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  1. #1
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    Default Pro/Con: The short format is an experiment that has failed.

    I know this ground has been covered before, but in light of recent events, I think a new discussion is appropriate. With a shocking number of horse and rider deaths and serious injuries in the last 18 months, isn't it time to seriously reconsider the short format? I'm a strictly lower level rider, but wasn't a main argument for the short format the idea that it was SAFER for horse and rider?

    On the other hand, perhaps eventing is experiencing painful but necessary growing pains as the sport evolves into a modern format. We're not in the cavalry any longer. Training and conditioning methods must adapt, and we're just in the gray space between the past and the future right now. And, of course, it's hard to say how many of these accidents would not have happened with the long format, or how many were just plain unlucky.

    All I know is, I found watching multiple horses WIPE OUT on a hairpin turn after a drop at Fair Hill CCI*** last year to be totally harrowing and not really thrilling.

    Thoughts?



  2. #2
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    Phases A, B, C were part of the 3-day from the get-go FOR A REASON. Those phases prepared the horses for the cross country course. The new courses are idiotic and obviously are failing. I am too worn out to express myself well tonight, but I do agree, this has been a mighty expensive experiment. Maybe Eventing needs to shut down for a while. I am grateful to have a youngster right now, a 5 year old who will not be doing any YEH this year, and with no aspirations for P and I for at least 4 years. Maybe by then the game will have sorted itself out.



  3. #3
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    Can we please keep in mind that this was a CIC and NOT a CCI? Darren was doing a prelim horse trial.

    In the past year, how many deaths were on a CIC or HT, and how many were on a CCI (Elenaor Brennan I know was a CCI).

    I don't think this has anything to do with long vs short format but true cross country courses which encourages bold, forward riding, and overly technical courses that encourage backwards riding.



  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by yellowbritches View Post
    Can we please keep in mind that this was a CIC and NOT a CCI? Darren was doing a prelim horse trial.

    In the past year, how many deaths were on a CIC or HT, and how many were on a CCI (Elenaor Brennan I know was a CCI).

    I don't think this has anything to do with long vs short format but true cross country courses which encourages bold, forward riding, and overly technical courses that encourage backwards riding.
    But I see it as a trickle-down effect. As the CCI courses change to reflect the short format, so the CIC and horse trial courses will change to attempt to prepare horses and riders for the new challenge.

    To me, it all started to go to hell when A, B, and C left, and course designers at the top had to come up with new ways to make things challenging and to attempt to make up for the fact that a very important warm up phase was removed. Now, these 5 or so years later, what they have down at the top is trickling down and effecting horse trial, even lower level horse trial, course design.



  5. #5
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    It appears a "done deal" that the upper levels or so-called "pinnacle" of our sport has become this incredibly difficult technical entity known as XC. Horses and riders are called on at virtually every fence to be absolutely spot-on perfect or risk not just a glance off or a stop but real danger. What, then, is the POINT in teaching a horse to be a relentless galloper, capable of incredible feats of stamina and courage of the type demanded by the old format? Nope, that kind of horse is useless in today's sport. We need one that is capable of pulling off multiple incredible feats of athleticism every 20-30 seconds or so, from a show-jumping canter, who can also tolerate a dead run for 20 seconds in between jumps and come back, ready to do it again.

    No doubt courage is still required, but not the kind of courage that comes naturally to horses. To move effortlessly and to be naturally athletic is what Mother Nature intended. Obedience and a willingness to partner with a human is a happy accident. Ergo, dressage works. To RUN and JUMP and to KEEP GOING is what Mother Nature intended, even in the face of exhaustion. Courage is built in. Ergo, XC works. (or used to, when it was a test of what came naturally to a horse) To come back AGAIN after an exhausting day, because he must or because his partner asks, and to do what he's been schooled to do and because the creature is a natural athlete, comes naturally to a horse. Ergo, stadium works.

    But to run-stop-jump-jump-turn-run-turn-jump-run-turn-jump? Unnatural. The farther away from what comes naturally to a horse we get, the stupider and less safe the sport is going to become.

