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It's time for a new location for USDF finals

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  • It's time for a new location for USDF finals


    I went with a group I know as an extra set of hands for week; while there was quite a bit to see and do in the Alltech, I'm not sure I would be in a big hurry to sign up my horse up in future after seeing it firsthand.

    The overnight temperature fell to the low 20's on two different nights; the footing froze in at least one outdoor ring due to heavy rain the day before.

    One entire day of cold rain and wind; really brutal conditions. Those people who were stabled outdoors were dealing with early darkness, wet horses, wet tack, no water and no way to possibly get warm or dry. It was definitely not 'fun' - at least for the group I was with, and definitely not an environment that would bring out the best in most horses.

    Also, due to the subfreezing temps, the Horse Park staff blew the pipes and shut the water off outside. Stock tanks were set up in each aisle so that people could dip water from buckets (a direct violation of just about ANY bio-security SOP you could find). A tough situation with pipes freezing, but putting every horse at risk was the only solution? Those tanks also froze over during the night. Were the show managers aware of this?

    It seems like it's time to find a warmer venue or limit entries to those that can be accommodated indoors. I can't think of many shows where the environmental 'misery' level was that bad. Not many spectators at the outdoor rings - it was just too cold and windy. Sunday was the exception; beautiful and nearly 70 degrees but by then, a lot of people were headed home.

    The indoor heated barns were great; clearly that is the only way to keep sane when the outdoor conditions were less than ideal. My hat is off to the volunteers who layered up and dealt with it; you are braver than I.

    I realize the argument is that KY is fairly centrally located and there are not many venues with enough indoor space to accommodate this size of an event, but really: how on earth can the playing field be level for those poor souls who were stuck outside all week?

  • #2
    That sounds awful. Especially for those horses/people who come from warm climates and aren't used to competing in the cold. The centrally located bit was the compromise because those tasked with finding a western location couldn't come to an agreement and the idea to rotate the location was scrapped. Like everything else in our sport, it often comes down to who can afford to make the trek.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by DutchMuchToday View Post
      ...

      I realize the argument is that KY is fairly centrally located and there are not many venues with enough indoor space to accommodate this size of an event, but really: how on earth can the playing field be level for those poor souls who were stuck outside all week?
      Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma are centrally located, KY not so much by any map I've seen. If one really wants to be picky, move even farther west to be closer to Hawaii and Alaska.

      I have to say I'm experiencing a little schadenfreude after reading your description of the venue given the multiple statements by USDF that there are no "adequate" facilities in CA for this event.

      I've qualified / been invited to the alleged national finals several times, not even considering going until they rotate locations as originally promised.

      Comment


      • #4
        Sometimes you ride in crappy weather. I'm not sure how one crappy weather show has you wanting to pack up and go elsewhere. If it was 60 you wouldn't have started this post.
        http://weanieeventer.blogspot.com/

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        • #5
          ? The LAEC, Rancho Murietta and/or Blenheim (I think that's San Juan Capistrano area? Admittedly I don't know that facility, but I know they have big jumping competitions there) are not adequate?
          Last edited by Belowthesalt; Dec. 5, 2019, 01:45 PM.

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          • #6
            First of all, let me say that I love showing at KHP. But I am used to showing there in June and July. We have spectated at USDF Finals several times and I always feel like they are on the edge of disaster every year because the weather is so dicey in November. I don't blame people who don't feel like hauling across the country only to freeze.

            Rather than move, which has its own set of logistical nightmares (see Arabian Sport Horse Nationals who try to alternate each year and now, after a good show at Balmoral, find themselves high and dry, maybe, for 2021) I wonder how much more of a mess it would be to move the USDF finals back a month? Or even two weeks? It would probably be one year of confusion but better in the long run?

            Alternating coasts is a real problem. Oklahoma is booked in Sept/October, what with Arab Nationals, Morgan Nationals, and QH shows. Also, Tulsa or OKC can be darn cold and windy those months too. Talk to Arab or Morgan people about what fun bad weather is at either of those shows, but at least the stabling is all indoors. As I understand it, other central locations have their drawbacks as well. But I sure would understand why people would want to move.

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            • #7
              I'm going to wager a guess that OP is from Florida. Though I really don't know OP IRL.

              It's the standard complaint that happens after finals each year. The reality of it is that more of us live where it gets that cold than don't in this country. We learn to adjust. If it were to be held in Florida each year, the riders from the north would complain about having to clip for their horses to manage the heat for just one show.

