding several horses at various levels during the course of one competition, and frequently coaching as well. Is there any correlation between taking such a big bite of the competition apple and problems on course? Also, (another trained in epidemiology, sorry to say) I'd track where in the order of go the problem occurred to see if deteriorating footing, weather, crowd distractions may have had an impact. Even in schooling, and some really bad accidents have happened in schooling sessions, I wonder about these things.

My gut tells me that we will probably not ever know or be able to control all of the factors that can cause accidents. Nonetheless, we need to keep searching.

bornfreenowexpensive
Apr. 18, 2007, 12:34 PM
well said Got Spots.

CarolinaHurricane
Apr. 18, 2007, 12:36 PM
I have thought for awhile that we need to more aggressively investigate the severe falls. Maybe IFG can get involved and advise about doing a retrospective study? I have assumed that every fall is investigated and background of the horse, background of the rider, conditions, etc. are evaluated. As a veterinarian I have been hypothesizing as to why there are perhaps more serious falls of horses lately. Of course, we hear of them more often b/c of the internet, but I don't get the impression that that makes up the difference.

One concern I have is that not just riding style, but perhaps the "health" of the horses themselves could be a contributing factor? Our lameness treatments and diagnostics are better than ever. We are "curing" EPM and horses are deemed "eventable" again, that years ago wouldn't have had a chance. Even though horses are "sound," if they've had a chronic source of pain/inflammation, then they often compensate in their stride, take-off, etc. and it is subtle enough that they get the job done and are sound (coming from the owner of a patched-together OTTB!). But if the table is big and the landing is downhill and they launched from too far away, then maybe they aren't as capable to make up for the mistake as a sounder horse?

There are also horses that die acutely in non-jump "accidents:" aortic ruptures (that just happens); acute fractures (as seen in racing) that necessitates euthanasia. I don't have the impression that it is occuring very commonly, but we could look into hoof angles, bone density, preventative patterns (turn-out, conditioning) to look for risk factors.

I would like to see the write-ups/data from the falls each year (similar to the AERC). It would also, from a research standpoint, be nice to have a background on the horse (if approved by the owner) to see if there is an underlying risk factor that we are missing? From what I've seen, the severe falls DO seem to be happening at the higher levels with the better and professional riders. But maybe the lower-level falls are under-reported?

I'm glad the dialogue has started!

Debbie
Apr. 18, 2007, 12:46 PM
When I went to my first event-type competition -- just cross country judged on closest to optimum time -- I got the best and most lasting memory of the importance of preparing well. I had not for that event and I knew nothing about what I was doing. It was an abysmal display for which I was awarded a red ribbon. Luckily for me, some one was there who took the time to speak to me in a very constructive way about the holes in my horse's performance and to give me ideas and guidance on filling those holes. In hindsight, the person likely dreaded initiating that conversation, but did it nonetheless, and I learned from it and am grateful for it... even 20 years later.

How often have you (the perjorative you, not aimed at anyone in particular) sat and whispered about a display of unsafe riding, but failed to say anthing? Or if you have chosen to say something said it unkindly?

Our sport is now far larger than it was when I started in it 20 some years ago and it seems to have lost a little the sense of community and fellowship that allowed for the kind of exchange that set my eventing career on a more organized and thoughtful path. We can rekindle that by choosing to do so.

As for the accidents at the upper levels, I think the increased technicality is very punishing of any mistake or loss of focus. The quality of the test need not suffer, but there is such a thing as being too clever in how a question is posed.

Auburn
Apr. 18, 2007, 12:55 PM
Could we have some sort of points system? You would need to have 3 scores, of below 40 penalty points (40 is just a random number), to be able to move up to the next level. This would be especially useful for the move from BN to Novice and Novice to Training.

Of course, it would only apply to those who feel comfortable moving up. If you have a horse that you know can do the height, but will never make the speed, then you would have the option to stay at BN, Novice or Training.

When I was growing up, back in the "old days", there was a "grade system". My 14.3 h, Mo-rab was moved up to a Grade 3. We had placed in enough Training level events that she was required to go Prelim. Her flat out speed was 400 meters/minute, which was the speed for Training. We just could not do the 500 meters/minute for Prelim. Because of this rule, I stopped eventing.

We have to be careful to provide safe, but challenging events. Perhaps, the speeds need to be taken back to what they were in the '60's and early 70's?

The TD's do need to speak up, to the organizers and course builders, about making the courses appropriate for the level, as per the USEA Rule Book. They need to speak up about adding time to the OT, when the conditions warrent it. If the TD's are not willing to change things. How do we, as riders, do it? Would our concerns be heard or would they just be chalked up to sour grapes? AUBURN

kml84
Apr. 18, 2007, 01:06 PM
I also agree with GotSpots.

I issue of the sun on CX is a huge problem for those who encounter it. While I have not had this happen to me personally, at an event I was at last summer the first bunch on the prelim course were quite upset... the problem was at the end of the course they had to jump a skinny with a down hill landing to a drop to another drop, all while being blinded by morning sun. One rider's horse refused to go over the skinny becasuse she just could not tell what was infront of her.

mythical84
Apr. 18, 2007, 01:09 PM
A little comment about the dressage scores. The dressage judge does have the right to DQ a rider in dressage if he/she feels like the horse isn't safe to go on to the other jumping phases. At the shows where I've helped out, most often the D judge gives the SJ judge a heads up to look for rider #___ and if there's the slightest problem, that rider is not allowed to continue on to XC. We've also told riders at unrecognized events that have had problems in stadium that they're allowed to go XC, but if they have 1 problem (whether it be a stop/runout/runaway) they will be asked to retire. All very fair and very safety-conscious.

JER
Apr. 18, 2007, 01:16 PM
Some stats and analysis from the FEI Eventing Safety Committee:

FEI main page (http://www.horsesport.org/c/safety/safety.htm)
(Click on pdfs of the more comprehensive 5-year study of horse/rider falls)

2006 Eventing Safety Report (http://www.horsesport.org/c/PDFS/2006FinalReportonEventingSafety.pdf)

Interesting stuff -- breakdowns by fence type and severity of falls. (Please note that these stats are only taken from FEI competitions.)

Blugal
Apr. 18, 2007, 01:24 PM
Quick note: maybe not the right place, but my biggest concern is also that so many of the recent accidents have been experienced/upper-level people.

My biggest worry is the cost of being injured. On Ralph's thread I just read that despite health insurance, the costs are running into the hundreds of thousands. The horse community has really stepped up to help these riders, but can we sustain that?

Are we really having more accidents as a % of rounds? Can we fix the "rate" of accidents and what is a "tolerable" level? If those questions are answered, then do we believe in a "tolerable" level of accidents, and in holding that, do we NEED injured riders' fund/insurance scheme of some sort? (I'm feeling that we do - when I hear of these riders I imagine what it would mean to my family & horse community if I were seriously injured.)

bornfreenowexpensive
Apr. 18, 2007, 01:42 PM
Are we really having more accidents as a % of rounds? Can we fix the "rate" of accidents and what is a "tolerable" level? If those questions are answered, then do we believe in a "tolerable" level of accidents, and in holding that, do we NEED injured riders' fund/insurance scheme of some sort? (I'm feeling that we do - when I hear of these riders I imagine what it would mean to my family & horse community if I were seriously injured.)

Without the stats...I don't know if it is a higher percentage but to be honest....it doesn't seem higher to me then what was occuring 10 years ago, just perhaps more well known.

That said, I really do think an injured riders' fund is a good idea. I worry about riders who are not as famous as say Ralph Hill....or who do not have some highly organized/motivated individuals to pull together the fund raisers for them. Is there already such a fund with the USEF...and if so, I would be surprised if it is enough. Don't get me started on the health care system here in the US...some very good things and NOT good things about it.

What about the rider that gets hurt at novice or training...as we are all aware, a serious injury can happen at any level.

Firefox
Apr. 18, 2007, 01:58 PM
Yes, I will occassionally make a mistake and when that happens, I hope that luck is on my side. I need to be prepared for the level that I'm riding and I need to be on a horse that is capable...but there is no question that this sport is dangerous and always will be....I think that working on keeping course designers educated and qualifications for moving up the levels (like currently exist) are good safety measures....but I worry that people think that they can make this sport safe. The only way to make this sport truly safe is to get rid of the horses and the jumps and have us all ride a merry-go-round.

Thanks Melissa, well said!!

hey101
Apr. 18, 2007, 01:58 PM
I would be interested to know:

What some of the BNT/BNR's currently competing at the upper levels think about this issue

What severely injured riders (or owners of horses who were killed) themselves think of this issue, if they would be willing to contribute to the discussion

How many similarly serious accidents/ deaths have occurred over the same time period in other equestrian sports, both competition and practice in the following categories:
Sports considered to be MORE dangerous than eventing (flat racing, steeplechasing)
Sports considered LESS dangerous (show-jumping, dressage, reining, vaulting, etc)

I agree with most of what has been stated already, especially the posts from BornFree and GotSpots. It's a problem with no easy solution and I personally am more cautious than I used to be, from personal injuries (not willing to risk as much now that i know the consequences firsthand!), these string of horrible accidents and getting older, I suppose! I guess being a bit older and hopefully a bit wiser, I am willing to wait a little longer to be secure in myself and my horse before attempting something we may not be fully prepared for. And I enjoy the process of getting there much more- the journey in itself is a goal AND a destination, rather than just saying "I want to be at X level by this Y time".

JER
Apr. 18, 2007, 02:01 PM
The UK has the Mark Davies Injured Riders' Fund (http://www.mdirf.co.uk/), founded by the parents of a rider who was killed at Burghley in the late 80s.

The MDRIF provides financial help to injured riders as well as safety research and air ambulance service at events.

I don't know of a similar organization in the US, although there is a fund for injured jockeys -- the Don MacBeth Memorial Jockey Fund (http://www.macbethfund.org/) that has similar goals.

PhoenixFarm
Apr. 18, 2007, 02:03 PM
Great idea.

I think all of the above are valid and valuable, but I think a few nee to stand out.

The first is the issue of communication between competitors and organizers/course desingers via the officials. More often than not we don't have a voice, or are dismissed--especially at the lower levels--when we have a concern. I remember vividly having a baby at his first BN, and having a serious concern about the footing and line to the water, and being derided by the TD and the organizer who said "Hey, you've ridden at such and such a level, and you are afriad of the BN water? Ha Ha!"

Well, no actually, I'm not afriad of the water, but I am afriad of the confidence level of my horse being affected by him slipping badly and falling in to the water or twisting his leg in the fifteen groundhog holes smack in the middle of my line.

I still think there is far too strong of a sense of protecting the organzier and CD to the detriment of the competitor. Most competitors HATE to complain, and hate to questions any fence because is goes against the "no crying in baseball" mentality which eventers have. So I generally think that if several people have a concern and take it to the TD, then it must be pretty bad. The TD is there to help be an advocate for the competitor (human and horse), most of them do a great job--but there are a few who look to their friends and wallet first, and the competitor second.

Second, the issue of coaching/preparedness. I don't think I can be more eloquent than what's already been stated, but I would say to everyone who is a student of the sport, if you are having no success, or you are terrified, then take a step back and get a second opinion. Maybe your trainer is not appropriate for you. Maybe your horse isn't. Maybe you aren't. I watched, just this past weekend, some truly horrifying rounds--both in terms of stops, and in terms of clean rounds that were beyond scary. I'm sorry, but if you need a Mikmar with shanks as long as my arm to go BN on your 4 year old, then you need to stay home and do some more training. But what bothers me the most is when you see somone barely surviving, and hearing a coahc say "GOOD!" EEEEK!

FInally, the issue of professionals being injured. I'm not trying to be unkind here, but often they are riding horses that are less than stellar. That's how they get paid, making horses others couldn't manage in to something. But not every horse is cut out for this gig. And that should be OK. Obviously, accidents with good horses do happen--that's something we'll never remove from the sport--but I have more than once watched a great pro bringing all their skill and prowess to bear on a horse who is either naughty, terrifed, or plain untalented, and struggling over every jump and thinking, "Geez, whay are they riding that thing! Don't they have something better?"

But for some pros, that's their bread and butter--the tough horse.

Finally, i would also like to add, for the course designers out there this thought I've observed. As event venues shrink, fences are often clustered closer and closer together. I think lines of sight should be considered strongly when desinging courses. This is most noticable to me at the lower levels, because young horses are the most likely to be distracted by other things, but it can be an issue at the upper levels also. At Novice, a horse should not have to serpentine back and forth between the various out elements of the upper level combinations to get to their in of the puddle of water. I watched a combination at I ride rather poorly, because the collection of BN and N jumps made finding your line a serious challenge, and kept pulling the horses' eyes from the jump they were meant to do. The question itself was iminently ridable and fair. But the fact that every horse tried to jump the Novice fence, and thus had their rythm and focus completely thrown askew as the riders had to jerk them off the Novice fence and back on the the OI line, meant there were a lot of ugly jumps, and several runouts. So CD need to keep in mind where toher fences, especially portables, may end up.l

blyst99
Apr. 18, 2007, 02:38 PM
I will admit I have not had time to review each post in detail and have just skimmed them, so if this is repetitive I apologize in advance, but I wanted to add something I have been thinking about each time I hear of another serious accident.

I think it would be beneficial to have some type of accident review system in place. Then we can better determine what may be the cause of so many serious accidents and that may lead to a way to prevent them. We may find that after a few years of review the majority of these are indeed just accidents or we may find that there is a common theme among all of them. Until we find what factors are leading to these accidents it will be hard to come up with how to prevent them. I think this should take place at all levels. For example, the recent tragedy at Va.Tech has lead to the formation of a review committee to fully investigate the events that lead to the terrible event, so that a system can be put in place to help prevent something like this from ever reoccurring. I don’t know what organization or how this would be done, but I think it would be beneficial to review serious accidents to see if a common element is present among them.

Shortstroke
Apr. 18, 2007, 05:46 PM
I joined the eventing world about 3 years ago from the hunter/jumpers. What has stood out to me the most at the upper levels (lots of fence judging, TV & video) is how often I've seen horses hang a leg when jumping corner jumps. It is obvious that it has to do with the nature of the obstacle itself because I've seen horses hang a leg over the corner, yet not over the other types of jumps. Naturally, I've seen plenty of them hang a leg and still get over the jump safely. But it seems to me that corners encourage the poor jumping form in many cases. I don't think corners should be done away with, but I do think that course builders need to exercise extreme care when placing them. I also think there is a growing tendency toward too much speed even at the lower levels. I ran Novice at the AEC and did not have any time penalties but I thought the time was tight & I've thought so at some other events too, particularly at Training. As the courses become more technical, then more time needs to be allowed.

denny
Apr. 18, 2007, 06:24 PM
Under The Chronicle`s "Breaking News" there`s an article about another British fatality at an event last week.
Does anyone know whether there`s any type of safety initiative taking place in England? Or in any other major eventing country?

BigRuss1996
Apr. 18, 2007, 06:48 PM
Here is a link to the International eventing safety committees reports for 2005 and 2006. I beleive this committee was formed in 2000 after all the accidents in England in 1999.

http://www.horsesport.org/c/safety/safety.htm

Jazzy Lady
Apr. 18, 2007, 06:58 PM
Up here in Ontario I've noticed that courses here aren't a technical as the U.S. There also isn't as many accidents. There is LOTS of poor riding and lots of heart in your throat moments watching people of all levels. There are still plenty of difficult courses but less in your face technical questions so I am also of the camp in wondering if courses are getting simply too technical?

The sport is also expanding and while we, as a community, are very welcoming to newcomers, I'm wondering if more people are just simply getting in over their heads without the necessary preparation beforehand? Is the mentality of some "we can jump this high so let's do so and so level" clouding judgement?

There is a LARGE sense of responsibility placed on the riders, but I think too few understand the reprocussions of having an unfit horse, of upgrading one event too early or simply realizing it's O.K. to call it a day and retire if the horse isn't game or if you aren't. Is there more pressure placed on upgrading these days? Are more people trying to get to the upper levels of the sport for recognition or maybe people are upgrading with unfit horses because they are bored at their current level but don't realize that maybe your horse isn't capable of getting itself out of a tricky spot when the fences are just that much bigger?

There is a lot of "what if's" that float around this sport, particularily these days, but the reality of it is, WE are the riders. WE are responsible to know our horses, know their capabilities and know our own. WE should know when it's time to call it a day or when a course is maybe beyond our level at that point. We are responsible to speak up when something isn't right. While the course designer is responsible for ensuring that their job is complete, whether that be the sun, the ground lines, the footing or the sight lines, it is still up to the competitor to decide to run or not.

Unfortunate accidents will continue to happen, it's the nature of the sport, it's the nature of life. We can't control everything and I think that's what some people tend to forget. When we lose an animal to an accident in the field or when senseless tragedies happen to those around us as what happened on Monday we can think about what we can do to prevent those things, but in reality, we can't.

These are just my thoughts written down and I applaud everyone who is looking into preventing more accidents while keeping sight of the whole picture, and that is the love of the game. I would hate for eventing to lose it's excitement due to accidents, but I'd also hate to see lives lost for the lack of control and preparation.

deltawave
Apr. 18, 2007, 07:21 PM
It seems to me that the tragic accidents and fatalities come in bunches or spurts. You will have a year where there are a number of terrible, high-profile accidents, and then a few years without much in the way of disaster. This year seems to be one of the former, unfortunately. :no: And every time there is a year like this, the topic gets hashed over again. Which is perfectly appropriate!!

My thoughts, in no particular order:

1. Do we really have good data, first and foremost, on whether or not eventing is actually "more dangerous" than other equestrian sports or pursuits? I would venture a guess that leisure riding causes a VASTLY higher number of fatalities each year per capita. Eventers are one of the most safety-conscious groups out there...what we do may be more inherently risky than trotting down the trail, but I'd argue that IN GENERAL eventers are better riders, better horsemen and the horses better trained than the typical yahoo I see trotting their horse down the side of the (busy!) road here on a Saturday morning.


2. Is there any way of making our sport EVEN SAFER? What happened to frangible pins--has that really caught on at all? How are we coming with the ICP and the requirements to have coaches require certification? If I'm not mistaken, eventing has taken the lead in that sphere also, but of course it's not an overnight thing. What about the implementation of "dangerous riding" penalties? I would like to see how the other disciplines stack up in terms of doing real, concrete things like these.

(By the way, I'm not being defensive, but it seems to me that the freaking FIRST THING that ought to be done by every damn discipline is require helmets, period, when mounted, no ifs, ands, or buts. 100% compliance, NOW, and quit whining. :D Don't talk to me about how eventing is "dangerous" as you canter around in a baseball cap.) :rolleyes:

3. An observation: Those of you who have spent a lot of time at upper, upper level events watching international riding can correct me if I'm wrong. I watched a video of the 2002 WEG yesterday while waiting for my trailer to be fixed. There were some SCARY rides going on there! These are the elite--the best in the world--and yes I know this was a stiff course but DAMN, some of those horses and riders looked overfaced. Not your "big names", but a lot of the "others". Is this the example being set? If a country with NO eventing can send a "team" to the Olympic-level events and compete with riders who really look like they ought to be doing Training level, what does that say about the FEI's commitment to safety?

4. Finally, I think it always comes back around to the question of "How much can you legislate stupidity and safety?" In a group of 100 event riders, you are going to have half a dozen people whose goals are not necessarily "safety first" but who might think it's a victory of sorts to have the most speed penalties at BN. You'll have a few who feel like they ought to be doing Advanced and are hell-bent on moving up the levels as fast as they possibly can, no matter how the horse or rider is coping. You'll have a few whose answer to preparation and experience is more hardware strapped onto their horse's face. All of these "types" are in the minority, but we can all picture them. Hell, I can vouch for probably giving a few spectators "Hail Mary" moments over the years--maybe we all can.

Are those of us who are imperfect in our talent, our judgment, our experience NOT concerned about safety? Speaking for myself: NO. I'm very safety-conscious, but eventing happens to be one of the places in my life where I push myself physically, test my courage, and strive to overcome my limitations. I for one would not hold the sport responsible if something bad happened. It is MY comfort level that dictates where I compete and at what level, and I daresay that is the case for almost everyone else. The people that really push the envelope and are truly "scary" are rare. Perhaps there should be a means of dealing with them, but how??

As usual, I ramble. :) To briefly try and summarize, I think it's an eternal push-pull in this and any other potentially risky endeavor between letting people assume their own risk and keeping the sport policed against the nutballs. I think if you aim for the center--make the things that CAN be safer, safer. Rules, jump construction, penalizing the outer fringe of risky riding, trainer certification, helmet laws, etc. You are still going to have accidents that happen to the best, most prepared, most experienced teams. :no:

Absolut
Apr. 18, 2007, 07:41 PM
I have seen one glaring thing I find unsafe and have mentioned it in our Area council meetings before. I feel it is important that during schooling weekends, when Organizers are nice enough to open their courses, it is important they put a level on each jump. They do not have to flag everything, just put a notice on each jump as to what level it is. I have seen people jump an Intermediate oxer not realizing the level it was. It could even be on paper in plastic and tacked onto the jump.

I feel the safety record of Instructors should be accessible. We all try hard to do a good, thorough job. When people are looking for a prospective Instructor I feel they should see the whole picture. During the ICP process we discussed this and hopefully the USEA would have a record somewhere in the future of who Instructors are, who their students are at each show and any accidents should be tallied accordingly. The records are there from the entry. It is not meant to punish anyone, it is a record.

Pushing young horses or green horses too fast is a concern. A broad based pyramid in xc jumping allowing the inexperienced horse to find confidence and become wise and savvy = a brave, happy horse. There are plenty with frayed nerves running around.

Handling riders and parents to ensure safety is a part of our job. There should be no 'move ups' in the levels if the dedication to school is not supported.

Hopefully homework during the off season is not ignored due to distance, money or vacation. Priority for safety for horse and rider thoroughly understanding each question per level in xc prior to show season.

Accidents will happen and I agree we also need an explanation and record of each to learn why and how. Again, not to punish but to learn.

The footing is not always addressed properly by the officials or the Organizers. Many times it is, but it needs to be a huge priority.

Lightening needs to be addressed. Twice in the fall of 06 lightening was dangerously close and it took two of us to complain to get it delayed. There is NO excuse in that when your horse has four steel shoes.

We are all in this together. Our horses do not have a huge choice in their lot in life. Hopefully we will put their minds and bodies first making sure they understand clearly their job and pray a LOT each time we, or our riders go out on a run.

We have a great sport, great Organizers, great officials, great competitors and great horses. Thanks, Denny for taking this on.

Michelle!
Apr. 18, 2007, 08:28 PM
The upper levels seem to be what is producing fatalities recently. For that, I'd look towards what has changed in the last few years. The major change being the technicality of the cross country, which I thought was added to make XC harder? Why not make XC harder in a different way? Other than adding back roads and tracks (which I think is best, but seems to be a dead end amoungst most upper level riders), why not use less technical fences with let ups between the jump like it used to be, but then make the course longger at a slightly slower speed. The WEG was 9-10 minutes at 570 mpm. I'd think 15-16 minutes at 530 mpm or slower is more challenging, even with less technical jumps.

At the lower levels, the main problem is scarey jumping rounds. Competition seems to be what is being emphasized, instead of good basics and correct training. The bottom line is people are competing before they learn to ride.

JER
Apr. 18, 2007, 08:40 PM
The Transport Research Lab analysis of eventing falls that led to the development of the frangible pin identified one particular type of fall as especially dangerous: the slow, rotational fall. FEI studies (cited in my earlier posts and I also posted about these stats when the French rider died a few weeks ago) show that 'serious injury or death' occur in 29.5% of rotational falls.

If you want to see a festival of rotational falls, go to YouTube and search for Cheltenham or Aintree or any of the great jump racing venues. I don't know the exact numbers but I can assure you that rotational falls result in 'serious injury or death' far less than 30% of the time. The reasons are obvious, like more forgiving fences and a higher rate of speed. If you have to showjump your way around a steeplechase course, you shouldn't be out there.

But modern XC course design requires a lot of showjumping over XC obstacles. You pull up, turn and rebalance your way through combinations. A mistake in this situation could lead to a slow, rotational fall. It's a high price to pay if 30% of the time you're either seriously injured or dead.

As to what to do about it, I think the frangible pin is a good start. Same for the EXO body protector. But I think course designers have to be very careful in how they stack up the questions for the horse and the rider. Our brains and our horses' brains have physiological constraints in terms of how much new information we can process per second. You can ask too much and fatigue can factor in too.

luise
Apr. 18, 2007, 09:24 PM
Not really related to this thread, but I did search for Cheltenham on youtube and found the 2006 gold cup ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kt6ceEw-mtc ). Watched it, no falls noted. Although somewhere along the way a rider came off (couldn't see on the video what happened to the rider), and the loose horse just kept galloping along with the crowd, jumping all the brush fences! I felt bad for him... (the horse, and the rider too)

Absolut
Apr. 18, 2007, 10:12 PM
I agree with the biology, or mechanics behind the horse. Having films made every year of the fetlocks, hocks, etc should be first in ones mind as you begin the upper levels. However, it may not have ever been brought to the attention of the amateur rider. Hence the value of this discussion. The pressure in our tires is important for hauling, the angles of the sesamoids, coffin bone in relation to the toe of the hoof, etc, etc, etc is paramount to the athlete undeneath us. Great point.

Hony
Apr. 18, 2007, 10:50 PM
I would disagree that courses in Canada are less technical. I think it's just that we have so few, and have ridden the terrain and many of the jumps so many times that it becomes less daunting. While they are constantly being upgraded there is only so much that can change in a given season without a complete overhaul.
When I went to Maryland I was shocked when I when I walked the course and found that it wasn't as monsterous as I had been told it would be. It was gorgeous, but certainly no more technical than the courses we ride in Ontario.
The big difference I see is that in Ontario we only have two Advanced level horse trials and only a handful of OI horse trials. We have fewer upper level riders to go along with our fewer upper level courses and therefore, less oportunity to have a great number of bad falls.
We also have very well built courses with fantastic safety measures and several of our events, held near Orillia have the best natural footing I have seen. I can't imagine needing more than a small stud (except for in unusually awful weather) for any of our events which says a lot about our footing and good footing increases our overall safety.

IMO some accidents are accidents but many are bad riding or even riding on a day when you just aren't up to it and should probably call it a day but don't because your ego gets in the way.
I blame many accidents on riders that don't fit up their horses properly and push them when they are done. I blame fences that are too upright and I too wonder if the speed of the short format is the cause of many issues. I have heard time and time again that a steady gallop pace is the safest and most energy conserving but I don't see how this is possible with the way courses are designed nowadays. On a side note, I blame riders for this problem too because the way I see it is that you know when you're riding beyond your capability and you'd better slow down and show jump that upright and take it easy when your horse it tired or be prepared to face the consequences.
I also blame the "ready made" event horse and the goals of YRs. Young people are pushing harder and harder, earlier and earlier to secure a spot on a team. They end up on great horses but potentially before they are really ready for the rigors of a prelim or OI course. The horse can only do so much for them.
I refuse to believe that all rotational falls are just bad luck. We know why they happen, we know how they happen. It is important to me personally that course designers and riders alike work together to elimitate as many of the factors that cause them as they can. Unfortunatly many times when riders protest a fence, unless there is a sufficent number of them, their views are dismissed by the TDs...again, an issue of ego. I witnessed this at an event last year and said jump ended up causing a lot of problems including several falls.
Anyway, that's my humble opinion:) Thank you Denny for including us and for doing some work on this issue. I for one am tired of not talking about it for the sake of sparing feelings and am really happy that this very important topic is being discussed openly again.

Mary in Area 1
Apr. 18, 2007, 11:05 PM
Obviously, bad luck is as good an answer as any, but we can't do anything about that, or my barn would not have burned to the ground--

Anyway, I do believe that since the emphasis is no longer on endurance, the "test" has become "how fast can you go over increasingly technical objects or series of objects." The jumps that are safely jumped at speed are becoming more and more rare, and the jumps that require "setting up" or a "coffin canter" are on the rise. Of course, the slower speeds over these jumps cost you precious seconds if you are trying to place in the event, so it becomes a test of "how fast do I dare take these jumps?" and "I sure hope my horse can collect in two strides, because I'm not taking a tug until I'm really close." This type of thinking certainly relies more on luck and less on training than I am comfortable with.

The "slow rotational fall" can be caused by excess speed and technicality, too. I have seen many times where riders are riding too fast into a complex, and their horse just cannot "size up" the question quickly enough. The horses put the brakes on for their own self-preservation, and sometimes the momentum makes it impossible for them to completely stop.

I also feel that the emphasis on the dressage and showjumping, leading to more warmbloods and warmblood crosses, has a profound effect too. I have a barn that has both TB's and warmbloods, for various disciplines, and I truly believe that TB's are just quicker thinkers. Those fast-twitch muscle fibers really do lead to horses that can think and react quicker. Warmbloods just cannot gallop up to a water complex with multiple jumps and immediately pick a mental line and follow it through. They just don't comprehend that fast, and they can't think and act simultaneously like some TB's can.

I know I'm over-generalizing, and I don't mean to bash warmbloods (I love them for dressage), but I do think the speed, technical nature, and the warmblood question do come in to play in this safety discussion.

ksbadger
Apr. 18, 2007, 11:17 PM
After the series of unfortunate fatalities in the UK a few years ago, Lucinda Green wondered if riders were micromanaging their horses such that, if everything wasn't perfect, a fall was near inevitable as the horse could, or would, not make its own choice of takeoff point. The source of this was, in her opinion, the need to do even more precise dressage.

From my viewpoint as jump judge & announcer monitoring everyone as they go around, I've got the feeling that the majority of accidents to lower level riders occur in the last half of the course - symptomatic of lack of fitness in horse, rider or both. Wonder how much of this is because few today can ride often enough to get the appropriate mileage in or know how to get and keep a horse fit. Lack of mileage might also explain some of the "too hot horse" accidents as well - how many riders acquire (or worse get given) an unsuitable horse for them & never have - or take - the time to get to know each other in a non-competitive milieu. I note as well the stress on winning in some of the previous posts - there a certain safety value in just going out XC and not worrying about placing just doing a nice safe controlled round even if it is slower.

