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US Eventing---two sports?

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  • US Eventing---two sports?

    This from a report on Pine Top--"12 rider falls, 4 horse falls, 3 trips to the hospital--"

    Upper level eventing, preliminary and up, sometimes seems like a war zone.

    Lower level eventing, maiden through training, is usually not nearly so dangerous, and these are the levels where the majority of eventers compete.

    It seems to me that in many ways, US eventing is actually two quite separate sports, a challenging but fun weekend recreational sport for perhaps as many as twnty thousand riders, and a very serious, technical sport for maybe about one thousand riders.

    There`s a fair bit of crossover, obviously, between the two segments of the same sport, but I don`t really feel that it`s accurate to think of "eventing" as a seamless entity.

    Thoughts?
    http://www.tamarackhill.com/

  • #2
    Seamless...hmmm

    Was it ever? I consider the prelim level to be part of the "training" levels and it does not take a super horse to do this level. Many horses can but it is a "rider hump"....the prelim level weeds out riders more then horses.

    But getting back, with the old format, there were many horses that could reach advanced horse trials level but did not have the "puff" for 3 and 4 star CCI's.

    We have currently on the training lists, horses that are quite capable of ADV horse trials and fairly successful at 3* but cannot hold it together at 4*.

    I think there are a lot of variables from INT-ADV 4*

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Snoopy, I think prelim.USED to be a training level, but maybe not so much these days. But I can`t tell if that`s because the XC is harder, or because the riders are less well prepared.

      I have always in the past considered preliminary to be the "swing" level, the hardest of the easier levels, the easiest of the hard levels.

      Now I`m not sure where to put it. Maybe it depends upon the individual course.
      http://www.tamarackhill.com/

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by denny View Post
        Snoopy, I think prelim.USED to be a training level, but maybe not so much these days. But I can`t tell if that`s because the XC is harder, or because the riders are less well prepared.

        I have always in the past considered preliminary to be the "swing" level, the hardest of the easier levels, the easiest of the hard levels.

        Now I`m not sure where to put it. Maybe it depends upon the individual course.

        I absolutely get your point.

        So then, are we getting it wrong at what I would consider to be the most important level in the sport? Is it this level that is the weakest link in the chain? It would make sense going by your statement.

        edited to add:

        If we keep refering to the Prelim level as an upper level, then could it be that course designers are building for an upper level course within the dementions of the prelim specs. This level should be where horses meet all the questions for the upper levels but in a softer fashion...more time on approach, placement, slight modifications to the elements/jumps/questions, and time to recover from a whoopsie. I think the prelim "questions" should be very straight forward even though the "jumps" at this level can be of upper level nature.
        The prelim course should not be a mini-me of rolex.
        Last edited by snoopy; Mar. 1, 2010, 10:53 AM.

        Comment


        • #5
          I'm sort of in Denny's great unwashed 20,000. I also have some time warp perspective. Gosh, about 20 years ago when I evented I moved a horse up to prelim from training and he was a good jumper, and I just don't remember the difficulty factor being so hard. Back then the big jump was novice to training. (There was no BN).
          Now, today, I am in the same boat but gosh I feel so very unprepared for taking on Prelim level, and that on what I think could be termed quite a confirmed Training level horse. But the stadium, the XC questions are REALLY hard. I've walked these courses next to my training level courses for the past two years and lots of times, I've just stood in front of a complex shaking my head, thinking, wow. How do I ride Rug to get thru THAT? Nothing on my training level courses have prepared me and my horse for it.
          I have to train somewhere else to get ready for Prelim, because the training level competitions I've done don't seem to be prepping us for that level. So, more money on lessons THIS year obviously. (And I have done maybe some pretty highly thought of trainings in Area II, the largest and most prolific area in the US). So if I am feeling that way surely others in other less fortunate eventing regions are, too -- and Denny, how do we address this?
          Proud & Permanent Student Of The Long Road
          Read me: EN (http://eventingnation.com/author/annemarch/) and HJU (http://horsejunkiesunited.com/author/holly-covey/)

          Comment


          • #6
            Interesting British Eventing has just admitted that the sport is a two tier sport. Grassroots and below (Training and below) and Novice + (Prelim +).

            Eventing Magazine is writing a report on it and where it leaves people.
            The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by denny View Post
              This from a report on Pine Top--"12 rider falls, 4 horse falls, 3 trips to the hospital--"

              Upper level eventing, preliminary and up, sometimes seems like a war zone.

              Lower level eventing, maiden through training, is usually not nearly so dangerous, and these are the levels where the majority of eventers compete.

              It seems to me that in many ways, US eventing is actually two quite separate sports, a challenging but fun weekend recreational sport for perhaps as many as twnty thousand riders, and a very serious, technical sport for maybe about one thousand riders.

