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I'm back--my report and thoughts

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  • I'm back--my report and thoughts

    Hey all, I'm home, and working on a doozy of a sinus infection (always happens when I fly) so if this is too long or incoherent let me know.

    I did stand up and read the petition, though I'll admit I ad libbed a few places for length and also because I wasn't brave enough to start singling out events in the national championship part with the orgnaizer sitting not five feet away. I felt a bit like the lamb to the slaughter I don't mind telling you, though I did recieve some nice applause, and I wasn't heckled form the floor. At the Board of Governor's meeting on Sunday morning, Kyra achklowedged the petition, and thanked me for bringing it, and I got some nice applause there too. I also had some dirty looks, and rolled eyes (not in the BOG from some riders after I presented it at the meeting). But I can probably live with it.

    First, the good news. I feel confident of two things at the moment--one, the CCI* and CCI** are safe and have the full backing of the riders at every level, and the administration of our sport. Two, we have a fabulous new Board of Governors who are very interested in giving the membership what it wants.

    Now, the bad news. The CCI***-long is dead. Period. Roger Haller told the board of governors on Sunday morning that the events committe will be telling Jersey Fresh to run theirs short format, and that we "just all need to understnad where the world is going." The CCI**** is in jeopardy. Real, palpable danger. It may be saved as a special, stand alone event, a la the Tour De France verus other bicycle racing competitions and the Olympics. But the FEI, and riders and coaches on an Olympic/WEG track, have thrown in the towel. The best we can do is support, financially, time wise and otherwise, those organizers still running the CCI**** long format (Janie Atkinson here for Rolex, specifically). If they give up, it's over. To slightly correct one thing Janet said about what David O'Connor said, he said in HIS OPINION the CCI**** should remain intact as the pinnacle of the sport. However, he believes that this will not happen other than by individual organizers doing it. He thinks the long is done permanently in terms of championships--because even if a given WEG organizer wants to run it long, he believes the majority of other countries will boycott, and the FEI will yank the WEG from said organzier.

    I was very dissapointed in the riders, though I do appreciate their support for the one and two star in terms of it's importance to HORSES as well as riders. But they are not interested in research in my view, and some of them clearly believe that those of use who aren't riding at that level should pretty much butt out. One person in particular was very condescending on that point.

    What was very disturbing to me though, was overhearing things put one way in private in terms of perhaps the short format not being all it's cracked up to be, but stated VERY differenty in public. After several days of digesting, my feeling is this: the riders have decided that the FEI has made up its mind, the CCI-long is gone forever, and they can either be Olympic and Worlds riders, or not. Therefore, they feel the duty to "sell" how great the short format is, because they would rather do it, than not be international FEI riders. In other words, evidence is less important than being able to ride in pink coats at Olympic Games and orld Championships. I actually don't think it's exactly team fever, or a directive from Captain Phillips, though clearly he cousles them on what to say, as much as a "we've got this thing and we need to make it sound good for the fans, potential and current owners and sponsors, etc." type of deal.

    I also think, to be fair to the riders, that the dreadful expereinces at Burghley this year spooked a LOT of riders. I certainly can't argue the legitimacy of fears arising from that experience, I'm sure it was very traumatic. But David said repeatedly that we, on both sides of the argument, need to quit having knee-jerk reactions. I think that is wise counsel.

    I am, more firmly than ever, dedicated to getting research done on the two formats. I think ultimately this is the only way we can go forward. it's our only hope, and even if the research comes out in favor of the short format, it's the right thing to do. Despite what was stronlgy implied both to my face and behind it this weekend, my primary concern ALWAYS is horse welfare. Prove to me the short format REALLY is better for the horses, and I'll shut up and go away.

    I would also like to, again, commend Nathalie Bouckaert and Michael Pollard, who were the only riders in the open forum to attempt to speak up in favor of the long format, though they were clearly shut down and shut out. They are two very brave young people, and have my undying admiration for the risk they are taking in being remotely vocal on this issue.

