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What Does "Technical" Mean To You?

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  • What Does "Technical" Mean To You?

    In reading several of the other threads, it has become evident that what one person thinks is a "technical" cross country course is often seen by another as "straightforward". It is these differing views that I believe have contributed in part to the "course creep" that Denny mentioned in the GH I thread. Because there is no standard, we are constantly trying to hit a moving target with no real guidance as to the appropriateness of that target. If possible, I personally think it would help create a safer environment for the sport if Eventing could come to a consensus as to a workable definition of "technical" and what is an acceptable level of cross country course technicality for each level.

    So, I ask you, what does "technical" mean to you? For example, I think most people would agree that an open, flat, galloping Novice course with visible approaches and no combinations consisting entirely of logs and rampy brush fences under maximum specs would score very low technically. In your mind, what would have to be introduced on this course to increase its technicality to the point where it would be medium, high, or over the top for that level? Would merely introducing terrain or increasing the fences to maximum specs bump it up to medium for you? Would combinations have to be introduced as well? What if everything else remained the same, but the jumps included banks, drops, water, ditches, corners, carved ducks, etc? Where would a course like that score with you?
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    If the Number 2 pencil is so popular, why is it still number 2?

  • #2
    I'll bite. I been going Novice since 1985, so I have some perspective. The biggest changes though have been in the last 3-4 years. IMHO, most of the questions that used to be introduced at Training are now being seen at Novice. Makes it harder to consider a move-up.

    I find the following to be technical on XC (from a Novice adult amateur perspective):

    Placing a large log one stride in front of the water pass through-flagged separately, but rode as a combination. That question took out a large portion of the division and resulted in several falls. My horse and I were fine because we have been at Novice for a while.

    In and outs on the Novice XC course (never used to be allowed)

    S turns so that two fences are not in line and you have to make a turn to the second with only 2-3 strides in front of the second fence.

    Half-coffins at Novice.

    Comment


    • #3
      I agree with you about your observations at novice, water should be pass thrus with other jumps a couple of strides from the in or out, half coffins are ok if once again the strides should be 3 to 4 from the ditch instead of the one to two, need to always increase the number of strides between things so that both the horse and rider can process the question. At training level at new questions, decrease the number of stides by one or two from what it was at novice, banks into water etc and coffins ok, but make it be a two stride at least into and out of coffin, then at prelim there is the true question asked and the horse because of being able to process the questions with more strides should be able to do so and think quicker than the novice/training horse. As others have said, the novice/training horses are out there for and education not to scare them or the riders, it will be true that many times there will not be many changes in placings after dressage at those levels, you want the horses and riders to be sucessful XC and build thier confidence. If you want to build more tech stuff to introduce to the horse, then make it small so that the horse learns the footwork and the rider is not freaked out by the size. I dont mind seeing more questions on XC at training that would get my horse ready for prelim, I again want him to learn the footwork without haveing to add a large jumping effort too. Then when you get to the next level the footwork is there and the effort is much easier.
      Cindy

      Make any mistakes going forward!

      Comment


      • #4
        Technical to me is:

        Courses with lots of related distances which require an exact line that must be followed on an exact stride or you will not make it. These days these types of set-ups usually involve skinnies and/or corners. ie - the double corners at rolex this year. Huntsmans Close at Badminton this year: gallop in over a very big table, then I think you had 3 strides (maybe 2) to line up a VERY narrow brush corner that the horse could not see until the last second when he actually had to jump it.

        Technical is horses having to rely on the riders as their eyes and to make all the decisions up to the point of take-off. Alternatively, "old-fashioned" is courses with lots of galloping and opening up, horses are able to see and assess the jumps early and they play a very important role in deciding how the jump is going to be jumped. This type of riding requires you to be able to take the back seat and you as the rider trust the horse. Not meaning you drop the reins and kick on. You meet in the middle. People like Bruce and Toddy and Lucinda are experts at this. And so were their horses.

