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

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  • Definitely, yes. Used to event and have officiated and volunteered to a fairly high level. I loved the sport and I guess deep down still do.Watching a well ridden Xcountry ride still makes my heart beat a little faster and I still maintain nothing in the other disciplines compares to crossing the finish line after a good run.

    However, when I realized that I had great feelings of relief when X country was done and no horse or rider was seriously injured I knew this was no longer a sport for me or my horses.

    I will still support it at the lower levels but beyond Training level, sorry, count me out.

    Comment


    • Originally posted by RAyers View Post
      It takes more courage to pull up and call it a day when things seem out of sorts (even at fence 2). But it is also the wisest form of valor when married with wisdom.


      I feel like this has gotten lost along the way. It used to be common to see riders pull-up and it was considered part of the game. It seems much more rare and less accepted, IMO.

      Comment


      • Originally posted by VicariousRider
        What I would like to know is where we stand with the research that was being done about cardiac deaths in competing horses.
        We stand in dire need of funding and of a means of monitoring a galloping horse effectively, with equipment that can be accurate and withstand the motion, the fact that the horse is miles away from a computer, gets wet, and is large and hairy. For starters. Surmounting these two huge obstacles would allow us to get STARTED with all the other stuff that needs doing.

        1. Why do we keep referring to these types of deaths as "heart attacks"?
        See my lengthy dissertation on the thread with updates on Andrea's condition.

        2. What is the major malfunction causing these types of deaths?
        There is no singular etiology. It has been many different sorts of things. We don't have a unifying diagnosis yet. And there may not be.
        Click here before you buy.

        Comment


        • Originally posted by SevenDogs View Post


          I feel like this has gotten lost along the way. It used to be common to see riders pull-up and it was considered part of the game. It seems much more rare and less accepted, IMO.
          I am not sure if this is true around here. I do see people pull up, especially the more experienced riders. It is so often the less experienced who keep going when it looks like things have gone awry. One great example was Sharon White at Rolex last year. Her horse stopped unexpectedly and she decided that she would give up a mighty finish and do what was best by her horse. I've seen others do this as well, sometimes due to problems, sometimes because they do not "need to finish" xc on a horse that is prepping for something much more important.

          Comment


          • Originally posted by ahbaumgardner View Post
            I am not sure if this is true around here. I do see people pull up, especially the more experienced riders. It is so often the less experienced who keep going when it looks like things have gone awry. One great example was Sharon White at Rolex last year. Her horse stopped unexpectedly and she decided that she would give up a mighty finish and do what was best by her horse. I've seen others do this as well, sometimes due to problems, sometimes because they do not "need to finish" xc on a horse that is prepping for something much more important.
            I hope that's true, but I would also say that Sharon White is a true old school horsewoman and it doesn't surprise me to see her make that kind of decision. She (and others like her) haven't always been rewarded for putting their horses first, particularly in the old coaching regime.

            I also find it annoying when riders cite that they are pulling up because it will be a "non-qualifying ride". Perhaps it is splitting hairs, but you should be pulling up because the ride is not going well and you want everyone to come home safe to play another day. I know the outcome is the same, but it sends the wrong message and I seem to hear it more and more.

            Comment


            • I think we still see a number of Rs.

              However, back in the day, before fall of rider was E, and before the cumulative stops rules, it took more trouble on course to get an E. Lots of people retired after issues that today would automatically be an E.

              Comment


              • I really wish people would stop viewing eventing 20/30/40+ years ago with rose colored glasses. Do I think the long format was great for the horses? YES! I wish we still had endurance days and I wish people still had to condition their horses the way they did. But the sport was NOT safer then. Course design has come a long way. They are now trying to help the horses learn and make them more confident. They should be more educated when they cross the finish flags than they were at the start box. Back then it was just a matter of if you got around, no matter how dangerous or sloppy it was. There were also not fewer accidents back then, you just didn't hear about them as often or as rapidly as we do today.

                Watch these videos and then tell me that you would like the sport to go back to that:
                http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=31dlhFlgmbA
                http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IgPuXg75ISk
                http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NZdRaGC7HU0

                There was also a great Ledyard video from 1975 that unfortunately will no longer play on YouTube.

                Regardless of the falls and accidents in those videos, look at the course design. People say today's combinations are twisty and trappy (which I do sometimes agree with) but look at the combinations then! There was a lot of face yanking, stopping, kicking going on to get where they needed to go.

