In response to an earlier comment, I'm sure I too could grab mane and make it around a 4' course, but I wouldn't dream of compromising my horse in that way. It takes a good ride to get a horse over those courses, those riders showing at that level make it look easy because they have a great deal of talent, experience, and training. Now let's throw into the mix catchriding. From what I saw I would say that these riders are not qualified to do that, somebody needs to step up to that fact. I didn't see more than a few rides either but what I saw was a show of guts rather than a show of ability or endurance. And I agree that the horses I watched were saints, they looked scared but they were making good decisions wherever possible, and sometimes those decisions were not to jump.
How can these competitors not ride for fear getting hurt, when the result is to not only compromise themselves in competition, but now they are also increasing the risk of injury to the horse. Remember, the horse has no say in whether or not they WANT to compete.
If the sport sees the need to include an equestrian event why not a flat or dressage phase? Atleast that would test some skill without needlessly endangering the horses. Or what about an endurance ride?
The women definitely looked like better riders overall, than the men. It was raining during the mens' riding.
The riding portion of the pentathlon reminds me of the dressage portion of three day eventing - to many people it just isn't as important. They make up for the issues in riding with the other events.
Also, the Chinese horses may be very different than the European horses they are used to riding. The Chinese horse breeds generally have more 'wild' in them, much like a mustang that is third or fourth generation born in domestication will still carry a bit of a wild side - a mind of his own that is required to survive predators. These horse do remind me of them. When they know they can get away with something, they do - such as refusals. I can see the riders that are being more of passengers getting taken advantage of more than the ones that are more aggressive. Some of the riders may not be used to horses that just don't go over the jump just because you point them to that jump.
MODERN Pentathlon's top administrator said the horses were not to blame after an incident-packed showjumping phase wrecked the medal hopes of several competitors in the Olympic men's event.
Klaus Schormann, the president of the UIPM (International Modern Pentathlon Union) said the persistent rain had made the going at the Olympic Sports Centre course "very, very heavy" and it was that, together with a lack of riding skill, which caused problems.
But he also said the height of the fences for today's women's competition might be lowered if the weather didn't improve.
Unlike other equestrian events, riders in the modern pentathlon are not on their own horses. Instead, for the 12-fence showjumping phase, they are effectively reduced to a 'lucky dip' choice.
The show-jumping is the fourth section of a one-day, five-event competition which also features target shooting, fencing, swimming and a 3000 metres run.
Importantly, positions at the end of the show-jumping determine an athlete's position in the staggered start of the 3000m.
Eventual gold medallist Andrey Moiseev led after the showjumping and this gave him a 13-second head start in the distance race.
But David Svoboda, who had been third before the show-jumping, dropped down the field to 31st after his horse careered through the wall fence and then reversed back to do more damage.
The Czech, who led after the shooting, was one of five men in a field of 36 who failed to finish the 12-fence course.
No-one managed a clear, there were several falls, with the worst leading to a bloody face for France's John Zakrzewski, stamped on by his mount, and numerous refusals.
Before the competition began, questions were raised about the suitability of the horses provided by host China.
But Schormann said: "I saw the horse tests, and therefore I can say the horses performed excellently.
"It wasn't a matter of any horse. The weather conditions, because of the strong rain, made the ground very heavy, very deep and very slippy.
"Some of the athletes who are not so strong in riding were very afraid on the ground and on the way when they were jumping.
"As you know, not everybody is the best fencer, the best shooter.
"We will have a meeting now and speak about the competition tomorrow.
"If there is some more rain, we may have to do something about reducing the height of the obstacles."
Schormann said complaints about horses in pentathlon were nothing new.
"If someone is not performing well, immediately, the horse is bad.
"This is not true. I, as president was at all these tests, so I could judge for myself."
The field was an absolute mess, which made the riding much more difficult. It was difficult going for the horses, and I agree that several of the riders were not prepared for that factor. The jumps were lowered for the women's course the next day, which can account at least somewhat for the easier time some of them had.
Keep in mind as well, that as the host country, China was given at least one slot (not sure if it's one male and one female or just one slot)...so that athlete might not have qualified otherwise...and all these athletes did have to qualify for the Olympics...though the range in riding skills make it evident that someone can make up for a lack of riding ability in several other areas.
Oye. I'd like to say I admire their perseverance, but I can't. I respect their abilities in whatever sports they may excel at, but jeez... sometimes you just gotta throw the towel in. I agree, a simple test on the flat would suffice, and have less chances of being so traumatic.
