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FEH Question

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  • FEH Question

    We just had a conference call with USEA and Bruce and Staci Griffin about how possibly to differentiate our eventing Future Event Horse classes from similar ones oriented at mainly dressage horses.
    It was Bruce`s thought that we need to figure out a safe way to show the canter, since the canter/gallop is so key to the event horse.
    The thought is to not have the canter at the various qualifiers, at least this coming year, but to get some sort of moveable pen/corral for the finals in the fall so that gait can be shown.
    Yes, when youngsters are turned loose, even in a safe arena, there is a degree of risk.
    But is that risk minimal enough to justify letting the judges have a more total picture of the young horses?
    Thoughts, comments, suggestions???

  • #2
    I really like the idea. Perhaps it could be tried out at a venue with an indoor such as Waradaca? Certainly breed inspections have had horses moving free for years.


    • #3
      I think it is a good idea. I have been to many warmblood mare/foal inspections and the foals are shown at liberty. TB mares are shown at liberty for hanoverian inspections. I think as long as the area itself is safe and free from hazards it would be fine. Even a fenced arena should work. Perhaps 3 year olds could also jump through a chute at the finals?


      • #4
        At the Dublin Horse Show last year they brought in consultants from one of the verbands (Dutch, maybe?) to help make their free jumping safe and effective.

        They turned one of their smaller rings into a hitchcock (sp?) pen, complete with some system for swinging a gate so the horse could start in the center and survey the scene before being diverted into the oval lane.Might be worth checking with Dublin and/or some inspection experts to get some advice.

        Something I've seen at Hilltop Farm is they have these fabulous prtable panels which are light enough for me to carry one by myself, but between 4 and 5 feet tall and substantial enough they aren't tempting to jump. Made of 2X4s primarily. Much easier to work with than spare standards and poles, anda they don't look like jumps. I bet enough might tuck into a horse trailer to make it not too difficult to transport between venues, is USEA or a group of organizers were so inclined to make a set.



        • #5

          I was just thinking about that exact same thing the other day. I was thinking that it was weird that we would judge eventing horses without seing their canter.

          At the different stallion inspections and breed inspections (BWP, AWR, RPSI) they always turn the horses loose after presenting them in hand. And so far, I haven't seen anything bad happened.

          I just have one question. When I think about these breed inspections, I remember that most of the babies were pretty up and it translated in a very bouncy/choppy cross cantering type of canter that is very hard to judge.

          In France, we also have classes open for young stock and they pretty much build a chute (it's right in between the size of a small dressage arena and a round pen), and they turn them free in it. If you want, I can provide you some pictures. The good thing with that system is that it's safe for the horses, the handlers and the judges. It doesn't take forever to catch the horsie and the panel are so high that I have yet to see a horse who would try to jump out of it. They also can't pick up to much speed and work themself into a frenzie
          Last edited by mademoiselle; Feb. 28, 2008, 09:08 AM. Reason: pelling


          • Original Poster

            The main contact person for this at USEA is Emily Dailey.
            She`s at the nat`l office,703-779-0440, extension 3015, (or email her there), and is probably the best bet to bounce ideas off of.
            These programs are often works in progress, and we`re always looking for input.


            • #7
              I can't imagine evaluating an event prospect w/o evaluating the canter! <hair standing on end>

              And that goes for jumpers too.

              Things that can be improved - in order - the trot - easy to improve. The jump - use gymnastics. The canter. And then the walk. I would equate the walk and the canter fairly equally.

              I tend to look at the walk with babies. If they can walk, they likely can canter pretty well. So that's a starting place.

              I think there are safe ways to evaluate the canter/gallop. We need to explore those options.

              Sue, who has a nice Oirish horse with a good canter (why we picked him out) but still a gawky baby
              "Horsemanship is not merely a matter of bodily skills, but is based on scholarship and, therefore, is a matter of the mind and intellect." Charles de Kunffy



              • #8
                Hmmm. Just throwing some wild ideas out there...

