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J Wofford: Short format has "dumbed down" the sport

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  • J Wofford: Short format has "dumbed down" the sport

    I haven't noticed a post on this yet, so I thought I would make one.

    Have any of you read the JWofford article in PH?

    Below is a link. I would like to hear what people think about it.

    http://equisearch.com/horses_riding_...format_122308/

    Ack. That actually is not the article that was just published. I will have to see if I can find the online version for the new article. Sorry.
    Last edited by RacetrackReject; Jan. 21, 2009, 12:59 PM. Reason: wrong link
    Rhode Islands are red;
    North Hollands are blue.
    Sorry my thoroughbreds
    Stomped on your roo. Originally Posted by pAin't_Misbehavin' :

  • #2
    You can't link to a PH article unless you have permission...from the publishers....just something I know, as we have linked to articles for the Training three day, and I had to get permission. I sort of know Jim's thoughts on it anyway. He's right, of course. (No I haven't read the article but Woff's my hero anyway
    Proud & Permanent Student Of The Long Road
    Read me: EN (http://eventingnation.com/author/annemarch/) and HJU (http://horsejunkiesunited.com/author/holly-covey/)

    Comment


    • #3
      Of course he's right and he's been saying the same thing for yeeeeeeeeears.
      Proud and achy member of the Eventing Grannies clique.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by retreadeventer View Post
        You can't link to a PH article unless you have permission...from the publishers...
        Uhuh. Back in the 90s many big dumb companies thought that providing links on your website to direct people over to their website was somehow a violation of their constitutional right to publish a website that nobody reads.

        Fortunately, as time went on and the climate changed, those big, dumb, slow moving, cold blooded publishers were replaced by quicker moving, smarter ones who understood how the web worked.

        The crusty old ones mostly got eaten by sabre toothed tigers, but sometimes in a rarely visited, dimly lit valley you find one hanging around.

        Comment


        • #5
          Yes...but is it really that easy?

          Originally posted by retreadeventer View Post
          You can't link to a PH article unless you have permission...from the publishers....just something I know, as we have linked to articles for the Training three day, and I had to get permission. I sort of know Jim's thoughts on it anyway. He's right, of course. (No I haven't read the article but Woff's my hero anyway
          Meeeee tooooo! I sit at awe the feet of the great JW!

          BUT....

          I talked to a BNT about this issue recently, and she had a different take. I'm paraphrasing/quoting from my blog--and know that I'm still a lower level pleeb, so I don't know much....could it be similar to the argument "calclulators are making our students dumb!" and "TV/movies/computers are making our students dumb!" Maybe it's just different....(playing devil's advocate). Here's the excerpt from my blog:

          Between groups, I asked BNT a couple questions based on a comment she made to the first group about what might well be the “fifth” rider responsibility: seeing your spot. Timing. Somehow, to me that seemed to be inconsistent with some of what other “big names” were saying. For instance, a while back, Jimmy Wofford (admittedly my all-time hero) wrote about how, by asking horses to do more and more complex dressage, we were destroying their own ability to find a distance, to develop what others referred to as “the fifth leg”. Being able to get out of a tight spot by themselves. By making horses so dependent on our instruction in dressage, Wofford maintained, we are killing their own self-preservation ability—and then if we don’t know what to do/don’t think fast enough, accidents happen. Similarly, Lucinda Green in her recent address to the USEA annual meeting said we need to learn to trust our horses more. How do these ideas mesh with the idea of timing being the rider’s responsibility?

          BNT took the question seriously, and approached it from a variety of angles. Both of the afore-mentioned riders came up during a time when courses were different, and they all had early experience on horses that knew their jobs. Plus, she noted, cross country jumps simply weren’t as solid as they are now. As a result, riders could “kick on” and even crash into a fence and still get back on to compete (and often even do well). Yes, we want horses to find that “fifth leg”, but some horses have it—and others don’t, or at least can’t find it as easily. Does that mean they’re not good horses? No—we just need to help them more. “So we need to learn timing to help our horses all the time?” I asked. BNT answered yes, but that it’s all part of being a better horseman. Of course horses need to learn how to get out of a jam—but we have to learn, too. What we need to do, she said, is to give kids a horse and 100 acres to ride on, and have them play cowboys and Indians. I get her drift: growing up on a farm, and riding bareback day after day, I learned to “feel” what my horse was doing (even when we did, uh, crazy things like jump over gravestones, or cut calves out of the field), and I trusted her (and she me). We did some pretty crazy things—but we depended on each other. So if WE know, we can help the horse learn—and vice-versa!
          --Becky in TX
          Clinic Blogs and Rolex Blogs
          She who throws dirt is losing ground.