                Comment


                • Originally posted by deltawave View Post
                  Can you please define a "tizzy"? Because I'm not seeing anything that would be called a "tizzy" here. People are speculating, asking hard questions, raising concerns that are at least worth talking about (even if they turn out to be irrelevant as further information comes forward) but I haven't seen a tizzy yet, other than when trolls from other disciplines wander over to spew.
                  I must have read at least 3 or 4 judgey-pants posts wondering what on earth a 7yo was doing running around intermediate, implying that inexperience caused the fall. Not going to go back and quote them all, but they are there (see post from Frittskitt as an example). Horses learn and come along at dramatically different rates. I have a coming 7yo with all the scope but not always the best technique, so the fences stay lower until he figures it out. But trainer also has another 2 horses who were getting good, consistent placings at 1.45m and local GP at age 7, and were totally ready for it. It's all about knowing the horse.

                  I do hope you aren't calling me a troll from another discipline, I've said many times I evented through prelim back in the dark ages of the 90s, then did h/j for a few years, then back to eventing for a couple of years in the mid-2000s. Until I saw a XC fall that resulted in rider death that scared the pants off me. Not that it doesn't happen in h/j, either, there are always going to be freak accidents anywhere. I'm just older and chicken-er and prefer to stack the deck in my favor as much as possible.

                  Comment


                  • Nope, you weren't who I was thinking of when I mentioned trolls. I still fail to see how a few people wondering "out loud" if age 7 was too inexperienced for Intermediate is tantamount to a "tizzy". It certainly crossed my mind, and I was satisfied with the explanations provided by people that know far better than I. *shrug*

                    In fact, given the fact that this is now known to have been some sort of cardiac event, I am right back to wondering in my head what relevance the horse's age might have? Still not having a tizzy about it, though. Just running possibilities through my head. That's OK, is it not?
                    Click here before you buy.

                    Comment


                    • If you had unlimited funds and unlimited access to information, I'd want to look at everything from breeding, to training, to time at levels, to supplement and feed, to vet procedures, to track medications in OTTB's, etc.

                      It would also be helpful if you could do a prospective study on a group of horses over a 5 year period.

                      Comment


                      • Originally posted by SevenDogs View Post
                        I hope that's true, but I would also say that Sharon White is a true old school horsewoman and it doesn't surprise me to see her make that kind of decision. She (and others like her) haven't always been rewarded for putting their horses first, particularly in the old coaching regime.

                        I also find it annoying when riders cite that they are pulling up because it will be a "non-qualifying ride". Perhaps it is splitting hairs, but you should be pulling up because the ride is not going well and you want everyone to come home safe to play another day. I know the outcome is the same, but it sends the wrong message and I seem to hear it more and more.
                        Sharon is a great role model (she is my trainer) and a terrific inspiration for all, imo.

                        As far as people pulling up when things are going well... I have no problem with that. I've seen BNR's take out 4* horses and do dressage, show jumping, and a few xc fences, usually through a first water complex, and call it a day. It is all about fine tuning for the upcoming events and there's nothing better than doing a "real" competition as preparation. But there's no reason to add the entire xc course into the mix. I would do this if I were really serious (like I would go to SP I and do a few of the xc fences and call it a day). But in the end, I am really just out there to play. I can't bear the thought of pulling up early on xc and putting my toys away to go home.

                        Comment


                        • Originally posted by deltawave View Post
                          We stand in dire need of funding and of a means of monitoring a galloping horse effectively, with equipment that can be accurate and withstand the motion, the fact that the horse is miles away from a computer, gets wet, and is large and hairy. For starters. Surmounting these two huge obstacles would allow us to get STARTED with all the other stuff that needs doing.



                          See my lengthy dissertation on the thread with updates on Andrea's condition.



                          There is no singular etiology. It has been many different sorts of things. We don't have a unifying diagnosis yet. And there may not be.
                          Delta: Thanks for your thoughtful answer. I found your comments on the other thread and that is why I deleted my comment on this thread. I hear what you are saying and I hope we can put some priority on this issue.
                          "We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals" Immanuel Kant

                          Comment


                          • I too have seen a generous number of ULR pull up when the ride just wasn't going well, the horse was tired, etc. Becky Holder pulled her horse after one stop at the water running Advanced at CHP while I was walking my course a few years ago. That's just the first one that comes to mind, but there have been many more. I've done it and although was a bit irked at first, I knew I did the right thing and felt good about it.

                            I honestly do not and cannot subscribe to this notion that the sport causes more damage today than it does 20 years ago or whatever. The videos are out there. I and many others watched it in person. There just wasn't an interwebz.
                            Life doesn't have perfect footing.

                            Bloggily entertain yourself with our adventures (and disasters):
                            We Are Flying Solo

                            Comment


                            • JFCeventer-thanks for those videos! I knew the rider could continue after falling, but I didn't realize you could continue if your *horse* fell. Some of those horses took really nasty falls, I can't imagine expecting them to continue after they have a rotational fall!
                              .