                Does anyone else teach their babies to pony? When we start riding the mares, the babies come along and stick to their mommies like glue. By the time the mare is fit enough to canter, the foals are coming along and enjoying it as well. After weaning, they transition to being ponied off of other horses. But I suppose that woudn't work to show the canter in the FEH because it would disadvantage those that didn't have a dependable lead horse. And I would never, ever suggest doing it with a horse you and your youngster don't know.

                Is it reasonable to ask a 2 year old (if not a yearling) to W/T/C on a 25 meter lunge line? I have to say, all of mine know how to at least W/T by the time they are long yearlings, and they all know canter by the time they are two. I don't suggest doing it in an open field, nor repeatedly, but within some enclosure would it be considered a reasonable request?
                They don't call me frugal for nothing.
                Proud and achy member of the Eventing Grannies clique.


                • #9
                  I think that a large round pen might work or an indoor if precautions are taken (like blocking off mirrors). The small indoor at Morvan might be suitable.

                  I remember when Bruce came out of the ring with Muggle at the finals at Morven saying to Staci that it was really ashame that we can't show their canter since that was his best gait. I really didn't think he won since he was trotting more like a giraffe (he was very aware of the horses walking down the road by the ring). As a three year old....I would have been able to show his canter on the lunge line (in fact I had to lunge him that day before his first class to take out some of his woohoos so that Bruce could keep a hold of him!) but that really wouldn't have worked for anything younger.

                  And while I do think that the canter is most important....it is going to be hard to judge. The way a yearling canters v. a three year old are pretty different. It will take a lot of training on the judges part but that is doable.

                  Perhaps Bruce could run faster Just kidding!
                  Last edited by bornfreenowexpensive; Feb. 28, 2008, 10:57 AM.
                  ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **


                  • #10

                    Cantering is clearly something that should be a part of this series, especially at the finals. This is one reason we need to have an enclosed area for our finals this year. The indoor at Morven is used for vendors so we were unable to use it last year (we did ask!).

                    I don't think that cantering is something that will be able to be done at every show. I think if we are going to have some kind of protocol for this series we must have the same thing happening at all shows. I know for a fact the 2 shows that we organize at River Glen & Champagne Run are unable to offer enclosed areas. We would have to have someone traveling around being able to haul these dividers to all the shows for something like that to work as mentioned above. Most likely all the venues offering these classes would not be willing to purchase them. I think the dividers are something that would need to travel to each event. In my opinion that is going to be hard to do.

                    What we should be able to do is have the finals in a place where it is feasible to be able to canter the horses. I would like the option of being able to show the horse at liberty OR put them on the lunge. My 3 year old lunges great and I would much prefer to do that then set him loose.

                    This is an area that needs many ideas put on the table, thanks Denny for posting this and everyone keep all the input coming.


                    • Original Poster

                      Kanga, would you be kind enough to explain here what`s involved in hosting one of these?
                      I know Area One is low on these, and I`m trying to help get things going, possibly at GMHA, maybe even at our farm in Strafford, Vt.
                      But we all need input from those who have already done them.


                      • #12
                        I agree that perhaps that the canter could just be shown at the finals.

                        Is there someone that could donate the use of a large round pen just for the finals or could one be rented? That might be most fair so that if you want to keep your baby on a lunge line...you could do it in the round pen or if you felt better turning them loose, that was an option as well. I think the biggest thing would be making sure that whatever pen is used is large enough (bigger then 20m across) and can be set onto footing.

                        Alternatively, if there is an enclosed ring....could we set up a shoot like a jumping shoot but without the jumps? That might be something that could be done and most host locations.
                        ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by bornfreenowexpensive View Post
                          Alternatively, if there is an enclosed ring....could we set up a shoot like a jumping shoot but without the jumps? That might be something that could be done and most host locations.
                          It's what I have seen done and it's not that hard. IMO, it shows the gaits better than a round pen or even longeing.

                          Here is my problem with longeing. I'm afraid that when the series gets more and more competitive and we have more and more entries, people are going to 'prep' their horse more and more. And between you and me, even if I agree that teaching them to longe is a good thing, it's an open door towards some sort of abuse from people who don't know better. And I don't want to start seing some 3YO longed to the ground so they look more balanced and better at a show.

