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Inexperienced and overfaced riders...

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  • Inexperienced and overfaced riders...

    I am in no way trying to play armchair quarterback, but the thread about Galway Downs reminds me of something I saw a few weeks ago at CDCTA. I was standing with a woman that I know through my trainer, and her daughter was doing her first Training. The daughter, while a competent and capable rider, was on a green horse who had never competed at training level. What struck me was that the mother was _so nervous_ that she couldn't even watch her daughter go around her stadium course.

    Normally I'd think, "Well, she just wants her to do well," but I watched the round and thought, "This girl was very LUCKY." The horse did not have the ever-important "I can't make this jump from this distance" in him and neither did the rider, which quite frankly scares me. They nearly crashed through a combination, but the horse was somewhat athletic enough to pull himself through. Not only am I thinking GM would have had a coronary watching the seat-of-the-pants riding, but the fact that the two were clearly NOT experienced to make it through safely makes me wonder why this woman let her daughter enter at training in the first place?

    I asked my trainer about this and apparently the mother wanted her to go at Training and it was her idea - the girl couldn't care less if she had done Novice instead. But if her own mother didn't have enough confidence that she could watch her daughter do a training level stadium round, then something's not right. I'm not saying she should have been there coaching her through her warmup and every jump, my theory is that she _knew_ the stadium round would be shaky and further reinforce the fact that the girl was not ready for Training.

    I don't expect riders to put down a Maclay-caliber round every time, but if they consistently have issues getting around safely, then perhaps they should go back and rethink things. Dropping down a level and practicing your butt off at home is far better than screaming around a course and coming out and saying, "Doesn't matter how I looked, at least I was clear!"

    Some riders out there do not have the wisdom that comes with years of experience and good training, and as a result we see more and more "scary" rides where people were damn lucky to make it through in one piece. Obviously this is a universal issue, but seems to be more prevalent in young riders. I don't know whether it's the pressure from trainers or parents, but something needs to be done.

  • #2
    justCurious- completely agree. *I* freely admit I was guilty of this in my younger years, competing at Training on a bold, forward horse when *I* wasn't ready to be at Training level yet (the horse was fine). I had several memorable trips around XC, some of which never actually were completed...

    Fast forward 5 years and I"ve matured and learned to ride better and analyze better and make better decisions. I don't remember exactly at what point I realized I needed to take a step back before I got myself or my horse hurt, but I did reach that point and lived to tell the tale.

    But now, one of my personal frustrations, is that I can't go to a competition and know what I"m going to see on XC because of this ever-more-prevalent trend of increasing increasing increasing the difficulty at the same level. Case in point, I had a very bold, brave, positive, greenie TB who was bombing around Beg Nov, safe and happy, and schooling Novice happily. I entered him at an unrec Nov advertised as "STARTER" horse trial in MAY (so early season, and theoretically easier courses), and saw half-coffins, palisades with a one-stride to water, bank-to-drop-to-bending-two-stride-over a bench, drop with a one-stride to a big coop- and my poor guy was totally overfaced at an unrecognized starter horse trial. He lost a lot of confidence at that competition and went back to Beginner Novice for awhile until he got it back (and it's still coming back, even now). I never would have expected that a starter HT in early May would have been so hard- and many other people complained about the exact same thing.

    So between inexperienced riders, and whatever pressures they are getting from their parents/ coaches/ whatever, and the fact that course difficulties are all over the place within a given level, there's a real problem that people need to start acknowledging and addressing.
    ~Living the life I imagined~

    Comment


    • #3
      Unfortunately rounds like the one you describe are common enough. However, IME in this sport for going on 12 years, it hasn't gotten any more or less frequent. It's only when tragedy strikes that it all gets stirred up and talked about.

      You're never going to be able to legislate everything, and as long as the sport is what it is there are going to be "Oh Jesus" rounds, where the spectators cover their eyes and (if luck is with them) the rider finishes with a big smile and a "wasn't that great!!??!!" to collective groans and cringes from the spectators.

      And yes, it's often young riders but not always. I'm sure everyone can immediately think of a rider in their local CTA or area who makes everyone cringe as they flop around and who nevertheless comes back time and time again with a big smile after their "clean" rounds.

      When scoring depends on jumping and time faults, not subjective judging, this is what you get. I haven't floated around in the jumper world for a very long time, but there used to be the same type of rides in the Marshall/Sterling or AA classes: yahoos mounted on nutball horses "going clean" but putting everyone's hearts in their throats.

      So the eternal question arises (again): do we beef up the subjectivity of the judging? Do we further empower Safety Officers to act as Riding Police and yank people off who appear to be, or are, unsafe? Or do we let the sport be what it is: a test of horsemanship that is never perfected but nonetheless open to everyone?

      I'm not professing an opinion or an answer, merely reflecting that there will always be people competing in any sport who are on the "less prepared end" of the bell curve. Do they risk their lives in doing so? Heck yes! But as we have also seen, even the best don't always avoid tragedy.
      Click here before you buy.