Jazzy Lady
Apr. 18, 2007, 11:21 PM
I would disagree that courses in Canada are less technical. I think it's just that we have so few, and have ridden the terrain and many of the jumps so many times that it becomes less daunting. While they are constantly being upgraded there is only so much that can change in a given season without a complete overhaul.
When I went to Maryland I was shocked when I when I walked the course and found that it wasn't as monsterous as I had been told it would be. It was gorgeous, but certainly no more technical than the courses we ride in Ontario.
.

I board at one of those lovely barns with our lovely natural footing. It's amazing. We have amazing facilities, great courses and well run events, but after spending 7 months working for a BNT in Florida and walking some of the bigger events from Florida to NY there is a difference and most of the upper level riders in Ontario will say the same thing. One comment was made that even the BN at Rocking horse spring trials was much more in your face than your typical BN (entry) event course. At prelim and higher while we still have lovely questions and some very technical stuff, but we still have the necessary breather fences. It's not in your face technical over and over and over again which I think is part of what is starting to cause the problems. I think it's a good thing. Ontario is upgrading their courses little by little but a large emphasis is still placed on safety and confidence (not saying that it isn't in the US still, just referring to Ontario). I LOVE having a challenging course that asks you some questions and then gives you some lovely breather fences before asking you more.

gully's pilot
Apr. 19, 2007, 08:21 AM
I'm all for a serious study of what falls are happening, where on course, what type of jump, etc., to see if we can figure out a way to minimize them. Remember what Carol Kozlowski did? She was sure that the lead weights smaller event riders used to have to carry (because FEI mandated at least 140 lbs carried by the horse) caused the horses more injuries than the same horse carrying a heavier rider--in other words, that the lead weights were intrisically unsafe for horses. She figured out a way to scientifically test this, and she convinced a bunch of upper-level riders to ride her test, and she was right. Although the FEI accepted her research and did away with the weight rule fairly quickly, it wasn't quickly enough to prevent Kozlowski's famous Erin Go Bragh from suffering exactly the type of injury her research predicted (which I can't remember, as you can no doubt tell from the strangled syntax of that last sentence).

I was frankly astonished to hear that the Southern Pines horse trial had the same early-morning-sun problem as the AECs. I understood it at the AECs, though really, who puts Weldon's walls straight east or west? But to have it come up again speaks to a lack of communication. I love the CHP, go there often and will go again. But yikes.

Meanwhile, here I am, a lower level adult amateur recent to the sport, and I can see two big spots already where I'm lucky to not have had big problems.

The first came at my novice move-up. I ride with two different trainers, one who doesn't really event but who teaches me dressage and sj and who has sometimes come to events with me when the eventing-trainer can't. When I walked the course I realized it was longer than I expected, and a little more strenous than I expected, and I really hadn't expected novice to be more challenging, other than the height and type of the jumps, than beginner novice. Gully at the time was a fat little butterball, and I wasn't doing my cardio either. I was with the non-eventing trainer, and she asked if I was worried about fitness. I said I was. She agreed. This is where we should have sat down and decided what "worried about fitness" meant, and how I should have addressed it in the way I started the course, and how I should have changed my ride if Gully seemed fatigued. I know that now. But I honestly didn't know it then. I rode out heels flying and did my best to make time--and I did, and we were clear. But we crawled over the last fence, it took all of our remaining combined energy, and it was a solid oxer built of telephone poles. If he hadn't cleared it, he would have flipped, and I was in no position to help him. If there had been another jump, I'm not sure we could have done it.

I stood next to my horse past the finish line and swore I would never, ever, do that to him again. I was really proud of finishing, and I was happy, because I was still pretty clueless, but even at that moment knew I'd done something stupid. The right move, if I'd decided to go, would have been to start out conservatively, forget about making time, and give him some trot breaks in the long stretches. But the real right move would have been for one of my trainers to sit me down and say, You may NOT event until this horse is in better shape. They did both tell me he was overweight--but I really didn't get it, I was so new to the sport.

Second big oops was last year, Mayfest, Gully's first run back from surgery on both suspensory ligaments. We'd been running well at novice (despite what must have been two chronically inflamed suspensories--I realize as I'm typing that I sound like an absolute idiot, but I swear it was very subtle, and Gully's brave as a lion) and decided to have one more go at novice, given his surgery, before moving up. Well, the xc was a disaster. Suddenly I had much more horse than ever before, and I had no friggin' idea what to do with it. In the past, I'd pointed him at a fence, he'd back off a bit on his on, I'd pressed him forward--wonderful. Now he was taking the bit and galloping headlong at everything. I had two choices at every obstacle--get in an enormous fight and take the fence inverted with no impulsion, or let him fly it. Now that's fun. I finished clean, in second place overall, and my trainer--eventing trainer this time--was happy and thought it was time to move up. I thought the round was a first class disaster, the worst I'd ever had, and the thought of moving up before I'd figured out how to ride a horse that wasn't backed up at all by the fences was frankly moronic. And I said no way. And I got some more training--I was lucky enough to go to the O'Connor camp a few weeks later--and now I have a very adjustable horse, and we're jumping beautifully, and oh, yeah--we're fit.

But if I were not lucky in the first instance or smart enough to tell my trainer no in the second, I might have been telling a very different story.

So Denny, thanks for making us think about this. It's a very important issue.

PolestarFarm
Apr. 19, 2007, 09:09 AM
I would like to bring up the subject that the officials have a certain amount of responsibility to be the rider's advocate. I often dont feel that they are our advocates. Case in point: this weekend at The Fork, I mentioned to an official that I believed the intermediate and advanced geese could easily be moved to different parts of the water jump to allow the BN,N, and T riders easier access, more obvious access, to their lines. There were clear straight lines to the lower level jumps, but I did not feel that it was appropriate or necessary to force green horses and inexperienced riders to weave their way through the geese as horses spooked and riders lost lines. The official called the course designer and asked (this is verbatim) "It is too much effort to move those geese in the water jump, isnt it?"
Her word choice clearly showed me that she was not interested in doing the extra work needed to make the course safe for the riders. She also said that it was important for the waterjump to look important and decorated for the sponsors and that leaving the geese in the jump were most needed for sponsor approval of the event. While I agree that sponsors are important, would they really know if a goose was moved 10 feet to the side? no. I walked away from that interaction thinking that I had a valid point and I was snubbed. There have been other examples, but this one is on my mind, as it just happened a few days ago.
Once in a while I am asked to be a 'rider rep' for an event, and when I am, I am surprised at the little amount of feedback that my fellow competitors give me. I assume that either they have no concerns, or they are not used to talking to anyone else other than their friends and coach. I think that the subject of rider reps needs to be included in this conversation as it is a great way to make a direct link between the rider/horse needs to those who are able to make the changes (officials and designers). Is there a way we can elevate the visibility of the rep so that more riders will utilize it?

flyingchange
Apr. 19, 2007, 09:22 AM
I would disagree that courses in Canada are less technical. I think it's just that we have so few, and have ridden the terrain and many of the jumps so many times that it becomes less daunting. While they are constantly being upgraded there is only so much that can change in a given season without a complete overhaul.
When I went to Maryland I was shocked when I when I walked the course and found that it wasn't as monsterous as I had been told it would be. It was gorgeous, but certainly no more technical than the courses we ride in Ontario.


While the Maryland Horse Trials debut last summer was incredibly well done - gorgeous from dressage to showjumping to XC, it was probably one of the least difficult Prelims in Area II. I heard the same was true of Training as well. And it was designed to be that way - the Prelim was designed as a move-up/confidence building Prelim (I got that straight from the organizer's mouth), which we needed here.

Edited to add:
I don't know what the courses are like in Canada as I've never visited, so I don't know if they are different, in general and speaking in terms of size and technicality. However, I just wanted to iterate that the MHT fell into the category of "appropriate for first Prelim" last summer (the first one - MHT II, the 2nd weekend, was a bit more difficult with tighter turns, etc). Also, you DO need to be ready for Prelim if you enter there - don't want to come off sounding like it's not a Prelim course. It asks all the questions, but in a bit of a friendlier way than what you'll find at, say, Seneca, CDCTA, Virginia, and Morven. Not sure if the same will hold true this summer. I really hope so because that is a good point in the year to do a move-up for a lot of horses/riders.

hey101
Apr. 19, 2007, 09:28 AM
While the Maryland Horse Trials debut last summer was incredibly well done - gorgeous from dressage to showjumping to XC, it was probably one of the easiest Prelims in Area II, if not the easiest. I heard the same was true of Training as well. And it was designed to be that way - the Prelim was designed as a move-up/confidence building Prelim, which we needed here.

I don't think there's anything wrong with having courses that are recognized as being "easier" for the level (I don't think you are saying that either fllyng change, just re-iterating the point). Otherwise how would you ever be able to move up, if all you have to choose from are courses built at the max for the level you are trying to move up to? Maybe max BN to max N isn't THAT huge of a deal, but going max T to max P would be very intimidating! Especially as the levels progress, it becomes next to impossible to SCHOOL those fences prior to competition (is there any I/A course anywhere that is available to school?)
HOw are horses/ riders to learn, if it's always a step change in difficulty rather than a logical, even progression?
One thing I think is difficult is that courses seem to become harder through the year, so that by fall, even a course that was easier in spring may be near max in the fall. So that horse that competed Novice all year, WOULD be making a step change jump to a max course for a new level. However, if they wanted to wait until spring, then they haven't had the benefit of regularly competing immediately prior to the move-up. It would be nice if there were enough courses that kept their level of difficulty consistent all year-round, so that riders had options to choose from when their horse is ready to move up.

tommygirl
Apr. 19, 2007, 09:55 AM
I may be repeating what someone else has posted. I did not read thru all the posts (at work, no time).

What I have seen is a shift in the type of horse, and the type of riding in our sport. Dressage is the most important phase, and show jumping (at most upper level venues) holds alot of weight. Alot of the horses are more scopy than they used to be in order to get the dressage scores. However, scope needs less speed, and more collection, which does not do really apply (or should not be applied) to cross country. Scope is good, don't get me wrong, but most horses breed for scope seem to be too careful and hang in the air too long, instead of crossing the xc jumps out of a gallop. I wonder if our xc courses are taking scope into too much consideration, causing the riders to have to collect too much over courses that are too technical. Before A, B, and C were removed from our sport, we needed the galloping (flat) strides to make time and cover the distances on xc day. now, the horses are training for a glorified horse trial and it seems there is a mismatch between purpose and course design.

I would like to see our xc courses get longer in distance, and have more galloping type jumps.

I remember when... if a horse missed and hung a leg, the speed would be great enough to send the rider far enough away from where the horse would land... now, the horse and rider crumple up together, if a leg is hung.

I don't think there are less accidents in eventing, just more severe.

I think xc course design needs to be revisited before we lose the sport completely. The forces at hand will not allow the sport to keep on with all these bad accidents.

bambam
Apr. 19, 2007, 11:06 AM
My gut is to say bad riding and bad instruction based on how frightening I often think the rides are that I see at the lower levels at HTs and how many of them I think are competing at a level higher than they should be and often at their coaches urging.
But when I think about the serious/fatal accidents of the last year or so (or at least the ones I know about and I think we generally hear about the worst ones these days), that does not seem to be an adequate explanation. In the last year or so the most serious accidents have been (1) pros riding at the highest levels and doing it well (Debbie Atkinson, Kim Meier, Ralph, the French woman who died a couple of months ago and the rider at the Asian games who according to reports I saw was not over his head) or (2) riders going prelim level who were according to what I have read quite competent (the AA from Florida who died this winter, the YR from California who died, and the AA from the UK this weekend).
So while I think the scarey BN, N, and T rides are a problem and a symptom of bad riding and bad instruction, they do not seem to account for the really bad accidents.
So if we are talking about the serious and fatal accidents, I don't think we can come up with quick and easy answers and we need to look at the numbers and statistics before we can come up with anything more than guesses. Plus, not having ridden at prelim and above yet, it is certainly not something I can really comment on.
If we are including accidents and injuries in general not limiting it to the serious ones, then I go back to my gut and say bad riding and instruction and bad luck and S*&t happens as the primary reasons.

Noctis
Apr. 19, 2007, 11:17 AM
While I am only a lower level rider, I'm glad that this topic came up. In reading all of the responses, I heartily agree with both Deltawave and RAyers. In addition, I think a lot of problems stem from bad lower level riding. Not all of them, and not the big name falls, but it is beginning to be too "easy" to move up when you aren't ready, when your horse isn't ready, and when you have no business riding at said levels. Half the prelim and below rides scare the beejesus out of me. Its too easy to have a "so-so" dressage test, then run and gun, and win. Rewarding that is only building a bad foundation for moving up. I'm not saying that that is all that there is out there, but it IS what is rewarded in many areas in the largest group of competitors.

I also think that the UL courses are in some ways TOO technical, as others have mentioned, fake groundlines, no groundlines, etc. With the lack of land, making technical courses in small areas does seem to be taking a toll, IMHO. A fall on a big galloping course will usually toss you far enough away from your horse, a tighter one seems to put you underneath or in a heap, just from my observations.

Thank you Denny for bringing this up and addressing it. And my tongue in cheek solution? Stop buildling developments, start building big galloping xcountry courses :D

LisaB
Apr. 19, 2007, 11:34 AM
I think #1 is to get proper training from a qualified instructor. That said, most folks think:
1. I'll go to this trainer here who went advanced at one time.
2. I'll go to this trainer who is less experienced but is cheaper.
Wrong assumptions!
I would put mention to contact the local area chairperson for a list of names of good instructors. They rarely let you down. Sorry guys, but some people listed on this board, I wouldn't go to.

My opinion on how to write the article is to give some examples from us, the pleebs of eventing. We've all made mistakes and learned from them. Some of us had injuries, others got off lucky but if coming from us, maybe it will strike a chord with those folks who *think* they are fine at whatever level, with whatever horse.

Had an interesting lesson yesterday. We had a very low oxer with poles on either side in the shape of a V. So you come at it at an angle, one stride to oxer. Now, for us, if all else fails and we come to an odd distance, I chuck the reins and he flies over the fence. Generally with his left shoulder popped out. This has caused us some grief, including a nice little dive over a table on a bending line because of said divergence from proper riding. So, we do this exercise to basically square us up and we can't fling ourselves over. And because it was so isolated of an exercise, I felt where we were going wrong and my instructor helped us fix it. But because I have an instructor that's good, really good and I'm in communication with her and she actually saw my horse running to the trailers that particular day, we've been working on it. In dr lessons as well as o/f.
See now, because we can clear 5', no problem, I can keep flinging ourselves around and hail Mary. But that's a little dangerous. My instructor is making it her mission to stop this. She has a bunch of tools and torture devices (i.e. riding w/o stirrups with hands in my lap so I don't use them) to enable us to see the light.
If you write the article talking about the UL's, I think we will say, 'that's not us, we are novice(tr, prelim)' We hear about the accidents above, but there are plenty below and rather easily avoidable.

Hony
Apr. 19, 2007, 11:41 AM
It was Waredaca, not MHT. I think that the course designer at Waredaca would not be pleased hear that the T3DE course was one of the least difficult in the area.:) In fact, I distinctly remember many riders on this board commenting on the fact that it is a tough course and in particular there was an increase in technicality of this course in 2006.
Anyway, it's here nor there in this discussion. My point was that in Canada we have fewer upper level events, fewer upper level riders and less margin for error with that combination.

hey101
Apr. 19, 2007, 11:50 AM
On the topic of good instruction...
OK, so HOW do you know if the instruction you are getting is GOOD, if you don't know any better? (gully's pilot had an excellent post on this very theme). LisaB, you say that you wouldn't go to many of the trainers on this board- OK, why not, and WHO?

there is an interesting discussion on the dressage thread right now about this exact same thing. A young-horse owner took their prospect to a trainer, and was VERY unhappy with the results, and posted it for all to see. Naturally there is a lot of anger from other posters that names were used... but unless names are used, HOW are people to know which trainers are generally respected, and which are not?

The theme of that thread is that just because a person is a great ULR, does not make them a great trainer. And a great lower-level trainer may NOT ride at the upper levels.

So how are we, the eventing pleebs (like that term!) to know who is, and who is not, a good trainer if there is such an aversion to openly discussing the pluses and minuses of individuals (and there are always plus/minuses to everyone!) with full disclosure of names?

SPLAT
Apr. 19, 2007, 12:10 PM
1. There are a lot more riders - more riders = more bad riders.

2. Nostalgia of the "good ole days" when we "really knew how to ride" makes the "more bad riders" appear even worse.
- I am not esp young, but I think as we get older the younger folk appear less serious, less focused etc. I am not sure that is correct, but it is perception.

3. It is the BNR at the highest levels of competion that are having the big accidents - that is not a "bad riding" unsafe riders problem.

I compete at Novice and yes at times we are scary - I know I'm scared - I just moved up and sometimes I check out, sometimes my horse does. That is why we ride novice so we can learn and not get killed.

4. It seems that the courses getting more technical, the sport is changing, the horses however are still just horses and maybe the community is trying to adjust, sometimes with less than stellar results.

It doesn't seem to me that the big accidents of the past year are related to bad trainers or scary lower level riders with their unfit horses. Not that they aren't a problem, I just don't think they are the source of these major accidents and the reason for the increased interest in safety.
Now I'm off to compete at Copper Meadows - Wish me luck and safe riding!:)

bornfreenowexpensive
Apr. 19, 2007, 12:10 PM
It was Waredaca, not MHT. I think that the course designer at Waredaca would not be pleased hear that the T3DE course was one of the least difficult in the area.


I walked that Prelim. It was a basic mid level Prelim. A nice course but def. not one of the toughest Prelims (for me at the time it looked huge but only because of the horse I was sitting on). It was just your basic solid Prelim. A nice one if you had some experience at Prelim and ok for first Prelim if your horse was a brave fwd going horse. What made it very tough that year was the weather.....

LisaB
Apr. 19, 2007, 12:24 PM
Hey,
I was trying to say that some trainers that folks here have recommended, I wouldn't train with them. And I generally will PM someone with my thoughts as I'm rather blunt. The blunt-ness is genetic, I swear!

CookiePony
Apr. 19, 2007, 12:39 PM
Denny-- what I am reading is that this safety issue might need to be addressed in two parts: one at the upper levels, and one at the lower levels. At the upper levels, this seems to explain a lot to me:

I would like to see our xc courses get longer in distance, and have more galloping type jumps.

I remember when... if a horse missed and hung a leg, the speed would be great enough to send the rider far enough away from where the horse would land... now, the horse and rider crumple up together, if a leg is hung.


At the lower levels, it would be great to get the kind of data that the FEI has for the upper levels. We really don't know those kinds of statistics, and I think we really SHOULD know them. Then we would have a better idea of how to proceed.

As for instruction problems-- I think that the ICP program is trying to deal with some of this gap, but at present it represents a tiny fraction of event instructors.

Edited to add: I agree with bornfree, below. Different trainers work with different people, and then students have to learn what they are taught-- when all is said and done, as JW says, "you can't fix stupid." I hope I'm not stupid but do I wish I could ride better after all this time...

bornfreenowexpensive
Apr. 19, 2007, 12:40 PM
there is an interesting discussion on the dressage thread right now about this exact same thing. A young-horse owner took their prospect to a trainer, and was VERY unhappy with the results, and posted it for all to see. Naturally there is a lot of anger from other posters that names were used... but unless names are used, HOW are people to know which trainers are generally respected, and which are not?




I think the problem with that is one trainer may be very good for one rider or a particular horse and that same trainer may not work for someone else. People and horses learn in different ways....and a public BB is a place that some one could bash some one else for different motivations. In finding a good trainer....you need to listen to people you trust and know yourself. Go to other clinics and see if things are consistent. I ride with several BNT (and others not as well known) on a regular basis (should be a hell of a lot better rider then I am ;) )....they ALL tell me the same things just in different words. They ALL set exercises that are working on similar concepts. Go to clinics, watch people ride and ask who they take lessons from and why they like that person.

Along the lines of safety though...you can not always blame the trainer.....it is the rider riding and some folks do not do (or can not do) what they are being told to do. Some people (I may be one them!) are not very trainable....it is a free country and they can send in their entries to an event with or without their trainer's permission! You can not protect a person from their own stupidity.

AM
Apr. 19, 2007, 12:46 PM
This is the third time I've started to write this reply and Polestar Farm's contribution encourages me to submit it this time.

I'm only a volunteer, scoring mostly, so I have a somewhat limited practical exposure at the moment. But I've been thinking for a while that as eventing is becoming more of a business with more and more people making their living as eventing officials, riders, trainers, coaches, etc. what's "good business" may not always be what's safe, what's best for this horse, what's best for this student? There have been several examples provided throughout this thread.

Competitions start early in the morning and run late at night so more riders/horses can be accomodated. More levels are held at each event so more horse/riders can be accommodated and both coaches and students can compete at the same time. And that means more fences from various levels cluttering up the water jump (which is expensive to build so one has to fit all levels) and the rest of the course.

PolestarFarm
Apr. 19, 2007, 03:22 PM
I have been talking to a few more people and here are some more ideas:

1. Going back to the "officials being the rider's advocate" idea
what if we elevated the rider rep status to something bigger. Allow a qualified person (ICP teacher, upper level rider, long time coach) be privy to the internal system of an event. They are the rider rep and are really the last line of defense between the rider and the course. The TDs should be this.... but as I mentioned before, sometimes they are predisposed to think that we are all griping, moaning, ribbon-mongers who want to dumb-down the course.
This rider rep would have a more active role in determining whether the course was suitable for the conditions and the level of riders.

2. Over at the USEA this morning: someone took a look at the speeds and jumping efforts of events in the 1980s.
Back then there was a range of speeds that one could use, say prelim: 470-520 mpm. I remember looking at this a youngster (hush Denny!!!) and knowing that the speed changed for different courses I was on.
And the jumping efforts has nearly doubled since then!

3. lastly: also from the great minds of the USEA, it was mentioned that what if we had different divisions within each level. Say, you had a hard division at prelim that was aimed at those people wanting to move up to intermediate or were preparing for an FEI level. They need the combinations, the increased difficulty to determine whether they are ready for their goals or not. This level would count as a qualifier for moving up to intermediate or an FEI qualifier.
then you had a different division: the 'recreational' group that wanted to jump big jumps, acomplish personal goals, give a green horse more experience etc.. without all the technical difficulty of the other division. It would still be a prelim, but it would not count as a qualifier to move up to intermediate or as an FEI qualifier.

any feedback on this?

BarbB
Apr. 19, 2007, 03:24 PM
I apologize in advance if this has already been discussed, I missed it.

I think that the data being looked at needs to include ALL falls, not just the ones that resulted in injury or death.
If there are rotational falls over a fence and everyone is lucky and walks away unharmed, that doesn't make that fence/combination any less unsafe.
The injuries to horse and rider seem to be up to the gods, but the fall may not have been.

And, although totally unexperienced in anything other than the lowest levels (and likely to remain so) when I hear about these accidents I hear voices in my head of riders and trainers years ago saying that the horse doesn't change, the level of difficulty does, and at some point the courses are going to become too technical to be acceptably safe or have any merit in the competition.

I honestly do not see the superiority of technical courses that favor the talented show jumper over big open galloping courses that favor the bold and the fit.

edited to add:
It breaks my heart to think that horses like Murphy Himself, Delta and Three Magic Beans are "irrelevant" in today's eventing. Horses like this are too bold and too keen for the "modern" sport. :(

asterix
Apr. 19, 2007, 03:25 PM
I walked that Prelim. It was a basic mid level Prelim. .

OK, sorry, people are misreading each other (and Hony wasn't quite specific enough in her first post):
1. Hony came down to Waredaca for the Training 3 day last year
2. She is talking about THAT course.
I know that course extremely well, along with many other VA/MD T courses last year. I do not think it had the absolute lock on being hard (seneca fall had some VERY tough questions, other courses had their moments), but it asked a lot of questions fairly within the level, but a lot of questions nonetheless.
3. Flyingchange was talking about Maryland Horse Trials, which ran "I," an easy (at T and P, as far as I can tell) first event, and "II," a much more on-the-levels second event.
4. Bornfree is talking about the Waredaca PRELIM course held the same weekend as the T3d.

are we all confused yet?
(back to your regularly scheduled discussion, which I am following with great interest but am waiting to add to until I have something NEW to say)

bornfreenowexpensive
Apr. 19, 2007, 04:33 PM
OK, sorry, people are misreading each other (and Hony wasn't quite specific enough in her first post):
1. Hony came down to Waredaca for the Training 3 day last year
2. She is talking about THAT course.
I know that course extremely well, along with many other VA/MD T courses last year. I do not think it had the absolute lock on being hard (seneca fall had some VERY tough questions, other courses had their moments), but it asked a lot of questions fairly within the level, but a lot of questions nonetheless.
3. Flyingchange was talking about Maryland Horse Trials, which ran "I," an easy (at T and P, as far as I can tell) first event, and "II," a much more on-the-levels second event.
4. Bornfree is talking about the Waredaca PRELIM course held the same weekend as the T3d.

are we all confused yet?
(back to your regularly scheduled discussion, which I am following with great interest but am waiting to add to until I have something NEW to say)


Thanks Asterix...I was reading Flyingchanges description about the Prelim at MHT and thought Hony had walked the Prelim course when she came down to the T3DE.

flyingchange
Apr. 19, 2007, 04:51 PM
Thanks for clarifying asterix! :)

And sorry Hony - I thought you were talking about the Maryland HT.

Eventer13
Apr. 19, 2007, 06:55 PM
I like the idea of two divisions of preliminary, with the lower level having less technical questions, and maybe a slower speed. Since it is a big step up from training, this might help bridge the gap.

Also, I agree that there needs to be an annual report on horse/rider injury and death, and a basic description of what happened, the conditions, etc.

west5
Apr. 19, 2007, 07:12 PM
I think that the data being looked at needs to include ALL falls, not just the ones that resulted in injury or death.
If there are rotational falls over a fence and everyone is lucky and walks away unharmed, that doesn't make that fence/combination any less unsafe.
The injuries to horse and rider seem to be up to the gods, but the fall may not have been.
. :(

This is an excellent point

snoopy
Apr. 19, 2007, 07:30 PM
I grew up eventing in the early 80's...I have seen the sport change so much in this time. I DO NOT like what it has become at all levels. I have one thought on this:

We MUST remember that we are riding an animal. They were not designed by nature to jump the questions the sport now asks of them. The shorter distances and more jumping efforts induces not only physical tiredness but also mental tiredness.
Constant questions and less straight forward gallping fences has an effect on them and all the training in the world, in my opinion, will not change the fact that the horses are mentally fatigued.
Upright fences, corner fences as part of combinations, lack of time to get their breath back...remember a horse holds its breath jumping...it all adds up. And there is the current NEED to validate the rider by getting the horse to Preliminary level. I follow the scores of those I know and some I do not and see horses upgrading by virtue of the fact of meeting MINIMAL qualification for the next level. I see horses running prelim in the first year they start eventing. The questions posed at the higher levels are being filtered down to the lower "TRAINING" levels and I do not see this as a good thing. Jack Le Goff addressed this problem many years ago when the trend was to build what he called "Mini Badmintons" and that he could build a three foot stadium course that no horse could get round. Just because the height requirements are met for each level does not mean the questions asked are suitable. Some questions, no matter how small the fence are not appropriate for some levels. These questions should be introduced in a way that if the horse were to make a mistake, that it has time to get himself out of trouble. This theory is just as beneficial to a rider who also needs time to regroup when something goes wrong. I am unimpressed by current course building. I keep in regular contact with many BNR from the 70's and 80's and they too share my concerns. Perhaps we need to engage "the old timers" (sorry Denny). These people were here to witness the birth of the modern sport.
What ever happened to resting the horses? Now with the trend to move south for the winter, horses do not get a break. Just like us they experience mental fatigue.

Dr. Doolittle
Apr. 19, 2007, 07:45 PM
Snoopy--some *wonderful* points made--thanks for that post (and there have already been so many good posts on this thread that one hesitates to "chime in"--unless one has a slightly different perspective, or insight...)

Michelle!
Apr. 19, 2007, 08:49 PM
Denny, someone beat you to your article....

http://www.useventing.com/competitions.php?id=872

denny
Apr. 19, 2007, 10:25 PM
The key is a broad dialogue. The more opinions, the better, in the more places the better.
This situation did not come about overnight, and it`s not going to get fixed overnight.
There needs to be the sense that this is a permissible subject, not something that we pretend isn`t there.
My personal opinion is that the people who are most directly involved in this are those of us who get on our horses and actually ride over those courses. We who ride need to have input into the solution, because it effects us more than it touches anyone else.

fergie
Apr. 19, 2007, 10:27 PM
Ding ding ding ding!!!! Snoopy has terrific insight! Now, I also see horses doing too many CIC's, etc. in a year - in old times it used to be a three day in the spring and then one in the fall (and lots of time off inbetween), per horse, that is. Now, the horses go all over the place competing all the time. Look at some of the old pictures of advanced courses in the late 70's - they look like prelim. courses of today. Personally, I think there should be a limit on how many CIC's, etc. that one horse should be allowed to do in a year - at least it might help protect the horses. And yes, many BNR's do feel this way about the "minibadmintons". Perhaps there is a way that their feedback about courses could hold a lot more weight?

adamsmom
Apr. 19, 2007, 10:36 PM
Denny suggested that I make sure all these great comments/ideas/suggestions get to the USEF ad hoc committee. So please keep the ideas coming. I'll print them all off next Wednesday before the meeting and give them to the committee.

I wholeheartedly agree with Denny. Dialogue is key to everything we're discussing here.