        So I guess the biggest difference is that on the old-style classic courses, the horse and rider worked as a partnership. The new-style courses, the most supreme example to me being Aachen 2006, require the horse to forfeit himself over the the rider, who must completelely dominate the horse and the partnership to get the job done. When you see horses dying on these courses, it is, in my mind, largely because the horse has not been able to provide much, if any, input into how the course is ridden, and has given himself over to his rider completely. And so when the rider makes a mistake, the horse isn't and can't be there to help him or her out because he has submitted himself completely.

        Comment


        • #5
          I'm only competing at Novice so technical to me is probably much more watered down than to others but for me at Novice, Southern Pines I this year had some tricky elements which seemed to be pushing it.

          At the second water jump at the bottom of a hill there was a maxed out brush jump, one stride and into the water, back up a steep hill, up a bank, two-three strides turning onto another jump. I think the only way that the brush-water was allowed was because only the brush was flagged even though to the horses and rider, it looked like you were jumping straight into the water. On that same course there were also three different variations on the upbank-two strides-jump (including the one just mentioned) That was probably the most technical and challenging courses I've ridden at Novice so far

          Comment


          • #6
            The dictionary defines it as: showing a specialized knowledge or proficiency of a practical skil, So, it should show that progressively a horse/rider learns how to read a situation. If a horse is methodically prepared from the beginning with different types of fences with different types of approaches on different types of terrain, and with increasing proper fitness, then there is less problems. Imho that is a big IF in today's world. Very few people spend huge amounts of time on basics, they skip steps, they make the horse rider dependent for its decisions rather than teaching it how to jump effectively in different situations (like Trevaronis used to do at the VA CT clinics). Most technical courses (shoiuld) challenge the riders minds and their training techniques.
            Last edited by ideayoda; Jun. 22, 2008, 12:12 PM.
            I.D.E.A. yoda

            Comment


            • #7
              Home run, Flying Change!

              That`s about the most perfect assessment of what is going on I`ve ever heard/read/seen.
              It should be sent to everyone on all the various committees.
              You just can`t sum it up better than that!!
              http://www.tamarackhill.com/

              Comment


              • #8
                By all means, send (all) the comments then, eventing needs all the supportive measures it can get!!!
                I.D.E.A. yoda

                Comment


                • #9
                  I do think that size has very little to do with technicalilty--that is, that you theoretically can build a course in which every fence is max height/ width, but that has no related distances or extreme terrain, and that can be jumped entirely out of hand. And that course would be significantly easier than one in which every fence was a "question" but at below max height.

                  IMO BN should not contain any technical questions, and N and T should have a limited number, none of which should be at max height (with the exception being at championships, which should be more difficult).

                  For example, at the first (unrecognized) BN I did this year, the second fence was a downhill log, going into woods, the third was a double bank, flagged separately but with only one stride between, four, five and six were either in the woods with no straight approach, or such that because of the sloping terrain the horse and rider could not see the fence, and seven was the water. I trotted the first seven fences with my fairly green TB--and I wasn't the only one. It wasn't until halfway through that I really got him in front of my leg and forward--and then the remainder of the course were all bigger, solid single fences that rode nicely.

                  In contrast, at our first (unrecognized) N, which is run over a recognized course, the second, third and fourth fences were all max, but they were laid out either in a line or with a long approach, and by the time we had jumped the third one my horse was exactly where I wanted him and I knew we would go clear, even though there were a couple of more technical questions later on the course (bending line, tiny sunken road, rails out of water) because he had taken hold of the bit and was trucking happily along.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by flyingchange View Post
                    Technical to me is:

                    Courses with lots of related distances which require an exact line that must be followed on an exact stride or you will not make it. These days these types of set-ups usually involve skinnies and/or corners. ie - the double corners at rolex this year. Huntsmans Close at Badminton this year: gallop in over a very big table, then I think you had 3 strides (maybe 2) to line up a VERY narrow brush corner that the horse could not see until the last second when he actually had to jump it.