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                Without statistics and with the change of formats, it's difficult to compare the dangers of the sport and horse/rider injuries/deaths over the years.

                                As I mentioned in a previous post, today we have media platforms that allow us to hear about and see accidents almost instantaneously.

                                However, whether the dangers are the same or greater nowadays, I still am having problems accepting these as the norm for eventing. And since many individuals seem to be okay with this norm, it does make me question supporting eventing at the upper levels.

                                I also believe that many facets that have always been part of eventing have grown into bigger issues than in the past (as in, all the following examples are not unique to today's time but are much more prevalent). For example, professionals are developing eventing into a sport whereby they make a living--correct me I am wrong, but this hasn't always been a sport that created that niche for many aspiring professionals.

                                These professionals, in order to make a living, need clients that are dependent on them for coaching, training, horses, transportation, etc. Much like the h/j system. This living is supplemented by selling horses for top prices--and perhaps a reason why the horses are moved up the levels more quickly--in order to get top dollar. And then these horses are often bought by individuals that may not be skilled enough to ride at that level, but with enough help from a trainer and the horse, they make do.

                                Without the conditioning needed for the long format, less time is needed in the saddle, or the job of conditioning is left to assistants or working students. Most training is focused on dressage and show jumping as it is almost impossible to school upper level cross country courses--you need the adrenaline and warm-up at an event to prepare the horses for the questions they will be facing. In addition, to increase income, pros are riding a greater number of horses--it is not surprising to see them with anywhere from 6 to 10 rides at an event.

                                Back in the day, a successful horse and rider team were celebrated and a person's name was synonymous with his or her horse. Now, other than a few instances, very few upper levels riders are one-horse riders--they need the string of upper levels horses. When I think of Winsome Adante, Biko, Custom Made, Giltedge, Poggio...it makes me realize that those kind of unique horses don't exist anymore in the crowded strings of today. The riders are the ones who we are familiar with and unless we keep a list of mounts, it's anyone's guess as to which horse will last long enough to make it to the "top."

                                To improve the dressage and show jumping, a different horse is coming to the forefront of eventing; the horses of days past--the tough TB and Irish types that had a unique sense of self preservation and the priceless "fifth" leg--are being seen less and less. Without the need for stamina and endurance, these horses of yesterday put the rider at a disadvantage because they cannot necessarily perform the brilliant dressage needed for today's eventing.

                                With the loss of land, eventers ride out less and less. The short format has helped cater to this. The horses are too expensive and "breakable" to be out fox hunting, trail riding, and learning how to handle terrain. Instead they are ridden in manicured rings and aerated cross country courses that don't have a rock out of place.

                                We've created a sport that is so carefully crafted now that when things go awry, many horses and riders don't know what to do.

                                What I've outlined above is a very broad generalization and does not apply to every horse/rider out there at the upper levels. But I think we can all agree that this is not the sport of years past, and the sport was definitely not perfect back in those days. But with the influx of money and attention, one would hope the sport would be becoming safer for horses and riders and I just don't see that happening.

                                Comment


                                • KellyS, I completely agree with you. Eventing used to be about the relationship between horse and rider, usually formed during the long hours spent on fitness training. The sport is no longer focused on that relationship with much money spent on strings of horses. For me, I am on hiatus as I am between horses. When I get another horse that can jump, I may play at eventing, but I doubt it will be a focus for me. Fox hunting is much more likely.

                                  Comment


                                  • I agree Kelly, that "Without statistics and with the change of formats, it's difficult to compare the dangers of the sport and horse/rider injuries/deaths over the years." I would love to see the stats on this.

                                    There seems to be a prevailing opinion, especially among a certain following on FB, that horses are lasting longer and that our courses are less forgiving. I just don't know if this is true. I question whether this is true.

                                    Most likely, horses are competed a LOT more now than in days past. Here in the east, it is not uncommon to see a horse competed February through November, with little to no break in the summer, whereas I think that in years past, they had much more time off. So in addition to age, perhaps it would be useful to see the number of events completed.

                                    I for one would probably compete more and over a longer season, if I could afford to do so. But as an amateur with a full time job, I cannot be in Ocala or Aiken, January through March. I have to settle for conditioning and training in a colder environment and starting my season later. Would I be there if I could be? You bet! I so so would love to be in Aiken right now, with a string of horses!

                                    I totally do not buy the idea that our sport is less safe than it was in years past.

                                    And as much as I mourn the disappearance of the long format, I suspect that horses can do more events and last longer now. That is taking into account age, #events competed, and all the other factors that could be influential.