Jeannette, formerly ponygyrl
Apr. 19, 2007, 11:36 PM
I don't have this thought all the way through, but I wonder if there isn't an inherent catch-22 that by every effort to make the sport safer, on some important level we make it less so.
Thinking outloud here, but say I have a tightrope between two skyscrapers - no way no how am i going to try to walk it even if there is a million bucks on the other side. Offer me a harness properly secured to an overhead cable, and yeah, I may try scootching out there to get the cash.

Now substitute in a big old fashioned airy XC course that took some courage to gallop up to. Sure, there's always a supply of stupid young men game to hang on and kick no matter their skills, but it's a somewhat limited supply.
Change that course to one full of skinnies and glance off questions, so if you're not prepared you're more likely to go home with penalties but not a fall - and more people may think, hey, worth trying! And when they have a runout or two, they ses it as a steering question, not a fundamental safety issue, and go somewhere else next weekend to try again.

Sure, the fences may be safer, but if they encourage moving up because you think you can steer well enough, rather than because you're bold enough and are pretty confident you can answer the questions, well overall maybe the sport isn't safer?

Actually, I heard a course designer comment on this recently regarding making everything ramped with pulled out groundlines, rather than having some of the very vertical fences which taught a horse to be careful and snap up their legs.

Just rambling, but wondering. Having a higher perceived risk may reduce the actual risk sometimes, and vice versa...

oldbutnotdead
Apr. 19, 2007, 11:49 PM
The USEA article is interesting, but I believe that Denny's article, with his background and experience, is still needed and will be valuable.

My personal fear is that as we try to make our sport more safe, a laudable goal, some will refuse to take personal responsiblity for their actions or to accept that a cross country course (or even a dressage arena or show jumping arena) isn't an amusement park. I truly want things to be as safe as they can be, but I accept that galloping and jumping solid obstacles on a thinking, independent flight animal contains a certain amount of inherent risk.

I come from a family of attorneys. What is the family response when I fall off? "Should have stayed on," they say in unison.

Equitalk
Apr. 20, 2007, 12:43 AM
Denny

The USEF Eventing Safety Inquiry Committee has been formed and will hold it's second meeting next week in Kentucky during Rolex. The members of this committee are as follows:

Andrew Ellis, Co-Chair
David O'connor, Co-Chair
Kent Allen, DVM
William Brooks, MD
Robert Costello
William Moroney
Derek Di Grazia
Malcom Hook
Jo Whitehouse
Shelly Lambert
Melinda Rolstad

The committee has been tasked with studying the causes, similarities, and/or differences in recent critical incidents that have occurred in the sport of Eventing. We will suggest and oversee implementation of strategies for reducing critical incidents in the future. We will review current safety measures and determine if changes need to be made. We will also be examining emergency response to critical incidents. Both the immediate response in the field and the long term compassionate response to the injured, their families, and others involved. Due to the recent incidents in Eventing we will look initially at that sport but will address our findings to the entire Federation and it's affiliates. We welcome all ideas and input to help us address this issues. If any USEA of USEF current member would like to share their thoughts please feel free to email me at usefsafety@aol.com or contact Leigh Anne Claywell the committee liaison at lclaywell@usef.org. By sharing information and experiences we hope to work together with the members and affiliates to better the sport we all love.

Andrew Ellis, Chairman USEF Safety Committee and Accident Review Panels

lstevenson
Apr. 20, 2007, 12:48 AM
We must all be aware of what seems like a very large number of serious eventing accidents to both riders and horses in the past year or so.
I`m planning to explore the issues in a Between Rounds article, and would appreciate some input.
Several riders were talking about this the other day, and there seemed to be agreement that the topic could be broken down into various sub-headings:
1.Bad riding---Riding too fast, riders jumping up the neck, riders too unfit, riding with stirrups so long their legs are swinging---in other words, all the sins we all like to commit!
2.X-C course construction----Fences too vertical, fences too technical, fences with poor "profiles", like no groundlines, etc., jumps not appropriate for the competition level, jumps placed too awkwardly on the terrain (steep hills, off tight turns, etc.)
3.Inappropriate horse for the rider----Horse too strong or too hot or too big or too green or a rusher or a quitter----the whole litany of horse problems.
4.Pure bad luck---horse trips in a hole, horse slips on takeoff, etc, etc
5."Actuarial Issues"---There are just thousands of horses competing these days, so the odds are simply greater, etc.

Anyway, many of you watch events all the time. What do YOU think is going on? What can be done to make the sport safer? Is it the responsibility of us as riders and horse selectors, of coaches, of x-c course designers, of technical delegates, of the USEA, who?


I think it's a combination of all of these things. First, it's only natural that there is an increase in the number of falls when the number of competitors is rising.

Second, there is A LOT of really bad riding going on, which of course is traced back to bad instruction. Some of the most recent competitions I have been to, while walking the course with students, I saw riding so bad (even at Preliminary level) that I could hardly watch. It looks like no one is teaching these riders how to balance a horse at speed. And even at Preliminary, many riders have a weak seat and faulty position.

Third, cross country jump design seems to have changed again. Back in the 80's things were very upright (vertical) and airy. Then jumps started to become much more safely solid and rounder in profile. Now, lately I have been seeing A LOT of very vertical faces on fences again. I have to wonder if course designers are doing this on purpose to slow the riders up? If so, the riders don't seem to be noticing, since they are coming just as fast as before. I think many of the upper level falls can be attributed to this.

This can be compared to the tendency in recent years to measure the SJ course so tight that very few people can make the time (mostly at the Advanced level). While their intent with this was to encourage the riders to make tighter turns and stay more balanced, what happened is that everyone started galloping their stadium rounds like crazy. Being 10 seconds over the time was more time faults than a rail, so they were more worried about making the time than knocking a rail. I could not believe the crazy riding I saw in the Advanced stadium when this first started. My point is that even if the course designers or the powers that be who run the sport change something thinking that rider's are going to respond in a certain way, they have to realize that many riders may well do something very different than intended!

The difficulty of cross country courses has also gotten a little out of hand IMO. The last two events I was coaching at had at Novice level: a Trakhener, a sunken road, a half coffin (which was a chevron down a steep hill before a ditch - something I would expect not to see until at least Training level), an angled downhill combination, and several skinny jumps. While there were only a few accidents at these jumps, it was a few too many!! And so many close calls, with riders not knowing how to handle these challenges. Even just jumping straightforward jumps down a hill (which I also think I see too much of at lower levels), some riders seem to be just sitting up there relying on the good nature of their horses.

I see both sides of this problem, as I am sure course designers are making the lower levels more challenging on purpose to make the jump up the levels a little easier. IOW if you go nicely around the novice course I just described, the move up to training should go fairly smoothly. But, unfortunatley the quality of coaching is not keeping up to these demands, as many of the riders don't seem to know how to ride these questions.

There is also what I feel is an excessive focus on turning questions, mostly at upper levels, which I think is unnecessary. One or two per course would be fine. But every other complex seems to have a 90 degree turn in it. Which makes the riders slow down and have to gallop that much faster, both between jumps and AT the other jumps, to make the time. The fact that the courses got more technical and turning and the speeds were not proportionally lowered seems to have been overlooked. Again, SOME complexes that riders need to slow down on are necessary, as that is an important question. But if every other complex requires the rider to slow, they are going to have to go twice as fast elsewhere! This is probably another reason that riders are flipping over some of the easier galloping jumps. Because their faces are too vertical to be jumped at such a great rate of speed (the speed that is much faster than the speed given for the level, because the riders are trying to make up time there for all of the turning questions, ie. 600 mpm at Prelim or 690 mpm at Advanced.)

And as far as inappropriate horses for riders (which does happen, but I don't actually see it all that often), I think again this falls under the coaching category.

And of course bad luck is a factor, and I'm sure this was the problem with Ralph and Kim. But that goes along with the increase in numbers too. The greater the number of eventers, the greater the number of likely bad luck incidents.

To sum up IMO, coaching is the biggest problem. And I also think that course design should be really evaulated once again.

denny
Apr. 20, 2007, 07:17 AM
I think one of the things I would do if I were a member of the new Safety Committee would be to carefully read and think about every one of the responses on this thread.

pharmgirl
Apr. 20, 2007, 08:12 AM
I know this has been said before, but I will add my take on it from more of a lower level perspective. While I am just starting to compete, I have jump judged for many years and watched competitions from Rolex to Fair Hill *** to unrecognized horse trials. Just about everytime I have jump judged, and many I just watched, I have kept the course maps. I definitely see that the complexity/technicality has changed over the years, even at unrecognized competitions. Things that were on a Rec. Novice a couple of years ago are now even at unrecog. BN competitions. I understand that perhaps a CD that has been doing this so long might think that these are easy since they've seen them over and over, but many of these competitors haven't. I think it's good that we are raising the bar somewhat since it will help us at the lower levels improve, but if it keeps getting raised at the lower levels where is there to go with the higher ones?

flypony74
Apr. 20, 2007, 11:28 AM
I think, first and foremost, the responsibility of safety falls on the rider. The rider has to have the JUDGEMENT to know that they are working with a suitable instructor who will guide them appropriately, the JUDGEMENT to know that they are well prepared for the level at which they are competing (or planning to compete), and the JUDGEMENT to know when to pull up and call it a day when things aren't coming together as planned. I think a lot of riders, particularly in the lower levels, have their eye on the pie and sometimes lose the ability to make these judgement calls. Of course, experience, or lack thereof, plays a role here as well.

I think that at the lower levels, most problems and accidents stem from lack of preparedness (and sometimes fitness), lack of experience/judgement, inappropriate horse, and the fact that the courses have gotten a lot more technical. Unfortunately, you can't really teach judgement or experience, but riders CAN be more prepared (and not blow off prep because "it's just Novice), they CAN be more objective and/or work closely with a trainer to find the right horse, and lower lever courses CAN be more inviting and less techincal to allow new horses and riders to the sport an opportunity to gain experience and develop good judgement. I've seen some techincal questions in both stadium and X-C on BN courses that I just didn't understand....isn't this supposed to be an introductory level?

I think that at the upper levels, the two most contributing factors to these accidents stem mostly, but not entirely, from luck and more modern techincal questions on course. Sure, in some instances an ULR may have a gap in his/her prep or exercise poor judgement on course....we're only human, right? But for the most part, these folks will have had the opportunity to develop a good amount of experience, good judgement, and a preparation system that works. That pretty much leaves luck and techincal issues as culprits. I do think that there has been a push for much more techincal courses, where there is much less room for margin of error. Maybe this needs to be evaluated? Granted, I've never done more than sit on a fence above Prelim, so I am certainly not a voice of authority, but this is my take based on observation.

And, of course, since there are more riders competing in general these days, there are bound to be more scary-to-watch rounds. There have always been scary riders to watch, but it does seem that there are more of them nowadays, so this makes sense. Although I do prefer the traditional format of doing D/X-C/SJ in that order, maybe the more modern format of doing D/SJ/X-C isn't such a bad thing if measures are put in place to weed out flagrantly unsafe riders before they even get to x-c.

Someone mentioned in an earlier comment about maybe requiring so many scores under 40 at a certain level before being allowed to move up. Personally, I don't agree with this. My retired mare did not have stellar dressage. Her dressage was "correct" and all the parts were there (for our level - Novice), but she was not a very good mover and could be a little looky and tense in the arena (the judge's booth sometimes contained lions and tigers). BUT, she was an x-c machine, only having x-c jumping faults ONE time (and that fence was very much MY fault) during her entire career. We generally didn't score well in dressage, and therefore rarely made it our of the 40s, but she was a fun, safe, reliable jumper.

Just my thoughts!

RAyers
Apr. 20, 2007, 11:31 AM
Denny

The USEF Eventing Safety Inquiry Committee has been formed and will hold it's second meeting next week in Kentucky during Rolex. The members of this committee are as follows:

Andrew Ellis, Co-Chair
David O'connor, Co-Chair
Kent Allen, DVM
William Brooks, MD
Robert Costello
William Moroney
Derek Di Grazia
Malcom Hook
Jo Whitehouse
Shelly Lambert
Melinda Rolstad

The committee has been tasked with studying the causes, similarities, and/or differences in recent critical incidents that have occurred in the sport of Eventing. We will suggest and oversee implementation of strategies for reducing critical incidents in the future. We will review current safety measures and determine if changes need to be made. We will also be examining emergency response to critical incidents. Both the immediate response in the field and the long term compassionate response to the injured, their families, and others involved. Due to the recent incidents in Eventing we will look initially at that sport but will address our findings to the entire Federation and it's affiliates. We welcome all ideas and input to help us address this issues. If any USEA of USEF current member would like to share their thoughts please feel free to email me at usefsafety@aol.com or contact Leigh Anne Claywell the committee liaison at lclaywell@usef.org. By sharing information and experiences we hope to work together with the members and affiliates to better the sport we all love.

Andrew Ellis, Chairman USEF Safety Committee and Accident Review Panels



Andrew, is there anybody on this committee who has experience examining data, developing statistics and will be able to translate that data to real meaning? I am speaking of folks such as IFG on this board who ride and are experts in epidemiology.

Reed

sharri13
Apr. 20, 2007, 11:51 AM
Over just the past 15 years, the sport has changed dramatically. Ten years ago, I rode Intermediate and the courses then were not what they are today. Jimmy Wofford made an excellent point at one of his clinics: When you are galloping, let's say 550 mpm to make time, and you come to a combination on cross country, you may need to rebalance/adjust stride/slow your horse to safely navagate the combination. If you slow down to 400 mpm to do this, you are then flying at 800 mpm across the field to the next jump just to make up your time lost for that combination. I agree that cross country questions should advance with the levels, however, I feel a balance must be found.

Denny - what changes with combinations and approaches have you seen during your career? Was there a time period with drastic cross country course changes compared to other years? Thanks!

gooddirt
Apr. 20, 2007, 12:08 PM
When you're lazily watching XC like I do so often at our events, it's easy to sense when the young riders division starts because of the way some of them ride.

I will yell loudly at them to slow down if I feel it's necessary.
Glenn

denny
Apr. 20, 2007, 12:18 PM
I`ve heard various riders make comments like,"The way technical increases are heading, cross country will be like a long Hickstead Jumping Derby over solid fences."
But I think it`s been a gradual change, over quite a number of years.
Several posts on this thread question whether horses are able to instantly assess, at speed, the degree of technicality being thrown at them, and certainly that will be a focus of concern for the safety committee to consider, don`t you think?
Along with lots of other issues! What I find so interesting about reading all these posts is how different so many of the perspectives are, which probably means that finding answers is going to be no simple task.
Does anyone feel like consolidating all these opinions into catagories/sub-headings, like "x-c problems", "rider problems", "coaching deficiencies" "official`s attitude issues", and so forth?
This might help the committee focus more easily. And it will make it much easier for me to write my Between Rounds!

fergie
Apr. 20, 2007, 12:20 PM
Some of the worst accidents I can think of have had nothing to do with bad riding or poor coaching - they have been some of the best riders with the best coaches - Amanda Warrington, Claire Smith, Keith Taylor, and recently Debbie Atkinson, Kim Meier, and Ralph Hill. They were no slouches as riders. I don't know what that means, but "bad, scary riding and riding too fast" isn't the reason. I do know that when riders have complained that a fence or the footing was unsafe the course often remained unchanged. I think this happened last year at Badminton or Burleigh or somewhere and then there was a death (due to footing)?

RAyers
Apr. 20, 2007, 01:36 PM
I`ve heard various riders make comments like,"The way technical increases are heading, cross country will be like a long Hickstead Jumping Derby over solid fences."
But I think it`s been a gradual change, over quite a number of years.
Several posts on this thread question whether horses are able to instantly assess, at speed, the degree of technicality being thrown at them, and certainly that will be a focus of concern for the safety committee to consider, don`t you think?
Along with lots of other issues! What I find so interesting about reading all these posts is how different so many of the perspectives are, which probably means that finding answers is going to be no simple task.
Does anyone feel like consolidating all these opinions into catagories/sub-headings, like "x-c problems", "rider problems", "coaching deficiencies" "official`s attitude issues", and so forth?
This might help the committee focus more easily. And it will make it much easier for me to write my Between Rounds!

I would go with these headings from the bottom up:

Rider Responsibilities (conditioning, training, coaches...)
Course and Facility Design (includes fences, footing, arenas, crowd control...)
Competition Management (Organizer and officials responsibilities)
Governance (USEF, USEA, FEI requirements, rules, design paramters).

From these you can break into sub-categories of coaching, officials attitudes, etc. however, you are not limited in topic.

It is my experince that CDs are using skinnys to control the speed by increasing accuracy, however, others are not adjusting the times appropriately. We lose anywhere up to 5 seconds everytime we are off the ground (given "set up", jump and "recollect").

Reed

Long Shadow Farm
Apr. 20, 2007, 01:53 PM
One thing I really think that USEA and USEF needs to look at is the speeds at which the horse/riders are having to go at to make time. Back when the courses where primarily for big bold jumpers, the fast times were very doable to make (I am talking Prelim and above). However now with so many fences becoming so techincal and riders having to jump many more from a show jumping pace, I think some riders are still so worried about making time that they jump some fences much faster than needed. At Holly Hill this spring, not a single Intermediate rider made time. My friend was the closest one to making time and she really had to push her horse in spots that could have bordered on unsafe. She is a very experienced rider with a very experienced and talented horse but she said that there is no way to make time on the course especially with the wet footing. She was also the only rider to make time at Prelim two weeks earlier at Meadow Creek.

I think that everyone needs to take a long hard look at how hard they are making things and figure out if this is where we want to go. I rather see a lot of clean runs than horses having lots of elimations and falls. I don't want everything dumbed down to nothing but maybe make it where there is a limit to how many techincal combinations can be on a course or how many can be in a row. I just hate to see our sport get any more of a bad rep than it already has because of the accidents.

Bobbi

LisaB
Apr. 20, 2007, 02:18 PM
If we make things slower then we lose yet another factor in making x-c, x-c.
I think the x-c courses are getting ridiculously technical. Having 1/2 coffins at novice and rollbacks, and trakheners is quite deterring to a novice horse and novice rider.
I think about 6 years ago or thereabouts, we had some technical questions but mostly good solid galloping fences at the lower levels. It still knocked out the hair on fire types because they would lose it on a bending line.
As far as the upper levels, dunno, haven't been there. The two prelims I did last year varied. One was an easier prelim. The terrain was difficult, had a couple of difficult questions but the really hard questions (corner), they seemed to set you up properly in order to succeed. The other one was a disaster. Didn't flow, no options, a ton of combos. Just icky. Made note to self on CD.
I don't want to see it go slower. I want to see it where we CAN have a few galloping fences. That's actually where I eat up time. Dunno quite how to do it yet at prelim height but we're working on it!

JER
Apr. 20, 2007, 02:20 PM
Another aspect to consider is the personality profile of the eventing competitor. Our sport attracts self-reliant, persistent, focused individuals who, in most cases, would rather rise to the occasion than ask to move the goalposts to make it easier.

Example: Some years back I entered a local A h/j show. The classes I signed up for were billed as 3'3"-3'6" jumpers. However, when it came time to walk the course, the fences were all in the 2'9"-3' range. I figured they'd raise them up but then they called for the class to begin. I remarked to a friend (an h/j'er) that they forgot to set the fences and I'd go tell the steward. She grabbed my arm and whispered "Don't! They're going easy on us today." I got the point. I didn't say anything and I was glad I didn't because quite a few entries took out the entire fake wall fence, oversize standards included. No one jumped more than a 3' fence but everyone went home saying they competed in the 3'3"-3'6" jumpers.

I've never seen and I couldn't imagine this happening at a horse trials. We don't put the fences down to N height and say we ran Prelim. If you see a fence on your course that you think is challenging, you're first thought (ok, probably your second thought, after the initial "Holy crap!") is to make a plan for how to do it. This is the kind of guts we tend to have. We don't tend to have the kind of guts that make you go talk to the TD about your safety concerns. It's not always easy to let your inner weenie out.

Along these lines, I think it's very important for TDs, course builders and organizers to listen to all competitors' concerns. I've seen officials be officious to juniors and lower-level riders and that sort of rudeness is never in the interest of our sport, especially where safety is concerned.

IFG
Apr. 20, 2007, 02:33 PM
I believe that there should be a comprehensive analysis of existing data (of course I do, I am a data hound and believe that the answers are there if we just phrase the questions correctly). There are several epidemiologists and statisticians who have posted on this thread that they would be willing to help with this.

It seems that the current investigation of individual accidents is akin to case reports in the medical journals. In the medical journals, these case reports are generally viewed as useful for alerting the medical community to emerging medical issues, but inferior for drawing conclusions regarding cause and effect. To draw reliable conclusions, a comprehensive study is generally needed. IMHO, this could be done using available USEA data. These data would just need to be reorganized for analysis.

Another question, and this is simplistic, but many on this thread have noted that courses have become much more difficult over the years. I have seen this myself. I remember watching Advanced at Chesterland in 1984. That course asked for lots of galloping over large efforts with one or two combinations. I watched a video of the Advancd division of one of the Florida events from this winter, and I was shocked to see the type of show-jumping gymnastic that is on that course.

So here is my lower-level rider, naive question. Why do the courses at each level need to get harder over the years? If we need additional difficulty, why not just add more levels?

The novice courses that I am doing today, may be safer in having good solid obstacles, but I feel they are much harder than those that I rode over 20 years ago. Just my opinion, of course.

JenJ
Apr. 20, 2007, 02:39 PM
I think riders and coaches have a huge responsibility to ensure we ride at a level at which we are competent. Many years ago, when I was young and gutsier, after 2 or 3 years of consistently good, safe and successful Training level events with my first horse, I wanted to move up to Prelim. There was one or two jumps on each course that I was terrified of and really didnt want to jump. Needless to say, my horse picked up on my terror and refused the fence in question. I decided Prelim was not for me and stuck with Open Training for the rest of that horse's career. I did not have a coach, but I would like to think that if I did have one, the coach would have had the good judgment to make that decision for me if I hadnt made it myself.

I agree with many who have pointed out the difference between above and below Prelim level safety issues. There are many more instances of scary riding at the lowel levels and while the TD / ground jury should step in and eliminate the truly dangerous rides at all levels, there is a difference between a scary dangerous ride from start to end, and a few dumb amateur mistakes. Most of us lower level riders will make (at least?) one bad judgment call on each course. I expect and can count on my horse to either save my butt and jump the fence safely despite my mistake, or quit safely with no danger of the horse flipping. That obviously is not so easy at the upper levels, where small mistakes can have devastating consequences. (that is not a comment on the recent accidents - I dont presume to have any knowledge of the how and why).

Personally I love having upper level questions scaled down to be suitable for the lower levels. Corners make me cringe, but I appreciate the value of learning to ride a safe, small corner at the training level, before facing a "real" corner at Prelim. Same argument for putting baby ditches into Novice and BN courses.

There has been some comments on the varying degree of difficulty within a level. Again, I dont think that is necessarily a bad thing. I personally take advantage of that. When I thought I might be ready to move up from Pre-Training (Ontario) to Training a few years ago, I first entered the toughest event at the Pre-Training level and when my horse and I cruised around it easily when others were having problems all over the course, I knew I was ready to upgrade. My first year at the training level, I intentionally picked only the "easier" Training events. Doing it that way makes the move up a bit of a smaller step. Although the events with relatively easy XC do tend to turn into dressage competitions which none of us wants.

Long Shadow Farm
Apr. 20, 2007, 03:25 PM
I don't mean to make the speeds at Prelim or Intermediate 425 or 450 but you have to admit that 550 or 570 on a course that out of 20 number jumps that has 6 to 10 combinations of a,b,c or a,b,c,d can be hard to make time on for anyone. Plus throw in poor footing due to rain storm over night, etc. Then the times need to be adjusted. Why can't we drop Prelim down to 500 to 525 and Intermediate to 525 to 550? That would allow people to have more time to properly set their horses up for the combinations and not run them off their feet to the gallopy fences and on the galloping lanes? People who have problems will still get time penalties but it will not punish the horses and riders like it is now that are running the tightest routes possible cleanly and not able to make time.

Bobbi

bornfreenowexpensive
Apr. 20, 2007, 03:39 PM
maybe the change doesn't really come from changing the speeds on the course but coming up with a weighting if there are factors such as poor weather or a certain number of time consuming combinations that increases the opt. time....but I'm really not in favor of changing the time or speed personally. In the end, we are all running around the same course and it boils down to the rider's judgment as to what is too fast or not. There is no rule that everyone needs to make the time. And even if no one makes the time, doesn't that reward the good x-c horse who could just clock around or is more adjustable (assuming that the riders use good judgement in their speed and lines)...the run aways are typically your slower x-c horses since it takes a lot of time to re-balance them. The speed is a BIG part of what makes x-c X-C. Too be honest, it is the SPEED of UL that has always made the UL hard. It is the SPEED that I personally have always thought may be what keeps me from going to the highest levels (not the biggness of the jumps).....I don't want to see x-c turned into jumping derby which is what I think will happen if you reduce the speed but keep the technical question and in the end, the technical questions may still cause falls because as others have mentioned, the mental fatigue caused to both the horse and rider.

baymare
Apr. 20, 2007, 03:57 PM
These are well-thought-out, sensible, and appropriate comments. It is obvious that this issue speaks to everyone who loves and is involved with eventing, from volunteers and pony club parents to low level competitors right on through to the top of the heap.

I think that all the course-tweaking, high-quality coaching,and extreme attention to fitness in the world cannot change the incontrovertable fact that the sport is dangerous. It is a simple but hard concept to accept. You cannot remove the danger, the best you can do is stack the odds in your favor as much as possible through skill, fitness, and education. And it will never change the fact that some days it still is better to be lucky than good.

asterix
Apr. 20, 2007, 05:18 PM
This thread reminds me of our prolonged discussion of dangerous riding last year (y'all remember that?). We went through lots of iterations about how it's not always the speed, and it's not always the form, and, and, and...well, we'll know it when we see it.

As this conversation demonstrates, we all know we've seen scary rides at the lower levels. We are all fairly sure that some if not all of the high profile serious accidents of late were not "scary rides" by unprepared riders.

This analysis MUST begin with data!!! We need to gain an understanding of how many accidents per starter occur at all levels, over what types of fences, under what conditions, etc. I agree with RAyers and IFG (although a weenie humanities type myself;) that statistics/epi expertise be a part of the formal process.

I would venture a guess (but like everyone else's opinion it is merely a guess, lacking the data...) that accidents at the lower levels happen for different reasons than at the higher levels.

Anecdotally, it seems to me that many times the "bogie" fence on a lower level course causes many stops, but any injury that occurs is on some other fence that did not cause a lot of problems. I remember distinctly one ht at my barn running Training in very heavy going. It was a tough course anyway and folks were popping off and running out right and left. The announcer actually jokingly asked riders to please duct tape themselves to their saddles -- we volunteers were all cold and wet and wanted to go home, and it was taking FOREVER to go through the last division.

We did have a serious accident that day, a young pro on a Training horse. Flipped at a Training table. I've jumped that table -- it's very big and solid for Training, but it's Training. I don't think anyone else had a problem at that fence that day -- all those mini disasters on course were at your typical fences -- the drop log into water, the half coffin, etc. But the footing was bad enough that I, personally, would not have started out of the box on an inexperienced horse (although of course I am not a pro, and probably more cautious than most). Training is plenty hard if it's the hardest thing the horse has ever done, and in 12 inches of muck to boot.

So it would be fascinating and enlightening to see what really happens, by the numbers, at the lower levels.

magnolia73
Apr. 20, 2007, 05:42 PM
Fatigue- Horse and rider

fatigue at lower levels- riders not fit, and dehydration/poor nutrition. A cup of coffee and a donut at 7 am does not set you up to perform sharply at 3pm on XC, especially if that is all you have to eat all day. A 45 minute lesson makes me as tired as running a 5K. Organizers need to have free water in coolers with cups at all warm up areas and riders need to make sure that they keep themselves fit and properly fueled for the task at hand. The good horsepeople at shows think of themselves last- who goes for a drink when they have 50 things to do for their horse?

Fatigue at higher levels- I wonder how much mental fatigue comes to play for the horses. At the Fork, the main water complex - if I remember right - rode trakehenr, cross a road, double with big jumps, a single, turn, drop into water. It seemed like a lot of big efforts on top of each other....a lot for the horse to think of. Are we setting jumps so tight now that the horses bodies and minds can't recover? Watching jumpers at the Charlotte Grand Prix- you could see how effort after effort fatigued them towards the end- but when they messed up - it's a rail. Not to mention, the focus needed on the rider part - how many jumps can they jump before needing a mental break. If you are thinking only about a complex series of approaches, maybe you can't feel or process extra fatigue in the horse that you could if you had more breathers.

Lastly, jumping solid jumps at speed on an animal with a mind of its own will never be 100% safe for either party.

frugalannie
Apr. 20, 2007, 05:42 PM
I understand that we as riders are responsible for deciding that conditions may not make it possible for us to make time on a given day, and that we then should elect to take the time penalties.

However, there is an implicit contract between competitors and officials at a competition IMHO. They will build a course that is doable for the level and that it can be done within time with a reasonable expectation of safety. I've stared at many a fence during the course walk and thought "No freaking way I can do that!", only to reassure myself that the TD and ground committee would never allow something inappropriate for the level on course, and that therefore I really, really can do it. The same mindset may exist regarding the time. (Although, after reading this thread, I'm not so sure my first point is valid!)

Therefore, it encourages riders to go for it. Not explicitly, you understand, but implicitly.

Anyone else feel that way, or is it just me?

PS: Magnolia posted the same time as I. Similar to her points, I had mentioned earlier that I think there is a risk of mental fatigue with riding multiple horses and/ or coaching many students when competing. Just didn't want to lose the thought.

RAyers
Apr. 20, 2007, 05:59 PM
Another aspect to consider is the personality profile of the eventing competitor. Our sport attracts self-reliant, persistent, focused individuals who, in most cases, would rather rise to the occasion than ask to move the goalposts to make it easier.