    Are there any horses still competing successfully at the upper levels who have ever done a *** or **** long-format CCI?
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  6. #6
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    Amanda, reread the original post-nothing was said about Red Hills, nor Darren. Classic Melody simply posed a question re: long vs short formats. Please let's not turn this into another Red Hills/DMC/CMP basher. Just discuss the original question.



  7. #7
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    I hate the short format. I liked the sport best the way it was in the mid-90's, a very nice balance of dressage, XC, and showjumping.



  8. #8
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    I know this ground has been covered before, but in light of recent events
    I may be reading too much into it, but that seems to be saying something about Red Hill (or the horrible rash of deaths in the past year + ).

    But, regarding the OP's question, while I think the long format is a beautiful thing, I don't think the short format is the evil thing that we often try to make it out to be. In theory, it still tests the endurance and horsemanship, most of our top riders will tell you the horses still need to be as fit. Where the plan has fallen down is in building overly technical courses with many complex combinations that you need to sprint to, then collect, collect, collect to make it around the course.

    I think bugs still need to be worked out of the system, but I don't think the short format, at least IN THEORY, is the evil behind the issues. It still boils down to course design.



  9. #9
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    SIMPLE SOLUTION
    Make the courses like they were meant to be in the calvalry, which is the BASIS for this sport.....
    galloping to....SINGLE natural obstacles- PERIOD.
    Eliminate the ridiculous non stop combinations that have to be show jumped.

    Eliminate the ridiculous combinations made of equally ridiculous disney characters
    =SIMPLE SOLUTION.... Why is that so hard?
    It would still be a tough testing competion, just not a death march.



  10. #10
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    DW- Upstage has been going strong for years. He has the occasional blips, but I don't think he shows any sign of slowing down. Same goes for Antigua, and Glenncarrick certainly didn't seem to care about the format change. I'm sure there is more, but these are the couple that immediately come to mind.



  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by yellowbritches View Post
    I may be reading too much into it, but that seems to be saying something about Red Hill (or the horrible rash of deaths in the past year + ).

    But, regarding the OP's question, while I think the long format is a beautiful thing, I don't think the short format is the evil thing that we often try to make it out to be. In theory, it still tests the endurance and horsemanship, most of our top riders will tell you the horses still need to be as fit. Where the plan has fallen down is in building overly technical courses with many complex combinations that you need to sprint to, then collect, collect, collect to make it around the course.

    I think bugs still need to be worked out of the system, but I don't think the short format, at least IN THEORY, is the evil behind the issues. It still boils down to course design.
    do you think that the short format has changed the way upper level horses are prepared for events? There's less to do, so has the conditioning been cut back?
    ~ it no longer matters what level I do, as long as I am doing it..~ with many thanks, to Elizabeth Callahan



  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by grayarabpony View Post
    I hate the short format. I liked the sport best the way it was in the mid-90's, a very nice balance of dressage, XC, and showjumping.
    This should be repeated over and over again.



  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by deltawave View Post
    It appears a "done deal" that the upper levels or so-called "pinnacle" of our sport has become this incredibly difficult technical entity known as XC. Horses and riders are called on at virtually every fence to be absolutely spot-on perfect or risk not just a glance off or a stop but real danger. What, then, is the POINT in teaching a horse to be a relentless galloper, capable of incredible feats of stamina and courage of the type demanded by the old format? Nope, that kind of horse is useless in today's sport. We need one that is capable of pulling off multiple incredible feats of athleticism every 20-30 seconds or so, from a show-jumping canter, who can also tolerate a dead run for 20 seconds in between jumps and come back, ready to do it again.

    No doubt courage is still required, but not the kind of courage that comes naturally to horses. To move effortlessly and to be naturally athletic is what Mother Nature intended. Obedience and a willingness to partner with a human is a happy accident. Ergo, dressage works. To RUN and JUMP and to KEEP GOING is what Mother Nature intended, even in the face of exhaustion. Courage is built in. Ergo, XC works. (or used to, when it was a test of what came naturally to a horse) To come back AGAIN after an exhausting day, because he must or because his partner asks, and to do what he's been schooled to do and because the creature is a natural athlete, comes naturally to a horse. Ergo, stadium works.