Does anyone know where you can view this online? My vet's son (Sam Sacksen) competed in the pentathlon and placed 7th in the riding phase (got 18th over all, which wasn't too bad) but I wasn't able to find it on any of the main networks.
Last edited by Lesmiz_07; Aug. 23, 2008 at 10:51 PM.
Reason: I corrected the name of my vet's son, I had spelled his name wrong
Does anyone know where you can view this online? My vet's son (Saxton) competed in the pentathlon and placed 7th in the riding phase (got 18th over all, which wasn't too bad) but I wasn't able to find it on any of the main networks.
Look for the link "Modern Pentathlon Men's running and riding" or something like that.
It sounds like your friend is a better rider than those that I watched. I saw the first 10 minutes of the men's phase and it was all I could stomach. The riding was horrible and I felt so sorry for the horses. Honestly, if this is going to be an Olympic sport, can they not train and practice more for the riding phase? And, I think a simpler 3' course would suffice. It seemed like these riders didn't even have a clue how to ride combinations.
Does anyone (Lesmiz_07?) know if there is an international governing board for modern pentathalon? If so, do you have any info (name, website) about it?
I'd love to write a letter to someone - not that it would do much good, but it would make me feel better. I watched at least fifteen rides and quickly concluded that this type of riding easily qualifies as abusive.
Sorry Caroline, I don't know much about the sport or any governing bodies, just that I know someone competing lol and yeah I think he is a pretty good rider. I mean his dad his great with the equines in my area and they have always had horses so I imagine he's pretty familiar with them.
And thanks for the link! I hope I can stomach enough to maybe see him ride.
Yes, to be fair, those athletes are on their 3rd or 4th event of the day, and on new horses, etc. But honestly, this is the OLYMPICS, not some backyard rodeo. The riding is horrendous. It wouldn't make me so mad if it didn't put the horses at risk. Those poor horses are getting absolutely beaten for being run at jumps and pulled all around by incompetent riders.
What really gets me is the crowd-they're laughing and clapping in a manner that reminds me of some form of animal fighting or another sick spectacle. They find pleasure in this, and all I see is a rider being totally humiliated on a horse that is completely confused and is probably hurting in some way.
It's not right. I'm not saying we should go ruin their sport, but this is completely unacceptable. They should change the equestrian portion to dressage. Most of the riders seem competent enough to w/t/c, but throw a jump in their face...
Now I need to go rewatch the show jumping final to cleanse my mind of those rounds...
I just skimmed through the first two hours of the stuff (via the news link above) and was mortified by some of the stuff I saw! I did find the the round of Sam Sacksen at about 2 hours and 10 minutes into the clip (my vet's son who competed for the US) and I was pleased that his round was decently ridden. He had one refusal due to a striding error but throughout the course he stayed off his horses back, didn't yank on its mouth, and stayed with the motion decently so at least I don't think he shamed the US. However I def think that there needs to be some major revamping of this aspect of the pentathlon!
I'm curious as to how much riding these people *should* be putting in before they compete. They are cross-training, so time is limited, but could they pick up enough to ride reasonably well with say, 2 jumping lessons per week for a few months? Given that they are fit athletes, they'd have an easier time than many.
This reminds me of the episode of the BBC show "Faking It" where they took a woman who was a paid "exotic" dancer in the London club scene, who'd never ridden a horse in her life, and had her riding around a ~3 foot course in competition within 3 months or so. Now of course she was essentially a working student for a *very* good trainer during those 3 months, but she did pretty well (and kept riding after the show was over.) Very good show if you can find it.
I'm curious as to how much riding these people *should* be putting in before they compete. They are cross-training, so time is limited, but could they pick up enough to ride reasonably well with say, 2 jumping lessons per week for a few months? Given that they are fit athletes, they'd have an easier time than many. . . .
I'm not sure time in the saddle would do the trick - the whole thing is not that simple. I remember reading an article in the local paper (probably 2 or 3 Olympics ago) about a local guy who competed in pentathlon. Riding was the hardest portion for him - yes, he was a fit athlete, balanced, strong, etc. BUT he just didn't understand horses & really didn't CARE to understand horses. He was rather bored with the riding portion & just didn't put his heart into it. He couldn't comprehend a horse as another living being with a mind of its own - he just wanted it do do what he wanted & that was that, no fuss, no coddling, no cajoling. He had ridden for years, taken many lessons, etc. & was "getting better" but he just didn't "get it" as far as working WITH the horse. It takes a particular mindset to ride well & it's a rare pentathlete who will have that mind set.