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REVISITING THIS (cuz of DC): What if it can't be done the way folks are doing it now?

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  • REVISITING THIS (cuz of DC): What if it can't be done the way folks are doing it now?

    Is it the courses or the horses (and riders)?

    I think we have to admit that the way a significant number of people prepare horses for eventing today is vastly different than how it was done twenty years ago, right? Some things about prep have improved dramatically, but some things are far worse--and some that are worse are also more numerous.
    • competing without consistent coaching
    • spending less time at home and more on the road
    • shipping horses more often and across greater distances
    • "investing" more heavily into horseflesh and competition
    • more people with less access to good ground for conditioning
    • competing more horses at a single event
    • competing one horse more often
    • more riders competing more often, including every weekend
    • more riders specializing in the sport instead of gaining a wider range of
      skills from exploring other types of riding experiences
    • more coaches with more students but less time to coach them
    • more trainers coaching students in spite of having comparatively little
      experience themselves
    • better protocols to shore up hurting horses
    • more pressure to add value to horses by competing them
    • less access to courses for schooling purposes
    • more people competing in regions where there are far fewer events
      to gain experience in
    • better horses such that x-c questions of yesterday are just too easy
      for the horseflesh of today
    • a more and more "awkward" ratio of four-legged to two-legged talent
      (i.e. horses with more ability than their riders)
    • more entries in higher level competitions
    • a wider range of experience and skill levels in higher level competition
    All of these things, and more, IMO, need to be considered. I think it is a big mistake to focus exclusively on the courses. I realize some courses pose questions that simply cannot be answered safely. That's ONE thing. But what about these OTHER things? Should courses be "dumbed down" because more and more people just can't keep up with the times? Dangerous CD trends should certainly be reduced, but maybe the difficulty levels of courses--including technical, twisty, etc. aspects--retained to encourage riders either to do their homework more and better and/or don't attempt what they can't really prepare well for?
    Last edited by pwynnnorman; Aug. 8, 2008, 01:37 PM. Reason: Update
    Sportponies Unlimited
    Athletic Thoroughbred crosses for the highly motivated, smaller rider.

  • #2
    pwynn -

    what population is your post aiming at? ammies moving up the levels or pros (doing all the levels)?

    If I'm not mistaken, it's the latter, who have access to the best footing, coaching, and schooling facilities, as well as years of experience riding at the highest levels, that are GETTING HURT and whose horses are getting hurt and dying.

    I also emphatically disagree with this:

    • better horses such that x-c questions of yesterday are just too easy
      for the horseflesh of today
    If it were possible to "improve" "horseflesh", then horses would be galloping faster at the track, jumping higher in the GP and performing new movements in the GP dressage. None of these 3 things is happening, and these are the 3 things that comprise eventing. How, therefore, is it possible that modern day sporthorse breeding has come up with a new stamp that finds "old-time" xc too "easy." If anything, I might argue that the modern show horse/event horse breeding is proving its failures esp on "modern" courses.

    Comment


    • #3
      I agree with all of this.

      You picked up on two big things with me...people not getting enough QUALITY instruction (and I'm not talking about needing more ICP instructors, as I know quite a few scary ICP instructors out there, and know some very good instructors that aren't certified) and running our horses into the ground. I am all about modern medicine, but I am not all about the h/j mentality that eventing has taken, with an endless show circuit and horses spending far too much time on the road and not getting quality time at home to allow for physical and mental rest. I do think our courses have taken on some overly technical aspects, but I also think the go-go-go mentality makes the job in and of itself more difficult.
      Amanda

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        As to the population, I'm just generalizing. Most of the riders out there aren't pros, so generalization is more applicable here to non-pros (although some of the things I listed are related to the pros).

        Originally posted by flyingchange View Post
        If it were possible to "improve" "horseflesh", then horses would be galloping faster at the track, jumping higher in the GP and performing new movements in the GP dressage.
        But aren't they? More flying changes, counter changes of hand, etc.

        And perhaps an even BETTER example: Have you seen those "three huge tables on a bending line" questions at the four-star events? Can you imagine that physical challenge being presented twenty years ago to the horse flesh eventing back then? And why are such daunting dimensions being incorporated in courses today? Indeed, what do you think was the reason they increased the height of stadium jumps to 4'3"? Because there are horses which can indeed handle them, with ease. I suppose one could say/speculate that such things weren't in courses in the past because they weren't needed to separate the wheat from the chaff.

        But they are today because even the chaff has enormous physical ability. I'm a TB person all the way, but when you see the likes of some WB crosses TROT into the third table and clear it, you gotta be awed by what is being bred out there.
        Sportponies Unlimited
        Athletic Thoroughbred crosses for the highly motivated, smaller rider.

