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"Discussion" on difficulty at BN?

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    "Discussion" on difficulty at BN?

    A little while ago a little blurb popped up on my Facebook account from USEA stating that they are having a discussion at the Convention about "difficulty at BN." I was curious as to exactly what was meant by that ... Are they implying that people feel BN is too difficult? Not difficult enough?

    I feel that BN is pretty much just what it should be ... An easy, straightforward introductory level for horses and riders that are new to eventing.

    Also, how do you all feel about the proposed new level between Training and Prelim? That one sounds like an interesting discussion to me, especially since I will hopefully be moving my guy up to Training in the spring.

    #2
    My only issue with bn is the dressage test that requires canter approaching x and the half circles to the final halt. It is not in line with a pure dressage test of the same level. Training level dressage allows the aid of corners and half circles of this manner are not required before first level.

    Comment


      #3
      Originally posted by Sticky Situation View Post
      A little while ago a little blurb popped up on my Facebook account from USEA stating that they are having a discussion at the Convention about "difficulty at BN." I was curious as to exactly what was meant by that ... Are they implying that people feel BN is too difficult? Not difficult enough?

      I feel that BN is pretty much just what it should be ... An easy, straightforward introductory level for horses and riders that are new to eventing.

      Also, how do you all feel about the proposed new level between Training and Prelim? That one sounds like an interesting discussion to me, especially since I will hopefully be moving my guy up to Training in the spring.
      bn is god how it is imo. very simple, slow pace, no major issues with jumps or combos. if you cant do bn, then do a starter, which some hts actually do. pine top is one that comes to mind.

      hmm a level between training and prelim... im riding at prelim now and honestly it was a solid jump up from training. not the combinations or the drops, but the speed and the big tables. i don t know what to think of this, at first i was like thats a great idea but then i was like, why? three three to three seven is not that big a jump in height on xc but the width of tables and the speed is a factor. but personally someone was complaining about a bank at training and i just laughed. sometimes you just have to put your big girl or big boy panties on and do the level. if you think prelim is too tough then do a prelim training or keep at training. eventually they look small and fun.

      dont dumb down the levels imo.
      I am on my phone 90% of the time. Please ignore typos, misplaced lower case letters, and the random word butchered by autocowreck.

      Comment


        #4
        Yeah, I'm not sure there is really enough room for a separate level between T/ P. I would like to see the Prelim Training divisions have a few Training size Prelim options on xc (stuff that you don't see on a typical non-Championship course) because for me it was the combinations that I found intimidating, but I didn't think the moveup was THAT bad.

        Comment


          #5
          I'm interested to hear what was discussed in this session, too! I also think that BN is perfect the way it is, and I likewise wondered why we need a new level between T and P if we already have the T/P divisions at some events.

          Although I suppose most of the issues related to moving up to P are on XC, and not in dressage or show jumping...

          Comment


            #6
            Maybe the issue is making it more uniform? I've seen BN events here that are maxed out with width and height, include water, a ditch, and a combination and then a short drive away BN is a 12 inch log on the ground with no water, ditch, or combinations.

            I could move up from Starter to BN at some events but be way in over my head at others.
            http://weanieeventer.blogspot.com/

            Comment


              #7
              The cross-country should include a variety of introductory obstacles, including a bankup,
              a shallow natural ditch, an inviting water crossing and a brush
              . Obstacles must have a minimum of
              two strides between two numbered obstacles. Such combinations of straight forward efforts are the only
              obstacles composed of several elements that are permitted. The jumping course should be inviting and
              straightforward, preferably with lines of six strides or more and may include one double of two strides
              which may include only one oxer.

              My biggest problem with BN is the inconsistency between events and between the guidelines stated on the USEA site. As bolded above from the rulebook they state that there can be a bank-up but nowhere is a bank-down mentioned. There is a maximum to the height of a drop listed in the table, but this is inconsistent with the paragraph above.

              This would be fine if every venue would post a virtual course walk so that I can pick and choose which events seem in line with the level of my horses. Now that I have been to almost every event in my zone, it is less problematic....but the past couple of years was just guesswork! Normally it would not be such an issue but I take my OTTBs out as soon as I can and the down-bank at Otter Creek caught us by surprise. He was less than thrilled and we had to walk away from it since I had inadequately prepared him since my reading of the rule book for the level was obviously less than accurate.

              Comment

                Original Poster

                #8
                Originally posted by enjoytheride View Post
                Maybe the issue is making it more uniform? I've seen BN events here that are maxed out with width and height, include water, a ditch, and a combination and then a short drive away BN is a 12 inch log on the ground with no water, ditch, or combinations.