              There`s a fair bit of crossover, obviously, between the two segments of the same sport, but I don`t really feel that it`s accurate to think of "eventing" as a seamless entity.

              Thoughts?

              I don't think it is two different sports...but I do understand your point.

              Is it really any different than Skiing/snow boarding, skateboarding, surfing, or many other sports. When you get to the higher levels....they are more dangerous and tougher. Not everyone who participates in the sport will have the talent or drive or guts to go to the higher levels...doesn't mean they are not participating in the same sport or enjoying the same sport. Or are supportive of those that DO take it too that higher level.

              The lower levels are challenging for many....but as lower levels SHOULD be easier and safer. The majority of the people should be participating at the lower levels.....but many of us START in this sport because of having watched the higher levels. If we start having what looks like a war zone at novice....well then that is when I think something is really really wrong.
              ** 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


              • #8
                Originally posted by denny View Post
                Snoopy, I think prelim.USED to be a training level, but maybe not so much these days. But I can`t tell if that`s because the XC is harder, or because the riders are less well prepared.

                I have always in the past considered preliminary to be the "swing" level, the hardest of the easier levels, the easiest of the hard levels.

                Now I`m not sure where to put it. Maybe it depends upon the individual course.
                Very interesting food for thought for this rider who has begun to contemplate whether to try to move up to Prelim. It would not happen this year, but possibly in 2011. For now I am "deciding not to decide" but after yesterday Prelim is not looking so attractive to me.
                SportHorseRiders.com
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                *T3DE 2010 Pact*

                Comment


                • #9
                  I think that the current format (no long format) really created a wall.

                  There are so many of us that aspire to run a long format but due to it's demise we are left with no right turn.

                  Now that the Prelim Long Format is developing separate from FEI we really do have two sports.

                  There really is NO USE for FEI except for those that are on the team and need to qualify either horse or rider at a given UL.

                  For those non 'teamers' the prelim long format is perfect. It's tough enough for a challenge and easy/safe enough in theory to send us home sound, with sound horses, and a smile.
                  http://kaboomeventing.com/
                  http://kaboomeventing.blogspot.com/
                  Horses are amazing athletes and make no mistake -- they are the stars of the show!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I ran preliminary 5 years ago. I am looking to move my current horse up to preliminary, but like others have said. It's going to require LOTS of additional lessons.

                    My experience:
                    5 years ago Area IV HT had BN-I. The I course was completely separate from the P course. Starting about 2 years ago, the courses shared about 1/2 of the same fences and combinations. It's not from lack of course building or designing from what I can tell because the courses change all the time. But the stationary fences like the sunken road, ditch and wall, and steps that used to be only Int questions are now prelim questions. So in my current situation I feel like on my current horse I could easily jump the prelim fences from 5 years ago, but not the prelim track they are currently running. Just my observation.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I have observed many changes in the sport over the years. I have never competed above training, and never will, but I have been eventing the lower levels to training since '89.
                      Back then we used to see much more open fences, like stadium fences only solid with huge gaps in between wide oxers, they don't exist any more. All the spread fences are filled, and usually rampy, hardly any flat tables, and they don't usually have a vertical face any more. The skinnies on prelim used to be an arrowhead after a drop, with an option. Skinnies now are often large stumps with the sharp edges taken off, sometimes two skinnies, I have seen corner one stride to skinny coming out of water, I have seen drop into water bending line to skinny. As far as skinnies go, it used to be an important factor that jumps be built in such a way that you could aim for a different part of the jump if the footing was all chewed up. Now you have to take off at the same spot as everybody else regardless of the state of the footing. If the track is soft or muddy, it can get pretty deep at the take-off spot, and the horse can be landing into a deep hole or badly uneven ground lending to serious wear and tear issues. There used to be a skinny on the training course in Osoyoos, very soft sandy ground. By the time all the training horses finished running the take-off spot was at least 6 inches deeper than it was for the first few. It doesn't make for a
                      level playing field.
                      I think there have always been riders moving up to prelim or higher on horses that pulled like a train, and would gallop to big fences somewhat out of control. The course changes have done a fairly good job of taking those off the courses.
                      I think that getting greener horses and riders out over tiny courses may be paying for the bigger jumps, but I don't think it's doing the sport any big favors. Back when the smallest jumps were 3 feet, most of the horse and rider combinations tackling eventing were better schooled and prepared. Maybe not all, but for the most part. I have seen people going cross-country that were totally unprepared -- one year there was a lady at Chase Creek on the lowest level, can't remember what it was called that year, her horse ran off with her when she was on a line back towards the stabling, she locked onto the right rein to turn the horse, and they fell, and she was flown out in a helicopter in a coma. I think a situation like that is the coaches responsability to send a rider out over prepared if possible.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        OK, so I'm from even earlier - no 'PreTraining' (Novice) - Training was the lowest level. (Thank God there was Training because we H/J crossovers would have entered at Prelim at our first event because it was 'only' 3'6" if someone hadn't told us better.) I've taken a couple horses to * level and now have a couple OTTBs starting out. Also, organized a horse trials for about 15 years. Here's what I see re the jumping phases: Speeds are higher and courses are more complex and demanding.