Who?! Me?! Why perish the thought! I'm just being an arrogant bastard. :D

Reed

denny
Apr. 20, 2007, 06:03 PM
One thing I just thought of, while replying to an email from a friend in Maine, who asked about statistical analysis.
Our statistics are royally skewed by the fact that THOUSANDS ride each year in USEA unrecognized events, where no records are kept.
Or if they are kept, they don`t get to a central data base.

clovis
Apr. 20, 2007, 06:10 PM
It seems as if a great deal of blame is being put on the new "technical" courses, but if I'm not mistaken, most of the accients have occurred at single, seemingly staighforward, fences. Am I wrong?

RAyers
Apr. 20, 2007, 06:22 PM
One thing I just thought of, while replying to an email from a friend in Maine, who asked about statistical analysis.
Our statistics are royally skewed by the fact that THOUSANDS ride each year in USEA unrecognized events, where no records are kept.
Or if they are kept, they don`t get to a central data base.

True, but if they provide no reports then they have no statistical input/effect. That is, does the USEA report the number of rides and entries at unrecognized events? The only thing that can be done is to correlate the data from the recognized events and data to predict what may happen at unrecognized events. Of course IFG and others can correct me.

clovis, like magnolia describes, the technical courses fatigue the horse and rider so the simple fence becomes more dangerous. At the same time, the accidents I have seen (and have been lawn darted at) were at more "technically" challenging fences.

Reed

Whisper
Apr. 20, 2007, 07:54 PM
Rayers, do you think that it could also be that the horses and/or riders are taking the "easy" fences for granted a bit - not preparing quite as thoroughly as for the more technical questions?

I'm starting to be able to ride better, and feel more confident about my riding, though I still have a long way to go. I certainly hope my riding isn't scaring anyone! I know that at a couple of competitions, I've been nervous, and didn't ride as well as I was capable of in lessons. Last year, I stuck to unrecognized competitions, since they are closer (for the most part), cheaper, less pressure, and usually easier than recognized ones. Also, the organizers had more leeway to move rides into a different division if necessary. I didn't need to, but considered it once last year (he had recovered from an injury not long before the competition, and we didn't have a chance to do as much jumping in preparation as I'd have liked). At the CT this year, we did the Elementary SJ as part of our warmup before the BN SJ, and I'm convinced it helped a great deal. Also, that particular venue chooses not to judge based on time, so I can ask him to trot particularly tight turns in SJ and downhill portions of XC (or anytime he feels like he's getting tense or rushy) without feeling pressure to "make time."

I'm curious if people feel that unrecognized shows help make horses and riders safer by helping them get the extra exposure and offering lower levels, or if you feel they make riders more dangerous by encouraging them to move up more quickly, or show before their basics are solid enough.

IFG
Apr. 20, 2007, 08:04 PM
Denny and Reed,

If you use data from only sanctioned events, then you can only generalize your results (epidemiologist's lingo for apply your findings)to sanctioned events.

In human-speak, if you base your findings only on data from sanctioned events, then any conclusions that you may reach can only be validly applied to sanctioned events. Of course, any analysis would need to be done separately for each level.

lstevenson
Apr. 20, 2007, 08:48 PM
It seems as if a great deal of blame is being put on the new "technical" courses, but if I'm not mistaken, most of the accients have occurred at single, seemingly staighforward, fences. Am I wrong?


But see, because the riders have had to slow down for so many combinations on the course, they have to jump the single straightforward fence much faster than the speed required for their level, or at least have made most of the approach to that fence much faster, which risks making their horse fatigued and out of balance.

It is definitely easier for a horse to remain balanced and stay the distance physically and mentally if the speed remains constant for the most part.

arnika
Apr. 20, 2007, 09:55 PM
by lstevenson,
I see both sides of this problem, as I am sure course designers are making the lower levels more challenging on purpose to make the jump up the levels a little easier. IOW if you go nicely around the novice course I just described, the move up to training should go fairly smoothly.

Speaking as someone who has done the bottom level of the sport, the mother of a young rider, and a competitor-to-be-6yo I was struck by this earlier post. We have evented strictly for enjoyment; we have good coaching, horses and experience for our levels. I have found myself re-evaluating starting my youngest daughter in this sport as opposed to showjumping as I've seen the difficulty and technicality of the courses in our area increase. After all, some of us don't want to move up the levels, just to have fun at recognized shows. Some of the "scary rides" at BN, N might be due to the increasing difficulty of fences yet the same beginner level of rider/horses.

I understand the challenge of designing courses suitable for ammies like us and also for pros bringing along young horses or the inbetweeners who are looking to move up. Labeling a course correctly as challenging, fairly easy, or standard would be very helpful to competitors as they try to judge which courses will suit their abilities. I can imagine that organizers might not be happy with this though as it might influence the number of competitors attending. Having an actual rating system setup by the USEA would be a start. Something along the lines of---With this number of combinations or that number of advanced jumps, the event is easy, standard, or difficult.

I cannot comment on the upper level riders as I haven't ridden these levels.

adamsmom
Apr. 20, 2007, 10:27 PM
I believe that there should be a comprehensive analysis of existing data (of course I do, I am a data hound and believe that the answers are there if we just phrase the questions correctly). There are several epidemiologists and statisticians who have posted on this thread that they would be willing to help with this.

It seems that the current investigation of individual accidents is akin to case reports in the medical journals. In the medical journals, these case reports are generally viewed as useful for alerting the medical community to emerging medical issues, but inferior for drawing conclusions regarding cause and effect. To draw reliable conclusions, a comprehensive study is generally needed. IMHO, this could be done using available USEA data. These data would just need to be reorganized for analysis.

Another question, and this is simplistic, but many on this thread have noted that courses have become much more difficult over the years. I have seen this myself. I remember watching Advanced at Chesterland in 1984. That course asked for lots of galloping over large efforts with one or two combinations. I watched a video of the Advancd division of one of the Florida events from this winter, and I was shocked to see the type of show-jumping gymnastic that is on that course.

So here is my lower-level rider, naive question. Why do the courses at each level need to get harder over the years? If we need additional difficulty, why not just add more levels?

The novice courses that I am doing today, may be safer in having good solid obstacles, but I feel they are much harder than those that I rode over 20 years ago. Just my opinion, of course.


The problem with analyzing the existing data is that the existing data is not especially valid. Accidents are reported inconsistently and often with missing elements - what kind of jump, what level, what phase, etc. One of the goals of the USEF committee is to determine how to better collect and analyze data relating to falls. If you go to the British Eventing site and see how they use the FEI system to record and report falls and then utilize the Transport Research Laboratory to put it all together, it makes sense that perhaps USEF go in that direction.

Carol Ames
Apr. 21, 2007, 01:18 AM
Denny, I have not seen the falls or
even the jumps themselves ; :no: I would be most interested in whatt he more experienced riders , Ralph/Debbie would; have to say; :yes: Is there not video :confused: available for several sets of eyes to see?I know that in my one potentially fatal fall:eek: that what the jump judges saw , and told the TD was not at all what I felt. and so, I would elect for the videos not to be rebroadcast to anyone else and ; II write this after the the horrible Va. Tech incident and the tape of the shooter being seen over and over but, If the tape of the fall in question were shown repeatedly to a couple of experienced teachers you and Jimmy Wofford for instance; and then giving the rider, if available, an opportunity to see it and tell you what was happening from their vantage point; a consensus could be reached from what I have read on this forum it sounds as if many of the horses hit the fences in question above the knees; This would not surprise me ; It has been my experience in teaching that there are many riders with very little little understanding of how a horse:no: jumps,and think that form , the horses' form is important only in the hunter ring.and fail to understand how adding speed and terrain, complicates the issue; :eek: possibly a two part approach, 1. iexperts viewing the actual tapes of a fall:winkgrin: , and 2.an educational component:yes:

Carol Ames
Apr. 21, 2007, 01:20 AM
Denny, I have not seen the falls or
even the jumps themselves ; :no: I would be most interested in whatt he more experienced riders , Ralph/Debbie would; have to say; :yes: Is there not video :confused: available for several sets of eyes to see?I know that in my one potentially fatal fall:eek: that what the jump judges saw , and told the TD was not at all what I felt. and so, I would elect for the videos not to be rebroadcast to anyone else and ; II write this after the the horrible Va. Tech incident and the tape of the shooter being seen over and over but, If the tape of the fall in question were shown repeatedly to a couple of experienced teachers you and Jimmy Wofford for instance; and then giving the rider, if available, an opportunity to see it and tell you what was happening from their vantage point; a consensus could be reached from what I have read on this forum it sounds as if many of the horses hit the fences in question above the knees; This would not surprise me ; It has been my experience in teaching that there are many riders with very little little understanding of how a horse:no: jumps,and think that form , the horses' form is important only in the hunter ring.and fail to understand how adding speed and terrain, complicates the issue; :eek: possibly a two part approach, 1. iexperts viewing the actual tapes of a fall:winkgrin: , and 2.an educational component:yes:

Avra
Apr. 21, 2007, 06:49 AM
As a permanently lower-level rider, I have mixed feelings about the increased technicality of courses. This year I have a sweet, green, not very bright horse, so it's a bad thing, for all the reasons already mentioned--but until last year I had a brave, handy horse without the scope to safely go past Novice, and I was really glad to see new/ different questions in small sizes. I can't be the only one to do Novice for 3-4 years in a row on the same horse, either. So I'd love to see the more technical stuff (trakhners, jumps into/ out of the water, slides, combinations, bending lines, etc.) either left in but optional, or as a slightly harder division at the same height. As in, offer a Starter Novice with a slightly slower time, more straightforward courses, etc., and a regular Novice that's more like a mini-Training level.

slp2
Apr. 21, 2007, 09:07 AM
I am in the camp with folks that think the increased technicality of courses, coupled with increased speed and more efforts packed into the course could be the reason for some of the accidents. I didn't have a horse growing up, so I didn't event, but I've been doing it long enough to notice the changes in course design that favor technical questions, even at the lower levels. As I see it, the 3 phases are testing 3 different abilities of the horse and rider. The show jumping should be the technical portion of the jumping test--not the x-c. X-c used to be the test of boldness and endurance, right? I know that the "endurance" factor isn't really relevant when the novice courses are short and the speeds aren't very fast, but still, you have to start somewhere, and that is the purpose of the entry level. For a green horse, just leaving their buddies and heading towards a jump they haven't seen before, is enough of a test of boldness sometimes! ;)

I also disagree with the increased speed in the stadium time. I remember being at a recognized HT a few years ago. Their stadium is on a sloping terrain, which adds to the difficulty a bit. Some of the nice, balanced rounds were getting time penalties. Since riders realized that time was tough to make, everyone started running at the fences and having these scary rounds. If they lucked out and didn't take a rail--they were "getting away with it" and not getting time penalties. All of the scary rounds moved up in the placings. In my mind--that was only reinforcing the fact that a nice balanced round isn't valued--it's all about making time and leaving rails up. That is not a good foundation to build upon if a rider does decide to move up.

Good, flowing course design makes such a difference on x-c. Even at the lower levels, I have ridden courses that had reasonable sized jumps and questions for the horses, but rode like crap because the track was awkward. Then I have ridden courses that had some :eek: intimidating jumps on the course and combinations but they rode SO well because the course design was so flowing that you could stay in a rhythym and your horse didn't feel like you were constantly downshifting them to make a turn or weave through some tricky combination. Maybe (esp. at the upper levels) they need to have someone "test ride" new courses beforehand (not a competitor obviously) to see how it rides. No easy answers here, but still a good thing to start to dialog about!

snoopy
Apr. 21, 2007, 09:09 AM
All this talk of more and more divisions...starter BN, regular BN, hard BN, Two Prelim courses, one for very experienced, one of less, etc etc.:

Well just who has the land for all these courses within each level, or more importantly who has the money to build and maintain all the fences? Certainly this cost would be passed on in the form of higher entries. And let us not forget our beloved volunteers...events have enough trouble finding enough as it is. The levels exist for a reason and horses, and riders should be prepared for the level. Whilst I agree that there is a need for "move-up" courses, and challenging "for the level" etc it is up to rider and trainer which events to enter. Falls can happen at any height and any type of jump.

We need to look seriously at the questions being asked in at each level, the speeds required, the minimum requirements in order to upgrade, and training of both horse and rider. The rest is luck I am afraid. Falls are unfortunately a part of our sport. But we can go a long way to minimalize the amount of them.

I do stand by my other post and believe that WHAT and HOW we question both horse and rider at each level, how MANY times we question, and mental and physical fatigue play a big part...assuming of course that both horse and rider are sufficently prepared for the level in which the are competing. Just because a horse and rider meet the requirement ON PAPER does not always mean they are ready physically and menatlly.

I think the old point system needed some tweeking, but its foundation was good. I am of the understanding that this was changed in favour of the professionals who found it "unfair" for their sales horses to sit in a level longer then they felt neccessary because they were competing against horses and riders who were not going to go any higher than N, T or P and these horses were placing above them eating up the points that the professionals would have recieved had "the packer" moved up.

I've heard a saying in my travels:

It is better to upgrade a year too late than a day too early. Folks what is the rush? Give yourselves and your horses time to truly understand and be confident at each level before moving to the next.

I have seen articles by professionals who write how they get a horse to advanced by the age of 8. This type of article only helps to add fuel to the fire. :mad:

IFG
Apr. 21, 2007, 09:18 AM
The problem with analyzing the existing data is that the existing data is not especially valid. Accidents are reported inconsistently and often with missing elements - what kind of jump, what level, what phase, etc. One of the goals of the USEF committee is to determine how to better collect and analyze data relating to falls. If you go to the British Eventing site and see how they use the FEI system to record and report falls and then utilize the Transport Research Laboratory to put it all together, it makes sense that perhaps USEF go in that direction.

Adamsmom,

Is there a way in which to collect a listing of all falls, especially falls of horse and rider? If there is, is there a way to search the available data to determine at which fence these occurred?

If not, and I have not studied the FEI system yet, then the USEA may wish to move toward a system that can collect this information. As someone above pointed out, it is not just the serious/fatal falls that need to be investigated, but all falls, because luck is what often separates a fall resulting in long-term disability from one that does not. To draw a parallel, in cardiovascular research, researchers who are looking to determine the cause of cardiovascular events will often study all cardiac events rather than just the fatal ones, because the difference between a fatal and fatal and non-fatal event can be the quality of medical care administered. Similarly, if we want to examine the cause of fatal falls, it is important to investigate all falls.

arnika
Apr. 21, 2007, 09:58 AM
by snoopy,
All this talk of more and more divisions...starter BN, regular BN, hard BN, Two Prelim courses, one for very experienced, one of less, etc etc.:

Well just who has the land for all these courses within each level, or more importantly who has the money to build and maintain all the fences?

This is mainly in reply to snoopy and Avra;

I just wanted to clear up any misunderstanding of my post. I wasn't talking about having more courses or levels at each event. Only having a specified rating system for each event. One that would be based on the actual course difficulty. I've read the comments by the organizers regarding each event over the years and usually, no matter the difficulty of the course, they state "average difficulty for this level". Some of these events are obvious move-up courses and others are obvious starter level but they all are classified the same. If you haven't actually been there to run it before there is no way to know for sure.

What can I say? I'm a big believer in objective data and reports. I just truly think that at the lower levels quite a few of the scarey rounds have to do with the technicality of the courses and tight times. Most competitors I know at BN, N and T come with good preparation to the shows.

I've had my share of spills over the years and fully realize it's part of riding. I just like to be prepared for the specific course.

mbj
Apr. 21, 2007, 10:51 AM
1)
Love the idea of divisions at a given level that are either entry level or move-up level. In the past we have had this at the events holding Area Championships. Very helpful for horses trying to move up a level in the Fall. For those who don't event year round, this is a loical move up time.

2)
Upper level xc seems to be getting to be an anaerobic phase where horse and rider have to be mentally on without benefit of galloping sections to breathe (mentally and physically). I hate the constant stop start of some of these courses and the perceived need to take your horse to the absolute limit of his endurance to make time. There were some very good riders with absolutely ridden to the ground horses in xc at big events last year, who with all stops pulled out overnite( i.v.rehydration , lots of expensive and effective gadjets to help get rid of sore muscles, etc) were able to pass inspection and do sj pretty well and get good placings. I hate to think we want a sport that even suggests this sort of thing is good. But right now it does seem like if you really want to win at the top level you need to be willing to do this. Yuck!! If we keep going in this direction, there will be more bad falls as riders are bound to step over the line separating almost emptying the tank from running on empty.

3)
Open Space Land conservation becomes important as a safety factor. More fences close together and winding courses over little space may be fun to spectate but make it hard to create clear lines of site for horses, as well as anyplace to gallop on and get a breather. We need to continue to acquire and protect venues with enough land to expand in the future, so there are more Fair Hill preserves that serve trail-riders, eventers, steeplechasers, english and western ring competitors, and that can be sites for recreation, training and showing.

4)
Now that we have a larger population eventing, maybe some scheduling changes would help. For example, sort of like some A shows, have weekday pro divisions and weekend ammie so pros can coach ammies. I don't know how we would get volunteers to man weekday events, however. Then we make the cost prohibitive. But maybe events can make enough on double use of stabling,etc. to pay?

5)
Old format training and prelim level 3DE may be doable and add to safety. They need less land and personnel to run than FEI levels. They reward fitness yet give breathing space to calm down and regroup. They allow competitors who should not be going above these levels to have a real challenge that is not based primarily on technical questions. There also seem to be a fair number of lower level riders who would really support such events.

adamsmom
Apr. 21, 2007, 10:01 PM
Adamsmom,

Is there a way in which to collect a listing of all falls, especially falls of horse and rider? If there is, is there a way to search the available data to determine at which fence these occurred?

If not, and I have not studied the FEI system yet, then the USEA may wish to move toward a system that can collect this information. As someone above pointed out, it is not just the serious/fatal falls that need to be investigated, but all falls, because luck is what often separates a fall resulting in long-term disability from one that does not. To draw a parallel, in cardiovascular research, researchers who are looking to determine the cause of cardiovascular events will often study all cardiac events rather than just the fatal ones, because the difference between a fatal and fatal and non-fatal event can be the quality of medical care administered. Similarly, if we want to examine the cause of fatal falls, it is important to investigate all falls.

The FEI system, which is essentially what British Eventing uses, is a very progressive system that tracks ALL falls, has a standardized fence description sheet and detailed instructions on how to fill out the fall forms etc. All of this is available on their website.

BE goes a bit further and sends their data to TRL which puts the data into understandable reports. My personal thoughts are that USEF would be best served by adopting this method of reporting and analyzing data. I know that BE would love to have the US collaborate on the collection of such data.

I agree that it is important to investigate & gather information from ALL falls. Otherwise, the data we gather is not significant. Unless we can track how many riders fall per start and how many of those falls result in significant injury, we can't really tell whether the safety measures that we may undertake are doing any good.

Thanks to all on this thread for you input, and PLEASE keep it coming.
I'll make sure it gets to the right people.

Leigh Anne

Ray
Apr. 22, 2007, 06:53 AM
I agree that it is important to investigate & gather information from ALL falls. Otherwise, the data we gather is not significant. Unless we can track how many riders fall per start and how many of those falls result in significant injury, we can't really tell whether the safety measures that we may undertake are doing any good.



Yes, that - and USEA should sponsor an "M&M" meeting (hopefully dealing with only one M not the other !!!) for officials, the TD, event organizer, involved party AS SOON AS POSSIBLE after an accident involving serious injury. Including to evaluate whether EMT staffing, response time, equipment etc was up to snuff.

denny
Apr. 22, 2007, 07:33 AM
With this whole discussion firmly in mind, I sat and watched a couple of dozen riders go x-c at the Longleaf Pine event yesterday. They were training and beginner novice riders. I`ll watch the novice riders today.
It`s very instructional. The tendency to lean at the jumps is very strong. I`d say at least 70% of the riders I watched came in at least a bit "flat", that is horse`s head too low, hocks too far out behind, and the rider too far forward, often lunging even more forward either over the fence, or often a stride or two before takeoff.
The inevitable result is simply the physics of trajectory. The horse, unless he`s the ultimate packer/survivor, takes a long,flat arc over the jump, very scarey to watch.
So my question to you all is this:
IF incorrect riding is a fairly major "component" of risk, how can you legislate that? Put up a big sign at all events "open only to good riders?"
Because, as has been pointed out here already, even the best riders in the world commit the exact same "sins", only not as frequently.
But when they do, at THEIR levels, the physics of trajectory can be even more disasterous.
I urge the safety committee to convene at an event or two, as a group, and watch a few dozen riders at several levels actually ride over x-c.
The stadium fences fall down. The x-c fences don`t, so sometimes the horse does instead.
I don`t for a second think all of this is new. In fact, when I started eventing in 1962, I think most of us rode even WORSE. So what is going on? That`s the first thing we have to figure out, before we can make it better. Don`t we think?

asterix
Apr. 22, 2007, 08:30 AM
denny, I'm not surprised at what you saw (like a lot of low level riders, I came from H/J land originally, and the tendency to lean is hard to erase!).

I think this pushes us back towards the course design issue.

Obviously we cannot legislate or require good riding -- we can do all we can to push the ICP and get more people into good instruction programs, but, hey, I'm in a great instruction program with a certified instructor who is a safety nut, and, er, sometimes I still lean :eek: . Luckily, at Training, my very capable horse has no problem cancelling this out and getting his feet out of the way...

I had a friend who jump judged the Training course I ran last month, the first in our part of Area II this season. She was judging a tall, skinny brush fence at the crest of a hill. It was a fence that made many riders worried when walking the course (and I heard LOTS of talk about it in the warmup.). It had a bit of a ramped face and was placed on a perfect arc on your track, so following the tree line up around the crest of the hill, it just appeared right on your line of travel, nestled against a tree.

My friend said that not one horse all day had any problem with this fence, although a huge number of riders misrode it pretty dramatically. Some tried to steeplechase it (for Training it was pretty big, and, did I mention, on the crest of a hill), some picked and buried to it, etc. But the horses seemed to understand it just fine and compensated. All of them.

THAT seems like a good course design decision. THOSE are the kinds of fences that "challenge" Training level riders (2 people asked me on my way back to the trailers how that fence rode. This despite the numerous stops being announced at another fence that most people took for granted, none at this fence) without posing undue danger to the HORSES (and thus the riders)....

Perhaps we should focus efforts on course design education, standards, "certification," etc...I am not very educated about how this works now...

RunForIt
Apr. 22, 2007, 09:06 AM
originally posted by FlyPony74:

I think, first and foremost, the responsibility of safety falls on the rider. The rider has to have the JUDGEMENT to know that they are working with a suitable instructor who will guide them appropriately, the JUDGEMENT to know that they are well prepared for the level at which they are competing (or planning to compete), and the JUDGEMENT to know when to pull up and call it a day when things aren't coming together as planned. I think a lot of riders, particularly in the lower levels, have their eye on the pie and sometimes lose the ability to make these judgement calls. Of course, experience, or lack thereof, plays a role here as well.


I couldn't agree with her more, EXCEPT that when you are beginning, (and this "beginning" category carries on for years!!) you have nothing to use for comparisons. It could be very useful for folks if the USEA developed a list of concepts and skills that every coach should be teaching his/her riders, perhaps with examples. I've walked courses with pros who helped me think about each step of the approach to a fence, what the horse will be seeing, the balance required, and also with pros who simply said sit-up and keep your leg on (at the same fence that others had been so descriptive in their coaching). Just MHO. :cool:

I am so relieved that this committee has been formed.

Gnep
Apr. 22, 2007, 11:08 AM
1. the courses have to get longer again, 3, 4, 500 meters longer. What happend that the courses got shorter with the same amount of obstacles. Every jump costs time.
Especialy in the upper levels, we go now at steepelchase speeds between the jumps to make time, jump land and go as hard as possible jump land .....
No room to actually gallop, a race from jump to jump.
The old rule " you don't make time at the jump, only between the jumps " gets broken over and over again. If there is no room to gallop to make time people will try to make time at the jump
2. Course design. The courses are becoming more and more technical to the point of beeing sensational. They are becoming a collection of combinations and related distances with ever turning and twisting lines, up hill, down hill, side hill you name it it is there.
The constant requierement of utmost precision, combined with the speeds, the time preasure is very exhausting for horses and riders.
3. rider and horse, far to often there is a mismatch. Some times it is extremly scarry to watch how riders struggle with their horses, especialy in the upper levels, trying to bring them back befor the jump
4. Changing the points system, the dressage and stadium points are so dominating, that you win it in dressage and loose it in stadium

RiverBendPol
Apr. 22, 2007, 12:05 PM
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Mary in Area 1
Apr. 22, 2007, 12:05 PM
Wait, maybe we CAN legislate good riding. I know this may be a preposterous suggestion to some, but perhaps there should be a score added for "TECHNIQUE". Maybe it is done totally separately, maybe it is part of the XC score. I don't know. But let's just THINK about it for a minute.

If we add a subjective score to the XC phase, like "balance and timing", or something, then the really competitive people will have to pay attention to it.

lstevenson
Apr. 22, 2007, 01:47 PM
Wait, maybe we CAN legislate good riding. I know this may be a preposterous suggestion to some, but perhaps there should be a score added for "TECHNIQUE". Maybe it is done totally separately, maybe it is part of the XC score. I don't know. But let's just THINK about it for a minute.

If we add a subjective score to the XC phase, like "balance and timing", or something, then the really competitive people will have to pay attention to it.


This is interesting. I don't think it could be done on x-c, as who's opinions would we be relying on, the jump judges?

But usually the ones who are scary on x-c are also scary in stadium. And in stadium we have an actual judge watching. So maybe a score could be given there? I think it should be seperate from the event results to be fair, since there are plenty of horse/rider combinations that are immensely smoother on x-c than on stadium. So it wouldn't effect the results of the event, but it would be there for all to see on the scoreboard and I think most people would be concerned about raising that score even if it doesn't effect their final placing. It would encourage them to learn to ride better instead of just getting around clean.

cyberbay
Apr. 22, 2007, 02:49 PM
Didn't read all the posts, so this may have been said already ;->

The consequences should be in keeping with the mistake (such as improper approach to a jump on xc). If you have a bad approach, and your horse gives it, nonetheless, the ole college try and there's a resulting accident, getting killed or badly hurt shouldn't be such a large part of the possible outcome. It's my opinion that death or serious injury should not be a regular part of the environment of this sport. And those are very real and possible consequences when riding xc over fixed, hard obstacles.

Eventers seem a little dulled to that fact. Maybe one area to gather statistics from would be from the U.S. show jumping circuits, like Wellington, Ocala, Thermal, etc. Study their number of jumps, number of competitors jumping courses, and number of serious injury or deaths. See why the discipline of show jumping doesn't have the numbers of accidents (and the bad riding rep) that eventing has. Also study how other high-risk sports screen competitors and judge their fitness to move up into the more demanding levels. And really consider the frangibles.

Also, maybe the USEA should write up and print in all their materials the criteria for riding at BN+N. Invite but also put it on the potential eventer to ask themselves if they are ready to go, and which steps to take if they have doubts about their skills (such as log on the site and find a USEA-cert. trainer in your area).

The other thing is that to be honest, the hunter/jumper world, for all its flaws, rarely has an obviously unprepared rider in the ring, the way the event world can have one. It's great to be welcoming to the newcomer, but the screening process needs to be in place for the unprepared rider.

Gnep
Apr. 22, 2007, 03:33 PM
Reed,

I have to agree with Christian Zehe. The Course Designer is the person with the ultimate responsebility.
He gave a speach at the anual meeting of the German Event Rider Ass.
concerning course design.
I have summerized 10 of the most important points.

1. After a long fast gallop have direction change before the approach, brake the line. A slight turn not a sharp one, one turn and not several. Help the rider to to pick up the horse and rebalance it for the jump.
2. prevent high speed turns
3. have turns finished befor the approach
4. prevent sharp turns on a downhill, use uphill turns.
5.have the lines designed according to the tempo and do not disturp the horses balance at the final approach.
6.take offs on a slight upphill are of advantage, it makes the jump look more impresive which helps balance the horse.
7. Drops are more forgiving with a sloped landing
8. jumps should be so designed that they allow a flight curve that looks like a parabel, ground rails or ground decorations should be placed so they prevent to close a take off, especialy important on downhill take offs and very airy or technical jumps.
9. A course should be so designed that in its course it will prepare the horse and rider for the technical difficult questions. For example, is there a bounce into the water than there should have been a bounce on the flat ( never built a downhill bounce, either on the flat or preverable on a uphill slope ).
10. Do not overextent the horses mental capacity with to many fancy and complicated jumps and lines packed to gether.

I think all of us can point out plenty of Course Designs that would violate several of those very sensetive recomendations.

RunForIt
Apr. 22, 2007, 03:54 PM
Gnep, I was interested in your statement:

1. the courses have to get longer again, 3, 4, 500 meters longer. What happend that the courses got shorter with the same amount of obstacles. Every jump costs time.
Especialy in the upper levels, we go now at steepelchase speeds between the jumps to make time, jump land and go as hard as possible jump land .....
No room to actually gallop, a race from jump to jump.
The old rule " you don't make time at the jump, only between the jumps " gets broken over and over again. If there is no room to gallop to make time people will try to make time at the jump

wouldn't it be possible to compare old routes at courses like Rolex and Badminton, to the present courses? compare say, the number of jumps and the distance allowed between jumps? The same comparisons ought to be possible even at Training and Prelim. Just thinking...the horses now do not get a MENTAL break that was possibly given to them on a gallop between jumps on the old courses - could this be a big red flag that the safety committee should investigate?

Also, can't help but think that the horses are competing far too often. Just checked the horses that ran intermediate at Poplar, went the next weekend intermediate at The Fork, and just two weeks later are now running the 2** at Ocala. Is this too much or not at problem. Again, I don't have the experience or credentials to make a credible decision here. I know that human runners can't do that kind of thing and last in the sport.