                I could move up from Starter to BN at some events but be way in over my head at others.
                You make a good point here, although most of the BN I've seen with 12" logs and the like has been at unrecognized HT's, rather than USEA events. When I took my OTTB to his first BN a couple years ago at an unrecognized HT, the SJ was about 2'3" with no combinations and the XC was mostly 2'3" and under, although it did include a (simple) water crossing.

                On the other hand, my little bay horse's first recognized BN was at MDHT II this past summer and was a "true" BN which included some maxed fences and shared a few with the N course. There was also a straightforward 2-stride combination on SJ. It was still an good, inviting introduction for my guy, but it was a big step up in difficulty from what passes for BN at some of the unrecognized events.

                Comment


                  #9
                  I think BN is fine. I think dummying it down, and the discussion was for Novice as well, puts us further in a hole.

                  I recall some trainer making making a comment that since she cant talk to her student to correct some mistake, then it needs to be easier. I think, personally, that is just part of the learning process. Sometimes unfortunately.

                  I also feel if your student cant jump a ditch, a bank, or do water, perhaps someone is being a bit too gunho. And going out before they are ready.

                  I suppose having a more consistant, uniform series of courses thru the country would be nice. But really, not very realistic. A better system of evaluating the courses would be nice.

                  As for Intro....that would, perhaps, help here. Though, again, do we want just a dressage show? Really there are tons of schooling trials. Master skills there. Cheaper, and helps support the small venues. I do agree though, we need Intro....and you know for who? The kids. They need a division to come into. And frankly, it should be divided, juniors vs. adult. Because so many parents say, my kid has to compete against adults. Even worse, adult is an international rider on their 4 y.o. Whose dressage is 16.
                  May the sun shine on you daily, and your worries be gone with the wind.
                  www.mmceventing.com

                  Comment


                    #10
                    So, to my mind, this is a continuation of the trend over the long run. When I began eventing (you don't want to know how long ago), Training was the lowest level. It was 3'3" @ 400mpm. But then the questions became more technical. So they introduced PreTraining, which became Novice; jumps were 3' and didn't include, say, full coffins and ran at 350mpm. But soon enough, there were full coffins and more complex questions and the speed was up to 400. So then there was Beginner Novice. And then there was Intro. Etc., etc., etc. For some reason, there has been this continuing compulsion to increase the speed and difficulty at the lower levels which then results in the addition of yet another, lower level. Soon, I suspect, we'll see events offering Embryonic.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by enjoytheride View Post
                      Maybe the issue is making it more uniform? I've seen BN events here that are maxed out with width and height, include water, a ditch, and a combination and then a short drive away BN is a 12 inch log on the ground with no water, ditch, or combinations.

                      I could move up from Starter to BN at some events but be way in over my head at others.
                      I second this. I tried my first BN events last season. I did a schooling show to get out confidence up and then did a recognized. The XC course had it all, ditch, water, bank, but nothing that screamed I was in over my head. The stadium had one 3 stride combination and was otherwise straight forward.

                      Fast forward 6 weeks and I swear, if I had a tape measure with me, several of the XC fences exceeded the height/width allowances and there were a few rather tricky related distances. An inviting beginner course, it was not. The stadium had a triple combination which I believe is not allowed at BN level. It was a BN show on steroids.

                      A third show where I went just to assist had a ditch that was almost 5' wide. I do not believe that fits the specs either.

                      I would not mind seeing a rating system within the division that would show the scale of difficulty for the level. Rider feedback tends to be very subjective. What one rider finds easy is not the case for another. At the very least, I think the venues should at least be adhering to the rulebook in terms of obstacle and course design. I will definitely be picking my shows more carefully in the future.
                      "Do what you can't do"

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by Stoney447 View Post
                        The cross-country should include a variety of introductory obstacles, including a bankup,
                        a shallow natural ditch, an inviting water crossing and a brush
                        . Obstacles must have a minimum of
                        two strides between two numbered obstacles. Such combinations of straight forward efforts are the only
                        obstacles composed of several elements that are permitted. The jumping course should be inviting and
                        straightforward, preferably with lines of six strides or more and may include one double of two strides
                        which may include only one oxer.

                        My biggest problem with BN is the inconsistency between events and between the guidelines stated on the USEA site. As bolded above from the rulebook they state that there can be a bank-up but nowhere is a bank-down mentioned. There is a maximum to the height of a drop listed in the table, but this is inconsistent with the paragraph above.

