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Should we be looking to training issues as reasons....

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  • Should we be looking to training issues as reasons....

    The recent tragedies in our sport have gotten me to thinking lately about questions of prevention and safety - something we all have been thinking about I'm sure. In my own riding lesson this morning something struck me that I hope that I can express in words so that it's understandable.
    I ride Dressage with an older gentleman who got his start in Hunter/Jumpers and trained with some of the bigger names in that sport before transitioning to Dressage. We decided it would be a good time to start my 4 year old OTTB over fences to give his brain something else to do and also to improve his hind-end function. Mind you, I have always trained with Eventing trainers and all of my jumping instruction has come from that "genre" if you will. I have gleaned techniques and knowledge from them that I now pass along to my own students. I have always known that in the Hunter/Jumper world certain things are done differently than in Eventing, but today I was really struck by something.
    My trainer set the placing rail exactly 9 feet from the base of the 2'5" vertical we were jumping. When I - and every trainer I have worked with (and they are BNT's) set placing rails, they tend to be much closer to the fence, as in about 6 feet from the base.
    Thus my trainer and I engaged in a rather enlightening conversation about why this is. I have always felt that in an effort to get my horses to bring their hind ends more underneath themselves to the jump, having the placing rail closer helps. He feels that at the standard H/J 9ft. placement, the horse can use it's whole body and stride more. He also mentioned that this is a trend (the closer rail) that has happened more recently. It struck me because in a few of the recent accidents the horse has been described as "not being to get it's legs up in time."

    Now of course I am not stupid and I am not naive enough to think that a silly little rail signifies the breakdown of proper training in eventing. But it does bring to mind the issue of training trends in modern Eventing and whether or not some of the blame for recent accidents can be blamed. Mind you - I'm not saying they can. I just thought it was an interesting question.

    In your opinions as participants in this sport, do you think certain training trends - even something as simple as jumping exercises - can be partially to blame for certain problems in our sport.

    I just think that instead of blaming fence construction, or God forbid blaming horse and/or rider (and shame on you who did that in Eleonor's thread!), we should address our own training issues as a more productive means of finding answers.

  • #2
    I don't think training is necessarily the answer either. I was talking to a friend last night about the sad events of yesterday, and we both agreed that it isn't a coincidence that the adoption of the short format and all of these awful accidents seemed to happen at the same time.
    http://community.webshots.com/user/CloverExpress08/

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    • #3
      I have heard that the table the accident occured at was very square and very similar in construction as the table the other fatality occured at there. Just heresay though. I still think fence design needs some more thought. There was 5 corners on that course. Why do you need that?

      Comment


      • #4
        There was a recent discussion on this board regarding all the corners on courses now. Ralph's accident at Poplar Place occurred at a triple corner combination and his horse, too, was not able to get both of his legs up. I believe it was at the 2nd element in the 3 corner combination, Reprint hung one leg and at that speed with that much momentum, it was very nearly fatal.

        Comment


        • #5
          My current coach taught me 9' and for some even a bit farther out.

          I can't really weigh in the new short format course design, but 5 corners seems like a lot. With 5 corners plus whatever other technical stuff was on the course, won't that make coming in near the time even more challenging? and maybe more dangerous?

          Comment


          • #6
            I think eventing has been the most progressive, forward thinking, and focused on safety and competence than all the other sports combined.

            Whether it is course design, medical and veterinary personnel, research on conditioning and recovery, organization of events and trials, judging, eventing has been among the first, if not the first, horse sport to implement safety precautions, as well as trying to ensure riders and horses are qualified to enter certain levels of competition.


            But nobody can overcome the laws of physics. At least not yet.

            Sometimes, an accident happens even though everyone, including the rider and horse, worked and made every attempt to ensure they were prepared and safe.
            Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
            Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
            -Rudyard Kipling

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            • #7
              I think courses are much more technical

              nowadays.

              Gone are the lovely galloping courses,of big fly fences and honest questions.

              I do not like what I see in modern eventing.

              They might as well "bottle it" and set up courses in indoor arenas and rename the sport as something else.

              I never thought I would see the day,one had to walk the cross country with a coach to explain how to ride each fence.
              \"I have lived my life-it is nearly done-.I have played the game all round;But I freely admit that the best of my fun I owe it to Horse and Hound\".