JER
Apr. 22, 2007, 04:53 PM
The other thing is that to be honest, the hunter/jumper world, for all its flaws, rarely has an obviously unprepared rider in the ring, the way the event world can have one.

Based on the h/j shows I've been to, I disagree strongly. I referred in an earlier post to an AA jumper class in which clueless and reckless riders were taking out entire fences, standards and all. I've also seen far too many novice/SS eq classes where the riders were so devoid of basics that they should not have been going over fences at all, let alone competing in classes with jumps.

bornfreenowexpensive
Apr. 22, 2007, 05:10 PM
Based on the h/j shows I've been to, I disagree strongly. I referred in an earlier post to an AA jumper class in which clueless and reckless riders were taking out entire fences, standards and all. I've also seen far too many novice/SS eq classes where the riders were so devoid of basics that they should not have been going over fences at all, let alone competing in classes with jumps.


I agree with JER...Bad riding is universal.....and I've seen more then one horse flip and rider get hurt in the show ring (lots bad riding and saints of horses saving their riders...but also some very good riding). At the low levels and higher levels. There are accidents in the show world both with horses and riders (and the the H/J world is just as concerned with safety) but on x-c, the element of danger is higher and hence this thread.

That said...I do not think you can or should legislate against bad riding. You can try and educate as much as you want...there will always be the yahoos that will not learn. We have an ABUNDANCE of incredible trainers here in Area II....Heck, I can walk out of my barn and ride with over a dozen trainers who are at the **** level....and yet, I sat at a local recognized event this weekend and watched a dozen riders try and flip their horses at the fence in a Prelim division. This was a VERY basic prelim question and yet these riders rode it terribly (most were in the YR division). Coming in with WAY too much speed and length of stride. I'm not counting the riders who were obviously trying to slow down...there were a dozen who were running their horses at this fence combination. What saved them....the fence combination was well designed. The approach had a turn...that most riders used to set their horses up...the out of the combination was smaller so if the rider royally screwed up...the horses were able to get themselves out of trouble...even those that bounced what should have been a one stride. In the end, it was a good CD that saved some riders from what could have been a bad fall....and yet, those riders were "clean" at this fence while I have a few more gray hairs. Some riders obviously knew they screwed it up...I don't worry about those riders....it is the riders that have NO idea how close they were to a major fall that worry me.....and those are the ones with one more clean round who may now think they are ready for Intermediate.


I'm more convinced then ever that the biggest safety measure that can be done is better course designing. Keep up the work on education....but really, a well thought out course can and does do a lot to protect some riders from themselves.

magnolia73
Apr. 22, 2007, 05:40 PM
I think one other thing I see is people showing at or even above what they are training. (lower levels). You hear a lot of people "I'm hoping to get around". If that is sincere - well, ummm - that's not good. When I did hunters, if we showed 2'6, we regularly jumped 2'9 and 3' in lessons. I know many dressage people school a level or two above what they show. I don't think it is a bad idea to be jumping simple novice jumps before you head out at BN. There is nothing wrong with being over prepared and competitive. If BN is 2'7, why not have a few 2'9 XC jumps under your belt to make those look small. I think at a show, given nerves, a potentially slightly different horse than you have at home, and all the factors, riding below what you are capable of is always a good idea because you won't be at your best. It's really better to see that the jumps look smaller....not bigger in that case. My old hunter trainer was the queen of setting up a gymnastic culminating in a 3'6 jump before a show- and it worked - 2'6 looked little afterward.

Which is another point- if I'm a hunter rider and I have a bad week - maybe a bad fall and naughty horse, very easy to drop back a level or just not show. If I'm on, I can usually enter a class or two with bigger jumps for experience. Eventers need to predict where they will be- what, 2-3 months out. My trainer mentioned with greenies it can be 3 steps forward, hopefully only two back. Same with green riders. I wonder how much pressure someone feels to go show and not lose the entry even though they may not be prepared.

Lastly, the attitude that eventers have that maybe look down a bit on packers. Look, if you never evented, maybe it is not such a hot idea to take that green OTTB out there. You may get lucky. Or not. First time XC - nice and reliable, perhaps tending toward a bit dead is your friend. Yet it seems like hardly one spends the cash for reliable. I know my trainer is RARE in our area in that she has at least two very reliable horses for students to start eventing on. But every event, I see some poor kid on some inexperienced horse that looks scary over the cross rail in the warm up....and I worry.

I think that with all the kids who are starting their riding careers in eventing that more attention needs to be paid to having safe horses for them to start on, coupled with more options to jump tiny jumps in open fields. Every area needs safe entry level events with divisions similar to WT and short stirrup. I don't think it mattered as much when eveneters were people who migrated from fox hunting or the show ring.

cyberbay
Apr. 22, 2007, 05:58 PM
Well, I guess to each their own. That's not what I've seen. I also base my sort-of conclusions on watching the bigger h/j shows, meaning where the level is more sophisticated well-known and established riders, who also have students showing, are competing. This would be a reasonable comparison to the recent eventing accidents -- as in, well-known and established riders and/or well-prepared amateurs.

denny
Apr. 22, 2007, 06:51 PM
This thread is going to be printed up and shown to the safety committee, at least as I understand from Leigh Anne at USEF.
It will help no one, and be a much less potentially productive effort, if this turns into a grudge match between disciplines. I ask you please not to go there.
Thanks.

RAyers
Apr. 22, 2007, 07:11 PM
Well, I guess to each their own. That's not what I've seen. I also base my sort-of conclusions on watching the bigger h/j shows, meaning where the level is more sophisticated well-known and established riders, who also have students showing, are competing. This would be a reasonable comparison to the recent eventing accidents -- as in, well-known and established riders and/or well-prepared amateurs.

cyberbay's assumptions may or may not be valid. Her comparisons between h/j and eventing, however, are not.

Hunters and jumpers run on manicured, specifically designed terrain. One can not make any sort of comparison between XC and what happens in an arena, regardless of size. The fences are totally different. The questions asked are too. The is no way one could statistically compare the two as they are different "treatments" with different variables. For instance a jumper ride has at most 14 fences at 2 minutes total time for the round. A basic BN XC has maybe around that many fences over 4-5 minutes. A basic Intermediate or Preliminary course has up to 25 obsticles with 30-35 efforts over 5-6 minutes. There is no comparison.

I agree with Gnep. Then again, we are both a bit "old school." If the courses are lengthened one could spread the combinations out, allowing for a breather for both horse and rider. Here is the mantra: You LOSE time over every fence. You make time in the gallop between.

Reed

Gnep
Apr. 22, 2007, 07:58 PM
Thanks for the old school my friend.
We do not need to go back to the 70s, I don't know what it was here in the US. We had no BN or N, it started with training and it could be up to 4000 meters and 550 was the speed.
But I think if we come closer to 3000 at training, 3500 at prelim, at least 4000 for I and and A 4500 to 5000, withaout increasing the amount of jumps, have a clear regulation about combinations, how many, how they are designed etc.
We need a better grading for Designers and a better grading for courses, average for horses and riders with some experiance does not cut it any more. If a show runs Ones Stars and Two and Three Stars than in most cases, Prelim, I and A run most of the Star courses and that makes them very difficult and not average. Nobody dares to write into the Omnibus, difficult, easy.
Courses get a pre show inspection and should get a pre Omnibus grading.
When I compet in Germany, years ago, we had A and B courses, A and B Stadiums and A and B Dressages. The higher graded X-C had more difficult stadiums and more difficult dressage tests.

designers should be requiered to attend the show.

One more observation, I am always surprised by the amount of hardware the horses have in their mouth. Dressages are ridden in snaffels in the 20s and than the serious hardware gets packt out, for good reason. some times I wonder how those horses can keep their head up with 20 pounds of metal in their mouth.
I always put a huge question mark on a team, that can go a super dressage in a snaffel and than shows up with those monstrosities for stadium and X-C. Something is not right with that picture

CDPunk
Apr. 22, 2007, 08:35 PM
Okay, I was at an event this weekend, the beg.novice looked like the mini olympics, besides this the last fence on the course in my opinion, as a coach, trainer, and a rider, it was not safe for beg. novice! It's looks like a box on legs lifted off the ground, filled with pine straw. It was this time, and in most cases that it is used, had little to no ground line. and as I said the last fence on course. Young, green, inexperienced, and tired, horses, ponies and kids, have a hard time rating their horses at this time on course, and experienced riders have a hard time rating green, and tired horses as well. As I was standing there talking to a students mother and telling her that I was sorry this fence was being used again, I looked back to see a young girl and her pony flip over the fence. this rider was NOT going fast, and had an okay distance.
Having seen this happen(luckly girl and pony were fine) I talked to the T.D. about what can be done about this fence. I know longer wanted to talk about it, I wanted to do something about it!! I was told that as a T.D. she had already written up this fence on 2 seperate instances! I was absolutley flabercasted! Now we have our T.D.'s saying something and yet still it's on the course! Now officials don't have a pull, even when it's about saftly? So if riders aren't listened to, and now T.D.'s, then who who is looking out for my (our)safety. What will it take for our sport to hear. I already have a wonderful friend and coach in the hospital after a horrendous fall. By the way he wasn't the first to fall at his jump that he fell at, the day he fell. So in that case it took my close friend being air lifted out, before a group of people at the event said "Houston we have a problem!" perhaps that jump should be removed! Did it not matter that the other riders fell at that same fence before? Only when a truely gifted and experienced rider fell did someone listen.

I just don't understand. Most of the time I tend not to want to ruffle any feathers, but now it's different. A bad day at the "office" shouldn't mean that our friends, and fellow competitors, or ourselves, go out in a helicoptor or worse don't come back. I've ridden at events all over the world, I'm not inexperienced, I'm not reckless, I train hard and don't take a horse out that's not ready for the level their at, but I see a sport that is in danger! When I'm questioning jumps at beg. novice, then what? We as riders, coaches, trainers, students, friends, parents, husbands and wives must stand together and demand that our sport be looked at very closely. If T.D.'s aren't heard, competitors certainly won't be heard. But what will it take, another one of us dying? I for one don't want to see that happen! I for one don't want to see another friend in the hospital while nothing is being done to fix it!

We as riders need to be loud right now! Even if it ruffles someone's feathers!

Do we form a group of people that look at our courses together? Early enough before the event to make changes? Perhaps a TD, a rider or 2, the course designer, and the ground jury all go and inspect the course together, and if all agree then it's a go. If not then they work to fix it together, so that everyone is happy. But most importantly safe! Perhaps we should not allow the course designers so much freedom. Perhaps it should be a group effort?

As an event rider of 24 years we all welcome new and fresh courses. However, we must take into account that we have a partnership with an animal, that also thinks, feels, and trust our judgement. We owe our partners the same respect and concern for safety, we owe ourselves. But in the end we all want to cross the finish line, with us on top and them underneath! Not in a helicoptor or ambulance.

Meredith Clark
Apr. 22, 2007, 10:09 PM
But this would apply more to the lower levels.. but I found working at a tack store that many people don't realize that all helmets and all vests are NOT created equal. People do not realize that certain helmets test up to higher saftey levels than others, and vests as well. Many kids see BNRs in the Tipp vests and want them even though they aren't as safe (this is not based on my opinion its based on the AMST testing!). I didn't realize that British helmet testing was more vigorous than ours, and that many of the helmets we sell here wouldn't pass over there. Now I only ride in helmets that pass british regulations.

I'm not saying this is going to save your life if a horse falls on you, but seeing my younger sister fall and smack the back of her head going BBN this past fall I'm very glad she had a high rated helmet.. and she still had memory loss for 24 hours!

SaddleFitterVA
Apr. 22, 2007, 10:13 PM
Denny,

I adore riding XC, I had a blast riding with you this year over New Year's, but, I do NOT compete in horse trials for the most part. I am not a member of USEA, and while I like riding with eventers, hanging out with eventers, and schooling XC, I am not willing to sign up for most events, because too many "accidents" happen.

It has become a near-gladiator sport, either the horses or the people get hurt. There have been some advances made with the frangible pins, and a few other things, but I realized it was not the sport for me when I was watching the 2000 Olympics on video and kept gasping at an awful lot of those rides.

My decision to stick with dressage and jumpers is not so much because I am scared when I ride XC, but, as someone mentioned, a lot of courses have a combination or two that are downright scary, do not ride well, and if you enter a horse trial or event, you are signing up to put your horse in a situation that possibly just cannot be prepared for well enough. So, I go ride XC for fun, where I can say "no thanks, that combination is not safe in my opinion" without having to retire from a course.

I do not expect others to give up eventing, as everyone has a different risk-tolerance. That would be ridiculous. I have DQ friends who think all jumping is crazy....and non -riding friends who think all riding is crazy. And, I am even toying with dabbling again in a few horse trials, becase I do enjoy the people and the riding.

I ride because I love it. I love my horses and enjoy playing around with a lot of things. Trails, team penning, cowboy mounted action shooting, jumper shows, dressage shows, XC schooling with friends, hunter shows (so not my thing, but I do it sometimes), foxhunting when I can, and lessons. In theory, I would have no problem retiring from course if a combination was not riding well, but then when you are on course, the adrenaline is flowing and often, the decision is different.

A bit much rambling, and probably not what you are looking for.

Mel

RAyers
Apr. 22, 2007, 11:02 PM
But this would apply more to the lower levels.. but I found working at a tack store that many people don't realize that all helmets and all vests are NOT created equal. People do not realize that certain helmets test up to higher saftey levels than others, and vests as well. Many kids see BNRs in the Tipp vests and want them even though they aren't as safe (this is not based on my opinion its based on the AMST testing!). I didn't realize that British helmet testing was more vigorous than ours, and that many of the helmets we sell here wouldn't pass over there. Now I only ride in helmets that pass british regulations.

I'm not saying this is going to save your life if a horse falls on you, but seeing my younger sister fall and smack the back of her head going BBN this past fall I'm very glad she had a high rated helmet.. and she still had memory loss for 24 hours!


Meredith, be careful what you are saying. PAS 015 and ASTM F1163/53 are similar but examine the data differently. Thus an equivalent helmet may pass the ASTM but fail PAS and vice versa. As a matter of fact according to some PAS tests, some helmets passed PAS but because they met ASTM standards were judged more safe because of the more strident way the ASTM tests define how the data is interpreted. At the same time other helmets met only the PAS and were judged inferior.

A quote:
"The ASTM helmet was found to provide very good protection in both sizes medium and small. However, although the PAS helmet was found to provide very good protection in size medium, the size small PAS helmet provided a lower level of protection, particularly at the front and rear. The small PAS helmet was found to bottom out during these test.

The small ASTM helmet was, therefore, found to provide a higher level of protection than the small PAS 015. helmet."

Equestrian Helmet Safety Test Scores
APRIL 1999 ~ SUMMARY CRUSH TESTS

Sorry, but just because it is British, does not make it better. Another example is that BSI requirements for replacement is after a few years or after a bad crash or knock; whereas the ASTM standard is much more severe with replace after any impact.

The Tipparary only fails testing is because it has many panels that may allow for puncture, however it still can provide the same amount of abrasion, and impact strength.

Reed

Meredith Clark
Apr. 22, 2007, 11:33 PM
I obviously wasn't going to bust out individual helmet ratings etc. but its true that the british testing tests more impact sections (like front, rear, and sides) than the standard we have here. I'm also not going to argue with a quote from 1999.

The only reason this idea came to me was because we recently had company reps, including one from CO come to the tack store I work at to talk to us about fitting helmets, ratings, etc.

The point of my post however was for the safety of the rider, which simply put is "be as educated as you can" that way you can decided how safe you want to be in the attire you wear. If you want the absolute safest helmet and vest out there... you should be able to figure out which one it is easily. I know at most tack stores there is no obvious difference unless you are educated on the subject.

SR Rider
Apr. 22, 2007, 11:41 PM
I would like to see considered in the study the breed of the horse. More
and more riders are using warmbloods but I don't know that the eventing
warmblood has been evolved. I think at the upper levels they can be
too slow and heavy.

flbay
Apr. 23, 2007, 12:19 AM
From my midlevel adult amateur point of view:

1) Flatwork basics
2) Knowledge (by experience or coach)
3) Fitness (both horse and rider)
4) Communication
5) Game day performance
6)Technicality of fences
7) Fence and course design

Although I do believe all of these areas (and more) need to be reviewed, only a minority of the factors discussed seem to be key factors in the recent tragic falls. Epidemiologic review appears to be paramount for these ULR accidents. Hopefully some commonality can be understood before the sport evolves even further, complicating data review and application.

BigRuss1996
Apr. 23, 2007, 06:50 AM
Actually... at least of the handful of riders that I know personally who have been killed or injured over the years, the majority were riding TB's at the time of their accident.
I think we can anilize this to death but at the end of the day eventing has falls and fatalities. How much of it that we are now hearing about more I think is a definate reason we think there are more accidents now then ever. I have been doing this sport since I was 9 yrs old (am now almost 38). I rode and trained with one of the "greats" for 20 some years and I witnessed alot of falls over the years at the various events. It seems to me alot of times people who saw the fall have said... "they were going too fast for that fence" or "the horse never picked up his knees" or " they got in too close" I don't think they are necessarily reasons to blame anyone as I don't think it is really any one person or animals fault. The rider can not be right 100% of the time and your horse can not make the right decision 100% of the time. There are alot of variables and I think this is a sport that these things do happen and I don't think it has to do with the breed of horse, or "who" the rider is I think it is as someone else has said... alot to do with luck on that day. At some point everyones luck runs out it is just where you are at that time and what you are doing. Also not all of these riders falls have been in competition some were just schooling. We are playing with a 1000 to 1500lb animal and we are asking them to do things that no matter how much we rationalize it are not normal or natural for them and yes when they accidentally fall on you ... it's going to hurt.... the question is how badly. I am not sure that we can teach people to fall like they did back when I was a kid because these rotational falls you really can't see coming.
I do think the new courses and speeds may contribute to the recent rash of falls but it may be that the riders are not yet use to riding them and still trying to figure out what works best for their horse. I peronally think they have come away fom what the sport origionally was intended for and it is more dangerous then it use to be, but I don't think it will change back. "Progress" is a double edged sword. One the one hand you have to keep up with the times and growth going on in the sport, but I imagine sometimes the growing pains can be very painful.
It will be interesting to see it all put into a study. I wonder if their findings will be made public.



I would like to see considered in the study the breed of the horse. More
and more riders are using warmbloods but I don't know that the eventing
warmblood has been evolved. I think at the upper levels they can be
too slow and heavy.

pinkngreen
Apr. 23, 2007, 06:56 AM
You hear a lot of people "I'm hoping to get around". If that is sincere - well, ummm - that's not good. People aren't saying that to indicate that they aren't prepared and are relying on luck to survive the course. It's just casual talk, it's like asking how someone is that day. The standard answer is "I'm doing well." We all hope to get around and realize that on some days things don't always go as planned. I've said that same thing before, I can guarantee you that it didn't mean I wasn't prepared. When I first got my pony we had some partnership troubles and I truly just wanted to get around, meaning I didn't care about speed or placing. I was just there to get around the course safely and happily.


When I did hunters, if we showed 2'6, we regularly jumped 2'9 and 3' in lessons. I know many dressage people school a level or two above what they show. I don't think it is a bad idea to be jumping simple novice jumps before you head out at BN. There is nothing wrong with being over prepared and competitive. It is also standard practice is the event world to school above the level at which you compete.

Ray
Apr. 23, 2007, 07:03 AM
Wait, maybe we CAN legislate good riding. I know this may be a preposterous suggestion to some, but perhaps there should be a score added for "TECHNIQUE". Maybe it is done totally separately, maybe it is part of the XC score. I don't know. But let's just THINK about it for a minute.

If we add a subjective score to the XC phase, like "balance and timing", or something, then the really competitive people will have to pay attention to it.

The "TECHNIQUE" score should be in SJ and for BN/N, SJ should be before XC. That way, you dont make it to XC if you are an accident waiting to happen or at least there is a CONSEQUENCE for poor riding other than getting hurt :eek: . I will admit it, I was eliminated after SJ in my first recognized event and boy was I pissed not to go on to XC but I was WAY underprepared and had no business going XC on that course. It could just be for BN/N riders, ie keep a separate division. And at recognized events, the SJ could be more technical to help "select" for and reward the better riders.

At BN, I think the coaching/training is highly variable and in some cases completely inadequate and this is another area to consider how to "legislate". Some people cant compete and coach effectively at the same event, yet many still do it. Upper level riders may think that BN is so easy, it doesnt matter, but I can speak from experience, if you are inexperienced and nervous, you can easily create a big problem right quick. And trainers allow people to go compete before they are really ready because a) they are afraid they will just lose the student to someone who WILL let them and b) flame away if you want but I think there is a culture in eventing to overface newbies and then let us learn from our mistakes. Yes, there has to be personal responsibility for deciding for one's self when you are really ready, but self-assessment of one's riding is not that easy for a beginner, and I know I just did not want to wimp out and dissapoint my trainer. Plus, I just had no idea that BN XC at a very popular recognized event would be that much harder than the BN courses I had already done at schooling events.

denny
Apr. 23, 2007, 07:26 AM
Watching at Longleaf, day 2:
So I got there early to watch the preliminary riders warm up for x-c.
There was a HUGE difference in basic technique between them and many of the lower level riders from the day before.
Much of the difference is in the last 3-4 strides before takeoff.
Whereas the Day 1 riders` horses were apt to be flat and, as my former coach Jack Le Goff used to say, "all strunged out", these preliminary riders had their horses more up in front, hocks more under and engaged. And the big thing, also, their shoulders DID NOT GO FORWARD until the horse took off. Not even when the horse got too deep. ESPECIALLY NOT when the horse got too deep.
These riders, granted, happened to be some of the best riders in America---John Williams, Mark Weissbecker, Beth Perkins, Ashley Mac Vaugh, Ursula Brush, Jane Murray,Susan Beebe, etc, advanced level riders, but, again, it was highly instructive to watch them in juxtaposition to many of the less experienced riders I`d watched the day before.
So I agree with those who say that basic riding skills are a big part of the safety issue. Which may well mean that cross country course design and structure MUST BE carefully examined as it pertains to so many riders who are not full time pros like the prelim group I watched yesterday.

snoopy
Apr. 23, 2007, 09:55 AM
Well denny...American riders are being taught to ride in a more forward position on approach to staduim jumping...just watch george morris teach at the winter training camps...I think this is being filtered to jumping XC. Watch the european riders who are much more upright in approach and do not come forward until the horse is leaving the ground. I have evented in both countries but the morjority of my upper level experience has been in the UK where I feel that my riding has improved greatly. When I am teaching I insist on an upright postion before fences as this helps in the re-engagement of the hind end and I find that horses as a result or farm more balanced before take off.
I am always telling students that speed comes from the shoulder and engagement from the hind end. Riders are going very fast in between fences to catch time and as a result they are losing the engagement needed to jump in a rounder fashion...something that todays courses demand more of.
So I believe there is a need for better rebalancing before jumping.

percheron
Apr. 23, 2007, 10:09 AM
I am an organizer of 33 years of USCTA USEA Events.
I have seen many changes in trends of cross country courses.
I do not like where we are currently headed with the designs.
My husband argued that with out proper testing the new guidelines were going to cause problems. I am still a believer in course designers and the guidelines.

Katherine Lindsay’s article dated the19th of April got me to thinking. If you all have not seen it on the USEA website go read it. It bring up many good points to ponder.

I met a man in Virginia who I think is an organizer one June day who said”
I hate Eventing but Love Combined Training,”
I am having to agree with him more and more each day. This sport was about three different riding skills. Cross country is about galloping and jumping not about show jumping over fixed fences. One day I heard Neil Ayer say a” good fox hunter should be able to jump Intermediate” That is no longer true. . I know all the reasons for change but current designs have taken a lot of the joy out of sport.

I do not see that poor riding and lack of coaching is the cause for all our current troubles. It should be addressed but the deaths and injuries do not often happen at the Novice level. I see riders are much better prepared for the courses than before. Years ago most of stops were at the ditch and most of the falls were at the bank down. Most novice riders can canter over these fences with little problems.


I still see a problem with “the all courses should be the same” attitude of the eventing gods. . They want the more galloping straight forward cross country courses to be beefed up to meet some national standard. . The organizers need to be told that it is ok to have such courses and the riders should be wanting to ride them.

pegasusmom
Apr. 23, 2007, 10:53 AM
As my observations mirror Denny's (I am the organizer of Longleaf) I won't repeat what I saw except to say that in the last two events I have observed BN the riding has been the worst I have seen. Poor riding, poor position, no concept of pace or control.

There is absolutely no easy answer here. And it is obvious that many have opinions, some very strong about where to place blame. I have a lot I want to say on this subject, but at the moment I am so brain dead the words won't come out. But here are a few brief, very random and unorganized thoughts, based on 9 years as a competitor's mom and 5 years as an organizer:

1. We, as a general population of competitors, are losing the ability to ride horses at speed. How many of the lower level riders, both adult and junior, participate in other equestrian disciplines that allow a rider to learn balance and control at speed - fox hunting, polo, polocrosse, galloping race horses, steeplechasing. How many ever learn to really ride out in the open?

2. There is a growing trend, in my opinion, in the sport, as costs rise, as the demographics get further away from the rural aspect of owning horses, to overmount riders. Susie wants to event. Susie's mom and dad, not horse parents, buy Susie Mr. BNR's upper level horse (who, thanks to improvements in vet medicine is also getting a longer life in usefulness) and ULH packs Susie around courses. Susie doesn't really learn anything as the horse does it all and Susie shoots up the levels until her lack of knowledge, skill and experience catch up with her and she ends up on an accident report somewhere.

3. Speed faults - I think the window between optimum time and speed fault time at BN thorugh Training needs to be narrowed significantly and the penalty points for violation need to be increased.

4. For those that don't know how events are run, both the technical delegate AND the President of the Ground Jury have to ok each and every fence on the course. Right up until the start of XC there are minor changes going on to make each and every fences as safe as possible. Yes, the last fence on the BN course is upright. I watched quite a few riders come over that fence and it was obvious to me that many didn't have a clue how to ride it - most riders came up out of the last water and turned the afterburners on. And it most certainly did have a ground line. And to my knowledge and the best of my recollection that fence did not come up in discussion between myself, the TD and the POGJ.

5. As a rider and a trainer you most certainly have the right and the obligation when walking courses to go to the TD and question anything you think is off. Maybe something was missed. We are not perfect. Responsibility for safety is on everyone's shoulders.

6. In my case, not only does the TD and POGJ look over the courses after they are set up, I am fortunate enough to have a course designer who does the same thing. After each event we talk about what worked, what didn't and where things need to be adjusted. Trust me when I tell you he gets a ton of input from all sides. It's not an exact science. Again responsibilty for safety is on everyone's shoulders.

7. Have things changed that much as far as riding ability? Or is a "culprit" (for lack of a better word) the instant information world we now live in? You all know now almost as it is happening.

8. Accidents happen. Traffic reports verify this.

9. I watched the prelim riders Denny mentioned ride through two of the tougher fences on our course yesterday. Even with their experience, and although no one had any problems getting through the fences I was watching, a few got it dead on correctly and a few muddled through. This is not an exact science, particularly as you have two brains on the XC course at any given time.

And for the moment, as a last general thought, we now live in a society where few are willing to take the responsibility for their own actions. Blame seems to be placed at everyone else's doorstep other than our own. So as a sport, it seems to me that we will have to focus more on protecting the uneducated, inept, ill-prepared and unlucky from themselves.

I am going to go take a nap now. . .

denny
Apr. 23, 2007, 11:56 AM
Here`s a thought from a discussion yesterday:
What if, at beginner novice, and maybe also at novice, the window between too fast and too slow was reduced from a minute to, say, only 15-20 seconds. And what if the penalties for going TOO SLOW were reduced to 2/10ths of a point per second, down from the existing 4/10ths of a point.
Then what if the penalties for going TOO FAST were increased to 6/10ths, or even 8/10ths of a point per second, up from the existing 4/10ths of a point.
Or something like that, especially at the lower levels, too discourage riders from "turning on the afterburners", as Dana so accurately described. And to keep them from being so worried about being a little too slow.

west5
Apr. 23, 2007, 12:45 PM
Here`s a thought from a discussion yesterday:
What if, at beginner novice, and maybe also at novice, the window between too fast and too slow was reduced from a minute to, say, only 15-20 seconds. And what if the penalties for going TOO SLOW were reduced to 2/10ths of a point per second, down from the existing 4/10ths of a point.
Then what if the penalties for going TOO FAST were increased to 6/10ths, or even 8/10ths of a point per second, up from the existing 4/10ths of a point.
Or something like that, especially at the lower levels, too discourage riders from "turning on the afterburners", as Dana so accurately described. And to keep them from being so worried about being a little too slow.

I'm not sure this is helpful for lower level riders.

I think speed/pace is a more "advanced" question.
Narrowing the window might make people more uptight about making the "time" rather than focusing on the important questions:

Is the horse in front of my leg?
Is the horse in balance?
Am I able to rate/change horse's balance and/or speed before the jump?
Am I in balance (not leaning - or being left) at the jumps?

I think that the lower levels can be used to teach riders these questions rather than make an optimum time. That way when the fences get bigger the rider has the right tools in their tool box, so to speak.

Also, lower level riders who are doing x-country at the wrong "pace" during an event probably do not really get a sense of what they need to change. Not the optimal learning environment -- distractions/adrenaline/etc.

I've never worn a watch and never had any time faults at the lower levels.

Would love to see more clinics address not just navigating specific jumps but overall feeling of pace w/out jumps. Put riders in a big field have them gallop at BN pace/ N pace/ T pace so that they start to learn the "feel" of the different paces when they are not at a competition and not focused on fences.

frugalannie
Apr. 23, 2007, 01:10 PM
I really disagree with the idea of narrowing the time window on course. If anything, I think it should be extended so that at least half of the course, if not the entire course, can be done at the speed of the next highest level without penalty.

