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FEH update from USEA Convention

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  • FEH update from USEA Convention

    I wanted to let all of you out there that are involved with the FEH program or are thinking of participating in 2012 that there are some very interesting things happening.

    Like many of you, I have been 'worried' that the judging of the FEH classes and the program in general was getting too close to the USDF program and that we were not getting judged as future Eventers.

    I had written a letter to the FEH Chair of the USEA and also looked into who she was, Susan Graham-White. Now, on first seeing that, in her personal life, she is a Dressage Rider/Trainer, I was a little worried. But, I sent my letter voicing both my support and concerns for the program and hoped that she'd share the letter with her fellow committee members and discuss them in their closed door meetings. And I got a very nice response from her.

    When I attended the USEA Convention this past weekend, I was very pleasantly surprised and happy to discover that Susan Graham-White is an avid supporter of Eventing (having Evented in the past) and is also a Sport Horse Judge and the presentation she gave, gave me full confidence in the leadership of the FEH program.

    There are some changes that, on initially hearing them probably, will give people that were not in on the meetings a bit of a scare. They are trying to give the program more structure, give horses 'points' for their records and open it to a wider audience. They will NOT be taking it totally out of the hands of the USEA but they are considering tying it to the USEF and USDF programs. They will still be Future Event Horse Classes and judged by Sport Horse Judges.

    Before you get all upset with the direction they are leaning, keep an open mind and keep supporting the program but be involved. Read everything they make available and help them as they moved forward.

    They have added new people to the committee that have experience with young horses and showing (as well as experience with showing young horses in other countries) and since this is a young program that is working with no resources, it will take time.

    Let's be patient and try and assist them where we can, offer constructive suggestions and input from those of us that are or want to participate with our young horses.

  • #2
    Great post, thank you for sharing that.
    Katie Ruppel & Yellow Rose Eventing *Website* & *Facebook*
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    • #3
      I fully support the FEH program, financially and competitively, and hope that it continues to modify itself into a workable and effective program.

      What I would personally love to see is something like the BEF's Futurity program: a union of all three Olympic disciplines looking for tomorrow's top horses. The most interesting part about the program is that, if you breed for an event horse and get a dressage horse (excellent mover, but not bold to the fences), they will advise you of that.

      I wrote a blog post on this the other day, actually, and I feel that it is very relevant to these changes.

      http://ontrackforacci1star.blogspot....y-program.html
      Pacific Coast Eventing
      Standing Yeager GF

      Comment


      • #4
        Thank you for the update, Aussie08. I kept looking on EN over the last few days hoping for a FEH video or blog post, so it is nice to hear from someone who was there. I worked for Susan Graham White for a year in 2008- 2009 and as an eventer I have full confidence in her ability to design a fantastic program for young event horses. I started one of her three year olds over fences who was eventually sold as a big stick jumper prospect. Susan also thought that he could be an FEI dressage horse, and I felt that he could be a super eventer. Her current top horse who is winning at fourth level right now could easily be an UL eventer. Susan doesn't just look through dressage lenses, she looks for a total sport horse package. Since she isn't mired in the current eventing hierarchy or married to a particular breed I think she is the perfect person to design a program that will unbiasedly find excellent young sport horses for eventing. I too hope everyone will be patient and supportive, and I have a great deal of faith in the current direction of the FEH program.

        Comment


        • #5
          Ditto everything that TotB said. :-)

          I've been riding with Susan since I was a teen, and currently organize monthly clinics with her. She always stresses to me that a sporthorse should be able to succeed in any discipline. And as TotB said, her current horse would probably succeed in any arena. Needless to say, I will be enlisting Susan's help whenever I start shopping for my next horse.
          Take Your Equestrian Business to the Next Level: http://www.mythiclanding.com/
          Follow me at http://mythiclanding.blogspot.com or http://twitter.com/mythiclanding

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          • #6
            Originally posted by SuZQuzie View Post
            I fully support the FEH program, financially and competitively, and hope that it continues to modify itself into a workable and effective program.

            What I would personally love to see is something like the BEF's Futurity program: a union of all three Olympic disciplines looking for tomorrow's top horses. The most interesting part about the program is that, if you breed for an event horse and get a dressage horse (excellent mover, but not bold to the fences), they will advise you of that.

            I wrote a blog post on this the other day, actually, and I feel that it is very relevant to these changes.

            http://ontrackforacci1star.blogspot....y-program.html
            If I remember correctly the reasons given for not including an at liberty portion were liability and fear of limiting venues.
            www.witsendeventing.com
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            • #7
              Aussie08, thanks for the update.

              However, I don't really understand what you're saying. You say that you were concerned about the judging being too close to USDF. Then you seem to say that it's a positive development that the FEH program will be 'tied in' to the USDF program.

              Huh?

              I don't know Susan Graham-White at all (other than by her judging in the FEH) but I'm not encouraged that she's staying on as chair of the program. FEH needs retooling to be a consistent, credible sport horse program.

              When you describe Susan Graham-White as dressage rider/trainer but 'avid supporter of eventing', I find myself wishing it was the other way round. Eventing first, in other words.

              There are people out there who have proven track records of breeding and/or selecting young UL event prospects. These are the people we can really learn from.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Wits End Eventing View Post
                If I remember correctly the reasons given for not including an at liberty portion were liability and fear of limiting venues.
                The warmblood inspections seem to have no such qualms. I know that both venues I went to with my young horse would have been able to accommodate an at liberty portion.
                Pacific Coast Eventing
                Standing Yeager GF

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  I didn't make myself clear

                  Dear JER

                  I am not always able to make myself clear when trying to put things in writing and I can see where it would be easy to read that I contradicted myself. Let me try to make it clearer. And please understand that I am speaking for myself and perhaps my few friends that we have shared conversations regarding the FEH program as we have participated with our young horses.

                  I meant that we worried that our horses were being judged by straight dressage judges that were looking at them as though they were dressage prospects and not that they were Eventing prospects or even sport horse prospects. And most of us feel that Event Horses, overall, move differently and have, shall we say, a different attitude?

                  The USEF (as I understand it and based on the limited research I have done to date) also have Sport Horse in hand classes and this is where our classes would fall, but they may be held at USDF shows but judged by official Sport Horse Judges not straight Dressage judges. I do know that in Florida there is a new series that I learned of that goes much further than our FEH classes but they are geared to Sport Horse Types, not just Eventers but Jumpers and others as well.

                  There is no easy answer to suit all of us within the USEA that participate in the FEH but I do believe that it is still evolving and we can only try and support, encourage and work with the powers that be, to make it into a really great program.

                  Will it make all of us happy, NO, but just look at any thread within this forum (Eventing as a whole) and there are many different opinions and ideas.

                  I don't know if you were present in the FEH sessions this past weekend, and I can only speak for myself, but I was reassured and am willing and happy to continue to support the program.

                  And I can't disagree that there are a number of qualified straight Eventers that could head the program. My question is (and I have no idea) how many stepped up to the plate and offered to chair the committee?

                  Also, Susan Graham-White used to do some Eventing prior to deciding that Dressage is where she wished to be, but she does have many Eventer students etc...and the added bonus that she is also a Sport Horse Judge as opposed to strictly a Dressage judge helps.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I have known Susan Graham White for many years, and she spends much more time judging at events (as PoGJ, Show Jumping Judge, as well as Dressage) than at straight dressage shows. She has been a "R" eventing judge, and an FEI eventing judge for many years- she only got her straight dessage "R" this year.

                    She is far more an Eventing judge than a Dressage judge. In fact, I apprenticed under her as a show jumping judge.

                    There are plenty of "Eventing only" people on the committee with her.
                    Janet

                    chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Thank you Janet!

                      Janet

                      That is very helpful, thank you!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        With all due respect to everyone and every association (I need a better disclosure)....

                        In maintaining an objective perspective, as well as a relative sliding scale, I believe the results of the past years' FEH championships speak for themselves in deciding if the program (and therefore, its affiliates and authorities) has been "successful." Granted, myriad factors determine a horse's career path, but I am aware of many FEH winners/champions/high-placers that have been transitioned into pure dressage, jumper, and show-hunter careers. Other winners are having mixed or bad results at the low levels of eventing.

                        Now, let's look back to the judges; who is picking these horses as the "future event horses" ? I understand the process to become licensed with USEF is quite convoluted. However, being an "avid" eventing supporter, judging dressage, judging show jumping, and being the PoGJ is just not comparable to breeding, breaking, selecting, training, and thoroughly preparing young horses for great success in eventing. (Those who have "been in the trenches" and who have "fought the battles" can be the best guide for future survival, nay, success.)

                        If I'm completely mistaken in my understanding of the past five years of FEH results, I'd love to be corrected. Could someone please list horses that have been successful in FEH, and are currently on a career track to be solid, successful eventers? Links to USEA records would be appreciated. (I do know of one-- Muggle, the 2007 FEH 3yo champion, stayed in the eventing world and has done well.)