      Comment


      • #4
        I know this is going to be a very unpopular question, but here goes...

        Why dont they have requirements, lets say going from training to prelim like they do for *, **, & so on?

        Why would it be so hard to ask for 3 clean CC rounds before moving up? Or hell, even 2?

        There is a local PC club that is known to produce what I like to call kamakzi riders/horses. They go as fast as they can over that course. When you have ridden a horse that is the product of that enviroment, its pretty eye opening. When you have riders move to diferent barns, same thing. They just dont get it. "slow down? count strides???? are you kidding?" Especially from younger riders.

        Comment


        • #5
          this just reminded me of my own personal experience in climbing up the levels...
          decent horses and some natural athleticism and judgement got me up to about the intermediate level, but it became blatantly apparent at that level that I had no idea how to ride a show-jump course and my horse was finding it increasingly difficult to put up with the pulling and bad canters and was getting sick of popping large oxers while i was trying to "find" a distance at that level. This resulted in more than a year of bad show jump rounds, ugly stops and cowboy riding around the course. It was frustrating and heartbreaking (lost several events and a 3de this way) and I'm sure scary for the spectators. Weirdly enough, when i was on xc, my mind was forward thinking and i could ride a great canter to most anything. Thank goodness my trainer recognized what was going on and made me keep that horse at the Intermediate level and waited to have a better jumper to upgrade to advanced, even though I was desperate to upgrade and xc was going so well. That and I took it upon myself to get with a hunter trainer who took me right back to 2 foot verticals and the basics of rhythm, balance and correct contact and voila, problem pretty much solved. Show jumping is still what i consider my weakest phase, but I guess my point is that there is always some kinks to work out, and accidents can happen to the best and most prepared riders as well as the blatantly bad ones. My philosophy is just put the odds on your side, do the best to work out kinks before you move up, get a good trainer who will be honest with you even if it is not what you want to hear, and get a horse who gets his knees out of the way... its hard/stressfull enough riding around an advanced level course, let alone riding an advanced level course on a horse who know doesn't jump well.
          eventing is an amazing sport, but like anything extreme it has its dangers as well, its just our own responsibility to accept the risk and prepare ourselves and our horses as best we can.
          Katie E
          Sadly horseless for a little while

          Comment


          • #6
            They do, actually, for Prelim. & up--you must have completed 4 Trainings to do Prelim., etc.

            Comment


            • #7
              I don't know if those requirements necessarily would help, there are just as many scary "clean rounds" as their are good ones... that is the frustrating part of regulating our sport i guess.
              in canada they used to have a required clinic for the 3DE riders if it was their first time competing at a new level of 3DE, I don't think they could actually stop someone from competing but they sure could influence them if they thought they were in over their heads. not sure that could be implemented for horse shows or lower levels though...
              Katie E
              Sadly horseless for a little while

              Comment


              • #8
                Deltawave, wouldn't it be great if there were Riding Police?!!

                But, think about it... how many 'trainers' would get their panties in a wad if you had the ability to tell them 'Sorry, Kid A can't go on a BN course because she has absolutly NO base of support'. Because it's these people who hang out a shingle and have no grasp of horsemanship, let alone basic safety.

                We've all seen the 'trainers' who show up and lo and behond! Every horse has a breastplate AND running martingale AND a kimberwick, and all the students can't tell a diagonal or canter lead unless they look down for three or four strides. No horse is adjustable and they're all just getting by, but all of them talk a good game.

                My first prelim was a wake up call for me... we'd walked around training courses, and I have lots of 4'6" jumper experience. But, you know what? I got small out there. The combinations that scarred the hell out of me I actually rode to, but I was mentally not ready for a whole course. Dropping down to training and getting a few more good experiences is what I needed, and I'm not ashamed of it. Cross country is a whole different animal for me, and I want to do everything I can to help avoid an accident.

                Sadly, common sense and safety will never win out against the dollar.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I was at the same event and saw a particularly scary round... horse was green and rider was getting horrible distances to each jump... I overheard the mother say, "Yeah, he's only 4 and tends to run - but she chases him to every jump, so that's why." So basically she was admitting her daughter was riding poorly on a green horse, and it obviously didn't get through her noggin that perhaps she should wait and get more experience before "chasing" her horse around a stadium course.
                  Road to the T3D
                  Translation
                  fri [fri:] fritt fria (adj): Free
                  skritt [skrit:] skritten (noun): Walk

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    We are doing a Forum on Dangerous Riding at the Annual Meeting in St Louis. I hope as many of you as possible attend and speak up. It is a problem! Where does responsibility lie? Rider? Trainer? Official? Course Designer?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I couldn't decide whether to put this further additional thought on this thread or the Galway thread... but I wanted to add that I DO NOT think the levels need to be dumbed down, but rather that the standards at each level need to be better defined, and even more importantly, maintained, so that we can be confident that a Training course today is a Training course tomorrow (and not a Prelim course billed as a Training course).