    But to run-stop-jump-jump-turn-run-turn-jump-run-turn-jump? Unnatural. The farther away from what comes naturally to a horse we get, the stupider and less safe the sport is going to become.

    Are there any horses still competing successfully at the upper levels who have ever done a *** or **** long-format CCI?
    Thnaks DW, can't say it any better......
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by RunForIt View Post
    do you think that the short format has changed the way upper level horses are prepared for events? There's less to do, so has the conditioning been cut back?
    I know for a fact that is not the case.

    I suggest reading William Fox-Pitts book. He talks about the end of the long format and getting accustomed to the short format, but he states SEVERAL times that the horses need just as much fitness work. By no means has he cut back.

    I know of at least a couple of BNRs that I think almost take the galloping to an illogical extreme. I'm obviously not privy to every UL riders fitness program, but I am to a couple, and I still see just as much good, quality fitness work being done (both the long hacks and trots and the gallops). In our barn, while Dunny still isn't even seriously jumping after his lay up, we are already starting to think about his fitness work and already getting him out and hacking every day. Once we have a better idea as to when he will return to competing, we will work backwards and start adding in more serious fitness work with swimming (to save his legs some), gallops, and lots and lots of hacks and trots. Same can be said for any horse in our barn that reaches the UL.



  15. #15
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    Bring back the long format! And I would LOVE to try out some of these "Galloping courses of yesteryear" that everyone talks about.

    Edit:

    Okay, this is actually VERY important to me. I am sixteen years old currently and I can confidently say that I am this sport's future. That is, I want to/will be your next Phillip Dutton or Karen O'connor and I am 100% devoted to it. I am currently working my way up the levels for the first time with a fabulous horse. This horse is not only a one in a million perfect mix of altheticism, courage, heart and kindness, but she is my best friend and has delt with my crap for years now and will continue too. I want the best for her. This is the horse whom you treat like a Qween because those couple minutes on cross country she becomes pure gold.

    In my opinion, this sport should be the ultimate test of a horse and rider. Can they dance, can they run and can they put on their best face and dance again? As Deltawave said, this comes naturally to the horse. It comes naturally to MY horse. In MY opinion, she is a perfect event horse.

    But when the course becomes so taxing, so emotionally taxing..It becomes unfair, it becomes a trap. It takes a horse like mine and punishes her for trying so hard. When she trys her hardest and does her best, it just asks her to do it again...and again...And again...Until it is emtionanally and physically difficult. Then, if mistakes are made, we get hurt.

    Obviously you want to seperate the best from the good by the end of the weekend, but why must EVERYONE get so brutally beat up trying?

    I want courses that are forgiving enough that it is a question of who is brave and fit, NOT of who is still on their feet.

    What can I personally do? What must be done to bring back the long format? I can complain and hope forever, but what can I acctually do to help bring it back?
    Last edited by Kcisawesome; Mar. 16, 2008 at 11:13 PM. Reason: added alot.
    Team Awesome fo sho!



  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by yellowbritches View Post
    I suggest reading William Fox-Pitts book. He talks about the end of the long format and getting accustomed to the short format, but he states SEVERAL times that the horses need just as much fitness work. By no means has he cut back.

    I know of at least a couple of BNRs that I think almost take the galloping to an illogical extreme. I'm obviously not privy to every UL riders fitness program, but I am to a couple, and I still see just as much good, quality fitness work being done (both the long hacks and trots and the gallops).
    The problem with this, though, is that it is not a galloping sport anymore. It is, as DW so correctly stated, a jump, stop, turn, jump, jump, sprint off, stop, jump, sprint sport. And that 1: is totally exhausting in a way that high-level sustained effort is not; and 2: requires *very* different conditioning than the gallop and trot sets of yesteryear.

    I'll confess, I have little interest in the sport these days. After growing up eventing and continuing to do so for years after moving out to California, it is not the sport I knew or loved. I cannot EVER remember a huge number of catastrophic deaths and injuries such that have occurred over the past few years. I occasionally ponder going back, but until things change significantly in the sport, I will be bringing my horses up through the hunter/jumper ranks.