          Comment


          • #6
            I have the article...Jimmy takes a firm stand with well-reasoned support for each claim that he makes. Anyone that would like to read the article but cannot find someone who has it can PM me and I'll copy/send it to you if you agree to send a donation to Gnep's fund.... or a T3DE in some way (subk always has FINE ideas ).
            Last edited by RunForIt; Jan. 21, 2009, 06:10 PM.
            ~ it no longer matters what level I do, as long as I am doing it..~ with many thanks, to Elizabeth Callahan

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Kairoshorses View Post
              Plus, she noted, cross country jumps simply weren’t as solid as they are now. As a result, riders could “kick on” and even crash into a fence and still get back on to compete (and often even do well).
              With all due respect, having first competed in 1979 I'm not sure I buy that. There were plenty of ultra solid fences--held together with nasty stuff like wire and nails. I think that's one area of improvement, fences that are more crash friendly, not less...

              Lynda you have a PM!

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Kairoshorses View Post
                BNT took the question seriously, and approached it from a variety of angles. Both of the afore-mentioned riders came up during a time when courses were different, and they all had early experience on horses that knew their jobs. Plus, she noted, cross country jumps simply weren’t as solid as they are now. As a result, riders could “kick on” and even crash into a fence and still get back on to compete (and often even do well). Yes, we want horses to find that “fifth leg”, but some horses have it—and others don’t, or at least can’t find it as easily. Does that mean they’re not good horses? No—we just need to help them more. “So we need to learn timing to help our horses all the time?” I asked. BNT answered yes, but that it’s all part of being a better horseman. Of course horses need to learn how to get out of a jam—but we have to learn, too. What we need to do, she said, is to give kids a horse and 100 acres to ride on, and have them play cowboys and Indians. I get her drift: growing up on a farm, and riding bareback day after day, I learned to “feel” what my horse was doing (even when we did, uh, crazy things like jump over gravestones, or cut calves out of the field), and I trusted her (and she me). We did some pretty crazy things—but we depended on each other. So if WE know, we can help the horse learn—and vice-versa!

                I agree and disagee with your BNT (ok mostly disagree). First...I think Jimmy and Lucinda know very well about the courses today. They are still very active and smart horsemen...and both have helped develop many a young horse.

                Second....that is crap about the fences being more "solid" now than then....riders didn't ride to crash back then...and horses and riders DID die when that happened. Also part of making the fences more "solid" as your BNT means WAS to make it more safe.

                I take exception about a horse still being a good event horse with out a fifth leg. I think that if a horse doesn't have/develop that fifth leg...well then they probably should NOT be an event horse. Part of rider responsibility is to come to grips with that. Not every horse with scope or good movement is going to be a safe event horse....and there are several riders who have paid high prices perhaps pushing a horse onward in eventing instead of listening to the signs and finding that horse a different job. And riders need to take the TIME in the training of the young horse to allow them to develop that fifth leg at a safe level....and not rush them up quickly through the levels so that the first mistake they make is at a big fence that causes a fall...

                Lastly....I don't think Jimmy or Lucinda would ever say that rider shouldn't develop their instincts as well...and both would probably agree with your BNT that riders need to do exactly that...go kick around bareback and develop their feel. They just ALSO focus on the need to develop instincts in the horse since even the best of the best....riders with incredible feel and timing....will NOT be perfect all the time. The sport is a partnership...and both partners needs to have the skills and train to be at their best....especially at the higher levels were the margin for error is small.
                Last edited by bornfreenowexpensive; Jan. 21, 2009, 06:28 PM. Reason: to add one more thought
                ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by bornfreenowexpensive View Post

                  I take exception about a horse still being a good event horse with out a fifth leg. I think that if a horse doesn't have/develop that fifth leg...well then they probably should NOT be an event horse. Part of rider responsibility is to come to grips with that. Not every horse with scope or good movement is going to be a safe event horse....and there are several riders who have paid high prices perhaps pushing a horse onward in eventing instead of listening to the signs and finding that horse a different job. And riders need to take the TIME in the training of the young horse to allow them to develop that fifth leg at a safe level....and not rush them up quickly through the levels so that the first mistake they make is at a big fence that causes a fall...
                  Agree completely.