              I don't know what shows OP is used to going to, but where I go, pretty much no levels get a big audience, regardless of the weather. I've been to regionals in gorgeous weather in early September and the only ones watching a first level championship WINNING ride are the people with connections to that rider. The location of finals isn't going to change that.

              I was at Finals all week, working, and this is the first I've heard that there was a water issue in the barns. Not saying that there wasn't an issue, but it is the first time I've heard of it.

              The footing - yes, they delayed the start and moved a couple of classes around on Friday, but I've seen that happen, or alternatively, footing being so crappy from rain that tons of people scratch when crappy weather has happened at a warm weather location or during the summer. I've been at finals for the last 4 years and this is the first time that they've had to make an adjustment due to the weather/footing. The one thing you can't control is the weather. All you have to do is look at WEG 2018 to see that. Not for nothing, you can get some monster storms anywhere in the south until December, and if you think they don't get snow in Denver in November, you're not paying attention.

              All this being said, even with the location of Finals at KHP being my first choice for relative convenience for me, I've said for years that the west coast riders got sold a bill of goods over the finals. It was initially approved based on a three year east coast/west coast location. At year 6, it still hasn't happened. It should.

              My understanding is there is an issue getting anyone other than KDA to even submit a bid for the show. How do you move a show that only one entity bids on? Not for nothing, KDA has a battalion of volunteers that they get at every show. A show of the magnitude of finals needs that to run well. Do other locations that are capable of holding a show of this size have the volunteer base necessary to make it run well? Things like that have to factored in to a selection for location and management of a show like this.

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              • #8
                Additionally - as someone who is not a Lexington weather expert, I'll pitch this out there (and it very well may be an incorrect thought): How characteristic was this year's weather?

                I know many places have had unusually cold falls (record breaking autumn weather, actually), all across the US. Is Lexington one of those places who was dealing with a colder and wetter season than is average? I feel like that's been a pretty standard theme this year for many places (especially in the Midwest).

                Bad weather sucks, and it sounds like the KHP needs to figure out contingency plans for freezing weather - but if it's not the norm for that time of year, then instead of throw the baby out with the bathwater, I think it's reasonable to give venues and planners room to devise solutions.

                (That said, rotational schedules for finals for accessibility reasons would be grand - but saying that they should "find a warmer venue" doesn't actually level the playing field for those of us who don't live in warm locations and would still have to pay hand over foot to even get to a "warm weather" location...)

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Edre View Post
                  Additionally - as someone who is not a Lexington weather expert, I'll pitch this out there (and it very well may be an incorrect thought): How characteristic was this year's weather?
                  I think it was pretty typical, (average for Nov is high of 55, low of 37), but if you really want to geek out, this page lets you go year by year and see. I can't remember what year the finals started in KY, but if you knew, you could check out all years since it started.

                  https://www.usclimatedata.com/climat...ky1079/2019/11

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by oldernewbie View Post

                    I think it was pretty typical, (average for Nov is high of 55, low of 37), but if you really want to geek out, this page lets you go year by year and see. I can't remember what year the finals started in KY, but if you knew, you could check out all years since it started.

                    https://www.usclimatedata.com/climat...ky1079/2019/11
                    I do like to geek out, so this is very useful. Thank you for sharing with me!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by oldernewbie View Post
                      Rather than move, which has its own set of logistical nightmares (see Arabian Sport Horse Nationals who try to alternate each year and now, after a good show at Balmoral, find themselves high and dry, maybe, for 2021) I wonder how much more of a mess it would be to move the USDF finals back a month? Or even two weeks? It would probably be one year of confusion but better in the long run?
                      One of the issues with this is the feeder aspect of the qualifying shows. They've got the get all regional championships finished, and allow people to make arrangements to get to finals (it's hella more complicated when it involves shipping a horse, not just yourself). If you push regionals back 2-4 weeks, you take the northern people who have a short show season already - good luck having it be dry enough to get ready to show in early May (my barn's indoor is way shorter than a full-size dressage ring) - and then shorten their show season another 2-4 weeks.

                      There honestly isn't a perfect answer - some group is always going to feel screwed.


