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Has your enjoyment of eventing been affected by horse/rider deaths?

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  • #21
    Originally posted by EventerAJ View Post
    It's hard to say. Most good horsemen move their horses up the levels at a rate comfortable to that particular horse; for some it happens quickly, for others more slowly. USEF rules allow horses to compete at Intermediate level at age 6. It is up to the individual rider when they feel comfortable moving the horse up, within the rules. I'm sure Andrea will be second-guessing herself about the accident for quite some time; I don't think it's fair to start a pile on assuming that "personal ambition" outweighed her love for her horse.


    I don't see any reason to question Andrea's judgment and horsemanship; accidents can happen to anyone. Instead, perhaps we should take note that her former horse, Mensa, was developed well enough that Carl Bouckaert acquired it before the Olympics and Michael Pollard earned a 17.6 with it yesterday?


    Going back to the original question: yes, the accidents to make you stop and reflect for a moment. But personally, it doesn't turn me away from the sport. I think today's instantaneous relay of information makes the accidents seem worse, and more common, than was previously known. EN had the story up at 1pm yesterday, and by evening it had been shared 600+ times on facebook. Ten years ago, it would have taken a week to spread that far. The story, and people's reactions to it, are more publicized than ever. I don't think the sport is really much better or worse than it was 10 years ago; we just hear about it a lot more with social media. Yes, strides have been made in safety...but you cannot prevent all accidents, and such accidents are more easily blown up into a frenzy.
    I agree with what you have said. But I question the wisdom of the USEF allowing a six year old to compete at intermediate.

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    • #22
      I grew up in NC, and rode for and around some top eventers, who undoubtedly loved their horses. I also know the horses love it. But I refuse to watch or in any way support eventing any more. The death and accident rate is too high. I equate it to parents who love their children and feel they are doing the right thing to "support" their child in 'every' way, and never say NO! For example, any parent of a young child knows they could easily decide they are a superhero and want to fly. But parents know the kid can't fly, so shouldn't let them jump off the roof! When we choose to own a horse, we take responsibility for its well-being. The stats don't lie - modern eventing is a blood sport.

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      • #23
        Originally posted by horsehand View Post
        I agree with what you have said. But I question the wisdom of the USEF allowing a six year old to compete at intermediate.
        Probably because the FEI allows 6 yo to do CCI**

        Anyway, yes, it affects my enjoyment, to say the least! It absolutely makes me question my involvement, and goals. (As do trailer accidents, for me--x-c and trailering are both things I have mixed feelings about at various moments).

        For a while, a few years back (5? 8?) the rash of accidents just seemed unbearable. It seems like the overall safety of courses has improved a bit recently? But it's not perfect, and it may not be enough.

        I think the real issue is that we don't know why, and therefore can't fix it, and sometimes our attempted fixes seem to actually worsen things (short format?), so we are stuck in a collective hand-wringing paralysis. In recent years various parties have blamed qualifications, unskilled amateurs, overambitious pros, technical courses, table fences, speeds, warmbloods, dressage, weather, suburbs, kids these days, adequan, relying too much/little on trainers. But we don't know. And it doesn't always happen to less skilled riders, or tired horses, or at the trappy technical fences, so we don't know what to fix.

        I guess there is an element of risk to riding, and to eventing, that one accepts or doesn't. At the same time, if the sport used to be safer (taking people's word on this--I'm not sure that it has been in my time), then we can make it safer again, and need to strive to.

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        • #24
          Originally posted by deltawave View Post
          SLR, I was thinking the same thing. What if we looked at the statistics of falls at big, square tables? I am VERY well aware that bad falls can happen anywhere, but it always seems like the rotationals that are NOT associated with combinations or drops or banks are at big, upright, table-type fences.

          I'd not lament them being changed to loose brush that LOOKS square, or some other type of fence where a mistake is less likely to flip a horse.