                  Also, can't remember where it was said in this thread, but I DON'T agree that TOO much dressage takes away from a horses ability to be successful XC. If anything, I feel the opposite. I WANT a horse that has a ton of access to his hind end.

                  If, the comment is meant to say: Dressage makes the horse refuse to think for himself, then you have a whole different problem related to what bornfree is talking about.

                  JMHO,
                  Seb
                  Aca-Believe it!!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Sebastian View Post
                    Agree completely.

                    Also, can't remember where it was said in this thread, but I DON'T agree that TOO much dressage takes away from a horses ability to be successful XC. If anything, I feel the opposite. I WANT a horse that has a ton of access to his hind end.

                    If, the comment is meant to say: Dressage makes the horse refuse to think for himself, then you have a whole different problem related to what bornfree is talking about.

                    JMHO,
                    Seb

                    I think it was Windfall- They focused only on dressage with him for a couple months(dont know exact time) and in doing so, all the dressage work they did hindered his ability to jump those more challenging combinations and bigger tables at the advanced and 4**** level, SO

                    i have to disagree, at some point too much dressage can have a negative impact, but only at the very top of our sport. For the most part, IMO most people & horses wont have to worry about doing too much dressage
                    eventer do it
                    ~3 ways 3 days~

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Mad*eventer View Post
                      I think it was Windfall- They focused only on dressage with him for a couple months(dont know exact time) and in doing so, all the dressage work they did hindered his ability to jump those more challenging combinations and bigger tables at the advanced and 4**** level, SO

                      i have to disagree, at some point too much dressage can have a negative impact, but only at the very top of our sport. For the most part, IMO most people & horses wont have to worry about doing too much dressage
                      That's one horse -- and frankly a strange conclusion... A "couple of months" of Dressage is NOT going to ruin a horse's jump.

                      Seb
                      Aca-Believe it!!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Totally agree with Jimmy's comments in PH & most of the time.

                        BFNE - very well said.

                        We have to identify dressage to understand what the thought processes:

                        Old school trainers consider a good saddle horse will lengthen, shorten, shoulder/haunches in/out (walk/trot/canter), flying change, turn on forehand/haunches, leg yield.

                        "DRESSAGE" begins with half & full passes, multi-tempi's, passage, piaffe, etc.

                        In the past the eventing dressage included the first list, no turn on forehand/haunches. The second list was left for straight dressage.

                        Now TPTB are beginning to blur the line.
                        Those 'old-schoolers' with experience are telling us that to teach the horse the skills in the second list the human much have more control of what the horse is doing. This encourages our horse to listen to us and discourages self thought.
                        The same happens to us when we are in an intensive lesson environment. We tend to 'LISTEN' for our instructor instead of 'DOING' what we know how to do.

                        There are exceptions to the rule in every situation, but in general the greater the dressage skills, the less the horse is prepared to "remember that 5 leg".
                        "Never do anything that you have to explain twice to the paramedics."
                        Courtesy my cousin Tim

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          True, I think it's great people who take the winter off to focus on dressage, and it does a lot of good and virtually no harm. But hearing about it have an effect on some top level horse makes me start wondering about how it could start to do harm...

                          when trying to get through one stride combinations of 4 foot wide 4 foot tall tables- i guess the dressage could affect the horses gallop and ability to still make the huge striding or power it takes to get over them? Or even just getting themselves out of a deep distance or long spot- just pure power and tact is needed. Just thinking outloud ( i know there is an easy argument for the other side of this)

                          for my horse- she will continue to do as much dressage as i can possibly stand for the rest of her career as a eventer because at this level i don't see how it could do anything but good.
                          eventer do it
                          ~3 ways 3 days~

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I continue to disagree with this mindset. Frankly, I think it is unrealistic, archaic and short-sighted. No one, including Wofford, has yet explained to me how not being able to see and ride accurately in terms of distances is appropriate given 1.) the existance of complexes and related distances (at the upper levels) and 2.) the fact that the horse hasn't walked the course.