  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by closetoperfectionfarm View Post
    Eliminate the ridiculous combinations made of equally ridiculous disney characters

    I agree. These fences are not horse friendly. And the constant technicality is too much. See my thread about CMP course design.

    And although I am a long format supporter, this is a course design problem IMO, not really a matter of format. I don't think the results at Red Hills would really be any different if there had been R&T's and steeplechase before that same course.



  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by closetoperfectionfarm View Post
    Eliminate the ridiculous non stop combinations that have to be show jumped.
    SIMPLE SOLUTION.... Why is that so hard?
    It would still be a tough testing competion, just not a death march.
    I completely agree with this. I am too young to reminisce about eventing's heyday in the 70's, by the time I started playing in the sport lead weights were being done away with. But I remember a lot of awesome looking Phase D courses. They were open and inviting... if you had the guts for them... I was dying to get to that level.

    Even if they were to never bring back A,B, and C phases, D phase did not need to be modified much at all. I don't think a few combo's, or a few tricky spots are out of line in an upper level course (though please not at the same element). But, I also don't think the entire course should be a nonstop rollercoaster of Speed-slow-tricky spot combo-speed-slow-tsc.



  19. #19
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    Any of you who have The Horse in Sport on tape can find the segment on eventing. There is a lot of narrative by Col. Frank Weldon, discussing what goes into the design of an upper level course. Two statements come to mind that the sport appears to have lost sight of...

    one:
    The course should be so difficult that the best will be tested, but not so difficult that the rest will come away with nothing.

    two:
    The obstacles should be such that they are easy for the horse to jump, but difficult and frightening for the rider.

    Weldon designed the toughest courses in the world, came up with obstacles that no one had ever thought of (Weldon's Wall) and did not design punishing, no let up courses. He tried to reward the bold horse and rider.
    Unlike some modern courses which seem to be designed to tear a horse's confidence to shreds.

    Personally, I think the sport has lost its way.



  20. #20
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    Things have changed in the past few years. Since I have been in jumper land for 8 years I may not have business to comment but I competed through intermediate and before I made the switch to jumpers not many people nor horses had died...so therefore, SOMETHING IS OFF and maybe I'm not the best person to comment... but I witnessed upper level courses first hand at an early age and they are completely different now...much more tough and much more technical, not to mention more solid, so therefore less forgiving!!!!

    And for the ones of you that keep saying it's a freak accident...wake up! SOMETHING ISN'T RIGHT...and I don't give a flying f **** what level it is, this many freak accidents shouldn't happen, I don't care what sport it is!!! When more and more people and horses are dying on the course then it's time to reevaluate and make some changes.

    What's is it going to take for everyone of us to stand up and say enough, make some changes! People spend hundreds of dollars to go to a horse trials and compete...would you rather be faced with an impossible course that may scare you or your horse by weeding out the weak or would you rather the scores stay close all weekend...this isn't a cross country competition, this is a combined training competition. So before making the cross country next to impossible, discuss a way to challenge competitor's though out the weekend while giving them confidence. I've come off a challenging course and instead of saying "hell yeah, we did it!" I came off saying "Thank God, we lived"...that isn't a positive feeling and you don't learn from it!

    It doesn't come down to if a person is moving a horse/rider up faster than it should be moved up...eventing should be prepared for people who are moving up too fast because every sport has that.. in the long run, if a horse and rider moved up too fast then it will be proven by someone not placing well, not getting seriously injured of worse. It should be proven by them not making the US team, by having a stop at a tough question, by a dressage test that puts them so far back they can't keep up, by someone strictly saying...you aren't ready, rather you are qualified or not. Life is about people trying to push themselves, not whether we are in over their heads or not...we should be punished by moving up too fast...not killed!

    As I said, freak accidents are going to happen...but eventing has had just too many freak accidents in a short period of time and if something isn't done soon then even I personally believe upper levels of eventing should be gone. These horses are capable of jumping these heights, 4 foot is nothing for an athletic horse...so make these jumps jumpable and make it where if a horse misses one step they will recover...if jumping was meant to be perfect we would be doing the hunters!
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