                          I know that being free longed expose the horses to more risk, but I feel that it's more natural, therefore less chance to see some abuse down the road.

                          We should try to target the kind of setting they have for the big WB auctions in Europe. They always have some 1,2 and 3 YO shown free (they don't always jump), but they use a chute type of enclosure. All you need is an indoor with good footing and some pannels.


                          • #14

                            Hi Denny. This is Evan.. Couple things....

                            1. Last year we put on the two southeast shows at Events at KHP and River Glen (TN). River Glen was already holding YEH classes so Event Organizer was happy to hold the FEH horses in conjunction with the 4 & 5 yo's. As you know, the only space needed is an arena (preferably enclosed) perhaps 30-40 meters wide to hold the larger of the two triangles. A second warmup area is also needed where colt/geldings are warmed up a distance from the fillies. The organizer buys the ribbons (1st-5th/6th per age per sex - depending upon # of entries). In the perfect world, the top two yearling, 2yo, and 3yo of each sex, then compete for top colt/gelding champion and filly champion. Finally, champion & reserve champion on each side compete for show champion and reserve champion. River Glen utilized existing YEH judge to judge FEH classes. I am not sure if the event paid the judge extra money, but would gather they did.

                            At Champagne Run @ KHP, Wayne Quarles judged the FEH group - there was no YEH class scheduled, but he was already judging the Event itself. I obtained sponsorship from a local tack store to cover costs of ribbons and hung their tack store banner around the arena. The class was held in the Mary Rena Murphy arena with no problem. I called many local sport horse breeders to inform them of the show.

                            But as you know and were in attendance at our initial symposium at the Fork, some marketing had already been done. To get the horses to the Fork, again I picked up the phone and made calls to breeders in the NC, SC & TN area to see if they would be interested in attendance.

                            The success of the Fork Symposium brought about the ease of putting on a demonstration at Rolex Friday lunchtime. Janie was more than happy to allow this to happen, and is allowing us to do so once again Friday lunchtime this April.

                            2. I'm working on an email letter to FEH committee members regarding among other issues, the canter. I understand that the there are people who believe, and rightfully so, that the youngster should be shown at the canter. The issue is, as already has been mentioned, safety. Though I am unaware of such things, I wonder if Organizer's insurance premiums would increase.

                            3. As for jumping I could envision building a chute for free jumping the three-year olds only and only at the Finals.

                            I'll be in contact. Thanks again,
                            Evan Haller


                            • #15
                              I agree with Kanga that the first step is to get the canter shown at the finals. People should have the option of showing the horse at liberty or on a lunge, according to their comfort level and the horse's current balance/ability (I've had a few young horses who, in hindsight, might not have been able to canter a 20-m circle in an attractive, balanced manner without falling down, with their hindquarters inches higher than their withers!).

                              I'm very reluctant to introduce lunging into the FEH program as an option at any level other than the finals. As was mentioned earlier in this thread, people tend to get carried away when producing a young horse. I have neighbors who show their young QHs in the QH lunging futurities and those horses are out their in their full body armor (blanket, neck wrap, hood, leg wraps, etc.) lunging EVERY SINGLE DAY, for a LONG time (plus the hot walker before and after). I know a lot of QH farms whose young horses are getting joint injections in nearly every joint by the time they're in the 3-yr-old and 4-yr-old ridden futurities, and they're fully broken down by the time they're 5/6 yrs. Although I would like to think we're better horse people, there will always be people who will overdo things to increase the chance to WIN, and we need to think about the best way to evaluate our youngstock while letting them be just that...youngstock with potential to be top competition horses.

                              We have the first step...the competitions are being established and breeders/owners are learning about the program and how to show and handle young horses. I don't think we should make the process too complicated too quickly. We need to get our organizers comfortable with young horse classes. I've heard complaints from England that some of the BYEH classes are now being judged too much on looks and not enough on potential? Perhaps we should think about having one of the two judges for the finals be a upper-level competitior or a top breeder (from overseas) with experience/knowledge in evaluating and selecting young stock. The other judge could be a licensed judge here in the US, but it would perhaps give the judging a bit more credibility from an eventer's point of view?