    There was a certain irony, imho, to the riders who were there vehemently arguing about having the horses around longer, making them stars, and heros giving them longer careers, etc., were riders whose long format horses have had careers into their late teens, with double digit numbers of long format CCI's under their belts, and whose horses would be recgonizable to a fan at 100 paces. I felt a little bit like asking just how long they'd like to compete them? Until their early 20's? Their 30's? The career of any one of the top horses of the riders in the room would be considered REMARKABLE by the standards of any other equine sport (when was the lst time the show jumpers had 16 to 18 year olds on their team?). While I'm not making light of the tremendous bond and magic between a horse and rider, there was a part of me that thought, you know, sometimes horses just get old. The short format won't stop the passage of time.

    I'll be crafting a letter to the USEA with all my thoughts later in the week, I'll post it here when I'm done.

    It was a great meeting, beautifully run, and it was fun to be "home" again. Some great educational seminars, although the ones on new findings of "issues" being discovered by new technology I started subtitling "Stuff that you now think might be wrong with your horse and will keep you up nights thinking about it". Especially the one on MRI, LOL.
  • Original Poster

    #2
    Hey all, I'm home, and working on a doozy of a sinus infection (always happens when I fly) so if this is too long or incoherent let me know.

    I did stand up and read the petition, though I'll admit I ad libbed a few places for length and also because I wasn't brave enough to start singling out events in the national championship part with the orgnaizer sitting not five feet away. I felt a bit like the lamb to the slaughter I don't mind telling you, though I did recieve some nice applause, and I wasn't heckled form the floor. At the Board of Governor's meeting on Sunday morning, Kyra achklowedged the petition, and thanked me for bringing it, and I got some nice applause there too. I also had some dirty looks, and rolled eyes (not in the BOG from some riders after I presented it at the meeting). But I can probably live with it.

    First, the good news. I feel confident of two things at the moment--one, the CCI* and CCI** are safe and have the full backing of the riders at every level, and the administration of our sport. Two, we have a fabulous new Board of Governors who are very interested in giving the membership what it wants.

    Now, the bad news. The CCI***-long is dead. Period. Roger Haller told the board of governors on Sunday morning that the events committe will be telling Jersey Fresh to run theirs short format, and that we "just all need to understnad where the world is going." The CCI**** is in jeopardy. Real, palpable danger. It may be saved as a special, stand alone event, a la the Tour De France verus other bicycle racing competitions and the Olympics. But the FEI, and riders and coaches on an Olympic/WEG track, have thrown in the towel. The best we can do is support, financially, time wise and otherwise, those organizers still running the CCI**** long format (Janie Atkinson here for Rolex, specifically). If they give up, it's over. To slightly correct one thing Janet said about what David O'Connor said, he said in HIS OPINION the CCI**** should remain intact as the pinnacle of the sport. However, he believes that this will not happen other than by individual organizers doing it. He thinks the long is done permanently in terms of championships--because even if a given WEG organizer wants to run it long, he believes the majority of other countries will boycott, and the FEI will yank the WEG from said organzier.

    I was very dissapointed in the riders, though I do appreciate their support for the one and two star in terms of it's importance to HORSES as well as riders. But they are not interested in research in my view, and some of them clearly believe that those of use who aren't riding at that level should pretty much butt out. One person in particular was very condescending on that point.

    What was very disturbing to me though, was overhearing things put one way in private in terms of perhaps the short format not being all it's cracked up to be, but stated VERY differenty in public. After several days of digesting, my feeling is this: the riders have decided that the FEI has made up its mind, the CCI-long is gone forever, and they can either be Olympic and Worlds riders, or not. Therefore, they feel the duty to "sell" how great the short format is, because they would rather do it, than not be international FEI riders. In other words, evidence is less important than being able to ride in pink coats at Olympic Games and orld Championships. I actually don't think it's exactly team fever, or a directive from Captain Phillips, though clearly he cousles them on what to say, as much as a "we've got this thing and we need to make it sound good for the fans, potential and current owners and sponsors, etc." type of deal.

    I also think, to be fair to the riders, that the dreadful expereinces at Burghley this year spooked a LOT of riders. I certainly can't argue the legitimacy of fears arising from that experience, I'm sure it was very traumatic. But David said repeatedly that we, on both sides of the argument, need to quit having knee-jerk reactions. I think that is wise counsel.