                        This would be fine if every venue would post a virtual course walk so that I can pick and choose which events seem in line with the level of my horses. Now that I have been to almost every event in my zone, it is less problematic....but the past couple of years was just guesswork! Normally it would not be such an issue but I take my OTTBs out as soon as I can and the down-bank at Otter Creek caught us by surprise. He was less than thrilled and we had to walk away from it since I had inadequately prepared him since my reading of the rule book for the level was obviously less than accurate.
                        One year Stoneleigh Burnham HT had a very challenging XC at BN. I remember because it was my guy's first outing.. They had a coop one stride combination downhill next to the training/prelim banks and boy was it daunting. What is straightforward and inviting to one person will be imposing and difficult to another.

                        That being said, I don't think BN needs to change. While there IS a disparity between events and their challenges, it should be that way -- otherwise we would have no reason to travel to different events.
                        AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Difficulty of courses changes from area to area, placement on the calendar and level of rider they are trying to cater to. I think more accurate course descriptions in the omnibus would help the trainer/rider choose an appropriate venue. As for a level between T and P, I think the usage of the black flag option would allow riders to choose obstacles on a track that would benefit their develop of skills.
                          1. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            I think we need to be paying more attention to how many questions a fence at BN asks. This fall I introduced a young horse to eventing and went BN at 3 different events and three different venues. My only goal was to build his confidence and get him comfortable galloping forward to the fences. We got nice ribbons, but the learning experiences on XC could have been a lot better.

                            The first jump that comes to mind that was a poor choice for BN was coming out of the woods (strong light to dark question) made harder by the fence being made with lattice so that not only are you in the dark woods, but the sun was shining through the squares of lattice (unusual looking fence.) The approach is 2 to 3 stride of flat terrain after pulling a good hill (terrain question.) As the horse arrives at the top of the hill there are no less than 10 fences scattered within about 50 feet of the BN fence (distractible environment.) There was a tree 2 strides from the base of the fence exactly in the middle of a straight approach forcing the rider to jump the fence at an slight angle (straightness.) The easiest angle to get to was to go right of the tree making for a right to left angle but the site picture beyond the fence was confusing with more obstacles a few strides away. The better line of sight beyond the fence, one of an open and inviting field, could only be had by going to the left of the tree which was an even more awkward approach to get to (distractible visual field beyond the fence.)

                            Any ONE of those questions would have been acceptable. I could even be happy with just two of them, but all those questions at a single BN fence is just stupid.

                            This fence was at a well know, well run facility and event. My young horse's brain was pinging all over the place and we jumped if from a trot. Instead of galloping away thinking he was Superman, he canter away thinking "holy crap, Batman!" and worried about what was next. Since the event was concurrently running a course design seminar I can only assume everyone thought the aforementioned obstacle was all well and good for the level. Needless to a say I disagreed.

                            There is a hell of a lot more to look at in course design for young horses than did they jump it or not. We jumped it at a trot and not badly, but it was a very negative experience for a young horse. This is NOT how we teach young horses to be bold. Please let me teach my young horses to go forward by making all the fences inviting at BN (and Novice.)

                            Originally posted by FLeventer View Post
                            if you cant do bn, then do a starter, which some hts actually do. pine top is one that comes to mind.
                            The problem with this approach is that it isn't about the height of the fences. It's about teaching a young horse to confidently gallop forward over fences and Starter is so small you can hardly gallop over it safely. IMO the best way to teach horses to be great XC horses is to have them jumping very basic, very inviting courses of 3' fences that have no technical issues. But nobody makes those courses.
                            Last edited by subk; Dec. 5, 2013, 07:26 PM.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Subk, I've found those courses-- but at hunter paces/ trials. Which incidentally have courses a lot like the BN/N ones I did when I was a kid, 20 years ago. Logs, split rail timber fences, coops, stone walls, and straw bales. No real related distances, freaky decorations, etc., just nice galloping fences and the horses gain so much confidence. It has really been a game changer for my spooky sticky little green horse. Plus if you have a crappy trip you can pay another $20 and go around again.