        Comment


        • #5
          I want to know how you know, YB, that so many people do not get regular instruction. Do you go up to them and ask them at HTs? I don't have my horses at a trainer's barn, and I do a lot of work on my own, but I do get regular instruction.

          As far as 'scarey' ICP-certified instructors. At least they are doing something to improve their technique. I think it is really sad that there is so much judgement displayed here - do you really sit there at shows and critique coaches while they warm up their students? I can't imagine having the time or interest.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by pwynnnorman View Post
            Is it the courses or the horses (and riders)?

            I think we have to admit that the way a significant number of people prepare horses for eventing today is vastly different than how it was done twenty years ago, right? Some things about prep have improved dramatically, but some things are far worse--and some that are worse are also more numerous.
            • competing without consistent coaching
            • spending less time at home and more on the road
            • shipping horses more often and across greater distances
            • "investing" more heavily into horseflesh and competition
            • more people with less access to good ground for conditioning
            • competing more horses at a single event
            • competing one horse more often
            • more riders competing more often, including every weekend
            • more riders specializing in the sport instead of gaining a wider range of
              skills from exploring other types of riding experiences
            • more coaches with more students but less time to coach them
            • more trainers coaching students in spite of having comparatively little
              experience themselves
            • better protocols to shore up hurting horses
            • more pressure to add value to horses by competing them
            • less access to courses for schooling purposes
            • more people competing in regions where there are far fewer events
              to gain experience in
            • better horses such that x-c questions of yesterday are just too easy
              for the horseflesh of today
            • a more and more "awkward" ratio of four-legged to two-legged talent
              (i.e. horses with more ability than their riders)
            • more entries in higher level competitions
            • a wider range of experience and skill levels in higher level competition
            All of these things, and more, IMO, need to be considered. I think it is a big mistake to focus exclusively on the courses. I realize some courses pose questions that simply cannot be answered safely. That's ONE thing. But what about these OTHER things? Should courses be "dumbed down" because more and more people just can't keep up with the times? Dangerous CD trends should certainly be reduced, but maybe the difficulty levels of courses--including technical, twisty, etc. aspects--retained to encourage riders either to do their homework more and better and/or don't attempt what they can't really prepare well for?
            thanks for beginning this list - I was trying to reread 3 threads and bullet the ideas myself. After I'm through (at least for today), I'm going to look at the list and try to see where the ideas can be grouped - obviously there will be grouops that will duplicate.

            The goals for producing an upper level horse have changed and I suspect that this is largely connected to what has ensued in course design. When the goals - implicit or explicit - were to produce an advanced horse that could move into the 3*** and 4**** events, the measures of that horse defined the training and the tests. An animal that could handle 2 Roads and Tracks, a steeplechase, AND XC was brought along differently than the horse of today. The mentality of current course design has perhaps evolved out of the all-too-true reality that without Roads and Tracks, without Steeplechase. the old galloping course fences were making it look and feel "too easy"...so, where can you go if you're a CD but to the situation that Red Hills presented last weekend.
            ~ it no longer matters what level I do, as long as I am doing it..~ with many thanks, to Elizabeth Callahan

            Comment


            • #7
              Ultimately, it is the responsability(sp) of the rider to manage/decide what is best for the horses we (they) ride.Eventing is a dangerous endeavor,accidents will happen.Blaming the course designer,coach,jump etc.. is innapropriate for adults out there eventing at any level.We all walk the courses before we ride ,wether at elem. or adv. level. We decide to ride,our horses take us over the jumps as best they can.
              I'm sorry for the horse and rider injuries that have occured,I wish they hadn't.But we have to police ourselves out there.Eventing is a risky sport,people who are underprepared,at any level,can only blame themselves when dissaster strikes.

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Originally posted by flyingchange View Post
                As far as 'scarey' ICP-certified instructors. At least they are doing something to improve their technique. I think it is really sad that there is so much judgement displayed here - do you really sit there at shows and critique coaches while they warm up their students? I can't imagine having the time or interest.
                Oh, but I do. Sorry, I'm a true fanatic and I do indeed watch and listen in the warm ups--at events and also at h-j shows. I can't afford lessons but I have to develop my horses and also be the groundperson for the riders I use. You can learn a LOT from watching and listening. It's worth taking the time to do--and it's QUITE interesting, too!
                Sportponies Unlimited
                Athletic Thoroughbred crosses for the highly motivated, smaller rider.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by RunForIt View Post
                  ....An animal that could handle 2 Roads and Tracks, a steeplechase, AND XC was brought along differently than the horse of today. The mentality of current course design has perhaps evolved out of the all-too-true reality that without Roads and Tracks, without Steeplechase. the old galloping course fences were making it look "too easy"......
                  Amen.
                  "Oh, sure, you may be able to take down one smurf, but mark my words: You bonk one smurf, you better be ready for a blue wave."---Bucky Katt