                              For those people who like the idea of jumping chutes for the young horses, perhaps that's something that could be considered as a separate optional class at the finals. One more point -- I'm sure that some people have some of their 3-yr-olds under saddle already by finals time, and I can forsee a point in the future where someone will want to show their 3-yr-olds under saddle instead of at liberty or on a lunge line. I am VERY strongly against this - I think it is NOT a good idea in the main class, as then people will start trying to hire the best pro for the ride, and it will turn into something like the International Hunter Futurity, where the pros are frantically trying to train the young horses the day before the finals, in an effort to make it look good under saddle quickly. If it ever became an issue, an optional class (like the free jumping) could be held after the finals.


                              • #16
                                No matter the age of the horse (beginning soon after birth) no evaluation of a sport horse prospect for any Olympic discipline has any worth or value without an assessment of the canter.

                                This is so fundamental a characteristic that if a venue cannot provide the means to permit a horse to safely canter at liberty the venue should not be used.
                                Morningside Stud


                                • #17
                                  I've been pondering this YEH series ever since I saw the AEC's. Why? Because some of the riders really bothered me. They were slamming and cramming these youngsters around. I know that if I were shopping on the high end market, I wouldn't want a young horse going to all these events. A few, yes, and it would depend on how the horse was trained but I was bothered on who was placed in the end. I would think making a jump chute for 3 year olds would have these riders practicing the jump chute ad nauseum. That doesn't make for good long term training in the end.
                                  The tests on paper are great. They are fine for the age of the horse. But the riders turn around and go way beyond that, IMHO.
                                  I've seen here and there various forms of showing the canter. Mostly, they are in an indoor and let them go. This was after they've been in the arena doing whatever was required of them.
                                  Even duct tape can't fix stupid


                                  • #18
                                    I certainly don't think 3 year olds need to be shown under saddle, and I think cantering at liberty would be vastly preferable to cantering on the lunge. Frankly, the canter is used to judge the quality of the gallop, and you can show a good working canter free much better than you can show potential on the lunge. I think an enclosed arena is better for this than a round pen, because you can see the horse open up a bit down the long side. And that is something that you can't drill so it would not encourage over working babies.

                                    I suggested a jumping chute specifically for 3 year olds at the finals. I think at that point the horses would be of similar enough quality that a jumping eval would be helpful in the judging.


                                    • #19

                                      TOM -

                                      Just a quick reply here. This UNFORTUNATELY is not like Ireland. We don't have indoors at all our venues like you do over there. We are going to have to come up with something that will work in this country to show the canter safely.

                                      I think we will horribly limit ourselves in the expansion of this series if we were to only hold this series where there are indoors available. I agree in the perfect world that is what we want but we don't live in that world and have to come up with other ways to make this work safely.


                                      • #20
                                        Just to clarify....I suggested a jumping shoot WITHOUT jumps. I just meant a similar set up so that the youngsters were not blasting around on tight turns. It would be a way to perhaps show them at liberty but still maintain a bit of control.

                                        I don't jump my three year olds very much at all...if at all. Muggle free schoolled once at the end of his three year old year. I also don't lunge them much or work them hard in a round pen. Muggle knew how to lunge as a three year old and at the finals I only lunged him long enough to make sure he wasn't going to be an idiot and drag his handler (about 5 minutes each direction)...and perhaps give his handler a chance to show his walk since he had JIGGED the entire time at his outing at Fair Hill and showed no walk at all...the finals were only his thrid time off the farm. And I agree, I would not want to much lunging because I too would be afraid of people taking it too far. We are already seeing some folks doing a ton of prep work for the YEH classes that has me concerned...I would not want it encouraged any more.

                                        As these events catch on...I do think that there will be some people who get very competitive. I wasn't one of those and just brought Muggle out because to me...he was exactly what I would look for in a Rolex prospect and he needed some experience getting off the farm.

                                        I personally am not in favor of showing them over fences in any manner under at the ages of three and under.
                                        ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **