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No start box?

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  • No start box?

    I know a lot of horses get quite fired up heading in to the start box. Would there be any safety benefit to just eliminating the start box and having a simple start line on the ground? No running starts, of course. I've never seem an accident at a start box but I've heard of some.

  • #2
    riderboy, a starting line wouldn't look nearly as cool as the start box on the helmet cam videos.


    • #3
      My horse gets just as wound with a plain start at schooling shows, since I'm still excited and someone is counting down. She knows what's next. I don't think getting rid of a start box would actually change anything. She'd still get fired up, I think I'd actually have a harder time getting a clean start without that fixture there to face her backwards.

      And it's kind of cool, I'd miss it.
      http://thoughtfulequestrian.blogspot.com - My Ventures Into Eventing


      • #4
        All of my horses fall asleep if I stand in the start box too long lol... apparently I'm one of the few with this issue though. And breed has nothing to do with it as most have been OTTB's or TB crosses lol. I never get worked up about the start box and I also never allow them to tear out of the box... if they seem up I walk and then nicely ask for a trot and then canter/gallop.
        Custom Painted Brushes: spcustombrushes@gmail.com


        • #5
          There is always the option, nowadays, of just walking in from the back of the start box as time counts down and going. It is not at all necessary to stand in there at all, if one's horse has the heebie jeebes about it. Just approach as they are counting you down, walk through, and go.

          Back in the day there was no "back door", but I believe it's mandatory to have one now.

          Our first Prelim Gwennie REARED in the start box! As if my nerves weren't already shattered!
          Click here before you buy.


          • #6
            Its tradition to have a start box... and it doesn't make a difference. You would have more of a chance of a false start (therefor disqualification) if there was a start line. ...just stick with the box they work better


            • #7
              False start isn't a DQ, just penalties. And tradition is not much of an excuse for keeping something if there's a better (ie, safer) way to do things.

              We just weave in and out of the start box and try to time it so we walk through at or after the end of the countdown. I'm sure it would be a bigger issue at a higher level, but the few extra seconds on the clock aren't a big deal for us. My guy does seem to be able to count, unfortunately, or at least knows what it means when I tap my watch a -5 seconds, lol.


              • #8
                Honestly I don't see how removing the start box will really help too much. These days the box is so big you can turn easily in it and as other pointed out, you can walk in at the last minute and go right out which plenty of eventers do. No matter what you are going to have a relatively hot horse wanting to explode in some sort of direction.
                "I'm too sexy for my blanket, too sexy for my blanket, these mares-they should take it..." (J-Lu) - Featuring The Skypizzle Pony aka Classic Skyline


                • #9
                  No matter what you are going to have a relatively hot horse wanting to explode in some sort of direction.
                  Only if they learn to behave that way! My trainer's horses all stand on a loose rein in the start box, because they are never gunned out like their tails are on fire. Even her upper level horses WALK the first step or two out of the box and are then asked to pick up the canter and move on along.

                  I will admit to not being able to do this. My nerves are so jangly that I can barely speak in the box.
                  Click here before you buy.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by deltawave View Post
                    Only if they learn to behave that way! My trainer's horses all stand on a loose rein in the start box, because they are never gunned out like their tails are on fire.
                    I've never 'gunned' a horse out of the start box in my life but that didn't stop my complacent mongrel (TB-Belg-Saddlebred) gelding from becoming one of those horses who had to be led in to the box by a groundperson. The anticipation of going out on XC got him excited and this is a most unexcitable horse.

                    He's a very well-mannered horse who will stand and stay (by himself) on command so I saw no reason to get after him for something that had a very simple solution. I preferred to work with his enthusiasm, as it spilled over -- to his rider's benefit -- to his performance on the XC course.

                    So I'd agree that some might learn to behave that way but I also think we can cut a generous horse some slack in a situation where we're already asking so much of them.


                    • Original Poster

                      Originally posted by JER View Post
                      riderboy, a starting line wouldn't look nearly as cool as the start box on the helmet cam videos.

                      You're right. I'm sure I could get some great footage if we switched to using a starter's pistol!


                      • #12
                        We owned a horse who used to rear in the start box. He would begin acting up about 100 feet from the box. Over a year, my daughter taught him to be calm in the box. She always walked out of the box and made him take his first fence from the trot. Eventually, the box lost its excitement.


                        • #13
                          I remember someone (Sue Smithson, maybe?) whose "start box" consisted of poles on the ground.


                          • #14
                            The starter needs an "end" to the start line ... I think start boxes evolved from the early copycat stuff American eventing was doing to keep up with the Joneses in Europe, and the desire to be as professional as Badminton or Burghley with fancy this and that... I agree, what need is there for a "box". Why not just have a side guide or two so the starter can see the chest cross the line for timing purposes. I know of a couple of upper level horses that no traditional start box would definitely benefit. As in SAFER.
                            Proud & Permanent Student Of The Long Road
                            Read me: EN (http://eventingnation.com/author/annemarch/) and HJU (http://horsejunkiesunited.com/author/holly-covey/)


                            • #15
                              I think the box helps the starter keep the horse in a small enough space to know when he goes across the line. Just having a line/tape might make it harder for them to determine when someone did/didn't go across it.

                              I've had start box menaces- including one who was prepared to jump out if you headed her towards the side by mistake, but I've trained the green ones that they walk or trot out.

                              But I will admit that when you're on a confirmed criminal who knows exactly what's coming, leaving the start box at 700mpm is a bit of a thrill.


                              • #16
                                I think most importantly the start box keeps the people on the ground safe!! I would not want to be a groundsperson trying to count down a horse that is all riled up with just a starting line. I'm positive someone would get run over!!!


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by CdnRider View Post
                                  I think most importantly the start box keeps the people on the ground safe!! I would not want to be a groundsperson trying to count down a horse that is all riled up with just a starting line. I'm positive someone would get run over!!!
                                  That's a good point. The box does shield the starter's tent/area, allowing the volunteer(s) to count you down and send you off safely.

                                  I've avoided Start Box Issues with my UL mare by doing lots and lots of circles through the box since the beginning of her career (or, well, since they invented the rear side opening). I rarely stop/stand inside the box, I just keep circling through it so she never knows exactly when we'll get to go.

                                  Some horses will still get riled up and need a leader on the ground, but much of it can be managed well with the system we have now.
                                  “A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it.”
                                  ? Albert Einstein



                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by riderboy View Post
                                    You're right. I'm sure I could get some great footage if we switched to using a starter's pistol!


                                    • #19
                                      One of my eventers also does pairs racing in the spring at the end of the hunt season. We do flying starts on the pairs from 50 yards back and he has no problem with the start box. There is also no problem with ground safety as the start area is roped off. I don't see any disadvantage to not having a start box. The start box seems to be more of a rider issue than a horse issue.
                                      A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it.


                                      • #20
                                        My perch cross starts acting like a heathen as soon as we do our first forward, galloping xc warmup fence. She acted like a heathen at the beginning of roads and track at the T3D and I assure you she had no idea what was going on. But she was studded up, tacked up to jump, had her XC boots on and someone was counting down.

                                        Line, box, flags, whatever... if they act silly, they will act silly.
                                        Big Idea Eventing