                            I am especially disturbed by the fact that no one, including Wofford, has yet to take the time to acknowledge how expensive developing that fifth leg is. Horses who "miss" GET HURT, blast it all. No, they rarely make fatal mistakes, but the way this sport bangs up horses is downright shameful at the upper levels, IMO--and if they have to LEARN to have that fifth leg, it may also be shameful at the lower levels, too, but it gets hidden out in the back pasture.

                            Indeed, sometimes I think that too few eventers take the time to think about the possible relationship between accurate riding when it is needed and the shortened careers and frequent layups of event horses. To me, that's just more of the "just do it" attitude that I abhor in a lot of equestrian sports today. Wofford, Green, etc. have no proof whatsoever of what they claim and the lack of anyone in the next generations out there supporting them makes me question their views as well.

                            I respect them (I've adored Lucinda since she was Prior-Palmer and talked about Regal Realm's "telescopic neck"), but I disagree strongly -- NOT because what they argue doesn't have some utility, but rather that I have yet to hear them realistically connect their beliefs to the current realities of the sport--resulting in their arguments having, IMO, only limited utility (and yet they and others seem to argue a universality which is misleading and dangerous, IMO). It's like the short vs. long format trade off which gets so little airing from long format supporters (i.e. long format = fewer participants and thus greater cost: a great effort/idea that simply cannot be sustained, as some argue while others ignore). I'm tired of points of concern being ignored.
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                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by pwynnnorman View Post
                              No one, including Wofford, has yet explained to me how not being able to see and ride accurately in terms of distances is appropriate given 1.) the existence of complexes and related distances (at the upper levels) and 2.) the fact that the horse hasn't walked the course.
                              Let me throw something out there.

                              First I don't think anyone one has said that you "shouldn't see a distance," just that what the horse sees is more important than what the rider sees. I would also say that the balance and the canter created also has a tremendous amount of control over WHAT distance a horse sees, and I don't think Wofford would say that's a bad thing.

                              BUT in a Wofford clinic I have heard him say on multiple occassions that he does not believe that there are more than a handful of riders in the world that can actually "see" their striding and distance more than 4 strides out (maybe 5?.) Most of us can only recognize that we are "wrong" at 3 or 4 strides not that we are actually right.

                              Now let's think about that a second. A horse's vision is such that he can no longer see the fence once he's about 2-3 strides in front of it--this would be the reason why trying to adjust all the way to the base is a bad idea and rarely works out very well. So in practical application the good rider upon "seeing" his distance only has one stride in which to pick the distance he wants and make the adjustment for it. Good riders do it. Horses that don't have their own initiative count on it. In the same discussion JW said that really good riders generally only get it right 9 out of 10 times. Go free jump a schooled horse who knows the ropes. See how many times when he has no interference he misses--it will be once out of a 100.

                              As a betting woman, I think having respect for the individual who can get it right 1 out of 100 is a pretty good move. Influencing the more accurate partner seems a lot smarter than controlling it.

                              I'd also say this, I can and I have ridden down to a 4' jump and intentionally put a horse right at the base: deep, not so deep, underneath the front rail...and I can do it consistently. I don't do it by seeing a stride, I do it by controlling the canter and influencing the choice the horse makes. I have found that even in difficult combinations the quality of the canter has more influence on success than the spot of take off.

                              Originally posted by pwynnnorman View Post
                              Wofford, Green, etc. have no proof whatsoever of what they claim and the lack of anyone in the next generations out there supporting them makes me question their views as well.
                              Which is interesting considering that since JW's first working student, Don Sachey, made the World Championship team in '74 that I don't think there has been a World or Olympic team since that didn't have one of his students...