Otherwise, we have people moving up to larger, more complex jumping questions without having a feel for the pace. Then what happens is that you're adding two new variables instead of one. Edited to add: This was not an issue when there were enough cross country fences and enough schooling venues that one could go out and school on as if they were part of a course. That's getting harder and harder to find, so that the only time one can actually gallop a course at pace is in competition.

JMHO.

By the way, I think Jimmy Wofford does have people gallop different paces in clinics. At least he did the last time I rode with him!

Great discussion. Lots to think about.

Michelle!
Apr. 23, 2007, 01:30 PM
What if you took lower level riders watches away. I personally did not ride with a watch until my second year of Prelim when I was trying to make time. If you don't have a watch it forces you to ride the horse at a pace comfortable for both you and your mount. And, it teaches you you don't need to flat out gallop at the fences, rather you have enough time to rebalence you horse at the fences, and can then make up time somewhere else on the course. It also lets you know what time of fences you need to slow down for (ex. turns) and other ones you can jump at a faster speed.

Eventer55
Apr. 23, 2007, 01:35 PM
Ok, I have to chime in. I went to a jumping clinic (at an eventing stable)a few years back and at the end of the clinic I felt great and I liked a lot of what the instructor said. The next day I went to the farm with a video of my group to show to the kids. To my horror not a single kid liked the instructor, when I asked why, the entire group said "because we can jump a lot higher than that."

Granted I was at least 20 years older than anyone in my group, but this to me was a terrifying statement since none of them knew the basics and the instructor was doing with them what would be appropriate at that level. I was very happy since I was riding a green bean and happy to be doing anything safely. Just because you can jump a 4 foot fence, should you be??? Should your instructor be sending you over a big fence when you can not control your horse through ground poles?

Anyway, there's my rant about bad instruction. I constantly see riders doing things they should not be doing and it always boils down to the instructor. It seems that the next generation of eventers may experience even more accidents. Also, I did show the video and one of the students started to cry and said "why didn't (regular instructor's name withheld) tell me I looked so horrible."

CarolinaHurricane
Apr. 23, 2007, 01:45 PM
The topics brought up in the last few pages have churned up a list of potential changes to help "develop" a rider better for the upper levels:

1-firstly, we need to have better reporting at the lower levels to pin-point whether serious accidents ARE occurring, and what type of accidents are occurring--and what are the risk factors associated with those accidents; those of these riders that are truly moving up will BE ULRs at some point;

2-what about a required "license" for horse/rider amateur combinations being required for the more difficult Training courses and above levels? There could be quarterly USEA "clinics" in each Area (that the rider or horse owner pays for) run by the USEA that evaluate the horse/rider over a set of XC/SJ exercises to prove a required basal level of skill. It will double as an educational experience--riders will WANT to do it--the instructors/judges will be paid representatives of the USEA safety committee. Like a drivers test for your drivers license? Then you would obtain your "minimum proficiency" license for that level of eventing. This liscense will then be required for the higher skill HTs at Training (which would require an official rating system) and 'x' number of successful outings at the higher level of that division is then required for a move-up, etc. You get a new horse and want to jump right to prelim? Fine--but you have to pass the clinic first. This way there is a system of checks-and-balances to regulate who is farting around the more difficult Training courses and who goes to Prelim. The professionals are on their own. . .

3-Quality Control-- as someone already posted about getting safety scores, each event can have a few jumps on the xc course that have a knowledgeable evaluator watching and recording a "safety" score for each rider's pass (say 20% of the jumps). The competitors do not know which jumps are being judged. After the event we will have data on how many riders appropriately approached the fence (something in addition to Denny and pegasus posting about scary BN'ers!). Each rider gets e-mailed after the event with their safety scores (or it is posted in their USEA data, but is private). If a rider has "x" many inappropriate safety scores over "x" number of events, then a system will be in place for the rider to be required to fulfill a USEA "minimal proficiency" license (see #2!!) before they can enter another event. If they don't change, then they can't event. The USEA can't be scared to enforce safety. The fact that flinging a horse at a jump is unsafe is not an opinion--it is a fact.

4--List of Goals--as several posters have already stated--have a clear set list of skills necessary for each level and before a move-up (as determined by the USEA/CDs and for the "minimum proficiency" license in #2 for Training and above) will help bridge the gap between the broad range of instruction that is available

5--Reducing the time penalties for slow to 2/10 and increasing the fast to 8/10 is a fantastic idea. SJ faults were changed for safety, right?

Everyone's voice can be heard--keep posting. I love the internet. . . : )

LisaB
Apr. 23, 2007, 01:50 PM
I have to absolutely disagree with the statements made about not working on pace. Pace is VERY important at ALL levels. It's different the TIME.
While you may not worry about your time on x-c for some events. Like when I'm moving up a level. It's imperative that you know your PACE. When I'm at a lower level, my PACE is slower as the jumps are small and my horse may not have the balance to handle a faster pace. My time may be right on or off depending on how it was wheeled. Sometimes I care, other times I don't. When moving up, I step on the pedal as my horse is more broke and I can without losing my balance.
You have to care about pace. If you go too slow then you don't have the true x-c engine. If you go too fast, then you're skidding across the smaller jumps and not really teaching your horse about the different obstacles.

BarbB
Apr. 23, 2007, 01:52 PM
What if you took lower level riders watches away. I personally did not ride with a watch until my second year of Prelim when I was trying to make time. If you don't have a watch it forces you to ride the horse at a pace comfortable for both you and your mount. And, it teaches you you don't need to flat out gallop at the fences, rather you have enough time to rebalence you horse at the fences, and can then make up time somewhere else on the course. It also lets you know what time of fences you need to slow down for (ex. turns) and other ones you can jump at a faster speed.

I would agree with this. In fact, I will go a step farther and say that there may be something to gain by making time irrelevant on xc at least at BN and possibly at Novice.
This will sound harsh, but I really think that BN riders blasting out of the start box with their big yellow watch strapped to their arm don't get it.
Even if you plan to stay at BN for the rest of your life (and I may) it is an introductory level to the sport and riders should be concentrating on having and giving their horse a confidence building ride. Learning about what terrain and jumping efforts do to their horse and having some fun.
Spurring your way around on a cautious horse to make the time
or water skiing around on a bold one is not, IMO, what BN is about.
And I will fault some instructors here......how about telling students that BN or N is where you and your horse become a team.....it is NOT about the ribbons.

That said, I think the attitudes of lower level riders today are the accidents waiting to happen tomorrow.
But as far as the accidents at the higher levels today......I still vote that the courses are dangerous overly technical show jumping courses that do not test what xc was intended to test.

.....and I swore that I had my say previously and was going to shut up :lol:

bambam
Apr. 23, 2007, 02:02 PM
I talked to the T.D. about what can be done about this fence. I know longer wanted to talk about it, I wanted to do something about it!! I was told that as a T.D. she had already written up this fence on 2 seperate instances! I was absolutley flabercasted! Now we have our T.D.'s saying something and yet still it's on the course! Now officials don't have a pull, even when it's about saftly? So if riders aren't listened to, and now T.D.'s, then who who is looking out for my (our)safety.
Now this made me remember something- last year at an event, the Pres. of Ground Jury told another official that they did not feel that 2 fences on the training course were appropriate for the level and should only be asked at prelim (and these were fences that were on the course as ridden). I know that this is the second year in a row that both of those fences have been on that course. I have no idea whether the PGJ officially voiced this concern or not. But this to me raises the question of- does this mean that either the PGJ did not raise the concern/issue with the organizer and CD or they did and their concern was ignored? Either one of those scenarios causes me concern. I do not know enough TDs and officials to know whether not voicing concerns or officials' concerns being ignored are issues on more than occassional basis (there is always of course the example of the fence at Badminton (or was it Burghley?) where numerous riders voiced concern, officials did not change it in the way requested and there were numerous serious problems and IIRC a rider death (?)). IF TDs and PGJ's are not voicing their concerns or they are not being listed to, then this to me is a huge problem.
On another subject- I would be vehemently opposed to a technique score in the jumping phases. If they are so bad in SJ that they are unsafe, then the TD should pull them.

Janet
Apr. 23, 2007, 02:06 PM
What if, at beginner novice, and maybe also at novice, the window between too fast and too slow was reduced from a minute to, say, only 15-20 seconds Firstr of all, the window is NOT NOW "a minute. The current window is determined by the time it would take to cover the distance at the slowest speed specified for the next highest level. So the "speed faults time" at Novice is the time it would take to complet the course at Training speed.

The rules DID have a 15 second, 30 second,etc. window, a few years ago but it was changed for several reasons:

1- Having a 15 second window REALLY encourages dependance on using a watch, and gives positive reinforcement to those who go a bit too fast for the first half of the course, and then slow down at the end.

2- If you are, for instance, competing at Novice, but getting ready to move up to Training, it is pretty reasonable to ride your Novice course at, or close to, Training speed, as part of your preparation for moving up.

pegasusmom
Apr. 23, 2007, 02:17 PM
The Ground Jury - or in the case of a two day event - the President of the Ground has the last say on XC fences. EV171 Ground Jury, 2 Duties, part a.

"if, after consultation with the Technical Delegate, the Ground Jury is not satisfied with the arrangements or courses, it is authorized to modify them."

If the TD or PoGJ raises concern about a fence, an organizer or course designer is obligated to resolve the issue.


And for the record the TD mentioned in a previous post has officiated at this venue twice - last June and this past weekend. The official and I have a very good relationship and if she had in fact written up the fence mentioned twice before - not possible - she would have been the first to mention it to me.

criss
Apr. 23, 2007, 02:20 PM
Denny,
I adore the idea of having the time penalties for exceeding the optimum time be a fraction of the ones for coming in ahead of minimum. I think that would actually help at least as much at the upper levels. I'd think it would be a fine thing if time penalties in stadium were further reduced as well, because then people wouldn't get in the habit of screaming around tight turns to big jumps.



3-Quality Control-- as someone already posted about getting safety scores, each event can have a few jumps on the xc course that have a knowledgeable evaluator watching and recording a "safety" score for each rider's pass (say 20% of the jumps). The competitors do not know which jumps are being judged.
This is a fantastic idea. I've been trying to think of a system like this, but couldn't figure out how it would be organized or how to phrase it. I guess we could have a few actual judges be jump judges, and competitors would not be told which fences they were at. The only problem I can foresee is that word would get out--maybe a rider or a coach would know who the individual was, know she was a judge, and go back to warmup and tell people who hadn't gone yet, and then people would ride extra-carefully there. Of course, they'd still get the benefit of riding extra carefully, so it wouldn't be a total loss. :) Maybe we could make a rule that stiffly penalized anyone who disclosed the identity/location of the real-judge jump judges? Anyway, I think it would keep lower-level folks on their toes in a good way.

Your licensure-protocol ideas are good, too, although the infrastructure demands would be huge. Of course, if people were also learning at those clinics, it would just mean we'd all ride in fewer optional clinics, but we'd get our education at the mandatory ones instead, which would at least ensure that everyone got some clinics in. Yes, finances are an issue, but if you won't invest in your own (and your horse's) education, eventing may not be your sport...

Oh, and I love the idea that's come up about having SJ judged for quality. I don't think it's just at the lower levels that it'd help. I think if it were judged, it might alleviate some of the pressure for XC to be highly technical, which might help with some of the non-scary-riding-related falls by people as highly qualified as Ralph and Kim. It would need a new judging standard, though, certainly not a "hunter" model; the judging would have to be in terms of "suitability for XC" or something.

Given how many of the events these days use the convenient-but-still-weird DR-SJ-XC order, we could thus eliminate the scariest lower-level folks before XC. I think this would also be beneficial to UL riders, though, and for them it wouldn't matter as much if it's before or after XC since it would be more a general reflection of their progress; we know they're not so unprepared that their jumping in general is dangerous, but don't they still need a wakeup call every once in a while? My guess is that the average UL rider gets a lot less coaching than the average rider at N, mostly because they need less, but also because fewer are qualified to coach them, but that doesn't mean they can't still benefit from outside eyeballs.

Roney
Apr. 23, 2007, 02:22 PM
I love reading the debate here - lots of good points on both sides. Didn't think I'd get around to posting, but I keep reading these and thinking back to the earlier theme of "Personal Responsibility" with regards to the rider safety/overfacing/bad riding train of thought.

In the end, the RIDER is the one who has the most vested interest in choosing the best couse of action for themselves and their horse - and I doubt that many riders go out there feeling unsafe and/or scared - most riders I know have a pretty healthy fear of hitting the ground. :p I think the further we venture into making rules and regs protecting the riders from themselves, the more we erode that personal responsibility.

While I'm not saying that there aren't "classical", proven effective ways of riding and schooling, how do we know that a person spurring their horse on at BN with a goal of teaching that horse boldness is being unsafe? How do we know that the rider giving a huge release over a 2'6" fence isn't rehabbing a horse that's used to being caught in the mouth? And how do we know that the adult amateur with the swinging lower leg hasn't been trying for years and year to fix it, but can still put together a perfectly acceptable XC course? (ahem... most of the time :winkgrin:) Or that that flying leap over the brush was because this was the first time that horse had seen such a fence before?

OK, that went a little too long, but the point is: I think we're going the wrong direction if we're trying to legislate training, riding, etc. to the point where all we're doing is equitation out in the field, and there's no latitude to make decisions for yourself or your horse based on what YOU know you or he needs to do to accomplish your goal. I'm not saying rules are bad, I'm saying keep them within reason - and objective. Dressage notwithstanding :lol:, one of the coolest things for me about this sport is the objective scoring - and I'd hate for that to be watered down by safety coefficients and surrepitious riding evaluations and the like.

Because then I would have to glue my lower leg to my girth, and that would get messy... :winkgrin:

Blugal
Apr. 23, 2007, 02:55 PM
I disagree with CarolinaHurricane's suggestions of having licensing/mandatory clinics/quality control/tracking etc. All this means is taking the responsibility out of the hands of competitors & trying to legislate good riding.

Main concerns: 1) cost 2) WHO is going to be the judge?

I've seen too many instances of people who should be "in the know" allowing/encouraging bad riding to happen; not instructing riders on their responsibilities (such as pulling up if they are having a bad day, or stopping and ASKING if they don't know what to do when things are going wrong in a lesson or clinic).

There is a good movement in Canada to have FEI prep clinics for riders preparing for their first time at one & two star level. In BC we also have spring clinics, but the aforementioned problems seem to occur regularly unless you have a Jimmy Wofford or David O'Connor teaching.

lstevenson
Apr. 23, 2007, 02:56 PM
I would be vehemently opposed to a technique score in the jumping phases.



Why?

I believe that technique and safety go hand in hand. I don't think we are talking about riding like as in "hunter seat equitation" (IOW nitpicking about little things like posture or whether your elbows stick out or not), but just basics like a good solid balanced seat, an understanding and ability to balance and control the horse, proper pace, ect.

And as I said in a previous post, it could be a score that didn't effect the placing of the event. But it would still be written down on the scoreboard for all to see, and I think riders would definitely start thinking more about technique, since they won't want to be embarrassed at having the lowest score at the event.

RAyers
Apr. 23, 2007, 03:00 PM
What if you took lower level riders watches away. I personally did not ride with a watch until my second year of Prelim when I was trying to make time. If you don't have a watch it forces you to ride the horse at a pace comfortable for both you and your mount. And, it teaches you you don't need to flat out gallop at the fences, rather you have enough time to rebalence you horse at the fences, and can then make up time somewhere else on the course. It also lets you know what time of fences you need to slow down for (ex. turns) and other ones you can jump at a faster speed.

Hear! hear! I would totally endorse that rule! I still don't use a watch at intermediate. I have never used my watch on XC and just learned to make the time by adjusting how I rode each competition and knowing my horse's pace. I usually am too slow the first few times out at a level or on a new course but as the year goes on or I go back to a competition, I make the time.

Reed

bornfreenowexpensive
Apr. 23, 2007, 03:21 PM
Hear! hear! I would totally endorse that rule! I still don't use a watch at intermediate. I have never used my watch on XC and just learned to make the time by adjusting how I rode each competition and knowing my horse's pace.

Reed


Also agree. I often set a watch and stop it at the end but am not using the watch to gage my time etc....but just so I don't need to wait around for the scores to be posted to find out if I was on track.

But again....this comes down to training and riders doing their home work. I learned a ton by galloping with more experienced riders....and not being concerned about time at the lower levels or with a green horse BUT still focusing on pace and how to answer the questions presented. Most of the mistakes I see on courses are riders NOT understanding the question being asked by the CD and not knowing how to ride a course (stadium and x-c). This comes by walking a course with an experienced and good trainer showing you the ropes (what lines to take, how to use the turn to balance, what question is being asked by what fence and how to ride it)...and then retaining what you have learned for the next course. When walking the UL courses, you will hear different advice for the same questions....you have to learn what works for your horse and how to adjust while on course depending on the horse that you are riding at that moment...but at BN/N/Training...the questions will be more simple and the answers simple. At the low levels, I expect the riders to make larger mistakes (leaning at a bank, coming too fast or too slow)....and expect the course to be designed so that the horses can get those riders out of trouble when they make those mistakes---(courses should be designed by using a turn to the bank to help set the horse up, don't put a verticle faced fence on a long gallop approach etc...). At the higher levels, the questions will be harder and the margin of error much smaller....that is the nature of being at the higher levels. If our riders are not prepared or the questions asked not fair...there will be problems. And then even when everyone is prepared and the question fair...there will still be mistakes and bad luck. But I guess I'm a bit old school and don't think these are things that get fixed by rules.

But changing the speed or the time isn't going to change riders who don't practice feeling their pace....and adding the complexity of a judge on safety or position just adds a level of subjectivity that I don't want in our sport. Who is to say that Phillip's position is better or more effect or safe then Sally Counsins....they are both effective and both different. More complexity is not what this sport needs.

Nipntuck
Apr. 23, 2007, 03:24 PM
I, probably like many others have been watching this thread (feeling I didn't have much to offer to this point). I'm an adult rider who rode many Training level events in the 80's ending my mare's career with one Prelim (clear, but slow). I looked at the tape recently and was startled at how straightforeward the course was, big, but galloping. I'm currently moving up to novice (didn't compete for several years due to having kids and a couple of horses that didn't work out).

I disagree about tightening the time spread for the lower levels. I'd rather do away with time for the BN's and keep the generous spread for Novice. I don't even look at a watch. I'm more concerned with having a good ride and feel that should be the concern for the lower level riders. I am a bit squeamish about "judging" equitation unless we use a "form follows function" effective riding pass/fail type system or just penalties for poor riding rather than ranking riders' equitation.

I do think that there are rider issues, but it sounds like the upper level problems are an "engineering" problem rather than riders' skill/ability. I used to work in industry and whenever there was an accident there was always the tendency to blame the individual, but was usually a problem with the process or job set up.

Gnep
Apr. 23, 2007, 06:46 PM
I am very much for tightening the time spread and penalize to fast heavely, I would on top include no circling and no trottin between the last 5 jumps, allow the final approach kinde a 5 stride zone out from the jump for trotting, for the greeny. I hate it when especialy the kids trott towards the finish line or do circles 2 jumps before finish. If they had no watches it would not happen and if it happend it should be penalized. Maybe even get extra points to the riders that get close to optimum time. If one would give at BN,N and even Training 10 points for optimum time and al the way down to 10 seconds slow of optimum time one point, one would force the riders to pay attention to speed and pacing,
As to how does one learn to go prelim speeds and I and A. Defenetly at the show, that is something one learns at home and through seasoning during the show season. But one does not learn prelim 520 at the training level, by flying through training at 520. Opposit that would be rather dangerous, because the jumps are not impressive enough for that kinde speed.

I don't like the idea of equitation judgement, it is so questionable. Take the dressage test, if I feel I had a shity dressage the scores most of time say very nice and if I feel it was good well the scores say misserable and how often do we leave the square and everybody say very nice and you just hope the judge sees it likewise

A good dressage is not always a measuring point for how good the team will be in X-C, neither at stadium, we are dealing with 3 differant animals.
As Reed already pointed out the dressage score or how well a horse does a dressage does not alway mean how well the horse is trained. My Jester never got below 38 in Dressage, had only two clean stadiums but did go al the way to Intermediat over 5 years with one run out, My Mare Harlekin could nail an Intermediat or 2 star Dressage with 30 and than have 2 refusal in X-C, or do a 40 and nail the X-C. Best of all The Nutty Woman, her dressages 20s to mid 30, consitant, mowes down the stadium and flys through X-C.
From my 40 years experiance one can not judge how a horse will do, by looking at one specific phase of our sport. A great dressage horse, that is light and easy, might be a runaway fright train in X-C, 20 pound of metal, a lousy dressage horse might be just dandy and sweet in X-C. some of the lousiest stadium and dressage horses I have ridden were absolut banks in X-C, easy to ride and would jump everything and if asked a little bit more.

percheron
Apr. 23, 2007, 07:24 PM
I really like what Roney wrote.
Take away Watches but leave the times and pentalies as stands.

Again I will restress that your BN and N riders and horses are not as experienced by definition.
At PIA I would expect the riders to ride better in warm up and over the courses.

mtnmomma
Apr. 23, 2007, 08:23 PM
I think we have to look at accidents at each level. the recent injuries and fatalities at the upper levels probably have different factors influencing them than accidents at the lower levels. I think that the change in format is at least partially at fault. It is certainly harder on a horse to gallop, collect, jump, gallop and have to do this throughout a complex course. I think that in the lower levels , BN, N,T that poor technique and unsuitalbe are a major factor. And moving up too quickly is certainly a problem , as well as no room to practice galloping over varied terrain. We need to see what types of accidents occur at each level and some opinions on what caused them. Maybe then we can determine what changes our sport needs to make it somewhat safer. I feel that certifying instructors is the way to go. I don't feel the pressure to move up levels as the courses are more complex although the fences are not as large. So much to consider***

3Day-Eventer
Apr. 23, 2007, 10:06 PM
maybe the change doesn't really come from changing the speeds on the course but coming up with a weighting if there are factors such as poor weather or a certain number of time consuming combinations that increases the opt. time....but I'm really not in favor of changing the time or speed personally. In the end, we are all running around the same course and it boils down to the rider's judgment as to what is too fast or not. There is no rule that everyone needs to make the time. And even if no one makes the time, doesn't that reward the good x-c horse who could just clock around or is more adjustable (assuming that the riders use good judgement in their speed and lines)...the run aways are typically your slower x-c horses since it takes a lot of time to re-balance them. The speed is a BIG part of what makes x-c X-C. Too be honest, it is the SPEED of UL that has always made the UL hard. It is the SPEED that I personally have always thought may be what keeps me from going to the highest levels (not the biggness of the jumps).....I don't want to see x-c turned into jumping derby which is what I think will happen if you reduce the speed but keep the technical question and in the end, the technical questions may still cause falls because as others have mentioned, the mental fatigue caused to both the horse and rider.


While it is true that all riders are judged by the same clock, not changing the speed at the upper levels can reward bad riding. I hate to see final placings determined by speed faults on XC. I have seen placings shuffle a ton, just because of time penalites. Sometimes, this rewards a 'scary' ride, and punishes a rider that has used their better judgement, and ridden a very technical course safely, and carefully. People shouldnt be able to win an event becuase they were stupid enough to run around the course when no one else would.

3Day-Eventer
Apr. 23, 2007, 10:26 PM
Here`s a thought from a discussion yesterday:
What if, at beginner novice, and maybe also at novice, the window between too fast and too slow was reduced from a minute to, say, only 15-20 seconds. And what if the penalties for going TOO SLOW were reduced to 2/10ths of a point per second, down from the existing 4/10ths of a point.
Then what if the penalties for going TOO FAST were increased to 6/10ths, or even 8/10ths of a point per second, up from the existing 4/10ths of a point.
Or something like that, especially at the lower levels, too discourage riders from "turning on the afterburners", as Dana so accurately described. And to keep them from being so worried about being a little too slow.

That is a WONDERFUL idea. It would be great to encourage people to take a liitle time if they need it and not feel like they are going to take themselves completely out of the ribbons. We really need to think about how to reward smart riding.


"I really disagree with the idea of narrowing the time window on course. If anything, I think it should be extended so that at least half of the course, if not the entire course, can be done at the speed of the next highest level without penalty.

Otherwise, we have people moving up to larger, more complex jumping questions without having a feel for the pace. "

Isnt this what schooling is for??? Just because you cant jump at that speed in the competition, doesnt mean that you cant do it somewhere else.

JER
Apr. 23, 2007, 10:28 PM
It just doesn't seem realistic to ban watches. A rider is supposed to be at the start box at an appointed time and he/she is supposed to prepare the horse and warm up the horse appropriately. And then there's the volunteer crew saying to "Rider #X, you have three minutes." A watch is useful for many reasons when you're at an event.

So you can wear a watch but not use one? Or do you check your watch at the start box and come back with your claim check later ("Uh, mine's the yellow one with the black elastic strap...")? And what if you glance down at your wrist and get an accidental peek at your watch?

I always wear a watch at horse shows/events (but almost never in real life) but I can't remember when I last used it for timing on course. I'm just too lazy and I learned to ride at various speeds eons ago.

Personally, I think the time allowed is too tight in SJ these days. You shouldn't have to rush around N to make the time -- even rhythm and steady pace should be the goal but the pace should be appropriate for SJ on a 2'11" course.

ReSomething
Apr. 23, 2007, 10:35 PM
Another lurker in the corner chiming in. I am glad Denny that you have brought up the subject. I may be a wannabe, but my instructor has all the experience I will never have plus some. During a discussion she brought up two points: one of which has been mentioned several times, which is the increasing technicality of the jumps and the extension/collection questions. The other focussed specifically on events held during the Winter/Spring. Those coming to compete from warmer climates, specifically Florida, are coming from flat ground, and may find the terrain a challenge; those from the North may not have been able to follow a decent conditioning program over winter and may be underprepared.

I do believe in luck; bad and good. But oftentimes luck is something you can create through preparedness and forethought - or lack thereof. I hope the committee will take the time to analyze these accidents thoroughly and my best wishes for all of you who are out there competing.

3Day-Eventer
Apr. 23, 2007, 10:48 PM
Ok, after reading the entire thread, here are my thoughts:

1. I would love to see stats on the horses that have been in accidents. Breed, age, experience, how many shows they had done year to date, etc. Also, stats on the accidents themselves. How far into the course, type of fence, type of fall, etc.

2. I agree with many posters that many of the problems are likely to have been caused by some kind of fatigue, either rider or horse. At the upper levels, there are no breather fences anymore. I remeber the days when you would have a fence that was very difficult, and then after, you would have a nice galloping fence to get your rythm (or confidence) back. Now it seems to be combination after combination. Its exhausting to ride, I cant imagine what the horses brains must be going through.
Someone earlier said they thought the accidents were mainly at 'easier' fences. I wouldnt be surpised if this is true. After a ton of combinations, I can see where the horses might actually get confused at a 'easy' fence. They might be trying to figure out what the questions is, when in fact, the only question is to gallop and pick up their feet!! My intermediate horse is typically very spooky over small XC fences. I just think he doesnt get it anymore. He is always looking for the question, it cant possibly be just log that he has to hop over.

3. I love this sport because there are THREE phases. It would be a real shame to make the XC just a solid show jumping course in the woods. I like the fact that I have to teach my horse to carry himself differently in all three phases, and that I have to be a different rider three times in one weekend. If I wanted to be a show jumper, I would!! If I wanted to do perfect dressage, I'd get a different horse!!

4. I think the course designers need to be more aware of the riders that they are building courses for. Building a 'mini badmitton' doesnt do many people much good. I have seen so many novice/training courses with horrible approaches to fences, blocked lines of vision, crazy angles. Its all really unfair to the horses. (But man, those fences sure are pretty!!) Novice horses are just that, novice. If they're not, they are packing around someone that is. CD's need to remember that.

retreadeventer
Apr. 23, 2007, 11:06 PM
I get the feeling that they are going to tweak the time penalties at the end of all of this...more penalties for going fast at lower levels...crap...nightmares for the math impaired...
I vote for adding a roads and tracks phase to the beginning of every BN, N, and T. Just a 15 minute mandatory trot around the course before going in the start box. (I can hear organizers groaning enmasse now). But I bet it would work for a number of good reasons. First warmup. Second, rider feel and nerves. Third, order of go would stay organized. Fourth, hurting horses could be discovered before on course. Fifth, any tack or equipment changes could be discovered and fixed (like stirrups too long or girth too loose.) Hah! It will never happen. But it should. We need to put the endurance back in.

One Star
Apr. 23, 2007, 11:27 PM
These are well-thought-out, sensible, and appropriate comments. It is obvious that this issue speaks to everyone who loves and is involved with eventing, from volunteers and pony club parents to low level competitors right on through to the top of the heap.

I think that all the course-tweaking, high-quality coaching,and extreme attention to fitness in the world cannot change the incontrovertable fact that the sport is dangerous. It is a simple but hard concept to accept. You cannot remove the danger, the best you can do is stack the odds in your favor as much as possible through skill, fitness, and education. And it will never change the fact that some days it still is better to be lucky than good.


I completely agree with you and couldn't have said it better myself.

This is the simple truth of a complicated matter.

Gnep
Apr. 24, 2007, 01:20 AM
I tink nobody who has been around the sport for some time, does not understand that jumping a solid jump with a 1100 to 1200 pound horse is at least dangerous if not a rather stupid thing to do.

I am affraid that this discussion within the USEventing and other publik venues will just go into one direction.
How to regulate the sport, even more.
Their is a realy good load of thoughts in this threat, but I am truly an Eventer and I hate regulations and Judging, can barely stand the dressage.

Just a joke, but I believe we will not solve the problem through regulations.

We need to look at the training of the riders and horses, as mentioned, the design of the courses and how we can survive the crashes.