                    Technical is horses having to rely on the riders as their eyes and to make all the decisions up to the point of take-off. Alternatively, "old-fashioned" is courses with lots of galloping and opening up, horses are able to see and assess the jumps early and they play a very important role in deciding how the jump is going to be jumped. This type of riding requires you to be able to take the back seat and you as the rider trust the horse. Not meaning you drop the reins and kick on. You meet in the middle. People like Bruce and Toddy and Lucinda are experts at this. And so were their horses.

                    So I guess the biggest difference is that on the old-style classic courses, the horse and rider worked as a partnership. The new-style courses, the most supreme example to me being Aachen 2006, require the horse to forfeit himself over the the rider, who must completelely dominate the horse and the partnership to get the job done. When you see horses dying on these courses, it is, in my mind, largely because the horse has not been able to provide much, if any, input into how the course is ridden, and has given himself over to his rider completely. And so when the rider makes a mistake, the horse isn't and can't be there to help him or her out because he has submitted himself completely.


                    All I can say is WOW!!!! This post has summed up my thoughts and emotions over the past 5 years. I am grateful that you were able to express this as well as you did. I have copied and pasted to many around the world.

                    WELL DONE!!!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by canterlope View Post
                      So, I ask you, what does "technical" mean to you? For example, I think most people would agree that an open, flat, galloping Novice course with visible approaches and no combinations consisting entirely of logs and rampy brush fences under maximum specs would score very low technically. In your mind, what would have to be introduced on this course to increase its technicality to the point where it would be medium, high, or over the top for that level?


                      If you are asking about Novice level specifically, I would have to use the example of the Fork HT which is a CMP course. It used to include at novice things like a pretty sharply angled combination of wide fences on the side of a steep downhill grade, with a funky 2 to 3 stride distance inside to boot. And the very next fence was, after going down a very steep and long hill, a chevron jump with just a few strides (still downhill) to a ditch. Both of which I thought were highly inappropriate for novice level. I don't know if anyone ever got hurt at those jumps, but I saw lots of really bad and scary efforts there. They certainly did not give the novice horse a good confident experience, which is supposed to be the goal of the course designer at that level.

                      Now this year the course has been changed completely, and while most of it was better than previous years, the first water jump was way over the top for novice level. Early on the course, just when the horses were asked to turn and go away from the barn, you had to cross a road with very uneven ground all around and go downhill to a wide house type fence which was right in front of the (bright blue) water, and aimed you at all of the Advanced jumps. Then once in the water, you had to make a 90 degree turn to a skinny coming out. This complex was a training level question IMO, and caused a lot of trouble for the novice competitors. In the Open Novice A division alone (with mostly professionals riding in it!), 10 out of 20 riders had stops on x-c, and most of them were at that water jump. Does the course designer not think something is wrong when that happens? I guess he doesn't if he is too arrogant to even wonder if he might be doing something wrong.

                      Novice courses should be INVITING, not trappy or testing. And any combinations should be straight with a good distance between them.

                      As for upper levels, I think what makes a course overly technical is when the questions come too often. If the horse has to be broken out of his galloping rhythm into SJ speed too many times. I think it's good for every course to have one of each: a corner (maybe even both a left and a right one), a skinny, an angle, sharp turn, or striding question. IMO what makes it overly technical is when every other fence asks a question with a sharp turn, skinny, corner, or technical striding question. It's punishing for the horses to be hammered with the same questions over and over, especially the sharp turns IMO. I think turns are especially hard on them, especially when course designers use max width tables on sharp turns like they seem to like to.

                      At upper levels a good course tests the horse/rider combination without undully taking them out of their galloping rhythm. If the rhythm is constantly changing, the course is too technical IMO.
                      http://www.MyVirtualEventingCoach.com

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I agree with flyingchange.