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by herptile View Post
                    Ultimately, it is the responsability(sp) of the rider to manage/decide what is best for the horses we (they) ride.Eventing is a dangerous endeavor,accidents will happen.Blaming the course designer,coach,jump etc.. is innapropriate for adults out there eventing at any level.We all walk the courses before we ride ,wether at elem. or adv. level. We decide to ride,our horses take us over the jumps as best they can.
                    I'm sorry for the horse and rider injuries that have occured,I wish they hadn't.But we have to police ourselves out there.Eventing is a risky sport,people who are underprepared,at any level,can only blame themselves when dissaster strikes.
                    Darren wasn't underprepared. the ULRs at RH that went slowly and incurred big time faults weren't underprepared. the ULRs that were eliminated or retired or withdrew weren't underprepared.

                    How many of us know what to look for in course design to evaluate how a fence may ride in terms of safety for our horses and selves? You can bet I'm going to learn.
                    ~ it no longer matters what level I do, as long as I am doing it..~ with many thanks, to Elizabeth Callahan

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      pwynn, I'm with you here. This is not just about the CD or the CDer. It just isn't that simple especially when you factor in two warm bodies, both thinking and reacting..or not.

                      There is always the knee jerk factor and we are seeing it here. I'm not saying that CD doesn't deserve some "looking at", but there are many more things happening than just that.

                      Are more horses getting into, or staying in the sport, because it is easier on them? By that I mean that without the stresses of prepping for the long format of old. Are horses staying in the sport who would have washed out sooner, be it for soundness, or mental, or skill issues?

                      Are more riders advancing to higher levels and/or staying at that higher level than would have if they had to do the hours and hours of conditioning required for the LF? I'm thinking of both the saddle time factor and the rider fittness level. Can someone who rides one horse, 4 or 5 times a week for 45 minutes a ride be physically prepared to ride at prelim and up?

                      Are riders just not putting in the ring time to develope the skills needed to be successful on these more technical courses? Do they practice riding skinnies, bounces and corners in the ring, or do they just go out to a xc course and hope for the best?

                      Are they choosing to compete the fancier moving, better jumping horses? Should they be choosing the smaller, quicker thinking, cattier horses?

                      Have the percentages of upper level horses and riders increased or decreased since the LF went away?

                      Lots of things seem to be happening here besides just CD.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I agree with a lot of what you have, and I think you can also add in:

                        Safety equipment such specifically designed helmets, better flak jackets, additional safety equipment?

                        Governance. Are the governing bodies actually doing their job? There are plenty of instances where injured or killed riders falsified their records. With better data keeping and easy access, organizers could easily verify qualifications.

                        The failures today go beyond simple course and rider answers.

                        Reed

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by tuppysmom View Post
                          Are more horses getting into, or staying in the sport, because it is easier on them? By that I mean that without the stresses of prepping for the long format of old. Are horses staying in the sport who would have washed out sooner, be it for soundness, or mental, or skill issues?

                          Are more riders advancing to higher levels and/or staying at that higher level than would have if they had to do the hours and hours of conditioning required for the LF?
                          I'd be interested to hear how the proponents of the short-format, who insist that horses are conditioned just as much, would treat the above questions.
                          Blugal

                          You never know what kind of obsessive compulsive crazy person you are until another person imitates your behaviour at a three-day. --Gry2Yng

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I think that I really, really want an Exo,(sp), vest for my kid. I wonder why they are not more common over here?

                            Comment

                            • Original Poster

                              #15
                              I'm a proponent of the short format, Blugal. FRankly and bluntly, I don't really care how it has had an impact. It's here to stay, it's better for the sport in some ways, worse in others, but folks just are going to have to adjust. You can't blame the format for those who just aren't adjusting to it, as Tuppysmom implied.

                              Can someone who rides one horse, 4 or 5 times a week for 45 minutes a ride be physically prepared to ride at prelim and up?
                              I wonder about another side of this a lot. How can someone really KNOW a horse if they aren't riding it that much because they are so busy on the road? I saw some really funky movers (in the hind end) in the jog on Sunday at Red Hills. I wonder how that funky movement feels under saddle. If you haven't had that horse for years and years, and then on top of that, you've only ridden it a couple of times each week, and usually doing dressage and some gymnastics or a few isolated jumps (leaving the conditioning to others), how prepared are you to assess what you are feeling in that already funky hind end when you leave the starting box, much less when you are approaching Jump #20?
                              Sportponies Unlimited
                              Athletic Thoroughbred crosses for the highly motivated, smaller rider.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I'll ask you the same question: how do you know how many times these horses are being ridden, and for how long? How many horses/riders are we talking here? Pros or ammies?
                                Blugal

                                You never know what kind of obsessive compulsive crazy person you are until another person imitates your behaviour at a three-day. --Gry2Yng

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I don't think that horses today are "better" than horses of yesteryear. I think there are more horses who have better training, but the physical animal is about the same.