Savety equipment was shortly mentioned, but just shortly.

How can we can get away with a crash. I think we desperately need to take lessons form car racing.
In the 70s you crashed went to the hospital and when ever you could walk again you were back. Nobody cared, except your family, poor people.
But we were so very few and so very well prepared, because it was seriously dangerous, compared to today, no wests, helmets that would defenetly crush your head, courses at times plain idiotic.
The sport has come a very long way since than, we got wests and real Helmets, not some metal tin can.

We will never be able to prevent the crash, Murphies Law, but we can make it survivebale.
If I look at my Helmet, state of the art and compare it to a state of the art car racing helmet than I feel like the Red Baron in his leather cap going after Snoopy in his Snoopwitch. Our helmets help, but are they state of the art, based on actual crash anylises and real science, no. The most popular are a thin cheep plastic shell with styrophoam. An improvement from the tin can, Kevlar, Carbonfiber, high shock absorband material are non existant, we use those foams in our vest, dont we ?
Our Vests, a huge improvement compared to the T-Shirt, but are they realy state of the art. Absolutely no, all they do absorb a certain amount of shock, impact, but thats it. No crush protection, of any kind.
Neck injuries, I think we are the only high speed sport that does not have any kind of a neck protector.
compared to other high speed sports, our savety equipment is stone age, we are at least 20 years behind car racing, and in car racing speeds have gone up at amazing rates and fatalities have gone down.

denny
Apr. 24, 2007, 07:08 AM
Gnep, that`s interesting that you mention car racing, because just this weekend one of the rider`s dads said something like this:
"I bet if the people who design safety equipment for car racing could ever be persuaded to carefully look at eventing, they could come up with much more state of the art protection---head, spine, neck, hips, etc---than what we now have."
So here`s what I hope will now happen. The USEF has set up a safety committee. I think Jo Whitehouse at the USEA is either working with them, or is setting up one as well.
Katie has written that excellent article for the USEA news, and I`ll attempt to touch on a few points in a Between Rounds article that you all have brought up which may be in addition to those she has already discussed.
The big point is that the DIALOGUE will be ongoing. Who knows where it will lead. My understanding of the "rules" behind this kind of brainstorming is that at the beginning there are NO WRONG IDEAS. Put everything on the table for discussion, then start to wade through it all, hoping that it will begin to make sense.
My guess---and it`s purely a guess---is that the "answer" will be many answers. Better equipment, better teaching, better riding, better x-c courses, better communication between riders and officials, better horse selection, and so on, and so on. But mainly a greater overall emphasis on safety in general.
We can`t make a risk sport safe, but I am convinced we can make it quite a bit less unsafe.
It`s very obvious from the outpouring of ideas here that this topic has been weighing heavily on lots of our minds. Let`s help the various safety committees keep the dialogue ongoing, and fairly out in the open. We all have a stake in their success.

DLee
Apr. 24, 2007, 08:24 AM
I just want to add, from my own tiny perspective, how difficult it is in some areas to find instruction and places to school. I started (trying!) to event in Idaho, back in the eighties. Denny even came out to Mountain River Ranch and gave a clinic one time! :yes: But that was on a day we could actually USE the course. So, so many courses out there (and that's the only area I'm really familiar with) have come and gone. And the ones we had were, for the most part, not public, so you could never school on them except maybe once a year.

And if you did, good luck finding an instructor to teach you how to do it right. I have done more than one horse trial by the seat of my pants, hoping to just make it around. :eek: After all, it was usually almost the first time my horse had seen anything like these jumps. I'm a fairly decent rider (hence no accidents), but it sure didn't make me a better one. I lived in Arizona for the last eight years, course pickings are scarce there too. Flagstaff has an awesome course, but you can't ride on it except during designated days.

I was AMAZED upon moving here, last year, how many places there are to school! And instructors! I am finally able to take consistant lessons (not wait for the occasional clinic) and LEARN how to ride a xc course the right way. It is very exciting, too bad I'm now so much darned older and more of a weenie. :sadsmile: My horse will not go to a competition having not seen the types of jumps he'll encounter, or having seen such a thing only once.

Making and keeping courses, finding an instructor, are such complicated issues for some... it might not even be relevent to this discussion. But it was a huge challenge for me to overcome for the last twenty years of trying to do lower levels, and I know I wasn't the only one. Diana

Muck r us
Apr. 24, 2007, 08:25 AM
When you cannot measure, when you cannot express in numbers, your knowledge is of a meager and unsatisfactory kind: you have scarcely, in your thoughts, advanced to the stage of a science. (Lord Kelvin)

I have done a lot of thinking abut this topic over the last several weeks and I've done a lot of talking to a number of folks in the sport. I have come to realize that we have lots of opinions on the topic, I certainly have mine and I have almost added my 2 cents to this thread several times. Then I put on my engineer hat and I realize that we have precious few facts. Oh, we have an abundance of anecdotal evidence that there is a problem, but very little in the way of statistics or numbers to identify just what the problems are. So, some suggestions for the safety committee.

1. Every event turns in records of every stop, rider fall and horse fall that has the division, fence number, and what happened (box checked for stop, rider or horse fall). I don't know how far back this goes, but a few years at least. This data needs to be analyzed to see what trends are in there. Are things changing over the years? Is one division more likely to have problems? Do the last fences on course have more incidents; indicating tired horses? The data will clearly show which fences are problem fences, but only by number. Some hard leg work will be required to then find out what types of fences are causing most problems -- courses from prior years have changed, but photos can help dig out some info.

1a. In the age of cheap digital cameras, each event should start turning in a disc with photos of every fence. This will help future analysis.

2. I honestly don't know what gets turned in to USEA for horse falls or rider falls. I'm guessing not enough. For the good of the sport we need to be rigorous in documenting every fall. Yes, even the ones where the rider bounces right back up. The TD, safety rep, or whoever needs to interview the rider and jump judges and describe what happened with diagrams and photos of the jump. Yep, a real pain in the backside. A library of these types of reports would be big help in seeing where the problems are.

3. This is the age of cheap video. Prior to an event, the TD and rider rep will have a pretty good idea of where the problems will be; or at least they should. The USEA should have a set of equipment to send to selected events to record a video of every rider over those selected jumps. Set up the tripods and let 'em roll. After a while, we'll have a nice library of incident videos to review. Many, many years go, the US Navy had a big problem with aircraft carrier landing accidents. They started filming every landing of every airplane. The knowledge gained led to many improvements.

4. "You can observe a lot just by watching." -- Yogi Berra The safety committee needs to get out to events, put on jump judge pinnies and watch a bunch of riders go over a bunch of fences. If you haven't jump judged, you've missed half of Eventing. If you want to know what's wrong with a fence and how to ride (or not ride) it; watch 100 riders go over it. Then you'll know.

Muck r us
Apr. 24, 2007, 08:44 AM
We will never be able to prevent the crash, Murphies Law, but we can make it surviveable.

I wish we could get someone to make Eventing protectors out of this stuff.
Smart Foam Protects Skiers (http://www.designnews.com/article/CA6306543.html)

Which is made by this company.
d3o Lab (http://www.d3olab.com/)
Click on the little video to see how it works.

It may not prevent crushing injuries, but it might help ankles, knees and collarbones.

IFG
Apr. 24, 2007, 08:59 AM
Muck R Us,

Completely agree that any decisions should be based on DATA. Anecdotal evidence isn't useful.

Also, although a low-level rider, I am firmly in the camp that was attracted to eventing for it's lack of subjective assessments of rider style. I would hate to have that be introduced to this sport after seeing the effect that it has had on hunters, turning what should be a good gallop over an outside course into a stride-counting exercise.

But, and this is a big but, I do believe that you can make changes to courses that will increase safety. An analogy here would be changes that have been made in highway design. By improving road surface or banking on turns, there have been significant decreases in injuries due to car accidents on problem stretches of roadways. IMHO, it is the same with XC courses. We need to identify the problem elements on courses and modify the designs to emulate those that have proven safer.

subk
Apr. 24, 2007, 09:08 AM
What Muck r us has said really resonates with me. Here we are talking about adjusting rules about speed, yet none of us have seen any data that indicates the problem IS speed. Wasn't it just a few years ago we had a rule change about jumping from a stand still because the LACK of speed was found to be excessivley dangerous?

Do we even have anything more than anecdotal evidence to suggest that eventing actually has become more dangerous? As mentioned earlier, modern communication has changed many preconceptions of not only our sport but the way we live our lives.

With all do respect , let's identify the problem, study the factual specifics, and ONLY THEN start making suggestions as to what the solution is, because what we're doing now is nothing but taking shots in the dark.

Janet
Apr. 24, 2007, 09:11 AM
Gnep, that`s interesting that you mention car racing, because just this weekend one of the rider`s dads said something like this:
"I bet if the people who design safety equipment for car racing could ever be persuaded to carefully look at eventing, they could come up with much more state of the art protection---head, spine, neck, hips, etc---than what we now have."
So here`s what I hope will now happen. The USEF has set up a safety committee. I think Jo Whitehouse at the USEA is either working with them, or is setting up one as well. Personally, I think the developmentssin safety for motorcycle road racing are even more relevant to Eventing than the developments in car racing. For instance the spine protectors all racers wear under their leathers make our "safety vests" look like "items of attire, not protection".

Denny,

If you or Jo want to pursue that angle, I still have a couple of contacts in the motorcycle roadracing world (one of whom is a former eventer) who could get you the latest information about safety developments there.

pegasusmom
Apr. 24, 2007, 09:15 AM
[quote=Muck r us;2384584]


2. I honestly don't know what gets turned in to USEA for horse falls or rider falls. I'm guessing not enough. For the good of the sport we need to be rigorous in documenting every fall. Yes, even the ones where the rider bounces right back up. The TD, safety rep, or whoever needs to interview the rider and jump judges and describe what happened with diagrams and photos of the jump. Yep, a real pain in the backside. A library of these types of reports would be big help in seeing where the problems are.


It's more than you think. The accident reports are pretty detailed. Now, falls where there are not any injuries are another case.

I can not speak for other organizers, but I do look at my fence report (we get a tally at the end of each event so we know where the problems occured.) Any fence that reaches the 20% mark gets "from above" mandated re-working, retirement or repositioning. I look at every fence that had refusals, look at the reports of who stopped where as well (our system generates that spread sheet as well) and go over it all with my course designer. We talk about what to do better the next time around.

Muck R us - it might interest you to know that in reviewing my last fence data for my events, last fence falls and refusals are few and far between.

Once again I will reiterate, safety sits on everyone's shoulders not just the organizer, the TD, the course designer or some other official.

And while we are on the subject, I have seen the new safety committee membership, and while I recognize the obvious eventer names, I am curious as to the qualifications of this committee in general - are there members now serving on this committee who acutally have expericne on safeety committees and in evaluating data etc.?

Muck r us
Apr. 24, 2007, 10:11 AM
The accident reports are pretty detailed. Now, falls where there are not any injuries are another case.
That is what I assumed was the case and in my opinion not reporting non-injury falls is leaving a hole in reporting. I have a professional background in experiment design and causal analysis. If you just study the bad accidents, there aren't enough to see any trends and you miss all the little incidents that are warning you about the big ones that haven't happened yet. For example, if bunches of Novice riders are popping off at one type of fence, sooner or later somebody is going to land on their head. Maybe it's training issue, maybe it's a speed issue, maybe it's the phase of the moon. Heck, I don't know. Until somebody studies it using data, we're just guessing.


I can not speak for other organizers, but I do look at my fence report
I have every confidence you have your tree under control; but who's looking at the forest? If this were a problem with one venue, organizer, CD, TD, trainer it would be obvious; and it's not. Yes it's going to take more work from everyone involved; people who have too much to do already.

We all seem to agree that there is some sort of problem across the sport as a whole and there are lots of suggestions of things it could be. Now, it's time to buckle down and find out if there is a problem and what it is. Tweaking rules may give the appearance of action, but in 2 years it's just as likely that we've made things worse and not better.

bornfreenowexpensive
Apr. 24, 2007, 10:41 AM
While it is true that all riders are judged by the same clock, not changing the speed at the upper levels can reward bad riding. I hate to see final placings determined by speed faults on XC. I have seen placings shuffle a ton, just because of time penalites. Sometimes, this rewards a 'scary' ride, and punishes a rider that has used their better judgement, and ridden a very technical course safely, and carefully. People shouldnt be able to win an event becuase they were stupid enough to run around the course when no one else would.


I agree with you there....but at the same time, I would hate to see the speed removed as a factor as well. That is part of what makes the x-c hard. I can jump around a 4'3" stadium course and have jumped bigger courses....but what is tough about Adv. level is going fast and having my horse bold brave and yet still adjustable....It is learning how to ride at speed and when and how to get my horse back in the right balance and stride for the particular question they are about to face. I'm also not sure that speed is really the factor and would want more facts on that front.....I suspect it is like others have said...the number of jumping efforts/combinations and the type of questions that is really the issue.

One of the biggest things eventers have to learn is pace and being comfortable with speed....that is our sport....but our courses need to ask fair questions, and we need to understand the impact of multiple questions on fatigue of the horse and rider. Perhaps this is a hole in many of our current riders training...but it has always been a factor. Perhaps the lack of steeple chase now has riders forgetting that pace and speed is something that they need to practice. It use to be common place for riders getting ready for a CCI* or ** to seek out local tracks and get advice and help on galloping from steeple chase trainers....does anyone still do that?

As for rewarding bad judgment....that is and has always been the case. It is the same with jumpers....and true of any sport without subjective judgment. Sometimes the bad or scary rider will get lucky....that is not reason enough for me to change the character of the sport. I'd rather see CD like I did at FHI last weekend....questions early enough on course that weeded out the riders that were not "on" or did not have enough control before the really tough stuff yet were still straight forward enough for help build confidence for the other horse/rider combinations that were ready.

CookiePony
Apr. 24, 2007, 10:47 AM
[i]For the good of the sport we need to be rigorous in documenting every fall. Yes, even the ones where the rider bounces right back up. The TD, safety rep, or whoever needs to interview the rider and jump judges and describe what happened with diagrams and photos of the jump. Yep, a real pain in the backside. A library of these types of reports would be big help in seeing where the problems are.

Yes, I agree. I have wanted to know this kind of information for a while. It would not only help the USEA, course designers, TDs, organizers, etc.-- it will also help competitors making decisions on when and where to move up, what to school, etc.

Gnep
Apr. 24, 2007, 11:05 AM
Denny,
Motorsport, car and motorcycle, have a completly differant aproach.
They very seldom try to regulate the speed away, or the corners or the cornering speeds.
They look at every big crash with the approach, what can we do with our safety equipment so the next time the same kinde crash is survivable.

Take the Hans device, race car drivers got killed because on impact the wiplash and the weight of the helmet would brake their necks, so the Hans device was developed and is now standard equipment.
Motorcycle racers walk away from 200 miles per hour crashes.
They understand that the speed, corners, the braking etc is what makes their sports so apeeling and that what makes it apeeling makes it very dangerous.
Instead of regulating and kastrating our sport, even more, we should look into our safety equipment, get some real research done and make the crashes more and more survivable.
A Hans device for equestrian.
Crush protection
Helmets
Spinal protection

Those would be my top priorities, besides well designed courses and better riding.

Avra
Apr. 24, 2007, 11:08 AM
Couple of things to bear in mind with regard to speed, at the lower levels:

1) The speed "range" accomodates a large variety of horses. For my 16.2 TB, a 350 mpm course is a slow show hunter canter--too slow for safety over wide, solid fences, imo. In order to do a course at an average of 350 and avoid getting penalties, I would have to do part of it at his regular 400 mpm brisk canter/ hand gallop, and part of it at the trot, which for him is about 300 mpm--which means speeding up for the fences, and never really getting a rhythm. OTOH, with a 14 hand pony, 350 might be a nice brisk pace.

2) The majority of unrecognized events around here have untimed xc and stadium, and it doesn't seem to slow people down, or make them more thoughtful riders. If anything, the opposite is true.

3) If we all agree that opportunities to school xc, or foxhunt, or just gallop in the open, are getting rarer and rarer, do we really want to introduce going xc at greater speed, and regulating pace using a watch, at training or prelim, when the fences/ courses are larger and less forgiving?

Janet
Apr. 24, 2007, 11:18 AM
They very seldom try to regulate the speed away, or the corners or the cornering speeds. Sure they do. That is what restrictor plates and chicanes are for. But it is rarely the PRIMARY response.

IFG
Apr. 24, 2007, 12:01 PM
That is what I assumed was the case and in my opinion not reporting non-injury falls is leaving a hole in reporting. I have a professional background in experiment design and causal analysis. If you just study the bad accidents, there aren't enough to see any trends and you miss all the little incidents that are warning you about the big ones that haven't happened yet. For example, if bunches of Novice riders are popping off at one type of fence, sooner or later somebody is going to land on their head. Maybe it's training issue, maybe it's a speed issue, maybe it's the phase of the moon. Heck, I don't know. Until somebody studies it using data, we're just guessing.

I completely agree. Have you considered volunteering for the safety committee? You certainly appear to have the background with respect to study design to be an asset.

subk
Apr. 24, 2007, 12:08 PM
I completely agree. Have you considered volunteering for the safety committee? You certainly appear to have the background with respect to study design to be an asset.
I second!

Ja Da Dee
Apr. 24, 2007, 12:18 PM
Interesting conversation.

a couple thoughts of a lower level rider.

Speed at the lower levels. Instead of a specific Opt time, or shortening the ranges, maybe have OPT time be the center of a no penalty window of say 15 or 20 seconds, and all times faster or slower get penalized. Possibly an adjusted scale? Something like too slow 4/10ths, too fast but not at the max speed 1/10th, over max speed 4/10. that will take some of the focus off of time so people won't go too fast in the last few fences. It also doesn't penalize people too much for working towards the next levels speed.

I like the idea of stadium before XC especially for the lower levels.

asterix
Apr. 24, 2007, 12:34 PM
Stadium is run before XC at the vast majority of one and 2 day HTs in the MD/VA area already. I've seen more scary SJ rounds than I can count, from BN-P, that had the rider smiling and heading on for XC at the end.

(I'm not saying it's not a good idea -- it DOES weed out a few folks -- but it is not a sufficient idea, as evidenced by the HTs in this area...)

Hilary
Apr. 24, 2007, 01:22 PM
This thread seems to have moved away from the issue of the fatal and extremely serious accidents that have occurred at the upper levels and focusing more on the "weekend warriers who need a better coach so they stop giving spectators heart attacks with their scary rides".

This is also a legitimate issue, but people are not dying at Novice. They are riding poorly and that ought to stop, but the very serious accidents are perhaps a different focus that we cannot lose sight of.

Changing speed penalties at the beginner level for riders who do not understand pace isn't going to help us understand how the newer advanced tracks may or may not have become more dangerous.

JER
Apr. 24, 2007, 02:00 PM
Hilary, I've been thinking the same thing.

Correct instruction and a wealth of experience didn't prevent the recent round of serious accidents to UL riders. Kim Meier, Ralph Hill and Debbie Atkinson are all outstanding teachers and trainers. The young vet who died in France, the Welsh rider last weekend in the UK, and Amanda Bader were all experienced and by all accounts, examples of safe riding.

It could be just a numbers game. You ride enough XC rounds, you hit the statistical probability of serious injury. Or it could be something else.

If we're looking at course design, I think we should look at what the horse is capable of seeing and judging at XC speed. Their eyes don't work like ours and we can't forget that our ride is quite dependent on their eyes.

An Australian neurologist, Dr. Alison Harman, has done some very provocative work in the study of equine vision. Horses simply can't see well in front of themselves when the nose is pointing down as in the 'collected' position. Horses also don't see the color red (horses aren't hummingbirds!). A UK magazine ran an interesting article a few years ago where they showed XC fences from the horse's POV as defined by Dr. Harman. You can read more about Dr. Harman's work here (http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/stories/s545781.htm).

Ja Da Dee
Apr. 24, 2007, 03:05 PM
This comment is obviously not a reflection on the UL riders mentioned above, but could part of the problem be that some riders aren't sure how to ride the questions they come across on XC. I'm not sure how much courses at all levels have changed with the loss of roads and tracks, but if the combinations are tighter, and the questions more difficult, I wonder if riders are making serious judgment mistakes on course. Would a manditory course walk telling the riders how the course designer intended the course to rode help? If nothing else, it may help educate those who don't have access to trainers at shows. The riders would start learning how the designers think at the lowest levels (not just from walking and talking with their trainers and friends) and hopefully that education would carry them through the upper levels safely.

I also think, as someone else said, that the USEA needs to get a comprehensive database together. I would think that detailing the the jump specifics and terraine questions for all stops, falls and injuries. Possibly even the rider experience, horse experience, stadium penalty points (if they rode stadium) and dressage PP. See if there is a common thread somewhere. All stops are a potential bad accident.

LisaB
Apr. 24, 2007, 03:22 PM
I *think* we are a little behind on the 8 ball for the stats. I *think* the Brits have been keeping tallies of all that. Then when they found a specific type of jump was causing deaths, they then found that jump was causing rotational falls. So then they broke it down further and did a comprehensive study on that jump, with a mechanical 'horse'. Then voila, the frangible pin was born.
They prefaced it all with the fact that many more studies need to be done for all the other aspects on rider fatalities. But what happened with that? I would venture a guess that the all-mighty dollar came into play. After the horrific year of 1999(?), the noise died down. Maybe we need to re-light this study and continue with it. Seemed to help in a few instances if I recall.

Hony
Apr. 24, 2007, 07:39 PM
I don't know if anyone has mentioned this but in Ontario the window between going to slow or two fast at the lower levels is 30 seconds. Time faults are greater for going too fast....much greater. I believe it is 1 penalty per second over and a quarter of a point for each second too slow.
I don't know the details of any studies that have been done on this but it might be worth contacting EC for information on whether this works or not. If it is working then it might be a good model for the USEA. If it's not working at least it would allow USEA the opportunity to avoid this plan and work on other plans that might be more effective.
I am really looking forward to the results of this safety study.

CJ4ME
Apr. 24, 2007, 10:23 PM
An Australian neurologist, Dr. Alison Harman, has done some very provocative work in the study of equine vision. Horses simply can't see well in front of themselves when the nose is pointing down as in the 'collected' position. Horses also don't see the color red (horses aren't hummingbirds!). A UK magazine ran an interesting article a few years ago where they showed XC fences from the horse's POV as defined by Dr. Harman. You can read more about Dr. Harman's work here (http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/stories/s545781.htm).

:eek: Makes me think twice about some things we take for granted....

CookiePony
Apr. 25, 2007, 01:50 PM
We need to look at the training of the riders and horses, as mentioned, the design of the courses and how we can survive the crashes.

Savety equipment was shortly mentioned, but just shortly.

How can we can get away with a crash. I think we desperately need to take lessons form car racing.
[snip]
We will never be able to prevent the crash, Murphies Law, but we can make it survivebale.
If I look at my Helmet, state of the art and compare it to a state of the art car racing helmet than I feel like the Red Baron in his leather cap going after Snoopy in his Snoopwitch. Our helmets help, but are they state of the art, based on actual crash anylises and real science, no. The most popular are a thin cheep plastic shell with styrophoam. An improvement from the tin can, Kevlar, Carbonfiber, high shock absorband material are non existant, we use those foams in our vest, dont we ?
Our Vests, a huge improvement compared to the T-Shirt, but are they realy state of the art. Absolutely no, all they do absorb a certain amount of shock, impact, but thats it. No crush protection, of any kind.
Neck injuries, I think we are the only high speed sport that does not have any kind of a neck protector.
compared to other high speed sports, our savety equipment is stone age, we are at least 20 years behind car racing, and in car racing speeds have gone up at amazing rates and fatalities have gone down.

Hmmm... the more I think about this thread the more I think Gnep might be on to something. Specifically, I remember being at Senator Bell in 2004 when Bill Booth's horse stopped and threw him into a stone wall on a NOVICE course, killing him. I never did find out the particulars of exactly how he was injured but my understanding was that he was horribly unlucky. And I wonder if there is any possibility of creating safety equipment that could have saved his life.

Morgana
Apr. 25, 2007, 02:34 PM
Have the jumping accidents gotten worse as more and more importance is put on the dressage score? While I do think dressage an important part of riding any discipline, I do think that horses that do best in dressage are not necessarily great jumpers. You would think that a sport that has 3 phases, and 2 of them involving jumping, would put a little less significance on the dressage score, and more focus on the jumping phases. The more significance put on dressage, the more the type of horse people buy for this sport will change.

IFG
Apr. 25, 2007, 03:04 PM
Hmmm... the more I think about this thread the more I think Gnep might be on to something. Specifically, I remember being at Senator Bell in 2004 when Bill Booth's horse stopped and threw him into a stone wall on a NOVICE course, killing him. I never did find out the particulars of exactly how he was injured but my understanding was that he was horribly unlucky. And I wonder if there is any possibility of creating safety equipment that could have saved his life.

Not to detract from your main point, and I do not have any special knowledge of what happened at Senator Bell that day, but I was there as well. I thought, and I may be wrong, that he died from a heart attack not from hitting the stone wall. You may have better information than me though.

NMK
Apr. 25, 2007, 03:33 PM
I agree with Gnep and wrote to the safety committee as well. I think the vests we wear can be improved to include some sort of protection for the back of the neck, a "roll" if you will. I would rather see improvements to the existing good safety protection we have rather than change the sport (again and again).

Nancy

denny
Apr. 25, 2007, 03:42 PM
What`s the deal that the USEF safety committee will only consider input from USEF members? Is that how you read Andrew Ellis` post? Does that mean they won`t consider studies done in other countries, because they aren`t USEF members. Or anything here from a non member? Please, tell me I am interpreting this incorrectly.

frugalannie
Apr. 25, 2007, 04:00 PM
. We welcome all ideas and input to help us address this issues. If any USEA of USEF current member would like to share their thoughts please feel free to email me at usefsafety@aol.com or contact Leigh Anne Claywell the committee liaison at lclaywell@usef.org. By sharing information and experiences we hope to work together with the members and affiliates to better the sport we all love.

Andrew Ellis, Chairman USEF Safety Committee and Accident Review Panels


I think he meant any USEA OR USEF member, but there is a little lack of clarity as the sentence before says all ideas and input are welcomed.

Besides, I doubt many of us are registered with either organization under our screen names ;) .

There have been so many good ideas in this thread, I would hope that membership numbers wouldn't have to be appended for them to be read and considered. And it would be shortsighted indeed to insist on redoing or ignoring valid research from other countries and organizations because they aren't members.

denny
Apr. 25, 2007, 04:12 PM
No, it`s post number 15 under the "USEF Eventing Safety Inquiry Committee"
Maybe you could paste it here. It`s beyond my feeble technological skills.
It`s been 45 years since I took a college logic class, but it sure sounds like the committee isn`t interested in any insights from non USEF/USEA members.
Which would, if true, be totally incomprehensible to me.

Jazzy Lady
Apr. 25, 2007, 04:42 PM
Thank you for your input. I would like to remind you that if you have specific concerns please email them directly to me at usefsafety@aol.com. Please include your USEF or USEA membership number so that we can include your feedback as input from valid members. We will be meeting tommorow here at Rolex.

I read it the same way Denny. How can a committee focused on the safety of horses and riders only be concerned with their own federation? Especially in a nation where MANY different federations compete. It seems a little odd to me. What the harm in hearing from other countries?

IFG
Apr. 25, 2007, 04:47 PM
[B]How can a committee focused on the safety of horses and riders only be concerned with their own federation? Especially in a nation where MANY different federations compete. It seems a little odd to me. What the harm in hearing from other countries?

OK, I am a cynic. This committee, like most politicians, only cares about their voting constituents.

Jazzy Lady
Apr. 25, 2007, 04:50 PM
OK, I am a cynic. This committee, like most politicians, only cares about their voting constituents.

Cynic, realist... it's totally true. I see your point.

RAyers
Apr. 25, 2007, 05:03 PM
Thank you for your input. I would like to remind you that if you have specific concerns please email them directly to me at usefsafety@aol.com. Please include your USEF or USEA membership number so that we can include your feedback as input from valid members. We will be meeting tommorow here at Rolex.

I read it the same way Denny. How can a committee focused on the safety of horses and riders only be concerned with their own federation? Especially in a nation where MANY different federations compete. It seems a little odd to me. What the harm in hearing from other countries?


Right there it tells me this committee is all smoke and mirrors. It is making the appearance of doing something without actually doing anything. They have folks who may know horses but nobody who knows safety, accident investigation, statistics, or even research. I have nothing against David O'Conner or others in the committee but they barely understand the mechanisms of injury (maybe the MD), the mechanics and design of safety equipment, materials used in safety equipment, how to measure statistical inference and the like.

Even MORE important to me is that there is NOBODY absolutely from OUTSIDE the horse world on this committee. I would like to see a structural engineer who can explain how a fence can be desined more safely; as said before a statistician, and a safety expert from automotive sports/industry, even insurance. From my experience, when committees are selected from inside the industry little innovation occurs.

Reed

oldbutnotdead
Apr. 25, 2007, 05:15 PM
Denny, you are my hero. You are not afraid to call it as you see it. You have experience and savvy which you willingly share with us. You have guts and determination. Thank you.

Regarding the "comments only from members issue," that is how I read it too - if you are a non-member, your comments will be ignored. As a person experienced in big business' risk mitigation, liability reduction tactics, I always question the conclusions of internal investigations. Sometimes, the results reflect CYA concerns. Other times, the outcome is predictable, and the hard questions are not asked or answered.