                        It is also interesting for me to read what people think as technical at Novice because I have only been eventing the past 3.5 years. Things such as half coffins, jumps right before and after water, in and outs, bank/drop combinations have been on the courses I have seen from the get go. I am actually trying to think of a Novice I have done (been doing Novice for 1.5 years now) that did NOT have at least one combination. At Chattahoochee Hills in April Ritch Temple put a full coffin on Novice. People (including Jim Graham) spoke to the rider reps about that, and it was changed to the first element being numbered as one jump, and the ditch and out jump were the A and B. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ozv_X6UVGQo Here is video I found of it. The ditch was very small and inviting, and it rode great for me. However, I can see how that is pretty technical for the level. Team Challenge last year had a full coffin althrough it was numbered like how Chattahoochee's was (but the in and ditch might have been the A and B with the out being numbered separately though). I don't know the striding for the one at TC, but I think it might have been a 3 to a 2 (a friend competed there not me).

                        I don't really have a certain point I am trying to make here, but those are my observations .
                        T3DE Pact

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Flyingchange, I think you nailed what "technical" has morphed into on eventing courses. It's an ugly, frantic fight. If I'm in the Jumper ring (and when I was eventing), I think of technical as a question that will test some combination of my horses' cleverness, communication, adjustability, rideability, braveness, technique, etc... but never something that would require him to jump blind. I call that trappy, heart-breaking, jumping blind, lying to your horse, confidence wrecking... take your pick, they all mean the same thing in the end. Obviously every course is liable to have at least one question that could push the envelope for any one horse, but they should for the most part be questions that can be more comfortably answered next time out with the right homework. A blind super-tight half-strided dog leg line down a hill after a wide, forward jump to something like a wide skinny or corner which will already be a jump disappearing from a horses view early? Not really processable to a horses mind and unfair to ask.

                          The questions asked in some event courses today are so close to unanswerable without huge fights, massive stress and confusion to the horse that they are, to my mind at least, cruel.

                          Quoting Gnep from another thread:
                          There is one more problem, which led Reed and me to file for a rule change, it got shot down, that the CD has to be at the show. Most CDs never see how the courses they have designed ride. They can not make changes on the base of that, they are working blind with very litle input from the riding side.
                          That is horrifying if true.
                          Please don't try to be a voice of reason. It's way more fun to spin things out of control. #BecauseCOTH - showhorsegallery

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by CoolMeadows View Post
                            Quoting Gnep from another thread:


                            That is horrifying if true.
                            It is true about the rule being shot down - and I don't find it horrifying at all. I don't think a course designer has to be on site during a competition, unless you change the rules as to who has ultimate responsibility for the course. The PoGJ has the final say so. Not the Course Designer. In fact, at training level and below - unless they have changed things - you don't even need to be a certified course designer.

                            I do think it is necessary to the course designer to visit his or her course prior to the competition to make sure what they have requested has been done, and I do think it should be required that they follow up on how courses run. Data as to refusals fence by fence is very readily available.
                            I am fortunate that my course designer is almost always here - or at least is hands on prior to the event. And I make it point to let him knw how the courses are riding and what works and what doesn't. BUT. . . the President of the Ground Jury has the final say so over the course - and I have had the PoGJ overrule my course designer.

                            I also agree with Higflyer that "max height" doesn't equate to technical, especially at lower levels.
                            www.amiddle-agedmadwomantakesthereins.blogspot.com

                            www.pegasusridge.com

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              What are the questions supposed to be?

                              This is what drives me crazy. We used to call them questions. Now many people come into eventing without even knowing that they aren't just jumps in a field.

                              To me, any XC course that asks questions above the level is "too technical". So, what are the questions supposed to be for each level? *Crickets chirping* Yeah.