          By now there must be some sort of database as to which fences are least safe, no?
          I believe they do have the stats for types of fences. This particular fence was an oxer table which I believe is to remedy the square table. I'm particulary shy of them since we had a career ending injury for our 2star horse at one. At VA they have a HUGE blue table on the intermediate course, and its really scary, but I've yet to see a horse have any trouble there, there may be some. I think that one really wakes them up. Its usually placed high on the hill with good open visibility.

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          • #25
            Rotational falls are my biggest fear. There is a much smaller window of time (if any) for the rider to get out of the way of the falling horse. My fear is big enough that I think about every time I ride XC. Hearing about rotational falls with riders much more experienced than I doesn't help.
            Things happen for a reason...so when I reach over and smack you upside the head, just remember...you gave me a reason!

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            • #26
              I have read these threads time and time again when they pop up after the fall/death/injury of a horse and/or rider. When a new thread is started about one of these tragedies I take a deep breath before I click on it, knowing that I will not respond because I have no desire to open a can worms. Eventers are wonderful people for the most part, and I think you would be hard-pressed to find a group of people more concerned about the welfare of their horses.

              I don't event nearly as much as I used to - I have focused on my Dressage more in the last couple of years. And so I have had the opportunity to watch from the outside as all of these accidents have happened. The one thing that strikes me is the number of very young horses being pushed into the upper-levels of the sport. I have never liked the Young Event Horse program, as I feel it pushes many of these youngsters too far too soon. I hate the idea of four year-olds competing at Prelim and the like. But alas, if you're a professional and your bread and butter is earned by accomodating the clients with stars in their eyes who want their horse to be "the next great horse" - how can you say no? That client is going to go find another trainer who will happily take their young, immature horse and bring it along as quickly as possible. And even the trainers themselves are guilty of this - in order to keep themselves out there and make a name, they need as many horses competing as they can. And so sadly a lot of young, talented horses become disposable. And a lot of young horses, who no doubt are physically capable of competing at these higher levels are lost because they're not mentally capable and/or experienced enough. But how do you say to a trainer "turn down the money and wait?" You can't. Just like you can't convince a racehorse trainer to hold off racing a talented horse until it's 3 instead of 2. They need to go where the money is. And I'm certainly not bashing trainers in general - it's simply sometimes a sad fact about our sport.
              I remember having a discussion with my own trainer who began his riding career as part of the local hunt club. He commented that in his day you wouldn't see a horse at the upper levels until they were at least 12 and they would be competing well into their late teens. They began their careers in the hunt field getting experience and seasoning. Nowadays 12 is considered ancient by upper level standards.

              I am certainly not naive enough to think that the reason we are now having so many of these discussions is because we are starting and pushing our horses so hard while they are so young. There are so many other factors involved. But it is something to think about, IMHO. If tragedies like these are going to be addressed, all aspects of our sport need to be examined.

              Comment


              • #27
                Yesterday, when I saw the news, my heart skipped and I sat for a few minutes wondering why I do this. Especially considering how over the moon I am for Toby. If I was Andrea's shoes, I would be devastated.

                Later, last night while making dinner and putzing around the house, I re-read a blog I wrote this year about a particular event. And I was instantly reminded why I do this.

                I love it.

                Can't be helped.

                So, I will continue to do my homework and try and be as prepared as possible and have my mounts as prepared as possible. Those who know me well know that I am not fearful of big jumps, scary obstacles, tough questions. I am fearful of doing my horse wrong. This is why I work as hard as I do. Because I want to eliminated rider error as much as humanly possible so that I, hopefully, will never put us in a bad place (note that I am not saying this is what happened. This is MY baggage. I have a big fear of screwing up and paying for it with a frightened horse...or worse).

                I do stop and think when these things happen. I think stopping and thinking is good. It keeps us aware and present in the risks that are involved with this sport. Some of us will have a change of heart. Some of us won't. But we'll come to whatever conclusion we come to by being aware.