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I know I felt pretty badly after reading the latest Wofford/PH article, having a horse that does NOT canter or gallop in perfect balance all the time. Maybe when she's as far along in her career as Gwen was by the time I started riding her (age 16!) she'll have it down, but certainly I would only be able to trot courses at this stage of the game if I wanted to ride an entire course with my horse in ideal balance.
                                Click here before you buy.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I was reading the September/October USEA "Eventing" magazine today. William Miclem's article was very interesting - I'll post a couple paragraphs tomorrow when I get my hands on it again, but the gist was that once your horse is "put into gear," you should only jump out of stride or make the last stride a tiny bit shorter (which great horse/rider combos don't need to do, because they can adjust a few strides out and not change the last stride).

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I never post over here, but what I think about when this discussion comes up is...

                                    I don't think dressage kills the 5th leg, or stops the horse thinking for himself. I think it is the dressage that is done today. The over bent, horse staring at the ground, 25 lbs of constant contact with the bit dressage is what kills off the abilities of the horse.

                                    The open, up, light, freely forward (as opposed to driven forward) dressage of the past preserves the thinking of the horse.

                                    So while I also think the short format is a huge problem, the popularity of certain types of "dressage" techniques will continue to be a problem. And as more and more of the score/placings becomes focused on the dressage, the greater and more hazardous this problem will become.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Sebastian View Post
                                      Also, can't remember where it was said in this thread, but I DON'T agree that TOO much dressage takes away from a horses ability to be successful XC. If anything, I feel the opposite. I WANT a horse that has a ton of access to his hind end.

                                      If, the comment is meant to say: Dressage makes the horse refuse to think for himself, then you have a whole different problem related to what bornfree is talking about.
                                      I know Jimmy Wofford had a column on that, saying that by requiring horses to do complicated, upper level movements, they learned to wait/listen to their rider to the point where they couldn't/didn't think for themselves anymore, thus when they got into a jam in XC, they couldn't get out by themselves...and you want a XC horse who can get out of a jam even w/o you. His criticism, I think, was that we were asking these horses to do movements/complicated tests that really shouldn't be required of a horse competing in three different disciplines--yet TPTB were trying to find ways to make the **** more challenging.
                                      --Becky in TX
                                      Clinic Blogs and Rolex Blogs
                                      She who throws dirt is losing ground.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by bornfreenowexpensive View Post
                                        I agree and disagee with your BNT (ok mostly disagree). First...I think Jimmy and Lucinda know very well about the courses today. They are still very active and smart horsemen...and both have helped develop many a young horse.

                                        Second....that is crap about the fences being more "solid" now than then....riders didn't ride to crash back then...and horses and riders DID die when that happened. Also part of making the fences more "solid" as your BNT means WAS to make it more safe.

                                        I take exception about a horse still being a good event horse with out a fifth leg. I think that if a horse doesn't have/develop that fifth leg...well then they probably should NOT be an event horse. Part of rider responsibility is to come to grips with that. Not every horse with scope or good movement is going to be a safe event horse....and there are several riders who have paid high prices perhaps pushing a horse onward in eventing instead of listening to the signs and finding that horse a different job. And riders need to take the TIME in the training of the young horse to allow them to develop that fifth leg at a safe level....and not rush them up quickly through the levels so that the first mistake they make is at a big fence that causes a fall...

                                        Lastly....I don't think Jimmy or Lucinda would ever say that rider shouldn't develop their instincts as well...and both would probably agree with your BNT that riders need to do exactly that...go kick around bareback and develop their feel. They just ALSO focus on the need to develop instincts in the horse since even the best of the best....riders with incredible feel and timing....will NOT be perfect all the time. The sport is a partnership...and both partners needs to have the skills and train to be at their best....especially at the higher levels were the margin for error is small.

                                        TOTALLY agree.

                                        And Kairoshorses - I believe I know exactly who your BNT is. And if I'm right, she is (or I guess I should say was) a protege of Jimmys. And she and a few others are responsible for this current "ultra control" mindset that has been developing in this country for years now, taking all initiative away from the horse. And then they wonder why the horses are falling when their riders make a mistake?

                                        It's not rocket science. Take away the horses' initiative + riders eventually making a mistake = potential disaster.

                                        Have you read JW's latest in this months PH (Feb issue)? His "conversation" was most likely with your BNT or one of her groupies. Great article!
                                        http://www.MyVirtualEventingCoach.com

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