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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Edre View Post
                        Additionally - as someone who is not a Lexington weather expert, I'll pitch this out there (and it very well may be an incorrect thought): How characteristic was this year's weather?
                        The rain sucked early in the week - but I feel like it was generally slightly warmer than the previous year (I was wearing fewer layers and I was sick as hell all week). I have no real memory weather-wise of years prior to last, other than my previous commentary about southern people whining that it is cold and northern people saying "suck it up".

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by oldernewbie View Post
                          First of all, let me say that I love showing at KHP. But I am used to showing there in June and July. We have spectated at USDF Finals several times and I always feel like they are on the edge of disaster every year because the weather is so dicey in November. I don't blame people who don't feel like hauling across the country only to freeze.

                          Rather than move, which has its own set of logistical nightmares (see Arabian Sport Horse Nationals who try to alternate each year and now, after a good show at Balmoral, find themselves high and dry, maybe, for 2021) I wonder how much more of a mess it would be to move the USDF finals back a month? Or even two weeks? It would probably be one year of confusion but better in the long run?

                          Alternating coasts is a real problem. Oklahoma is booked in Sept/October, what with Arab Nationals, Morgan Nationals, and QH shows. Also, Tulsa or OKC can be darn cold and windy those months too. Talk to Arab or Morgan people about what fun bad weather is at either of those shows, but at least the stabling is all indoors. As I understand it, other central locations have their drawbacks as well. But I sure would understand why people would want to move.
                          One of the reasons the arab people are staying away from the east coast is the threat of hurricanes. Dealing with a possibly coming oh wait it's not oh wait it is hurricane running a 500 horse show is one thing, but the complete and total meltdown of some competitors is another. There are also some arab people that came from the main ring world, where all shows were indoors, and they get highly offended at the thought of riding outside. The open show people tell them to buy a rain coat.

                          Appropriate facilities who actually submit a bid is another big one. That showgrounds 4 minutes from your barn either doesn't have enough rings for a big show, or their cost is so high the show can't afford it, because God forbid show fees be raised.
                          http://weanieeventer.blogspot.com/

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                          • #14
                            One possibility could be to split the show in half. They could have have some combination of levels one week and rest the following week. Organize it so that the stabling doesn't exceed what can fit in the indoor areas. It would be an absolute headache for organizers and competitors who have multiple horses competing in multiple finals because they'd have to stick around for two weeks and change out horses.

                            BUT I bet they'd only have to run it like that one time for thin skinned competitors to call uncle and go back "sucking it up"

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Some breeds do their world shows well after their qualification. I believe this show should be treated the same way. Wait until most of the country can typically get there without snowy passes, and so the riders who are surprised at this one chance to have qualified can save up to go. Obviously they will be farther in their schooling, but everyone should already be schoooling above the level they are showing anyway. Scores would likely be higher because of it, but who would complain about national championships having really well ridden tests?

                              I also doubt the claims of inability to find suitable locations. I believe it was an excuse because it's easier for USDF to do what they want.
                              If Kim Kardashian wants to set up a gofundme to purchase the Wu Tang album from Martin Shkreli, guess what people you DON'T HAVE TO DONATE.
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                              • #16
                                Originally posted by rothmpp View Post
                                I'm going to wager a guess that OP is from Florida. Though I really don't know OP IRL.

                                It's the standard complaint that happens after finals each year. The reality of it is that more of us live where it gets that cold than don't in this country. We learn to adjust. If it were to be held in Florida each year, the riders from the north would complain about having to clip for their horses to manage the heat for just one show.
                                Just my two cents, as a rider who lived the first 28 years of their life in Ohio - weather as OP described is zero fun to ride in for anyone, even people who are "used to it," much less the judges, scribes, show staff, and volunteers to stand around in all day. There's a reason big show people from up north winter down south, and why there are more boarding facilities up north that have indoor arenas than those that don't. It's freaking brutal, and miserable. I would be extremely unhappy (and likely just would not have gone after looking at the forecast) to spend that much money to show in those conditions.