                For the record, I don't really agree with Denny's thinking about the courses. Yes, back in 2008, when we went through that horrible, horrible string of deaths and injuries, the courses were too technical and unfair. CDs heard the cry for better course design, and, for the most part, we are seeing it. Some of the 4 stars in recent history have been so very well designed, encouraging bold, forward, balanced riding without cheating the horses.

                Our sport is always evolving. Back in the "good old days" the courses were so trappy and unfair. They have improved dramatically, minus a few bouts of "WTF?" phases, as we saw around 2008.

                My heart goes out to Andrea.
                Amanda

                Comment


                • #28
                  Originally posted by fargonefarm View Post
                  I remember having a discussion with my own trainer who began his riding career as part of the local hunt club. He commented that in his day you wouldn't see a horse at the upper levels until they were at least 12 and they would be competing well into their late teens. They began their careers in the hunt field getting experience and seasoning. Nowadays 12 is considered ancient by upper level standards.
                  This theory doesn't fit the evidence.

                  In the long format days, horses would reach the top levels at 9/10 and be likely retired by 14, with some exceptions in both directions. Horses as young as 5 and 6 won Badminton before there was a minimum age of 7.

                  With the short format, horses can stay in the sport longer, and many do.

                  Comment


                  • #29
                    Someone asked the question "what would make a horse at that level hang their legs?" This is a good question and I wonder if a biopsy is going to be done. An accident can appear to be as one thing when there actually was a different factor involved. A horse can blow an artery and flip or chest the fence. Appearance is one thing, reality is another.

                    In any case this is tragic and condolences to all involved. . .
                    RIP Kelly 1977-2007 "Wither thou goest, so shall I"

                    "To tilt when you should withdraw is Knightly too."

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                    • #30
                      Originally posted by JER View Post


                      I don't know what the fence looked like where Andrea's horse fell in Ocala but from the written descriptions of the fall, it was the kind of rotational fall that could have happened in show jumping as well as XC -- the horse left both front legs.

                      .
                      I'm pretty sure you know better than to make that statement.
                      Rotational falls DO NOT take place in show jumping because the fence is not solid.
                      Show Jumping made a bunch of changes so that the back rail on an oxer would always come down. New types of jump cups and standards took care of many issues.

                      How about eventing? Same old thing or any changes on the horizon to resolve safety isues?

                      Comment


                      • #31
                        The stats don't lie - modern eventing is a blood sport.
                        Can you please clarify what stats, exactly, you are talking about? Are there more horse fatalities in eventing than flat racing, foxhunting, steeplechasing, barrel racing, hunter/jumper, competitive trail riding? How many more, per horse, per year? Out of 10,000 horses registered with the USEA, what would be the proportion of annual horse fatalities compared with, say, 10,000 horses standing in paddocks from coast to coast who are used for trail riding?

                        Genuinely curious to see ACTUAL statistics that confirm (?) that eventing is the most dangerous equine endeavor. My guess is that we'd all be surprised. Neighbor Bob's horse who had to be put down after fracturing an ankle crossing a creek on a trail ride does not make the news.
                        Click here before you buy.

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                        • #32
                          I wonder if a biopsy is going to be done.
                          I know you meant 'necropsy' and the answer is almost certainly "yes".

                          Rotational falls DO NOT take place in show jumping because the fence is not solid.
                          They certainly can if the horse completely misses and gets a rail between its front legs.

                          https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?...1&l=72f5d7a87c
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                          • #33
                            Originally posted by Hawks Nest View Post
                            I agree with Denny and his assertion that the upper level times are too fast for the courses that are being designed these days.

                            However (and that is a big however), seeing the falls and horses getting injured or dying, makes me wonder more about why that specific accident happened. In my mind (and especially with rotational falls), something had to go wrong for a horse not to pick its feet up and end up flipping over. No horse wants to fall down, and most will do anything they can to avoid it, so what went wrong for a horse to leave both it's legs hanging in order to flip over a fence and land on its head?