              Comment


              • #8
                While I don't like the idea of 5 corners on any course, I really don't think more technical courses (per se) are to blame for these accidents. After all, at Ocala both Amanda's and Eleanor's accidents happened at big, square tables- those "galloping fences" we lament the demise of. I think the placing rail question is very interesting! As an eventer, I'm being taught to "love the deep spot" as many trainers tell me it's safer and easier for the horse to jump from. But aren't the most dangerous accidents from rotational falls? Like with the traditional coffin format where the horse would hang knees and rotate- but not usually if they catch their hind legs? So over these big tables I can expect we're still treating them like big galloping fences, coming in at speed, but the "technical" training we're getting tells us to get closer and closer to the base- and a rotational fall at that speed is, as has sadly been proven, deadly. I only do Novice/Training at the moment, but I just realized that may be how I've been riding- favoring the short distance out of a gallop rather than the flyer.

                This is so interesting- thanks for bringing this up! I think, rather than jumping in to defend or attack the modern format or the sport, we should just think about the physics of the training we're getting, and how perhaps it's changed in recent years.
                The wind of heaven is that which blows between a horse's ears. ~ Arabian Proverb

                Comment


                • #9
                  This is my opinion (you can skip the first paragraph unless you care to know my background)...

                  I have been in jumper land for 7 years now but before leaving the "dark side" I competed through intermediate as a young rider...I had an intermediate horse and a prelim horse. I love eventing and I miss it terribly; so eventing is what I love to talk about, I love to watch and I still volunteer at events (including the Florida Horse Park...though I wasn't there this weekend)..not to mention I hardly ever read the hunter/jumper forums on here, just the eventing threads. I guess you can say that I event through reading everyones stories on here.

                  What I have noticed is that I don't feel like the courses are as natural looking as they used to be...Every course I did back when I was doing young riders had courses that really flowed and the jumps seemed natural...how cross country jumps should be. I notice more now that there is a lot more for horses to look at and even the most experienced horse might balk at something that really sticks out at them. Not to mention the amount of spectators has grown (which I'm not complaining about...but it adds to what a horse has to look at). It seems as though on the courses I watch today that every jump has a question, there aren't many "easy" jumps (i.e. 5 corners on 1 course). Now I could easily be completely wrong with that observation given the fact I have been jumping jumps that fall for the past 7 years...so maybe I have just turned into a big chicken...lol!


                  What I am about to say is not in Eleanor Brennen's case at all because she seems to have been a very competent rider who had way more experience than I have had (I just wanted to clarify before I continue)! -----but when I have jump judged in the past couple of years I have seen many riders that had no business being at the levels they were at, they just had horses that were capable of doing it...those are the riders that I am always scared to see go around a course because riding at the uppers levels takes a lot more than a horse that can jump...it takes being able to ride, a brain and maturity to make last minute decisions even if it means you don't get around clean...too many riders kick on in an unsafe situation because they don't want to have a stop. I think that trainers need to educate lower level riders and those that have hopes on doing the upper levels on when to say whoa and when to say go because I see way too many saying go! I was amazed last winter when I jump judged at the Florida horse trials and I saw so many riders try to take a prelim fence out of stand still, instead of circling and reapproaching the fence, they yelled and whooped and kicked and anything else that may make the horse jump a big solid fence in a sticky situation...did some of the horses jump it - yes...but they also scraped their entire body over the fence just to clear it.

                  The truth is though freak accidents are going to happen in every sport and because of the internet we hear details about every accident. When you are an eventer you know the risks and I know everyone is willing to take those risks because it's fun, we love it and it keeps the adrenaline pumping.... I just hope that hearing about bad accidents will help someone else make smarter decisions out on course.
                  **There are only two emotions that belong in the saddle; one is a sense of humour and the other is patience**

                  www.horseshelpingpeople.org

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    [QUOTE=piccolittle;2812706]While I don't like the idea of 5 corners on any course, I really don't think more technical courses (per se) are to blame for these accidents. After all, at Ocala both Amanda's and Eleanor's accidents happened at big, square tables- QUOTE]


                    Interesting that this mistake was at the END of the course when the horse may have been mentally fatigued from all the technical fences on course...this is when mistakes happen and it gets dangerous. I personally am not for riding very deep spots to fences that do not come down...especially on a mentally and physically tired horse.
                    Last edited by snoopy; Nov. 19, 2007, 09:13 PM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      [QUOTE=WindWillowStable;2812819]
                      What I have noticed is that I don't feel like the courses are as natural looking as they used to be...Every course I did back when I was doing young riders had courses that really flowed and the jumps seemed natural...how cross country jumps should be. I notice more now that there is a lot more for horses to look at and even the most experienced horse might balk at something that really sticks out at them.
                      QUOTE]


                      I will have to say that there have been many a time that I was very distracted by all "the eye candy" that is today's fences and the landscaping surrounding them.....at least as a rider I had the luxury of being able to take as much time as I needed to process it all....our horses do not have this luxury.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Hmmm....