In my opinion, a valid safety study would involve non-members as well as members, and clearly would utilize the skills of the mechanically, logically, analytically, and statistically minded! Although it is admirable for the powers that be to be concerned, it is time for the safety committee to rethink its mission and staffing it is is to have credibility and effectiveness.

pegasusmom
Apr. 25, 2007, 06:12 PM
Denny - did I not ask you Monday morning about the makeup and qualifications of the committee??

vineyridge
Apr. 25, 2007, 07:15 PM
Just one comment--in, I believe, 2005 there was a dreadful bogey combination at Rolex. Can't remember the name, but many of the riders went ricochetting around on it like balls on a pinball machine. It's the one where one of the riders, but I can't remember who, went off and broke her neck or back. They didn't use that corner combination last year, so maybe they decided it was too dangerous.

Don't they do test rides of the course far enough in advance that things like that would be noticed and corrected? Not just at Rolex, but at all events? I'm really ignorant about eventing, but have been watching Rolex in person since about 1999, and even I have noticed how much things have changed and how spent many of the horses now seem after they finish--evn with the long recovery last four jumps.

Surely the course designers will build a recovery section after each jumping effort, because one poor effort can pyramid to disaster if time and space for recovery isn't built in.

Probably the causes of most tragic accidents come from a) rider errors, or b) mental or physical fatigue of horse and/or rider, or c) poor footing, or d) poor design--which leads to rider error and mental and physical fatigue.

JMHO, and it isn't worth much.

Oh, and if I were you guys wanting to be heard, I'd have much more faith in a USEA committee.

Xanthoria
Apr. 25, 2007, 07:33 PM
Gnep, that`s interesting that you mention car racing, because just this weekend one of the rider`s dads said something like this:
"I bet if the people who design safety equipment for car racing could ever be persuaded to carefully look at eventing, they could come up with much more state of the art protection---head, spine, neck, hips, etc---than what we now have."

Not sure if this has already been posted, but:

Riding risks on par with car racing (http://www.horsetalk.co.nz/saferide/113-ridingrisks.shtml)
"The risk of serious injury from riding is greater than even car racing, reveals a major review of horse-accident literature commissioned by the New Zealand Accident Compensation Corporation."

colliemom
Apr. 25, 2007, 07:43 PM
OK, I am a cynic. This committee, like most politicians, only cares about their voting constituents.

Or, they are going to use this as a "membership drive" to boost their numbers and coffers -- you want your opinion heard, send us your membership dollars!

I totally agree with others that all the opinions and suggestions here are valauble and should all be considered, regardless of any paid affiliation with any equestrian organization.

percheron
Apr. 25, 2007, 08:37 PM
I am all for collecting information and studing data...
Improving equipment..... Teaching our novice riders to ride...
I am still for galloping cross country fences ....not show jumping gymnastic lines at a high rate speed...

But sometimes it comes to luck.
My neighbor's son yesterday fell on some steps at school and cut his forehead. My son today fell at different steps at a different school and cut open his chin.
Should we ban steps at school?

Gnep
Apr. 25, 2007, 11:32 PM
Ban schools, period

Gnep
Apr. 25, 2007, 11:52 PM
Reed,
when i saw that list of names, I had exactly the same thought. all those people are honerable people, no question. But they don't know duddly about accidents, except from personal expearience when they planted themself trying to imitate this thing they have on golf courses when they beat that silly little ball to nowhere land.

There a professionals, that do nothing else but examing accidents, they kno the procedures, they know how to collect data, they know how to use that data and they know how to draw conclusion out of that data, it is a science.

There is no Ingeneer on the panel, there is no expert in savety equipment.

My request, including my USEventing and USEA numbers, was exactly what I wrote above.
If this question is given serious attention, than it needs Experts from the Sport, Course Designers, Jump Builders, Riding Instructors, Experts from the Outside of the sport Accident Investigators, ingeneers, Safety Equipment Experts, Medical Experts, Professional from the construction sector, who look at how we built our jumps.
For me that looks like a nother regulation panel.
Accidents have two solutions.
Active Solution, accident prevention, Passive Solution survival

Looks to me like that 3D panel, big titels lots of smoke and no result, USEventing at work ???

Equitalk
Apr. 26, 2007, 06:55 AM
Don't you think if I am going to personally solicit feedback in a loosely controlled setting to my own personal email account that I be allowed to establish some sort of guidelines? Since this was my attempt to better prepare myself as a committee member I feel it acceptable to try and filter the volume and validity to the emails I am getting. One way to verify the same person is not sending emails over and over again is asking them to be members. I have added a few more responses on the thread I started about the committee. I hope we can continue to solicit valid feedback and not open a can of worms here. I thought this was supposed to be a positive forum for feedback. Maybe I really do not understand the politics of eventing. I thought it was a breath of fresh air to get away from the day to day politics of the Hunter world!

denny
Apr. 26, 2007, 07:44 AM
I started this thread for one simple reason, that most of the people I know in eventing are highly aware of the many recent terrible accidents to horses and riders in our sport,, and are very worried about it.
It`s been my experience that people who are "on the firing line" in anything usually have very valid insights into what is going on, so I simply used this popular forum to "find" them.
How else could we have gotten over 200 responses in less than a week from riders at many levels, parents, organizers, tds, coaches,jump judges, horse owners, etc.?
It is a feature of eventing that a great many of those who are passionate about the sport, and extremely knowledgeable, are not members of either the USEF or the USEA. There are hundreds of unrecognized horse trials where you don`t have to be a member of any organization to compete, and it`s my guess that there are nearly as many non affiliated eventers out there as those who are members.
These non members include riders, parents, land owners, horse owners, engineers, doctors, nurses, jump judges, EMTs, breeders, event volunteers, and so forth. In many ways, get rid of them, and we eliminate the base of the eventing pyramid, the essential foundation of the sport.
So I think that the idea of accepting safety related input from only members of USEF/USEA ignores a basic reality of eventing.
I also believe that the key word is DIALOGUE. This isn`t some situation where anybody cares who comes up with ways to make eventing safer. It isn`t some contest. It`s a search.
I`ve been involved in many of these brainstorming initiatives, and the first rule of engagement is that at the outset, THERE ARE NO BAD IDEAS.
You put everything on the table, then you start to wade.
So I would hope that ALL committees that are formed to work on this issue will solicit input from a very wide and diverse group of interested parties, and then sift out the salient points.
Please let`s not get into some "contest" over who has a say, or doesn`t have a say. We all have a say, because it effects us all, our horses, our friends, and we ourselves who ride.
The DIALOGUE has only begun. Any SOLUTIONS are way out there in the future, so let`s try to work cooperatively, because this isn`t going to be easy.
Ther`s no such thing as a safe risk sport, but it can be made less dangerous,
I really hope.

LisaB
Apr. 26, 2007, 08:09 AM
Had an interesting conversation last night.
We were specifically talking about kids who ride because we are appalled at the behavior kids today possess. WHAT THE HECK HAPPENED TO 'IT'S YOUR FAULT, NOT THE HORSE'S'????
Since this thread and others and hearing about the blame storming, this is where it's gone awry.
And I don't think it's solely kids, there are some adults too. We generally are wiser and more cautious though.
One thing is that when learning to ride, those riding schools need to take the responsibility of not only teaching the student to ride in a balanced seat(get off that neck!), but also instilling in the parent/adult our responsibility of a horse. They aren't a skateboard!
I would love to see a small book, Horse Show Parents for Dummies. I would love for it to be in the format of For Dummies because it would spell out the basics. I'm not talking about specifically for eventing. Yes, your kid can go out that Sat. night but get your butt to the barn before hand and take care of your injured horse. It's not just about riding, it's about caring for a very large animal as well.
Also, the beginning riding schools NEED to lay it all out if you intend for your kid to ride. I think the parents get blindsided or they just become blind to taking care of an animal.

frugalannie
Apr. 26, 2007, 08:17 AM
I think that the reaction you got to the "include your USEA/USEF number" request was for two reasons:

1. As a group, we are genuinely concerned that valuable information from non-members might be ignored. If this is a requirement only for your personal e-mails, you have every right to do this. We just hope that it isn't a requirement for everything the committee considers.

2. As eventers, we really don't have the time or interest to sit around and flood your e-mail box with multiple notes under various aliases. It's not different politics, it's different priorities. (And I hope many fewer political issues: we tend to stay clear of them!)

There have been some very generous offers of time and expertise from contributors to this thread. I hope that the committee can find a way to incorporate them. There have also been some comments that have really described the issues as we see them and many that proposed solutions. I don't think there is a reason to repeat them to your e-mail, but I do think that may be a way to get more detail and start an exchange with some of the great thinkers in eventing. (NOT an oxymoron, as this thread proves)

I wish the committee the best of luck, and truly hope that an open-minded, broad-based approach to safety will result in findings that benefit all riders and their horses.

And if you won't consider this reply without it, my USEA# 26001. I won't be e-mailing you directly.

Ja Da Dee
Apr. 26, 2007, 08:22 AM
OK, I am a cynic. This committee, like most politicians, only cares about their voting constituents.


Hopefully, this committee is just supposed to brainstorm the types of people they need to get together for a real study.

IMO, for the next 12 months, they need to require everyone who has a non-speed related penalty point on XC to fill out a questionaire regarding the penalty. Even if they say "I can't determine why we stopped" tells us something, doesn't it?

53
Apr. 26, 2007, 08:39 AM
Denny, I've read through this entire thread, over several days, and felt like I had nothing to contribute. Then it dawned on me.

In my line of work, we mitigate risk every day. Whether it be flying, or turning wrenches, we have very extensive programs that have studied the risks involved as well as how to mitigate them. There is an entire department of the Navy devoted to this - the Naval Safety Center.

Years and years ago we adopted Operational Risk Management from the airlines and saw an incredible decrease in aviation accidents. Nowadays most of us grumble about how we "ORM everything to death" - but though we grumble, saftey and risk management have become a part of our culture.

Safety has become a part of our everyday language and thought. We fill out ORM worksheets every time before we fly to actively assess the risks involved and how they have been mitigated.

The Naval Safety Center has a website anyone can get to, with detailed information about safety and risk management and mitigation. The idea being that the things we do everyday in our line of work are dangerous, hence the Risk, but we have adapted methods and a way of thinking to Manage those risks as best possible to a more acceptable level.

I am more than willing to see how any of that information can be applied to our sport if given a little direction of how it might be helpful, if at all.

swansong
Apr. 26, 2007, 08:44 AM
I don't think anyone can deny that the majority of the accidents are caused by bad riding. I have seen even so many "professionals" who don't seem to know what they are doing, giving clinics too beginers. If you are not going to teach the riders how to ride, then don't try to trap the horses over fences that are optical illusions with false ground lines,etc. At least give the horse a chance to get out of trouble even if the rider doesn't know what he or she is doing. On another note, don't you think it is fairly obvious that the saftey committee of the USEF would rely on getting feedback from its membership. Instead of compplainiing, maybe some of you should join the USEF aand have a voice.

bornfreenowexpensive
Apr. 26, 2007, 10:03 AM
I don't think anyone can deny that the majority of the accidents are caused by bad riding.


Actually I would....I think there is a big difference between bad riding and missing or making a mistake. We all miss. No one rider or horse is perfect. At the higher levels, the consequences of those "misses" are more severe. There is "bad" riding at the lower levels....and in many ways I expect this...those are introductory levels with many inexperienced riders. You can not become a good rider with out experience.....I'm actually not that concerned about bad riding at the lower levels since most horses can compensate at that level for bad riding. And while riders/horses can and do get hurt at the lower levels, I don't think the issues below Prelim are the same as those above.

I've personally witnessed one fatality of a rider, and several of horses. These were all above Prelim. None were a result of bad riding....but perhaps miscalculation....horse left long....others, I'm not sure I know what happened. All were very good riders.

Perhaps bad riding is the cause of the accidents at the lower level but I'm not sure it is for the upper levels. There is also very little we can do to stop bad riding. What we can do, as one of the previous posted mentioned, is mitigate the risk of harm. We can examine what can be done to make the accidents more survivable....footing, jump construction, safety equipment. We can design courses that ask answerable questions. I believe one of the reasons CDs begain adding skinnies and certain other questions on to x-c courses was as a result of the perception that these types of question are "safer" then the big a** giant scope questions that we had from years past. It was thought if a rider missed to the skinny combination, or corner combination....this would more likely result in a run out then a fall. What we need is data. Is the perception a correct perception. Have the technical courses created more falls or less? Or while they may be creating less falls, are the falls that are occurring more dangerous?

I'm a member of the USEA and USEF....but I also don't think my statements are anything that most active riders/eventers are not already aware of. I wish the committee the best of luck. I think that there are answers out there....but finding them and implimenting them....well that may be a very hard battle.

roastedtoasted
Apr. 26, 2007, 10:04 AM
I think if you break it down you have two issues. On the organizers side there should be some responsibility for the quality of the facility from the horse's point of view. The first event that I've had a hand in as a volunteer was about twenty years ago. I was amazed at the level of attention that was paid to the design, construction, and layout of the courses. I feel that attention is has slowly devolved. It would be quite simple to develop online testing for anyone who wishes to organize an event or work as a TD. They would be required to exhibit knowledge regarding the rules that dictate course design, distances, fence design, ect. They would need to correct the test to 100%. I believe this passive system requires a little time invested for the sake of safety, and potentially puts everyone on the same page when it comes to the rules. After the initial time is invested by a group to devise test questions by interpreting the rules and forming a simple study guide, the only work remaining is updating each year as rules change. A small fee could be charged that would cover publishing costs.
Unfortunately the other group are the unprepared horse and rider teams who will invariably show up. That's tough. How do you deal with clueless people who just drove 100 miles with their kid because their trainer said "Go for it, it'll be fun!" One solution may be to empower certain folk with the ability to make a judgement call about the safety of a horse/rider team. A horse who is totally schooled at home and hasn't been off the farm in a year probably won't fare well. If the horse is out of control, well that's a nobrainer. But the kid who's overfaced and scared to death because mom and dad have shelled out the bucks and now they have to perform, but they've been too ambitious in their choice of level? Well how about instead of sending them home giving them the opportunity to ride in a lower level, perhaps unjudged in fairness to the other competitors, for the sake of experience. I do realize how touchy that suggestion will be for a lot of people, but when safety is involved, why take chances? I for one have stood by many times cringing, or not being able to watch at all, only to find out later that the rider is down. I hate sirens.

pegasusmom
Apr. 26, 2007, 10:43 AM
To respond to roastedtoasted - I am thinking at the moment of the organizers I know in Area II (at least in NC). One has competed through Intermediate. One is currently competing at Prelim. One has competed through Training and is starting a new horse. I guess I am the weak link as I gave up jumping for Lent quite some time ago, but I do have a 16 year old son who events (currently at training). I have to hire a licensed course designer. My TD looks at the courses twice - once at a 6 week pre-event check, again just before the event. The PoGJ looks at the course again just before the event. This isn't just my events - it's standard procedure at every event.

Testing for all officials is ongoing in order to keep up their license. Even dressage judges. And TDs, dressage judges and Pogj can eliminate any horse rider combination that appears dangerous. Should that be exercised more often? Don't know.

What I think we need to do is avoid knee-jerk reactions.

NMK
Apr. 26, 2007, 10:50 AM
While we're just exchanging ideas, here's one that might be beneficial to people like myself, who has coaches for different disciplines and no one available to coach at events...

Can we have a course walk with the course designer for each level? It would be so beneficial to me, and I think others, to have each fence explained by the person who put it there, and why it's there, and what it tests. It would also give us an opportunity to see the course path and better understand his/her lines for time. I am not saying make this mandatory, but it could be available and part of the program. I know, for myself, I would not MISS an opportunity to learn from the designer, and if not him/her, then someone he/she could appoint as a representative to relay the thoughts that went into the design of each element.

Ok that's a thought for the lower level folks like myself.

At the higher levels, one thing that I have noticed after not seeing Rolex for almost nine years, and then going back in 2000...there are so many more changes in pace. It kind of reminded me of the World Cup jumping last weekend, you need an extremely fit, adjustable horse that has great balance. Any small mistake, fatigue, lapse in judgement or lack of communication is going to cause a mishap. When a rider/horse has to slow down, speed up, slow down, there are going to be a number of different types of falls, because there are a larger number of decisions.

Nancy

Janet
Apr. 26, 2007, 10:51 AM
I don't think anyone can deny that the majority of the accidents are caused by bad riding.
Until I see a statistical analysis to the contrary - I, for one, would "deny it". Especially for the accidents at tthe upper levels.

And even when "bad riding" IS a factor in an accident, there are easily 10 times as many cases of equally, or worse, "bad riding" that do NOT result in accidents.

Personally, without benefit of statistical analysis, I would say
1 Bad luck
2 Fatigue (horse OR rider)
3 Safety equipment
4 Fence construction (I have seen quite a few fences that are "ideal candidates" for frangible pins, but don't have them.)

Janet
Apr. 26, 2007, 10:59 AM
I think if you break it down you have two issues. On the organizers side ...
Most of what you describe is already in place, especially with regard to TDs. (I do not know WHERE you got the idea that TDs don't have training and testing. There is also a written guide for cross country design and construction, and requirements to use licensed (trained, tested) course designers.)

Unfortunately the other group are the unprepared horse and rider teams who will invariably show up. You COULD go with a variant of the French and German systems, where you have to pass a riding test before you are allowed to compete. But trying to get that implemented in the US (both logisitcally and culturally) would be a nighmare.

roastedtoasted
Apr. 26, 2007, 11:08 AM
Sorry I was too broad for you, but the point was to require everyone involved in the planning of an event to do the training. Very often when the TD shows up, there are long lists of items that have to be fixed, often right up to competition. The idea is to get everyone on the same page, and reduce some of the variables that exist today. It seems to be a case today that the show must go on even when discrepancies exist.

pegasusmom
Apr. 26, 2007, 11:23 AM
It seems to be a case today that the show must go on even when discrepancies exist.

Not in my experience.

adamsmom
Apr. 26, 2007, 12:10 PM
I personally have spoken with Jonathan Clissold of British Eventing about how they collect data & send to TRL and how we can begin doing the same to help establish a broader database of falls and fall data.

I have spoken to USA Hockey, US Ski & Snowboard, US Pony Clubs and other organizations about their crisis management plans and how they handle catastrophic injury.

I have personally compiled the relatively sparse data we have relating to accidents and falls in the US for the committee to review, so that they can brainstorm how to improve the collection of this data. In the end, we most likely will adopt the FEI/BE falls forms and reporting system.

Members of the committee met with Roy Burek of Charles Owen yesterday to review helmets and helmet safety and to discuss studies that are ongoing in Ireland using steeplechase jockey with motion sensors in their helmets, as well as a study being done by the NFL.

I also personally printed this thread immediately prior to the meeting yesterday for the committee to review.

As for the qualifications, or lack thereof, of the members of this committee:

Melinda Roalstad is former medical director of US Ski & Snowboard. She is a PA and has her masters in exercise physiology. She was also instrumental in developing the emergency medical plan and catastrophic injury protocol for the International Ski & Snowboard Federation.

Dr. William Brooks is a renowned neurosurgeon who has been very involved with USPC, the AMEA and USEF for years and was instrumental in getting the approved helmet rule passed. He has also been medical director for Rolex since 1982.

Derek Di Grazia and David O'Connor are both FEI Course Designers and former/current upper level athletes. In fact, both David and Mick Costello developed a predecessor to the frangible pin many years ago at Radnor. David also was part of the Hartington Committee and will most likely head up the new FEI Safety Committee that is being formed. They are also both instructors and clinicians.

Bill Moroney is president of USHJA and a strong proponent of approved helmets and safety cups. He is also a life-long hunter/jumper trainer with an impressive clientele.

Andrew Ellis manages or co-manages many horse shows around the country and has assisted with NAYRC for several years in Lexington, VA. He was also very proactive in getting the approved helmet rule passed for USEF.

If you don't know the qualifications of the rest of the committee, I can detail those as well, but I believe they speak for themselves.

So please, before you speak detrimentally of this committee and the work they are trying to do, give them a little of the benefit of the doubt. None of them are doing this for personal glory, but rather for the betterment of the sport. Everyone on this committee has a deep passion about equestrian sport, whether it comes from the hunter world or the eventing world.

There are many reasons to ask for identifying information when soliciting response from a public internet forum. While most of you may not submit multiple emails under multiple aliases, you all must know that there are those who would happily do such a thing.

We continually review the comments posted to this thread and are continually seeking valid input, so thanks to all who have posted here.
If any of you have further input or ideas, I'm happy to receive them. It is best for me to get emails directly, as that is the way I communicate most easily during the day. My direct email is lclaywell@usef.org, and while some of you may not have the time to send direct emails to me, I appreciate all those who do.

Again, thanks for your time, and please don't hesitate to contact me should you have further questions.

Leigh Anne Claywell
USEF Safety Coordinator

JER
Apr. 26, 2007, 01:53 PM
from horseandhound.co.uk: Sixth event rider killed in nine months (http://www.horseandhound.co.uk/competitionnews/391/117436.html)

H&H reports that in addition to last weekend's death of a rider, there have been three serious injury accidents this season at novice or pre-novice (UK levels, sort of llike P and T) and two of those were rotational falls.

The article goes on to quote British Eventing sports committee chairman Mike Etherington-Smith:

"Safety is always the number one priority, but, sadly, accidents do happen. Novice courses are different to how they were 20 years ago, but the sport has progressed and that doesn't mean novice courses are too difficult."

But is 'too difficult' really the same thing as 'unsafe'?

IFG
Apr. 26, 2007, 01:59 PM
Another thought after reading about the death in the UK. A lot of these injuries and deaths seem to be due to head injuries. Is this because the falls are rotational or has something changed (for the worse) about the helmets?

CookiePony
Apr. 26, 2007, 02:22 PM
Not to detract from your main point, and I do not have any special knowledge of what happened at Senator Bell that day, but I was there as well. I thought, and I may be wrong, that he died from a heart attack not from hitting the stone wall. You may have better information than me though.

I remember that being one of the explanations that came out immediately after the accident, though I also had remembered hearing later that the cause of death was the injuries from the fall after all. I asked around just now and found out that, actually, the exact cause was never determined.

But, as you said, the main point still stands-- that an injury can hapen even to us lower-level riders and perhaps there are advances in safety equipment that could mitigate/prevent these.

Jazzy Lady
Apr. 26, 2007, 03:31 PM
I wonder, with majority of the sponsors for bigger events being from the Non-horsey set, if today's upper level courses are being focused too much on aesthetics and not enough on physics and functionality? The courses these days are beautiful, but maybe too much is "going on" for the horses to really comprehend properly. Just something I thought of while hacking today.

Stepping back to the speed/time issue, when I look at results I'm finding at the upper levels that time isn't really that big of a factor anymore because very few people are making the time. The winners of Advanced divisions have major time faults in some instances.

Those are my weird thoughts for the day... whether or not they make sense if up for debate ;) hahaha

Gnep
Apr. 26, 2007, 03:42 PM
Jazz Lady

You make a very important point. If you ride at P,I,A and you ride your heart out, race at top speed from jump to jump, and you still don't make the time, what does that tell you, that your horse is to slow ? that you did not ride tide enough lines ? or if it is not just you but most of the others have the same prob, that maybe the course designs have a problem ?

Carol Ames
Apr. 26, 2007, 04:16 PM
Surely lthe Brits/Kiwis/.Aussies have done:yes: ;) similar research

fooler
Apr. 26, 2007, 04:47 PM
Briefly,
I rode in my 1st event in 1974 and am returning to competition after an 11 year layoff. I am also a TD.

What strikes me most as I watch folks ride is how loose everyone is. Folks seem ok in dressage, so-so in stadium and the it gets very interesting on x-c. It "appears" that many horses and riders are not getting out of arenas except at competitions or x-c schoolings.
You have to ride across country or in fields or at least on uneven ground to teach your horse & yourself how to balance - to learn how to adapt to the horse's new striding. Also suddenly being in an open area normally creates excitement and/or tension for horse and rider.
We are not riding outside enough whether be it due to no or limited access, footing, time or . . .

A portion of the falls I see at the lower levels (prel & down) are folks get 'popped' off when the horse 'bounces' whether as a spook or stop or throws in a up-across-down jump.
Another portion of the falls of the other falls occur when the rider does not que the horse - be it for a step out of water or to look for the ditch followed by vertical in an 1/2 coffin. These riders state the horse never saw the obstacle!
The remaining falls are just bad luck, like the nice combination (cantering in balance, jumping well, very nice rider) that fell in stadium - the rider was kicked as the horse got up. Neither horse or rider made a 'mistake'. The horse's feet just slipped out from underneath him in area that no one else even bobbled.

It seems we have a choice - either return to original eventing format where cross-country is the heart and soul of the sport and train that way. OR go to combined tests where dressage & stadium are weighted equally.

Thanks Denny for all that you do.

Carol Ames
Apr. 26, 2007, 09:07 PM
:confused: Once again luck must have been the "deciding " factor in Seoul at theOlympics Remember that downhill fence early on the course? # 4 or 5 I think; both Karen O'Connor on the optimist and Ginny Leng on Master Craftsman, reigning world champions at that time They both hit the fence hard, and both riders got shot up into the air,:eek: but, Karen ended up on the ground chasing "Mr/ Bill" around the ranch, on foot; whereas Ginny came down in the saddle,:yes: was able to pick up her reins and continue on around the course.:yes:

KBG Eventer
Apr. 26, 2007, 09:34 PM
Briefly,
I rode in my 1st event in 1974 and am returning to competition after an 11 year layoff. I am also a TD.

What strikes me most as I watch folks ride is how loose everyone is. Folks seem ok in dressage, so-so in stadium and the it gets very interesting on x-c. It "appears" that many horses and riders are not getting out of arenas except at competitions or x-c schoolings.
You have to ride across country or in fields or at least on uneven ground to teach your horse & yourself how to balance - to learn how to adapt to the horse's new striding. Also suddenly being in an open area normally creates excitement and/or tension for horse and rider.
We are not riding outside enough whether be it due to no or limited access, footing, time or . . .

A portion of the falls I see at the lower levels (prel & down) are folks get 'popped' off when the horse 'bounces' whether as a spook or stop or throws in a up-across-down jump.
Another portion of the falls of the other falls occur when the rider does not que the horse - be it for a step out of water or to look for the ditch followed by vertical in an 1/2 coffin. These riders state the horse never saw the obstacle!
The remaining falls are just bad luck, like the nice combination (cantering in balance, jumping well, very nice rider) that fell in stadium - the rider was kicked as the horse got up. Neither horse or rider made a 'mistake'. The horse's feet just slipped out from underneath him in area that no one else even bobbled.

It seems we have a choice - either return to original eventing format where cross-country is the heart and soul of the sport and train that way. OR go to combined tests where dressage & stadium are weighted equally.

Thanks Denny for all that you do.

Exactly. I am pretty much the perfect example. :) I moved from a great farm with plenty of trails and some cross country. It was great, but then because of my dad's work we moved to Memphis. This is what I have to ride in...a sand and fenced in ring. No trails, unless you call hacking up and down the fairly busy road with hardly any shoulder a "hack." And guess what? I jump...like a few times a MONTH now. I am doing BN with wonderful and experienced horses, but *I* need the practice. My family is trying to fugure this all out. I have joined Pony Club which has already helped, and we are starting to arrange jumping lessons with a hunter/jumper person down the street.

I wouldn't call myself "loose" but I would say that I could get tighter in the tack! Also working on that. I have definitely perfected my dressage though. I learned to ride (as in posting on up) with dressage people (eventers in their young days,lol).


So yeah, "appears" it IS happening, and it kinda sucks, but I am always grateful I get to ride and with wonderful horses! My parents are THE BEST because another sport would be a lot easier on them (and less expensive!).

Carol Ames
Apr. 26, 2007, 10:00 PM
Unfortunately because of land use issues, very few people are able to get out side the ring and gallop and jump , foxhunts are losing their territory, and the hills and fields of Harford County, MD. where we used to have our paperchases , and trailswhich contained sections named "canter hill" , and "race field" "are now developed with golf courses, and McMansions:cry: :( ; indeed the type of instruction prevalent today is designed for people who will ride orly in the ring, I once had a dream :yes: to run a riding camp like the one I went to for several years, and which forms the basis for all I have done with horses; but, I wonder how an insurance company would look upon "water in the cup over fences. " "red rover , red rover" and bareback hunter four fences twice around with only a halter and rope shank.:eek: and the outside course classes whose disappearance I lamented in an earlier post:no: . We all recognize how important such activities are to learning to "Ride" but should there be a fall, and we ended up in court:eek: how hard or easy would it be to convince the court that those are accepted teaching activities. Do you suppose we could locate any "experts: familiar with such activities?

vineyridge
Apr. 26, 2007, 10:01 PM
KGBEventer and others

There are no fewer than 3 foxhunts in the Memphis area, all of which offer jumping cross country opportunities over non-manicured terrain. If you (and other eventers) feel the need for more work outside the ring, why not take advantage of your local foxhunts--and there are MANY of them in most parts of the country--and learn what eventers and steeplechasers of the past have always learned from foxhuntiing. It used to be that riders evented in the summer (foxhunting's off season) and hunted in the winter--weekly, sometimes twice weekly or even more frequently. Eventing was SAVED by foxhunters after the military connection was broken.

Return to your roots and practice your riding skills in ways that test balance and reflexes in a way that you won't ever find in the ring or occasional XC schooling runs.

I'm sure the foxhunters would love infusions of eventer spirit and youth.

Think about it. In many areas, hunting is cheaper than eventing, and they do use one set of your clothes.:) :yes: You could be some of those who hunt to ride--and there are lots of them already.

magnolia73
Apr. 27, 2007, 08:50 AM
You know-
I second foxhunting- and there is a chaos to it that sharpens your auto reflexes to stay tight in the tack and I imagine that sharpens your horse's instincts. They are essentially in a herd.

I spent 20 years riding in a ring, then switched to riding at an event barn and never quite got the flow of riding on terrain. One day, I got a chance to hunt a very steady hunter and it was a bit of trial by fire galloping down my first hill- BUT, I felt my instincts and body take over and halfway down it felt fun and natural. It would be interesting to see if falls were becoming frequent among foxhunters.