                            I can only think of a few answers to that. A) It was rider error, missed a distance and horse was too trusting. B) Horse was schooled too frequently over poles and was not experienced enough with large solid obstacles. In my mind, eventing, and especially XC, takes the sort of horse that has self preservation and is a bit independent. If a rider misses the horse shouldn't just follow blindly into a death trap. I would rather a stop every now and then when I mess up than my horse taking dangerous leaps in an attempt to clear large solid obstacles. I understand that everyone misses a distance at some point, but the horse shouldn't die because of that one missed distance. As far as B, a horse has no business running around an intermediate XC course if it has a history of taking down poles at that height and/or not respecting jumps.

                            That being said, I can't blame any one person or thing on horse deaths and I am definitely not letting it take away from my sport of choice. What happens happens, and I didn't see it so I can't make any definitive statement.
                            This.
                            yes, horses can make a bad enough mistake for this tragic outcome to happen. But when one hears of it happening to such a young horse, one can't help but wonder if the horse had enough time at the N/T level to figure out what to do when things go wrong.
                            When they are brought along by such a good rider that they don't often get put into the missed / awful spots that we amateurs do on a regular basis, do they figure out how to get out of a less than ideal situation?
                            It doesnt matter how good the rider is, even Mark Todd must screw up once every year or two.
                            That is when the horse needs to over rule the rider and say "no".

                            I love this sport. As an amateur who will never aim for more that one 3D prelim, and only if the stars happen to aline, I love the horses and riders who do the "big stuff", but horse fatalities are really tough.

                            Comment


                            • #34
                              Originally posted by lmlacross View Post
                              Denny/Tamarack posted a Facebook status in the wake of Neveah's death yesterday regarding how the trappiness/technical nature of courses has markedly increased over the years, but the speed expectation has remained the same. His assertion seemed to be that if new format XC is going to ask more technical questions (gallop-slow-gallop-slow) then perhaps the galloping speed should be adjusted downward to account for it.

                              I am a smurf with no aspirations beyond (maybe, one day) training, but it seemed like a logical enough line of thinking to me. Of course I'm troubled when horses die, and I do think that a heightened level of risk is probably assumed when comparing XC to other horse sports, but I do think we have an ongoing obligation to our horses to constantly examine the balance between keeping them as safe as possible and maintaining the integrity of a (fair) challenge.
                              Having ridden at a level considered "upper" and having ridden an incredibly technical course, I can agree with Denny's assertion: if the long format had to go, so does the time with it - the time is obsolete now. I personally have experienced the "slow down, GALLOP, WAIT slow!!! SHOWJUMP!! GALLOP HEADLONG" maneuvers and it is exhausting - and on a technical course, is dangerous when you are so PRESSED to make that time -- you end up doing things you may regret after.

                              Another thing that should be taken into account is that in the "yesteryear" I believe a lot of courses were designed straightforward and by an experienced rider. Now.. we have tricky courses designed by "course-designers". Sure, they have some sort of formal education on the matter, but they haven't (rarely) ridden it - which detracts from the expertise of the course.

                              I personally, in wake of the many tragedies, have not let it detract from my enjoyment of the sport. Like Deltawave said, there are a plethora of sports outside of eventing with tragedies - every "championing" sport in the world requires some degree of risk - without the risk, it is not a sport. The issue with EV is that it is oft overplayed. That does not mean, however, that the sport should not be conformed in a certain manner to be more "safe". My biggest issue is that there are (in addition to being far more technical courses) a lot more people who have the money to buy an upperlevel horse that compete at that level that should not be competing. Part of the deaths are rider-related - there is a great amount of expertise required at that level that some people are simply not candidates for.