                      I'd be willing to bet that 90% of the riders out there have NO interest in overfacing themselves or their horses. How can we criticize riders for being inexperienced and unprepared, if the bar at each level keeps getting shifted, and worse yet, a rider doesn't know it until they get to a competition?
                      ~Living the life I imagined~

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Like others have said, you can't legislate common sense. I do think, however, that adults bear some responsibility for the safety of minors.

                        My example here has no relation to this weekend's accident. I know absolutely nothing about the horse and rider or their level of experience. This is a hypothetical example that could occur in our sport.

                        The qualifications for CCIs are simply about adequate completions (which includes the requisite fault/score limits). Say you're aiming for a CCI at whatever level. You compete often, like 2x month. By the time the CCI rolls around, you've done 8 HTs at your level. At 6 of these events, you did not complete, either through falls, eliminations or unsoundness. But you did complete the required 2 HTs with the appropriate marks. You're qualified -- but is a CCI what you should do next?

                        Would phases A-C have filtered out many of the marginal rides? The extra phases would be an entry deterrent to a horse with known soundness issues. Before phase D, you'd have an opportunity to talk to your support team and get their opinions after they've seen you on steeplechase. A wise coach or concerned friend would hopefully tell you it's just not your day. Or you'd make a plan for what to do if things go badly, like you'd pull up if you had two stops.

                        Years ago, HTs were one-day events, not 3- or 4-day leisurely affairs like we have in CA now. You did SJ before XC and would therefore know how your horse is jumping before you attempted solid fences. Safer? Probably.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Why dont they have requirements, lets say going from training to prelim like they do for *, **, & so on?
                          They do. The rider has to have 4 qualifying competitions at Training, before doing Prelim.
                          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


                          • #14
                            I know couple of older adults who regularly put in very scary stadium rounds.
                            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


                            • #15
                              I entered him at an unrec Nov advertised as "STARTER" horse trial in MAY (so early season, and theoretically easier courses), and saw half-coffins, palisades with a one-stride to water, bank-to-drop-to-bending-two-stride-over a bench, drop with a one-stride to a big coop- and my poor guy was totally overfaced at an unrecognized starter horse trial. He lost a lot of confidence at that competition and went back to Beginner Novice for awhile until he got it back (and it's still coming back, even now). I never would have expected that a starter HT in early May would have been so hard- and many other people complained about the exact same thing.
                              That is always the risk you take with an UNRECOGIZED event.

                              You also have the option (and responsibility), after you walk the course, of scratching ig you think it will hurt the horse's confidence.
                              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


                              • #16
                                Sidenote here, did you know that the word "overfaced" is not used outside of horses? (i've found *one* reference to dog training). I used it during a meeting at work and was looked at like i was nuts!

                                Sorry, go about your business

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  for the OP

                                  that's where the expression "regretfully clear" comes from - and I see a LOT of it as I travel around (and must restrain myself from announcing that!)

                                  I can usually define "dangerous riding" when I see it - but I don't know that I could give an "all purpose" definition.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Janet View Post
                                    You also have the option (and responsibility), after you walk the course, of scratching ig you think it will hurt the horse's confidence.

                                    Exactly....it sucks to lose your entry fee but that is what I did last weekend. You enter events with good reputations and hopefully have courses that you like but every time you enter...you must walk the course and decide "will this course benefit my horse's or my training"...if not, then don't run. It is hard to make the distinction between what is just scaring you and what is over your head sometimes...and if you have trouble with those distinctions, that's when walking with a trainer or someone who knows you and your horse well can be a real benefit.
                                    ** 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


                                    • #19
                                      Judge's Authority?

                                      I recall watching one white-knuckled stadium round last spring. The horse was being ridden so out of control that the crowd was literally gasping at each fence. In addition, the horse very nearly did a skidder around two of the course turns. The round ended up clean by some miracle.

                                      I wondered at the time but never asked - in such a flagrant case, do show officials have authority to stop the rider on course?

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Barnstable View Post
                                        I recall watching one white-knuckled stadium round last spring. The horse was being ridden so out of control that the crowd was literally gasping at each fence. In addition, the horse very nearly did a skidder around two of the course turns. The round ended up clean by some miracle.

                                        I wondered at the time but never asked - in such a flagrant case, do show officials have authority to stop the rider on course?
                                        Although not a recognized HT, a rider was pulled up mid-XC at novice level at a regional PC rally due to "unsafe riding." I believe the TD made the call after watching the stadium round and a good part of the XC. The rider obviously had no control over the horse and the horse was leaving strides out left and right at a full out gallop. It was an accident waiting to happen.

                                        I have never heard it done at a regular non-PC HT, but I figure if they did it here (run under USEA rules) it is possible. But then it must come down to personal opinion (how do you specify what really is "scary" or "unsafe"?)

                                        Question: does a CIC* have the same qualifications as a CCI*? Or are there less prelim runs required?

                                        I watched the CIC* this spring at Poplar and saw some scary rounds.

                                        Comment

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