                                  They have studied racehorses and tried to determine was Secretariate "better" than Man O' War, and since Secretariat, has any one been as good. Today's horses may sometimes reach faster speeds, but some of that is improved track surfaces. Were those 2 freaks of nature? Probably, but we haven't managed to consistently breed them.

                                  Horses jumped 8' single fences in the 20s during high-jump competitions. They don't jump 15 feet today. They still top out at 8' or so.

                                  They don't run at 55mph, and no, the GP dressage tests do not ask for harder movements. The Eventing dressage tests at Advanced HAVE gotten harder. But straight dressage and straight show jumping have not gotten bigger and harder.

                                  If anything there is more and better instruction out there, and far more upper level riders than there were 30 years ago.

                                  I do agree with some of your points, but I also believe that we may be stepping into the territory where the courses are too hard for more horses.

                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    Tuppysmom was talking about ammies. I responded with a question about pros. And all you have to do is add up the hours in the day, examine the number of entries per rider, and look at the competition schedule, to get a solid suspicion that, unless they bring their entire barn on the road with them to each even so they can continue to ride each horse...they aren't riding them as much as they used to (the pros). That is a huge change, I suspect. There are so many more events for them to compete in that many are on the road constantly.

                                    Oh, and, while I do know from personal experience, I also know another way: Try to schedule a lesson with a busy pro. I have heard of far more than one with whom it is really hard to connect (to schedule a lesson) because they are on the road so much.

                                    It'd be interesting, in form of confirmation, to look at the results lists of, say, Area III events this season and see whose barns were at each one and whose barns weren't. (Man, am I going to get into trouble if I don't shut up! )

                                    I don't think that horses today are "better" than horses of yesteryear. I think there are more horses who have better training, but the physical animal is about the same.
                                    Them's fightin' words spake to a breeder, ma'am.

                                    At the very least, a lot of Germans would probably like to lynch you for it.

                                    I do agree with some of your points, but I also believe that we may be stepping into the territory where the courses are too hard for more horses.
                                    I'd just change that to: "...I also believe that we may be stepping into the territory where the courses are too hard for more RIDERS." (Emphasis on "more" as much as on "riders".)
                                    Sportponies Unlimited
                                    Athletic Thoroughbred crosses for the highly motivated, smaller rider.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      All of these things, and more, IMO, need to be considered. I think it is a big mistake to focus exclusively on the courses

                                      I agree with Pwyn's list. These are things that all eventers need to be concerned about, and have ultimate control over. What we as eventers don't have control over is the CD. When I go to an event I trust that the CD and the POGJ know a heck a lot more than me and I go out there and do my best. What if I both my horse and myself are super fit, prepared, trained etc but the questions are unfair? I have not seen this at the lower levels but when someone like DC is "caught" by a tricky complex (need confirmation but I believe the jump had 3 cannon balls as a ground line for the third element in a 3 element, upright complex) I have to wonder about the impact of unfair CD. As I said in another thread.....Should horses and riders be “running the Derby” between complexes, could that be safe? How many riders made the time at RH? If you are a prelim rider, are you not going to trust that CMP would know more than you about times and that if the optimum time posted is “X” than a well conditioned, competitive, well trained, seasoned pair should be able to make the time?

                                      I "long" for the long format but I understand that we may not be able to put the genie back in the bottle. What I do believe is that we need to make the short format smarter. The mpm for the level needs to reexamined to allow for the complexes, do we want tricky ground lines, how many technical complexes is fair per course, etc etc.
                                      Susan
                                      http://community.webshots.com/user/ss3777
                                      www.longformatclub.com

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        I know for a fact that the horses are NOT conditioned the way they used to be for the classic long format. I have witnessed with my own eyes the changes. I think the ULR's BELIEVE that the horses are just as fit, but it is a different fitness. They replace more of their gallops with XC runs at competitions because the seasons are longer. There used to be a distinct Spring and Fall run-up to the 3-days, and then the horses were given a specific let down period. That just doesn't happen anymore, or at least not in the same way for all the horses.

                                        The speeds needed between the jumps on XC are way higher than we used to have for xc, it is more like steeplechase between the combinations. Reading what Kent Allen wrote about EIPH really has me scared that the very high sprints are a factor in these horse deaths.
                                        \"I refuse to engage in a battle of wits with someone who is unarmed.\"--Pogo

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