                              I stood up at the Safety Summit (okay, I stood up a lot) and said directly to DOC - "We need to state the obvious." We need to write down the basics, the very, very basics - the things you all think everyone knows already, and put them on the web site and in the rulebooks (meaning, in the booklet that has the rules in it). He looked at me like I was a purple dinosaur.

                              How the heck can we have course creep if there is NO BLOODY STANDARDS in the first place?

                              To me, we have to define what skills ought to be mastered before each level is attempted. Then we can design courses which test those skills. If Novice requires that we be able to balance our ponies properly on a downhill grade at 450mpm and control our stride length by 2 feet within 3 strides while maintaining a consistent (and reasonable) impulsion - then by all means, let's have a vertical at the bottom of a down grade followed by 3 strides on a slightly bending line to a maximum spread. That would be a reasonable combination test of skill and accuracy.

                              But, to ask that same question with a skinny spread on a sharper bend heading towards, say a pasture full of llamas (drama llamas, if you like) asks TOO MANY questions at the same time.

                              But heck, since we can't even define the questions that should be asked at each level, then I guess I am dreaming.

                              SCFarm
                              The above post is an opinion, just an opinion. If it were a real live fact it would include supporting links to websites full of people who already agreed with me.

                              www.southern-cross-farm.com

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                Samantha, what Gnep posted is not true. The majority of designer do get to see how their courses ride. There are a few that don't, mostly because they are the designers of courses for different events that run on the same weekend. If they are in attendence at one, they can't be at the other.

                                This is the main reason why Gnep's rule was voted down. It was not possible for every course designer to be in attendence at every event they design for due to conflicts. Another factor was that some course designers would never be able to do anything else on a weekend but attend events on the ground due to the sheer number of courses they design. John Williams is a prime example of the negative impact this rule would have on designers of his ilk. If a rule was passed requiring him to attend every event he designed for, he would be forced to give up his competitive riding career. On one weekend alone, it was determined that he would have to be at four different events at the same time.

                                So what would be more horrifying, John and others like him having to decide between two brilliant careers due to a rule that would make it impossible for them to do both or not passing such a rule and continuing to search for a better way to get to where GNEP and Reed were trying to go?
                                ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                                If the Number 2 pencil is so popular, why is it still number 2?

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by canterlope View Post
                                  So what would be more horrifying, John and others like him having to decide between two brilliant careers due to a rule that would make it impossible for them to do both or not passing such a rule and continuing to search for a better way to get to where GNEP and Reed were trying to go?
                                  This thinking makes me crazy too. Do you realize that in life people do indeed have to choose between careers? Maybe people trying to wear too many hats IS a serious problem with safety.

                                  One thing that really stood out to me at the safety summit was just how stuck our committee members are in their thinking.

                                  Look at other countries. Esp. in Europe. People don't spend their entire careers trying to "do it all". They progress. That way they don't have to constantly juggle their priorities. They can spend all their time trying to perfect one thing - not 2, 3 or eighteen things.

                                  I really hope you don't take this personally. It isn't. It is a wake-up call from the "outside".

                                  SCFarm
                                  The above post is an opinion, just an opinion. If it were a real live fact it would include supporting links to websites full of people who already agreed with me.

                                  www.southern-cross-farm.com

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by LLDM View Post
                                    This is what drives me crazy. We used to call them questions. Now many people come into eventing without even knowing that they aren't just jumps in a field......

                                    I stood up at the Safety Summit (okay, I stood up a lot) and said directly to DOC - "We need to state the obvious." We need to write down the basics, the very, very basics - the things you all think everyone knows already, and put them on the web site and in the rulebooks (meaning, in the booklet that has the rules in it). He looked at me like I was a purple dinosaur.

                                    How the heck can we have course creep if there is NO BLOODY STANDARDS in the first place? ....
                                    SCFarm
                                    WOW! Until you stated this, I hadn't even thought of it. Now I think of the disciplines I have done before. Dressage - each level has a specific skill set that is highlighted. Training, balance and obedience; first level, suppleness, working in a frame - ok, these aren't specific and there is tons more to dressage, but the idea is that each level is clearly defined.