    I am, more firmly than ever, dedicated to getting research done on the two formats. I think ultimately this is the only way we can go forward. it's our only hope, and even if the research comes out in favor of the short format, it's the right thing to do. Despite what was stronlgy implied both to my face and behind it this weekend, my primary concern ALWAYS is horse welfare. Prove to me the short format REALLY is better for the horses, and I'll shut up and go away.

    I would also like to, again, commend Nathalie Bouckaert and Michael Pollard, who were the only riders in the open forum to attempt to speak up in favor of the long format, though they were clearly shut down and shut out. They are two very brave young people, and have my undying admiration for the risk they are taking in being remotely vocal on this issue.

    There was a certain irony, imho, to the riders who were there vehemently arguing about having the horses around longer, making them stars, and heros giving them longer careers, etc., were riders whose long format horses have had careers into their late teens, with double digit numbers of long format CCI's under their belts, and whose horses would be recgonizable to a fan at 100 paces. I felt a little bit like asking just how long they'd like to compete them? Until their early 20's? Their 30's? The career of any one of the top horses of the riders in the room would be considered REMARKABLE by the standards of any other equine sport (when was the lst time the show jumpers had 16 to 18 year olds on their team?). While I'm not making light of the tremendous bond and magic between a horse and rider, there was a part of me that thought, you know, sometimes horses just get old. The short format won't stop the passage of time.

    I'll be crafting a letter to the USEA with all my thoughts later in the week, I'll post it here when I'm done.

    It was a great meeting, beautifully run, and it was fun to be "home" again. Some great educational seminars, although the ones on new findings of "issues" being discovered by new technology I started subtitling "Stuff that you now think might be wrong with your horse and will keep you up nights thinking about it". Especially the one on MRI, LOL.

    Comment


    • #3
      Thank you for both reading the petition and giving such a nice summary of what happened and your thoughts.
      Your account, however, just makes me sad I had hoped the deed (the loss of the 3 and 4 star) was not done yet.
      There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.(Churchill)

      Comment


      • #4
        <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> To slightly correct one thing Janet said about what David O'Connor said, he said in HIS OPINION the CCI**** should remain intact as the pinnacle of the sport. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>That is what I thought the first time he said it. But then when I asked a question referring to "your proposal to keep the * and **** as long format" he interupted me and said "it isn't 'my proposal', it is what I think will happen".
        Janet

        chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).

        Comment


        • #5
          <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Heather:
          I started subtitling "Stuff that you now think might be wrong with your horse and will keep you up nights thinking about it". Especially the one on MRI, LOL. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
          I don't need any new information to suffer from that disease
          There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.(Churchill)

          Comment


          • #6
            Blecch, I'm very disappointed in our "courageous" event riders. It's OK to feel political pressure, but to not even support RESEARCH on what is best for our horses? Hmmm, sounds very much like these ULR's are in danger of losing that for which we admire them so much : their regard for the horses they ride.
            Click here before you buy.

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              He meant the one star, Janet, in terms of what will happen (and the "not my proposal" part is required from him due to his position as president of the USEF--he can't propose anything, officially), he was very clear he doesn't think the four star has a chance from the FEI/championship perspective when speaking with him at the reception later.

              Comment


              • #8
                Thank you Heather, from the bottom of my heart. I am desolate at the thought of so many of the riders I once admired not standing up for the long format, especially if they are in favor of keeping it when discussing the issue "in private". I guess they are human with flaws and foibles like the rest of us, but this leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth.

                Thank you, again, for being brave and eloquent in your presentation and in your recounting of the discussion at the meeting, and thank you for giving us reason for hope for the future of the sport, be it long or short, in the form of Nathalie and Michael and their courage to take a stand.

                Okay, so you're my hero for the day.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Heather, thank you for the great (or not-so-great in terms of a continuing a full 3-day format) recap.

                  It is fabulous to hear that Natalie and Michael, 2 people who I consider to be the future of our sport, are in support of traditional 3-day, and are not afraid to speak up and out.