                        I'm only a random amateur but it's clear to me that, for example, 400 mpm isn't an appropriate speed from which to jump a 2'11" fence. H/J riders know this: they're competing over 4' courses at what we used to call 12 mph (about 325mpm). That's why their horses jump in such good form (well, that and they're generally chosen for that talent) - they've learned how to jump correctly. Instead, what's happening now is that young/green riders/horses are pressed to jump even small fences without correct balance and basics. And the PTB are surprised to see falls and other mishaps. Go figure. And this problem becomes compounded by increasing the technical difficulty of the courses. Both riders and horses need to learn to compete and this only happens at a competition. What the 'lower levels' used to be was an opportunity to compete and, at the same time, train the riders and horses to compete. Now, as a spectator and former organizer, what I see is riders with too much speed and insufficient skills in the jumping phases.

                        In the old days, when I used to attend USEA conventions, the Rules Committee meetings often ended up with lengthy discussions about why we had to change various rules to...conform with FEI rules. At BN-T. Say what? So speeds, penalty infringements, etc. were altered, basically with very little regard for the actual effect on the competitors and horses at those levels. I think this was wrong. And I believe it had a direct effect on the problems in the sport today.

                        I think that BN-T should be basically a separate sport from the 'upper' levels and should have their own specifications and rules. The problems come with Preliminary as it is truly in the middle. It serves as a goal for many recreational riders, but as a preparation for upper level aspirants. Perhaps there should be two 'Preliminary' levels. One would include the P3DE and would be the apex of one competition track and the other would have only the short format (thanks a lot, FEI) and serve as the introduction to international competition.

                        Comment

                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          Two tiers is a better phrase.

                          I`m personally beginning to think that, as the British seem to have concluded, it`s a two tier sport. That`s a better way to phrase it.

                          And I don`t believe that the upper tier has got it right in terms of safety, for all the yabber about it. In just one event, 12 rider falls, 3 to the hospital, 4 horse falls, that`s safe?

                          And nothing will happen. Nothing substantive. Speeds that were devised over 50 years ago will continue to be used. Riders whose horses have rotational falls will have zero penalties from the organization. Nothing will change.

                          So which tier deserves support? It`s a pretty black and white question at this point.
                          http://www.tamarackhill.com/

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by cindywilson View Post
                            The problems come with Preliminary as it is truly in the middle. It serves as a goal for many recreational riders, but as a preparation for upper level aspirants. Perhaps there should be two 'Preliminary' levels. One would include the P3DE and would be the apex of one competition track and the other would have only the short format (thanks a lot, FEI) and serve as the introduction to international competition.
                            I feel as though we had a debate here about the two track idea before, at preliminary, except that it was framed as an "ammie" vs "pro" issue and many of us didn't like that.

                            Having now gotten my feet (just) barely wet at preliminary (being firmly in the camp you describe of "goal for recreational riders" -- it's as far as I want to go), this is now starting to make some real sense to me, especially as you've framed it.

                            I don't want to do a "watered down" preliminary, but it is fair to ask whether the course that is designed as the first step towards a *** is the same course that is designed to really challenge a competent pair who has mastered Training level.

                            We need to get a better handle on the range of variation truly out there at Preliminary, in terms of questions and courses.

                            I've now ridden or schooled a handful of courses near me in Area II -- most of these questions have seemed appropriate and doable. But I have seen a few that were not (and if you looked at the record for the day, you'd see many stops and falls at those questions), and, perhaps more worrisome, I've seen some that had a straightforward course with one real lollapalooza thrown in there.

                            Do course designers ever have some kind of "design to the levels" seminar where they all look at, say, 10 Prelim tracks around the country, fence by fence, to see what the variation is???
                            The big man -- my lost prince

                            The little brother, now my main man

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I evented prelim back in the mid nineties. I am an adult ammie (smurf). I did a one star and also ran one intermediate horse trial. I think back on those courses and compare them to now (I have a novice/training horse now) and think - boy, those seem SO straightforward (easy!) as compared to now. A corner was a big deal. A coffin was a big deal. Now a corner to a corner... errm...

                              I've always had prelim/1 star as my goal. Now I'm not so sure. Training and 1/2 star seems like a really good goal. I'm not sure prelim questions -all the skinnies, turning questions, etc are all that much fun... I'd love it if there was a spin off division for those of us w/ 1 star goals and straightforward courses.