                                    In hunters and jumpers, it is defined by height and difficulty of turns. While this does fluxuate a bit more than dressage, it is still there much more clearly than in eventing's cross country jumping.

                                    Barrel racing - the patterns are the same, the variable is the speed.

                                    It would not be difficult to state 'water will not be introduced until Novice' 'Step downs will be introduced at Training' 'Jumps will have a minimum of 15 strides separation at Novice and fences must be in view by rider a minimum of 10 strides out'. It would take a committee to sit down and figure it out - but it is well within the realm of possibilities.

                                    Originally posted by LLDM View Post
                                    This thinking makes me crazy too. Do you realize that in life people do indeed have to choose between careers? Maybe people trying to wear too many hats IS a serious problem with safety.

                                    One thing that really stood out to me at the safety summit was just how stuck our committee members are in their thinking.

                                    More valid points. You cannot be on an NFL team AND coaching a team. You cannot be a TV anchor and a Wall Street stock broker.

                                    So what if the course designer has to decide between competiting and watching even one of his courses be run? I have to choose between my jobs and competing all the time. I had to skip shows that I really wanted to attend to because I had to work. One has to be a hobby, the other a career. I do not feel any sympathy for someone who has to choose, because 'ordinary' people do it every day.

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                                    • #19
                                      When the AHSA and the USET were forced into that shotgun marriage of a merger, I think a lot of USET thinking got taken into what became the USEF.
                                      So I`m not surprised that the USEF leaders are a little clueless about the lower levels, because that just isn`t their main interest. It isn`t DOC`s, or CMP`s, or any of those people`s main focus.

                                      This focus should, by rights, be the province of the USEA. But the USEF has to allow that to happen, because the rules are made by, and enforced by, the USEF.
                                      Therin lies a potential (and currently real) weakness in our structure.

                                      I don`t think Kevin Baumgardner thought you were a purple dinosaur, but there`s only so much he has the authority to do. And, by extension, that the USEA has the power to do.

                                      Those USEF folks aren`t "bad people", they just have a different agenda. Their problem is that they won`t yield control to the people whose agenda it ought to be.
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                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by flyingchange View Post
                                        Technical to me is:

                                        Courses with lots of related distances which require an exact line that must be followed on an exact stride or you will not make it. These days these types of set-ups usually involve skinnies and/or corners. ie - the double corners at rolex this year. Huntsmans Close at Badminton this year: gallop in over a very big table, then I think you had 3 strides (maybe 2) to line up a VERY narrow brush corner that the horse could not see until the last second when he actually had to jump it.

                                        Technical is horses having to rely on the riders as their eyes and to make all the decisions up to the point of take-off. Alternatively, "old-fashioned" is courses with lots of galloping and opening up, horses are able to see and assess the jumps early and they play a very important role in deciding how the jump is going to be jumped. This type of riding requires you to be able to take the back seat and you as the rider trust the horse. Not meaning you drop the reins and kick on. You meet in the middle. People like Bruce and Toddy and Lucinda are experts at this. And so were their horses.

                                        So I guess the biggest difference is that on the old-style classic courses, the horse and rider worked as a partnership. The new-style courses, the most supreme example to me being Aachen 2006, require the horse to forfeit himself over the the rider, who must completelely dominate the horse and the partnership to get the job done. When you see horses dying on these courses, it is, in my mind, largely because the horse has not been able to provide much, if any, input into how the course is ridden, and has given himself over to his rider completely. And so when the rider makes a mistake, the horse isn't and can't be there to help him or her out because he has submitted himself completely.
                                        Could we call this the German/Dutch philosophy of horse training and riding? Because that seems to be how that school looks at the relationship between horse and rider.
                                        "I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay."
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