                  I'm quite disappointed in those folks like Karen O (but unfortunately, not surprised) who have rolled over and said "well, its shorter so its easier on the horses, they'll have longer careers". When has the point of a 3-day ever been to "easier" on a horse. If I wanted "easier on the horse" I'd do low jumpers and forget about the XC altogether.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Heather:
                    He meant the one star, Janet, in terms of what will happen (and the "not my proposal" part is required from him due to his position as president of the USEF--he can't propose anything, officially), he was very clear he doesn't think the four star has a chance from the FEI/championship perspective when speaking with him at the reception later. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>OK, so yet another case of saying one thing in public and another in private. Oh well.
                    Janet

                    chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Heather:
                      I am, more firmly than ever, dedicated to getting research done on the two formats. I think ultimately this is the only way we can go forward. it's our only hope, and even if the research comes out in favor of the short format, it's the right thing to do. Despite what was stronlgy implied both to my face and behind it this weekend, my primary concern ALWAYS is horse welfare. Prove to me the short format REALLY is better for the horses, and I'll shut up and go away.
                      <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

                      Sooooo, because I have no idea about this type of thing, how does such a project get off the ground?

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Cathy Kohn started something at Fair Hill. I would imagine the model we need to inspect and follow would be those used by the folks who got the weight rule rescinded, and who did all the studies on heat effects before the Atlanta Games. There were studies done on both of these issues, that lead to changes and hard data.

                        Anyone here work with Carol Kozlowski? She spearheaded the weight rule changes including a study of the effect of carrying dead weight. If anyone can give us some ideas it'd be her.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Thats who I thought of, not by name since it didn't come to me, but because of the weight project. I just think it would be a super interesting project, and if something ends up happening I would definitely like to stay 'in the know'. And find out if they need assistants, I'd be seriously willing to take time off school, though it could probably be worked into my Bsc.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            First of all Heather did a great job standing before the crowds and presenting. She needs to be commended for her presentation and her bravery!! I assue you she may have seen some rolling of the eyes but I oberved people nodding yes as she read the petition.
                            I think her assessment of things is accurate. Yet I do think the "house is still divided on the short versus long format issue". However I think one of the best things to come out of the petition and its presentation is that it adds to the discussion and let's eveyone know there are many people that do support the long format. Information presented in the membership open forum states that 95% of the USEA members are riding at the novice and training levels. So our opinions do count!!We need to respect the Upper level riders as their opinions do matter but I am not sure they even know for sure if the short format is better due to lack of experiences in riding it. Darren C made the comment that he was "leaning toward the short format' but had not fully decided. I heard this from other riders who are on the winter trianing list and even some said they wanted the option for both formats as they have horses that a good for either format. So does this mean time will tell which is best and the riders really do not know for sure???
                            Also I agree with Heather that many of the top riders supported the short format at the *** and **** levels for various reasons such as safety,longivity of the horses, marketablity of the sport and the fact that many other countries do not continue to support the long format. However not all the riders openly stated thier opinions. There were top riders there who said nothing. I was discouraged yet I do feel that there are many "important" people in the sport that do support the long format but are reserving judgment until the short format has been tried for a while. A noticed that the ULRs that spoke in favor of the short format made statements"that my horse just felt better after running the short format".That is importan but not reaech!! Also comments were being made that the speed of the a *** and **** levels are issues that effect the horse longivity which is different for the * and ** star levels. Mark Phillips remarked that the British are suporting keeping the long * and ** as riders need to know how to ride forward to go on to the upper levels.
                            I really sensed that the changes to the long format happened faster than anyone expected,that Wayne Raycroft of the Evenitng committee had been given alot of pressure from other countries to agreed to changes and that there are 165 other countries with opinions regarding equestrian sports that make for many challenges in the FEI, that marketablity of equestrian sports in general is a real issue, and that efforts to have evenitng as viable as Dressage and showjumping requires us to adhere to the ways of the rest of the world.
                            I know this is long but despite my frustration as I listened I did get a message that the jury is still out of the effects of the short format on the sport and the horses and that we need more experience riding the short format before deciding which is best. Did anyone else hear that or am I making something up?
                            Finally the politics of it all is overwhelming. i think time will tell so in the mean time people should feel good about continuing to call for research and for supporting the long format or at least until it is demonstrated through experience or research that the sort format is trully best for the horses. Hopefully the pettion drive can be kept alive and another presentation with many more signatures can be presented at then USEF annual meeting.Attention to the issue needs to be a priority. I am also interesting in hearing from others who were at the UsEA meeting. Many of the Cothers were there so what did you all hear???