                        I don't want to sound snarky, but I can't really tell how this is going to sound over the internet, so if it sounds awful let me know...

                        I don't know why so many of us jump on the "short format" hatewagon whenever anything like this happens. Maybe this is ignorant of me, but how is a short format ** (I can never remember which is which) different from a regular old Intermediate or Advanced HT (besides jogs etc)? At Advanced the fences are harder but no one claims that the lack of a steeplechase and roads and tracks is what causes accidents at a horse trials. I agree, mental or physical fatigue is probably the answer. Amanda's fall was just past the middle of the course. It was probably a bad distance. But it was a Prelim HT at a table, so I don't think the anti-short format argument applies at all.

                        Someone mentioned that eventing fatalities are going down. I see that completely. Watching those old eventing tapes I can say I haven't seen anything like some of that stuff on a course in years, and I certainly think courses today are safer than those of years past.

                        But maybe technical courses are making us ride backwards? I'm getting used to taking back and "showjumping" so much stuff out there that when it gets big and scary again I sometimes panic and lose my distance. But that's just me, at Training level.
                        The wind of heaven is that which blows between a horse's ears. ~ Arabian Proverb

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Maybe we ought to re-think tables and their construction? I know my instructor nearly had a fatal accident at So. Pines over a large Int. table that had astroturf on it. Supposedly, many horses did fine at it but her horse mis-judged it and thought it was a bank because of the green stuff on top. He slid across it. Needless to say, the horse didn't make it and is over the rainbow bridge.
                          The only accident I had on x-c was a double set of tables. It was a rather ridiculous course in that everything was really dinky and then wham! 2 large tables on a bending line with no ground line. We hopped over the first, I thought we had enough umph to get over the 2nd but didn't. He hooked a leg and I went flying.
                          I think tables should be re-looked at. The shadows underneath really wreck havoc on understanding the take off. I'm not saying 'dumbing down' but re-looking at them. Like we really don't see triple ascending bars going into water anymore because horses will hook a leg rather easily and what purpose does that serve when a ramp or log is safer and still asks the question.
                          Even duct tape can't fix stupid

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Oh yeah, about the OP's question
                            For us, it depends on what we are trying to accomplish about pole placement. Shoot, Winston has got such long strides we were 10 and 12 ft from take off. But then again, he's got a killer front end and we want to move his back end more. He has a habit of basically sitting on his hind and letting it not go anywhere and then just ripping his knees up.
                            Then we would place poles really short to get him to 'dance' because then he would like to just plain leave a stride out, jump over the height of the standards and land just as nice as he could be. Made for some fun bounce work (or as he liked, wide oxers).
                            Even duct tape can't fix stupid

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by piccolittle View Post
                              Hmmm....

                              I don't want to sound snarky, but I can't really tell how this is going to sound over the internet, so if it sounds awful let me know...

                              I don't know why so many of us jump on the "short format" hatewagon whenever anything like this happens. Maybe this is ignorant of me, but how is a short format ** (I can never remember which is which) different from a regular old Intermediate or Advanced HT (besides jogs etc)? At Advanced the fences are harder but no one claims that the lack of a steeplechase and roads and tracks is what causes accidents at a horse trials.
                              Umm... there is a HUGE difference between the old and new format and it has nothing whatsoever to do with the jog. There are still jogs before the competition and then before SJ on day 3.

                              I am not even a real short format hater either, I can just see why it might cause problems. I can also see why the long format can cause problems, and why it is more taxing physically on a horse.

                              However, with the long format, the horse gets a nice long chance to warm up [A]. Then he warms up over fences with steeple chase. The fences are straightforward and relatively "easy" so the horse can blow off a little steam here while warming up o/f [B]. Then he has time to cool down on roads/tracks again [C] before heading to XC [D]. By the time he gets to XC he is fully warmed up, has blown off excess energy, and is ready to focus for the more technical jumping phase. With the short format, I know a lot of riders will emulate the long format in their warm up, but still it is hard to have the same effect. When I was talking to my friend the other day she told me how she had read somewhere how Kim Severson said it was really hard to get Dan to settle down for XC without the other phases at the last Olympics. Obviously they figured it out but that is one of the best/most experienced pairs in all of the horse world.