                              Comment


                                #16
                                I would be interested to know whether there are regional variations in the demand for lower-than-BN. Around here, I can't imagine anyone thinking it necessary. We have boatloads of nice unrecognized, combined tests, pipe openers, etc etc. You can prepare for BN however you need to.
                                Agree with better ratings of courses - we've talked about it for years but somehow they all still say "average, for horses with some experience at the level"

                                As for a level between T and P. As a rider, I say no. It was a hefty move up but doable. I would have LOVED cross country options at Training plus - training was super easy long before I was ready to go prelim.
                                As someone who works in SJ at our recognized events, I have to say that often the T/p division is terrifying. The riders all look petrified and are either way underpaced or carrying too much pace.
                                I am not sure a new level is called for, but some ability to jump a course with a few prelim fences, both in SJ and xc?
                                The big man -- my lost prince

                                The little brother, now my main man

                                Comment


                                  #17
                                  I agree with pretty much everything subk has to say. We don't need lower fences; we need better course design and more consistent interpretation of the guidelines. I ride a lot of young and green horses, and am fortunate to have access to many venues that provide a good, confidence-giving BN that is true to the level. I have been to some, however, that pose unreasonable questions and combine several tricky factors (terrain, spooky fences, tight turns, etc) that turn fair BN efforts into jump-by-the-skin-of-your-teeth fences for many pairs. Green horses and riders need to learn to ride a forward course of solid fences over terrain- let the technicality come later.

                                  ETA- I do think there is a very important place for schooling more technical questions with green horses and riders, but I believe this is at home, not at a show. Things like baby corners, tricky turning combinations, tiny coffins- examples of exercises undoubtedly helpful to school with a young horse, and I like letting them figure it out safely at an easy height before they will need to jump it when it's solid and big. On course at competitions, however, they need to learn to stay in front of the leg and think on their feet, and I don't think technically challenging BN courses are the way to achieve this.

                                  Comment


                                    #18
                                    Originally posted by Equisis View Post
                                    Green horses and riders need to learn to ride a forward course of solid fences over terrain- let the technicality come later.
                                    ^ Couldn't have said it better.

                                    Originally posted by Equisis View Post
                                    Things like baby corners, tricky turning combinations, tiny coffins- examples of exercises undoubtedly helpful to school with a young horse, and I like letting them figure it out safely at an easy height before they will need to jump it when it's solid and big.
                                    This too! I do think that sometimes BN (and even N) try to include "could be a different level" questions - I think the course designers sometimes think it is helpful to include a "higher level question" just within the limits, which I do think is unfair. Keep BN BN, Novice Novice, and Training training - I don't like to see N elements in T and I don't want to see N elements in BN.

                                    I can say the last few events I went to, it seemed XC was a gentle mix of the level above what I was running and the level below what I was running. It didn't seem to just be one particular level.
                                    AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012

                                    Comment


                                      #19
                                      Back in the day (when I was walking 5 miles to school, uphill, both directions) BN was distinctly different from Nov. Lots of logs, trot through the water, maybe a tiny bank. Now it seems like the only difference on CC is the no. of fences and length of course. To compensate for that, they now offer "Starter", or "Tadpole", or some other variation on name below BN. I guess around here they need a beginner, beginner division to fill entries. Also, I've been told, organizers don't have to pay the USEA starter fees per entry for any division below BN.

                                      I'm of the opinion that anything below BN should be left out of recognized events. I just wish organizers would be more honest with the omnibus descriptions. Not every single couse can be "suitable for horses/riders with some experience at this level" or similar verbiage. Case in point was the recent TX Rose HT. Rumor was that the courses would be changed after the AECs, when in fact very few changes were made, especially at the lower levels. A championship course should be saved for just that! On the other hand, I guess you could say those of us in Area V will have an unfair advantage for the next AECs. We've been able to practice the courses!

                                      As far as the in between Trg-Prelim proposal....not in favor. Haven't moved up in awhile, but I thought the move from Nov. to Trg. was more difficult than Trg. to Prelim.
                                      "Everyone will start to cheer, when you put on your sailin shoes"-Lowell George

                                      Comment


                                        #20
                                        Originally posted by asterix View Post
                                        I would be interested to know whether there are regional variations in the demand for lower-than-BN. Around here, I can't imagine anyone thinking it necessary. We have boatloads of nice unrecognized, combined tests, pipe openers, etc etc. You can prepare for BN however you need to.
                                        Asterisk, this is an interesting point you make. I'm from Area II and new to Area IX. Here in CO we have a lot of Intro divisions, both at recognized and unrecognized shows, which is totally new to me. I had never done even BN in my entire 30 years of eventing competition before moving here, and suddenly Into/Elementary were options.

                                        In hindsight I'm happy to have the lower levels available, especially now that I have a really green horse with zero mileage (and none of the hacking opportunities in Area II), but the bottom line is that I don't compete a horse unless it is competent at a level above the one I'm competing at.

                                        I wouldn't dream of entering a recognized event if my horse didn't do up and down banks, ditches, and water. But that's just me.

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