                        Individuals keep saying that the program is "a work in progress." Why is there an attempt to reinvent the wheel? With available US-based experts, assessments by the *true* proteges of LeGoff, de Nemethy, Steinkraus, Sederholm, Wright, etc, (e.g., Bruce Davidson, JMP, Michael Page, Kevin Freeman, etc) would be easily secured and indescribably valuable for the future generation of horsemen, horses, and riders, nevermind the sport as a whole. I'm willing to wager that with one or two phone calls, the program could essentially be saved.
                        Last edited by Glenbaer; Dec. 13, 2011, 08:46 AM.
                        www.glenbaer.com

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Glenbaer View Post

                          With available US-based experts, assessments by the *true* proteges of LeGoff, de Nemethy, Steinkraus, Sederholm, Wright, etc, (e.g., Michael Page, Kevin Freeman, JMP, etc) would be easily secured and indescribably valuable for the future generation of horseman, horses, and riders, nevermind the sport as a whole. I'm willing to wager that with one or two phone calls, the program could essentially be saved.
                          Do you think people could handle their criticism? They are Great, but, can you imagine the threads started when a true event-horse actually wins vs. My pretty-poopsie Been around to witness someones newly imported, top-dollar-prospect, be told it probably won't work out & to move on. Could see the blood boiling...LOL, having worked with a couple of the aforementioned names, how lucky the FEH people would be, but let's face it, most of the line horses in any ring don't make it in the show world, let alone those a product of this newish program. Commonality exsists in this type of discussion across all disciplines. Besides the right horse-flesh, the right owner & trainer & soundness & health of the horse -- they must all align to have quantitative success eventing.

                          I also see very little incentive for breeders to breed true event horses. Eventers don't typically pay what everyone else will pay for their horses, and breeders need to breed horses that can move on to another ring to appeal to those that will pay, to have a profitable business. Tough to segment that market.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Forgive me...I have never really been to a FEH competition. I understand the overall objective: to select the best event prospects from a given group of unproven young horses.

                            My question is: how reliable is that, anyway? Can we really expect a set of judges (even HIGHLY qualified ones) to accurately predict an upper level eventer as a yearling? Sure, some slap you upside the head with talent...but you don't truly KNOW you have an upper level horse until you get there, many years down the road.

                            I've worked the TB sales at Keeneland for years, where purchase price is supposed to reflect apparent likelihood of success in a couple years. The best horsemen in the world at their sport are selecting yearlings or weanlings for a relatively simple sport (go fast and stay sound), out of many generations of purpose-bred bloodlines. They watch them walk, they have full vet reports, and a book filled with accurate pedigree info. And how many "failures" are there? How many flops? How many million-dollar yearlings actually turn out to make it to the top level? And you will still have a rare $5k yearling grow up to be a stakes winner (I know, I've raised one!).

                            My point is, it's very difficult to predict future success of a young animal. Especially in our sport, where there are so many necessary virtues, not readily apparent at the end of a shank: gallop, soundness, heart, desire to jump large fences that don't fall down. As breeders, at home, you may have a better feel for these qualities seen in your young horses every day. But how is a judge supposed to accurately evaluate it at a show? All they can really see is "good mover, good conformation, good attitude." How is that any different from a good hunter/dressage/sj prospect? At a young age, the world's (future) best eventer could look gawky, an unimpressive mover, and generally not a stand out at all. How is that to compete with a flashy, fancy, floaty mover on his toes because he's a little spooked by the flowers and atmosphere?


                            I plan to breed my upper level mare down the road (hopefully next year), so the subject interests me. If I ever competed in FEH, it would be as training mileage for the youngster, rather than as a statement on my future horse's potential. Sure, it'd be nice to hear "Lovely young horse, definitely top prospect!" but that statement really means little until the horse is able to prove itself under saddle.
                            “A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it.”
                            ? Albert Einstein

                            ~AJ~

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                            • #15
                              As a recipient of Susan's judging, I will tell you she is a fair judge and not one to give points away to a posh fancy wb that is incorrect over a consistent and correct test. My horse is by no means fancy and I have been nailed by judges who mostly judge dressage and prefer pretty over correct.
                              I hope she isn't pressured by leaning towards a more dressage type of horse. That would be the only reason I see in the program shifting in that direction.
                              Even duct tape can't fix stupid

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                              • #16
                                Originally posted by SuZQuzie View Post
                                The warmblood inspections seem to have no such qualms. I know that both venues I went to with my young horse would have been able to accommodate an at liberty portion.
                                Yes, but the locations that host inspections are often not suitable for, or willing to host, open shows. Nor are there enough of them.
                                Janet

                                chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by SuZQuzie View Post
                                  I fully support the FEH program, financially and competitively, and hope that it continues to modify itself into a workable and effective program.

                                  What I would personally love to see is something like the BEF's Futurity program: a union of all three Olympic disciplines looking for tomorrow's top horses. The most interesting part about the program is that, if you breed for an event horse and get a dressage horse (excellent mover, but not bold to the fences), they will advise you of that.

