I am in the process of building a bunch of cross country jumps, primarily for schooling, but also for the schooling shows I host here on my farm. Currently I host 6 shows a year that offer combined tests (GAG-Prelim) dressage (W/T-1st level with a % class), and event derbys through Training. I am seriously toying with the idea of offering a schooling horse trial in October, offering Starter-Novice with combined tests or derbies offered at GAG & Training/Prelim.
My question for you guys is this--would you rather have the schooling horse trials be on the small side for the levels, or would you rather have them be true to the level, size & question wise?
My jumps are built to USEA standards, so no worries about jump safety.
Yay!!! More schooling shows within Area IIIV I agree with TripleC. If you're going to offer starter-novice, you may as well make them regulation height. It is nice to have a soft show, but with that range, you can just show within your level. Thanks for offering to host future shows!
I like a schooling HT to start out on the small side (the first 5 fences), but finish true to the level. That way a green horse comes out, gains confidence and finishes like the brave event horse they will become!
Schooling events are typically for green horses, green riders, confidence gainers, or move up events. I like the courses to be mixed, that way the horse sees familar fences they are comfortable with as well as a few "challenging" ones that are true to regulation sizes.
It's always nice to have the first fence be a "friendly invite" at a schooling show, perhaps the first few a tad on the softer side, but if I'm entering one division, we're schooling the next level up-or a tad higher, so I like most challenges appropriate for the level, and even though it is a schooling show, I prefer to have the recognized "style" xc course...again, not too soft. We're already confident in the level we enter. We're at the show to really put it all together and have an aggressive "go".
I just wish your event were near my area!
Green Acres in New Hampshire holds schooling horse trials about once a month during the season. Every level except pre-elementary starts with the same log; it is about 2'3" and quite long. It's very inviting, though some horses just don't want to jump it for some reason. What happens after that varies according to level -- more logs for the lower levels, a little gallop followed by down-banks for higher, etc.
Is the OP intending to run a lower cost-of-entry horse trials or a genuine schooling show? A schooling show should be just that, allowing horses and riders to learn about a particular level in a less stressful environment, i.e. "soft courses". If it's going to be just an unrecognized horse trial then design the courses for the relevant levels according to USEF specifications.
But all the finest horsemen out—the men to Beat the Band—
You’ll find amongst the crowd that ride their races in the Stand
The way Olde Hope seemed to work it was they started with jumps that were below regulation and have been working their way up since.
Here are some pictures of the facility - the water 'jump' is about a 12" drop on one side and a slope in on the other. They started with just the one bank (the brick one if I am remembering correctly) and moved on to two others, including one double bank.
The jumps are really inviting and the course overall has always been a great confidence builder. I love going there - now just to have fun, but back in the days my mare was a lot spookier about jumps I felt a lot better there than some other places.
Looking at the pictures, they are still probably below regulation - they run greenhorne (teeny people over teeny logs) to Novice. For a strictly schooling show, a bit below regulation is nice to get a feel for the questions of the next level without the freak out of the next level. If they had a two foot trakehner jump there, I would be all over it.
I think by offering people green as grass and starter you make it easier to offer a BN course that is about average for the area. Although I think you should keep in mind that being a "schooling" show and having cheaper classes you may attract people with less experience who don't have a regular trainer, don't take clinics, and don't plan on running recognized. Plenty of them might want to have a ball at a slighter easier then average course but others might be a bit scary.
I would think that a good option would be making either the height or the width close to max but not both. Making water and ditches optional or even "bonus" points. Having an optional 2 stride for a shorter quicker route or a long route with one easier fence.
I also think you might consider offering a "Schooling" night the day before where you can pay a fee to school the night before, or a schooling fee the day off after the show is over for people to school a few of the bigger fences without the entire course.
At the same time you might add some "bonus" points for difficulty. Add in an option drop at BN or Starter, a swale in the ground for a ditch at Starter or GAG, a small log to jump out of the water at BN, optional water at Starter and GAG, etc. Dan Hobyn has an itty bitty teeny weeny sunken road that I have jumped through. So someone who might not be ready to put all the height together can school some of the fancier options at a show without worrying about height and speed.