                                Also, just saying, IME, most people who plan on maintaining a riding schedule (5-6+ days per week) through the winter up there are clipping their horses, whether they're going to show or not during that time. I really doubt a major complaint about moving the finals further south would be that riders have to clip.
                                Last edited by mmeqcenter; Dec. 4, 2019, 12:22 PM.
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                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Edre View Post
                                  Additionally - as someone who is not a Lexington weather expert, I'll pitch this out there (and it very well may be an incorrect thought): How characteristic was this year's weather?
                                  I can't answer that with statistics and wasn't there this year, but I did go to Finals twice (the first two years they were held I think), and both years we got at least one day and/or night of cold, miserable rain. Both years my poor horse's stall flooded. The only thing keeping the rain from blowing straight into the outdoor stalls was plastic sheeting, which by the way makes a horrible racket in high winds. I think cold weather is just a reality for that latitude at that time of year. I don't recall footing or plumbing issues though so maybe this year was worse. Moving Finals up would be problematic because of all the regional championships that have to take place enough in advance for people to make arrangements. I'm glad I got to go twice, but the third time I qualified it was only for one class (GP Freestyle) and I decided it wasn't worth the expense or stress on my older horse.
                                  Building and Managing the Small Horse Farm: http://thesmallhorsefarm.blogspot.com

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                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Edre View Post
                                    (That said, rotational schedules for finals for accessibility reasons would be grand - but saying that they should "find a warmer venue" doesn't actually level the playing field for those of us who don't live in warm locations and would still have to pay hand over foot to even get to a "warm weather" location...)
                                    What about all of us in the West (about 40% of the membership is out west!) who have to pay hand-over-foot every year to go to the East Coast for KY Finals? And ride in horrific conditions that neither they nor their horses have ever been exposed to?

                                    Originally posted by rothmpp View Post

                                    My understanding is there is an issue getting anyone other than KDA to even submit a bid for the show. How do you move a show that only one entity bids on? Not for nothing, KDA has a battalion of volunteers that they get at every show. A show of the magnitude of finals needs that to run well. Do other locations that are capable of holding a show of this size have the volunteer base necessary to make it run well? Things like that have to factored in to a selection for location and management of a show like this.
                                    But that isn't really true - I know Region 7 has tried several times to get the Finals moved here - we have several locations - Belowthesalt names a few here:

                                    Originally posted by Belowthesalt View Post
                                    ? The LAEC, Rancho Murietta and/or Blenheim (I think that's San Juan Capistrano ara? Admittedly I don't know that facility, but I know they have big jumping competitions there) are not adequate?
                                    I'd add Del Mar to the mix, although reality is, Rancho Murieta is probably the best bet with 4 covered competition arenas (one stadium type), a covered warm up as well as MANY outdoor rings, permanent stabling and temperate weather. And heated restrooms, a hotel across the street, a conference center on the grounds, it is an amazing facility. I think it was in the 70s the week of Finals at Rancho Murieta... But - USDF has refused to even consider any of those locations, so essentially, no other show is ALLOWED to put in a bid.

                                    I don't think people understand the frustration and anger going on in the West over USDF's total disregard toward a huge part of their membership. It isn't just Finals, it is almost every program they run - and their response over and over and over is "GMOs can run programs too". Well, duh, and we do - but why should we pay the same dues as the East Coast when USDF doesn't serve us equitably? And how can you call a competition a national Finals when almost half your membership can't access the show due to distance, cost, and weather? And how can USDf call this a "central location" - have they ever looked at a map of this country? And WHO wants to go show in sleet and freezing weather? For riders and horses from the West (or Florida), this is inhumane conditions - our horses are not accustomed to it, nor are our riders.

                                    Yes, it is time to rotate, and yes the West was lied to by USDF. There was no intent to ever rotate the Finals. It was just a lie to get support from a large contingency of the membership. And they wonder why membership is falling rapidly?

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by rothmpp View Post
                                      ... The reality of it is that more of us live where it gets that cold than don't in this country.
                                      Could you please cite the source behind the above statement?

                                      I took a quick look at some population density maps for the US and concluded that they probably weren't of sufficient fidelity to ascertain where "more" equestrians lived. NY city is the largest, by population, city in the US, but I'm pretty confident they do not have the largest number of dressage competitors. I recall seeing once that there are more horses per capita in San Diego County than elsewhere (I admit, I can't cite my source either).

                                      The California Dressage Society is far and away the largest GMO in USDF land.
                                      Last edited by atlatl; Dec. 4, 2019, 04:31 PM.

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                                      • #20
                                        I don't think there is a way to make it 100% fair until we perfect teleportation. In the meantime, I wonder if maybe having two championships (one east/one west), would be easier on a lot of folks. East could be in FL, west could be in CA. Have the same judges at both - a week apart (because as someone pointed out upthread, we northern folks have very short show seasons). Then, the scores from each show are compared and declare champions based on the scores. If it's the same judges...should be fair? What do you think?

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