                              Also, I have bred a couple of event horses. I have no aspirations to ride UL any more (aside from prelim (big maybe)). I used to think it'd be really cool to produce an UL horse ridden by someone else. Now I'm pretty sure NOT. it's too hard on them...

                              I personally think in the name of "competition" things have moved too hard in the direction of technicality and therefore speed requirements between fences at the expense of the horse and its development at all levels.

                              (Just my two cents as a smurf)

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                well.....

                                It has pretty much looked like that to me for the last 10 years that I have been involved in the sport. What I find challenging is that lots of people have been saying this for years, but the message just wasn't being "heard".

                                The upper levels are unattainable for a lot of people. It's a fact. But then most people who ski aren't olympic caliber skiiers either. Prelim and above is populated by the better horses and riders. The further up the levels you go, the more elite it becomes, with better horses and riders. To get to the top you have to have talent, a good mount, luck, time, money and wicked dedication. How is that different than any other sport these days?
                                Shoulders back, hands down, leg ON!

                                http://mellvinshouse.blogspot.com/

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I'm thinking that what we need is to offer two levels of P at most events.

                                  P1 - a course using much of the original Prelim. course but using some of the T fences as a letup. This would let amateurs and greener horses get a feeling for the needed speed and height.

                                  P2 - a course using the originally planned P course.

                                  This might shore up that "wobbly bridge" between the two tiers and be safer for amateurs than having to always be faced with courses designed for ULR's getting prepped for I.

                                  Yup, that's my big idea - What do you think?

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by pokesaladannie View Post
                                    I'm thinking that what we need is to offer two levels of P at most events.

                                    P1 - a course using much of the original Prelim. course but using some of the T fences as a letup. This would let amateurs and greener horses get a feeling for the needed speed and height.

                                    P2 - a course using the originally planned P course.

                                    This might shore up that "wobbly bridge" between the two tiers and be safer for amateurs than having to always be faced with courses designed for ULR's getting prepped for I.

                                    Yup, that's my big idea - What do you think?
                                    I like this idea...a lot!!!

                                    There would not be any extra expense as the "destination" events that offered PRELIM-ADV could offer prelim 2 and other events that ran NOV-PRELIM could have prelim 1.

                                    There would be no real need to offer prelim 1 "AND" 2, if the organizers felt that they could not justify the expense.

                                    Those horses that are being produced to move to the INT-ADV levels could then move on to prelim 2 and those "destination" events that support that standard of course.

                                    I really like this idea.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      I think making different Preliminary tracks doesn't make sense. It isn't economical for organizers and I think you would be hard pressed to get enough events running to make it worthwhile. What can be done to ease the transition is simple. Create more options on courses. Let riders use good horsemanship to choose the options most suited for their horse on that day.

                                      I personally haven't seen THAT much of a change in prelim since the mid 90s. Some courses are tougher and some are not....sort of how it always has been. You walk the course and make sure you think you are prepared enough to compete.

                                      But if on a course at the more technical combinations you could have harder direct options that could be used by riders whose horses and selves are solid for the level and preparing to move up.....and longer options that allow riders/horse who are new to the level to educate their horses and have a good go.

                                      This isn't as expensive to do or as complicated from and organizing standpoint as having different courses. And honestly...it sort of already exists with the CIC* being more available to run as a harder Prelim for those riders getting ready to move up to Intermediate.

                                      Only real issue with it is using the competitions as qualifiers for the next level. That is where this approach had its problems in the past. Riders would take all the easier longer options, get qualified for a CCI or the next level up...and move up before they were ready. Or go too fast in between the fences trying to stay competitive since they took the time eating longer options. Not showing responsible riding.....


                                      On a slightly different not, I personally don't like trying to classify eventing has having different tiers or being different sports.....we are all one sport with a diverse membership. I personally think that is a good thing.....and don't see one part of the membership as being any more or any less important to the sport as a whole as any other part of the membership.
                                      Last edited by bornfreenowexpensive; Mar. 1, 2010, 04:05 PM.
                                      ** 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


                                      • #20
                                        Bornfreenowexpensive--

                                        I'd like to comment on a couple of your points:
                                        1. Maybe I should move to PA where Prelim courses haven't gotten any more difficult in the last 10-15 years.
                                        2. As a former organizer, I think it would be significantly less expensive to produce P1 and P2 courses if P1 excluded the more difficult P2 fences and included T fences that it would be to design/build option fences.
                                        3. Having 2 P levels doesn't have the added problem of qualification for upper levels. P1 wouldn't qualify you for anything higher. You'd have to compete at P2 successfully to move up or compete at FEI levels.
                                        4. Let's face it: They ARE two different sports and there ARE two different sets of competitors. That doesn't mean they can't coexist happily. And, if a person wished, they'd move on up to the P2 and up levels.

                                        Comment

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