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Thanks Heather. Brave you!!!
                              While we`re at it, why don`t we lower the fences at the Maryland Hunt Cup, shorten the Tevis Cup to 75 miles, and shorten the Belmont to one mile? Why not just get rid of those pesky old high standards, since they`re so hard to achieve.
                              http://www.tamarackhill.com/

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                I would agree greyDawn, that more ULR will not speak at all publicly on the issue. So, in that sense, I give a lot of respect to those who are willing to state an opinion and put their name behind it, even if that opinion is contrary to my own.

                                The politics is overwhelming and not to be taken lightly--those riders are being judged on some level, at all times. The thought of that pressue is mind boggling to me. Because of the sort of personality I am, I'd like to believe that that pressure wouldn't deter me from saying what I believe--but I don't think anyone can say for sure how they would hold up under that pressue.

                                That being said, I have a confession to make. I didn't want to be the one up there being the face of this petition. I actually swore to myself on the plane out there, that it WOULDN'T be me. I was feeling that way, right up until the open forum it was implied to me that as a non-advanced rider I had no right to make a fuss, or have an opinion, and that I couldn't possibly understand. Then, I got mad. Really mad. I'm like Kevin Kline in A Fish Called Wanda. . . don't call me stupid. If that hadn't happened, I honestly would have provided the url to Kyra privately and gone on about my business. But I was PO'd. So I took a stand.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Bravo Heather!

                                  It can be lonely out there on that limb

                                  Agree with others that the next step is push for the research.

                                  And Denny - why don't we drop the 1 & 2 tempis (sp?) in Dressage and lower the Show Jumping heights to no more that 4'6". Just to make certain no one is left out or abused.
                                  "Never do anything that you have to explain twice to the paramedics."
                                  Courtesy my cousin Tim

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Real, palpable danger. It may be saved as a special, stand alone event, a la the Tour De France verus other bicycle racing competitions and the Olympics. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

                                    I have a funny story - my brother does Ironman Triathalons, which are a great deal more strenuous than the Olympic length triathalon (now, anyone who does a triathalon of any length is uber cool in my book), but my mom made a funny comment this summer - "Well, the Olympic triathalon isn't a "real" triathalon, the Ironman is."

                                    I bet the FEI would be disappointed if we all thought of The Rolex **** and the others as the "real" Three Day Event.

                                    I mean, c'mon, who do we know better, the winner of the Tour DeFrance or the winner of the shorter Olympic version? The winner at Wimbledon or the Olympic tennis gold medalist? I think with some branding and sponsorship, the winner at events like Rolex could be better rewarded and known than those at the Olympics.
                                    The witchy witch witch of south central NC.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Thank God someone made you mad! I would have been beside myself. How lucky that I wasn't in your shoes...I might be cooling my heels in an SF jail cell...

                                      As to recommendations for who might assist with the research, Carol is a GREAT idea and would be an invaluable resource as to how to go about this, and there are a slew of folks here in Area III who were involved with the heat study before the 96 Games. (gee, a long format in Georgia in the summer...and they all survived, actually looked pretty darn amazing.) Pat Maykuth springs to mind, she is involved in academia professionally, and I'd hazard a guess that she's strongly behind long format. But either way, she would know how to proceed with the research.

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                                      • #20
                                        Yes, and tranquilize the bucking broncs, lower the baskets in basketball, the possibilities are really endless. Do we -hell, do they- really think that the legacy they leave behind, riding in a bunch of horse trials, will be looked upon in the future as anywhere nearly as meaningful as the accomplishments of Bruce, Lucinda, Mike P., even of some of they themselves, in their earlier careers?
                                        Isn`t this really much of what we are all lamenting, yet another lessening of yet another high and difficult standard? Don`t they get that point? OF COURSE easier is easier. Does easy move your soul? Does it move theirs? I can`t see how it possibly could, and yet it must.
                                        What don`t I get?
                                        http://www.tamarackhill.com/

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