                              Just food for thought.

                              About the deep distances thing... my trainer [ridden at 4* level] always tells me to take the short spots, when show jumping. It is easier and safer for the horse to chip in out of a stadium canter than launch from very far out. Granted that this deep distance is supported by the rider [a;ways ride forward to short distances!]. On XC you should have enough of a gallop/rhythm that your horse jumps out of stride and can more easily take a long spot. Obviously if you are riding a combination, you will have more of a show jump canter and should take a smaller distance.
                              http://community.webshots.com/user/CloverExpress08/

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I have a problem with square tables. I hate them. I love a beautiful ascending table that you can gallop. There was a table at Richland on the prelim course. It was basically a square top and that was it. No sides. It had a few logs under it that stuck out an inch. What a miserable jump. It was wide, but I have a clever horse so I could show jump it. And I did. I had him more collected than I ever would have for a table, but it was nasty. I'm suprised there were no accidents at it.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I know of more nasty falls and fatalities from square tables that I even like to think about. Its been an ongoing issue since at least the 90s when I started eventing. NO ONE likes walking up to a big square table with very little ground line. it truly is a recipe for disaster and leave so little margin of error for horse and rider. Add in any kind of speed and you have a nasty rotational fall. They can at least ramp them a BIT to give the horses a little more of a chance. There are plenty of other questions to ask horses and riders these days than to set them up for failure at a big square table.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I must be partially insane, because I'd rather gallop to a large square table than have to jump any kind of vertical on XC. Getting too deep to a vertical (especially at any decent speed) is probably the worst feeling on earth. (Needless to say that I'm in love with the long spot and my showjumping is atrocious....)

                                    But to go back to the placement rail question, I always set mine at about 6-7 feet. In my experience it teaches them to rock back on their hocks more, encouraging them to jump around the fence rather than flat and across.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Placement poles for trot poles to jumps can be anywhere from very short for ponies but 9 feet is not to long to get a horse to use his rear!

                                      WHAT I SEE AND THIS DRIVES ME CRAZY IS a lot of trainers or instructors will set shorter and shorter trot poles to a fence because the horse is not off the leg and has to reach at 8-9 feet. These are horses I see in warm up rings or around in other rings who have a 12 foot canter step but so NOT off the leg when it comes to exercises that they are catered to which is JUST as dangerous! INstead of stepping away from the jump and working on 9 foot trot rails the trainer just keeps making the rail shorter to accommodate the weak step.

                                      I am not referring to horses with short steps due to physical limitations (older, breed related, medical, etc) but horses who can have and make 12 foot steps in a line without running should be able to trot over a 9 foot rail to a xrail or 3 foot jump and use their butts. Obviously I have some school horses with physical issues who do not do 9 feet and the horses I am referring to are nice strided horses who just suck behind the leg. I agree you can play with pole placement to enhance a jump but careful your doing it for the right reason and not just teaching a horse to sit because they have no choice with no room, They should coil because the step came from behind not because they bunch up on the other side of a short set pole. I have seen a life time of people teaching horses to jump over the shoulder from poor pole placement as the horse tries to re group and pops and then you hear the instructor shout with glee "GREAT he really used himself" BS he bunched and popped!

                                      Of course green beans can be anywhere from 7 to 10 while they learn to manage their strung out big or tentative steps.
                                      Last edited by beeblebrox; Nov. 19, 2007, 12:32 PM.
                                      Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.
                                      Confucius

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        [quote=LisaB;2813044]Maybe we ought to re-think tables and their construction? I know my instructor nearly had a fatal accident at So. Pines over a large Int. table that had astroturf on it. Supposedly, many horses did fine at it but her horse mis-judged it and thought it was a bank because of the green stuff on top. He slid across it. Needless to say, the horse didn't make it and is over the rainbow bridge.

                                        Just to clarify - that accident took place on a structure with an ascending face, not a square table. Those fences, called The Garden Steps, have an excellent track record for "jumpability". I'd be glad to go pull the records to back up my feeble memory, but I can recall only two incidents - the one in which your instructor's horse was injured and one refusal. There is also a back rail on the back edge, and all of the rails on the steps are painted white for high visibility.
                                        www.amiddle-agedmadwomantakesthereins.blogspot.com

                                        www.pegasusridge.com

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