                                    I love to think about the "good old days," and I am certainly old enough to be able to do that. But I am not sure they were that "good" for our safety or the well-being of our horses. While I have great respect for the experts who question this, I also believe the jury is still out.

                                    Comment


                                    • Kelly, I think you make a great point that whether or not the sport is safer in than it was 20 years ago is not so much the question, as to whether it is safe enough now. Why would we assume that the 90s were safe enough just because they are past?

                                      I also really lament the "industrialization" of eventing, the ammy/pro polarization, the "programs" that most of us can't afford, the loss of the really special 3-day partnerships.

                                      That said I'm not convinced that it has created less prepared riders. Again, debating whether the un or undercoached riders of yore were better/worse than the overcoached riders today may not have much to do with the accidents at the very top levels.

                                      Comment

                                      • Original Poster

                                        I'm very curious about the supposition that horses have longer careers with the short format because I'm having a hard time coming up with names of horses that have HAD long careers at the top level since the short format's debut in 2004.

                                        Just using the names of the horses from my previous post that were stars during the last of the long format years, here are the minimum years they spent at the upper levels and competitions they competed in:

                                        Winsome Adante: His career spanned at least over 7 years at the upper levels and his top placings included:
                                        Winner of the 2001 Blenheim Horse Trials
                                        Winner of the 2002 Rolex Kentucky CCI****
                                        Individual 6th place and Team Gold at the World Equestrian Games in Jerez, Spain
                                        Winner of the 2004 Rolex Kentucky CCI****
                                        Winner of the individual silver and team bronze medal at the Athens Olympics in 2004
                                        Winner of the 2005 Rolex Kentucky CCI****
                                        3rd at the 2007 Badminton Horse Trials CCI****

                                        Biko: His career spanned at least over 8 years at the upper levels and his top placings included:
                                        1999 12th, Badminton Three-day Event CCI****
                                        1998 5th, Rolex Kentucky Three-day Event CCI****
                                        1997 7th, Fair Hill International Three-day Event CCI***
                                        1996 Team Silver, 18th Individually Atlanta Olympic Games (CCI****); 2nd, Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event (Advanced)
                                        1995 8th, European Three-day Championships CCI*** (Best US horse); 3rd Badminton Three-Day Event CCI****
                                        1994 11th, Individually at the 1994 FEI World Equestrian Games (CCI****)
                                        1993 6th, Blenheim Audi International Horse Trials CCI***
                                        1992 3rd, Loughanmore 3-Day CCI**; 6th Essex Three-Day Event CCI*
                                        1991 3rd, Radnor Hunt International Three-Day Event CCI*

                                        Custom Made: His career spanned at least over 8 years at the upper levels and his top placings included:
                                        2002
                                        1st, Fair Hill International Three-day Event CCI ***
                                        2001 3rd, Kentucky Three-day Event CCI ****
                                        2000 Indiv gold, Olympic Games; 6th. Kentucky Three-day Event CCI ****
                                        1999 4th, Blenheim Three-day Event CCI ***
                                        1997 1st, Badminton Three-day Event CCI ****
                                        1996 5th indiv, Olympic Games; 3rd, Badminton Three-day Event CCI ****
                                        1995 1st, Kentucky Three-Day Event CCI ***

                                        Giltedge: His career spanned at least over 8 years at the upper levels and his top placings included:
                                        2002 Team Gold World Equestrian Games, Jerez, Spain
                                        2001 1st, Rolex Kentucky CCI****
                                        2000 Team Bronze Olympic Games
                                        1999 Team Gold, Individual Silver Pan American Games
                                        1998 Team Bronze, 6th World Equestrian Games, Rome, Italy
                                        1997 1st, Fair Hill CCI***; 3rd, Punchestwon CCI***
                                        1996 Team Silver Olympic Games, Atlanta, Georgia
                                        1995 1st, Fair Hill CCI***

                                        Poggio: His career spanned at least over 9 years at the upper levels and he competed at (I couldn't find a competition record easily so this it what I found in a COTH article):
                                        2008 Beijing Olympic Games
                                        2006 World Equestrian Games
                                        2004 Athens Olympic Games
                                        2002 World Equestrian Games
                                        1999 Pan American Games

                                        This is just a small selection of the horses that were household names and whose names were just as important as their riders'.

                                        Are there any horses out there currently that have had this upper level success for close to these lengths of time since the inception of the short format? The horses above certainly had long careers during the long format days and they are just a tiny sampling. There are, of course, many horses that were injured during those same years, but we are in the same situation now.

                                        Comment

                                        • Original Poster

                                          I think it was Amy Tryon who said (at one of the USEA conventions where the short format was debated) that the new format would make the horses STARS. I beg to differ, this format has made the riders STARS. Not the horses.

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