                              I am sorry for Andrea, and very sorry for Neveah. A little perplexed on why they elected to campaign a seven year old Intermediate -- as that is NOT sufficient time for a horse to become an expert of the sport. A 7 year old with an advanced rider like Andrea does not have the same advantage a 7 year old with a novice rider does - a novice will make mistakes and the horse will learn how to 'figure it out himself' -- but for a professional that rarely makes mistakes, the horse never truly learns this crucial lesson. This does not detract from my sympathy to Andrea and those who loved Neveah. It is a sorry thing to happen to a remarkable horse and a very good rider.
                              AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012

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                              • #35
                                IME, and I have E, because Andrea rode/competed one of my mares at N and T, Andrea is not one to rush her horses along. She's brought a number of horses up through the levels and they've had long, successful careers. Mensa, the horse who scored a 17 in dressage yesterday with Michael Pollard, was one of Andrea's.

                                The Le Lion d'Angers CCI** -- considered the eventing age-group championship -- is for 7 year-olds.

                                Comment


                                • #36
                                  Originally posted by S A McKee View Post
                                  I'm pretty sure you know better than to make that statement.
                                  Rotational falls DO NOT take place in show jumping because the fence is not solid.
                                  Coloured poles are not magic wands. A horse that leaves both front legs can still have a rotational fall.

                                  Comment


                                  • #37
                                    Originally posted by S A McKee View Post
                                    I'm pretty sure you know better than to make that statement.
                                    Rotational falls DO NOT take place in show jumping because the fence is not solid.
                                    Show Jumping made a bunch of changes so that the back rail on an oxer would always come down. New types of jump cups and standards took care of many issues.
                                    They can happen at a small show in the 3ft hunter ring, resulting in the immediate death of the rider,which is something (from the 1980's) I would rather not remember. I'm sure they can also occur at grand prix.

                                    Comment


                                    • #38
                                      Originally posted by JER View Post
                                      IME, and I have E, because Andrea rode/competed one of my mares at N and T, Andrea is not one to rush her horses along. She's brought a number of horses up through the levels and they've had long, successful careers. Mensa, the horse who scored a 17 in dressage yesterday with Michael Pollard, was one of Andrea's.

                                      The Le Lion d'Angers CCI** -- considered the eventing age-group championship -- is for 7 year-olds.
                                      I am not knocking Andrea, as it is more the industry's fault than her own: it seems to be the mantra now to get the youngest horse you can competing the highest it can. Andrea has a lot to deal with, and I'm sure the loss of her partner is unequivocal in the parallels of grief - my query was not meant to bash her and if that is how you saw it than I am sorry you took it that way. I am sure you have plenty of experience on the matter and that is not what is being questioned here.

                                      Does anyone really believe that competing a horse that young is completely mature both physically and mentally? A horse going Intermediate at 7 means it had to have been ridden regularly at a very, VERY young age -- and ridden hard, since no one can say Intermediate height jumps are easy. And in the theory of competition, it means she was schooling Advanced BEFORE being 7 -- just HOW in the world is that an easy task for a horse that is barely mature skeletal-wise and mentally? Just because it is accepted doesn't make it okay.

                                      Hopefully the sport of EV can learn from this disastrous misfortune, and hopefully no one finds my questioning this protocol inflammatory.


                                      EDIT: rotational falls have happened in SJ - they can happen over any jump regardless of its stability. Youtube will prove that.
                                      AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012

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                                      • #39
                                        Originally posted by S A McKee View Post
                                        I'm pretty sure you know better than to make that statement.
                                        Rotational falls DO NOT take place in show jumping because the fence is not solid.
                                        Kettle.... meet pot.

                                        S A McKee: YOU couldn't be more wrong than to make the statement that rotational falls do not happen in show jumping.

                                        Comment


                                        • #40
                                          Originally posted by SevenDogs View Post
                                          Kettle.... meet pot.

                                          S A McKee: YOU couldn't be more wrong than to make the statement that rotational falls do not happen in show jumping.
                                          You are mstaken.
                                          Prove your statement.
                                          A rotational fall involves the fence not giving way and the horse flipping.
                                          H/J fences fall. Don't you know that?

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