                                  I wrote a blog post on this the other day, actually, and I feel that it is very relevant to these changes.

                                  http://ontrackforacci1star.blogspot....y-program.html
                                  I have to totally agree with the blogspot! Judging FEH on the triangle leaves out three of the most important phases of a true event prospect: the canter; the gallop and the jump. To even consider that seeing the horse walk and trot is enough to judge its future, is ridiculous to say the least.

                                  IF FEH judging becomes part of USDF Sport Horse Shows (which are sanctioned by USEF), kiss off on this lasting or being meaningful to the future Event Horse! The USDF Sport Horse Breed Shows reward the DRESSAGE BRED HORSE. I have been to many of these shows over a 5 year period. If the FEH class becomes part of a USDF Sport Horse Breed Show, it will be judged by the SAME judges selected to judge the entire Dressage show. Future Event horse may just end up like an Individual Breed Association class (IBC) and eventually dropped due to lack of participation. The PHR classes died this type of death.

                                  Currently in the Maryland/Virginia/Pennsylvania/New Jersey area we are down from 5+ DSHB shows to just 3, all run by the person who also runs Dressage at Devon. So tell me how this will help showcase the future Event Horse?

                                  There are Dressage Judges who can also judge a horse as a real sport horse (not just as a dressage horse) but they are few and far between. While it is super important to support the FEH program, I have to agree with Glenbaer that we need REAL Eventing people judging this program and not just someone who "used to event," but now is a dressage rider... There are many really top eventer riders out there, and while they may or may not have bred horses, they really know what they would want in an event horse...and seriously, it ain't the fancy, suspention of a dressage trot!!!!!!!!!!
                                  http://www.herselffarm.com
                                  Proud of my Hunter Breeding Princesses
                                  "Grief is the price we all pay for love," Gretchen Jackson (1/29/07) In Memory of Barbaro

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                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by LisaB View Post
                                    I hope she isn't pressured by leaning towards a more dressage type of horse. That would be the only reason I see in the program shifting in that direction.
                                    During the session, there were several horses that she said would score well as a dressage prospects but not as an eventing prospect. And vice versa.
                                    Janet

                                    chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Judging FEH on the triangle leaves out three of the most important phases of a true event prospect: the canter; the gallop and the jump. To even consider that seeing the horse walk and trot is enough to judge its future, is ridiculous to say the least.
                                      Are you seriously proposing to jump yearlings? At the show?
                                      Janet

                                      chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Aussie08 View Post
                                        There is no easy answer to suit all of us within the USEA that participate in the FEH but I do believe that it is still evolving and we can only try and support, encourage and work with the powers that be, to make it into a really great program.
                                        Well, okay. But the program just wrapped up its fifth year. I hear those phrases -- 'still evolving', 'a work in progress', 'we must support the program' -- whenever FEH is discussed.

                                        Could someone highlight the 'evolutions' for me? What has changed? How has it changed? How are we closer to our goal in 2011 than we were in 2007?

                                        Originally posted by Glenbaer View Post
                                        Why is there an attempt to reinvent the wheel? With available US-based experts, assessments by the *true* proteges of LeGoff, de Nemethy, Steinkraus, Sederholm, Wright, etc, (e.g., Bruce Davidson, JMP, Michael Page, Kevin Freeman, etc) would be easily secured and indescribably valuable for the future generation of horsemen, horses, and riders, never mind the sport as a whole. I'm willing to wager that with one or two phone calls, the program could essentially be saved.
                                        It's a little weird to have a program in place that generates shrugs and eye rolls from knowledgeable people. And it's often followed by some language about 'supporting the program', in a tone that equates it with eating your vegetables or driving a hybrid car. Somehow, it's supposed to be a good thing to do.

                                        Originally posted by goodmorning View Post
                                        Do you think people could handle their criticism? They are Great, but, can you imagine the threads started when a true event-horse actually wins vs. My pretty-poopsie.
                                        I'd prefer relevant criticism to a scoresheet with mostly useless comments.

                                        Originally posted by EventerAJ View Post
                                        Forgive me...I have never really been to a FEH competition. I understand the overall objective: to select the best event prospects from a given group of unproven young horses.

                                        My question is: how reliable is that, anyway? Can we really expect a set of judges (even HIGHLY qualified ones) to accurately predict an upper level eventer as a yearling? Sure, some slap you upside the head with talent...but you don't truly KNOW you have an upper level horse until you get there, many years down the road.
                                        If eventing success can't be reliably predicted, why are we bothering with these competitions?

                                        If we're going to have an FEH program, we should start with the idea that talented eventers can be identified at an early age. And they can be, because there are people out there who've done just that as part of their business for years.

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