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Let's have a discussion re: The In gate and surrounding area

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  • Let's have a discussion re: The In gate and surrounding area

    Given how my accident happened at Devon I have been thinking (Lord help you all) and I kind of think maybe we should talk a bit about how the in gate areas exist and are run around the country at various shows.

    Now to be clear I am suggesting a discussion not an argument. I do not prescribe to know all answer nor if my theories are solid or as holey as a colander. But I know that if a freak accident like mine can happen once, the law of bad luck probabilities with horses would imply it could happen again.

    I'll make a list of the thoughts I have had and we can all discuss our various thoughts to these.

    There are no wrong thoughts nor right ones. Each person's view point will be varied and I am only focused on preventing more negative situations.

    1) Is a 'chute' outside an in gate safer or should we try to have a more open area devoid of fixed boundaries that could cause horses to run into things (Fence lines, other horses, people etc)

    This is one that I have always thought was a positive...until I realized I was in fact trapped with a horse about to mow me down and then I'm thinking that my mind shifted a bit. Over the years I have seen nervous horses kick each other in this space and indeed observed a person get kicked by a nervous horse as well. At Devon the gate I was at, at the end of the ring, is a smaller area to be inside of unlike the side gate. I think it's easy to postulate that if horses came into the ring through the side gate and ONLY exited through the end gate that it might allow for a better flow and safety. (And understand that I am only really spit balling thoughts because of what happened.


    2) Maybe this needs discussing maybe it's just a reaction, but do we think that children (AS in small children who aren't mounted) shouldn't be near the actual In Gate area? (Say within 30' or so) I appreciate the whole trainer who has kids and no help, or a mutli-tasking mom but a 2 yr old was almost run down by this horse and indeed received 10 stitches in his head and a concussion. Both his parents were there and in the line of fire in the chute. These are friends of mine and I don't fault them because it's a pretty normal thing given that their student was next in the ring, but a couple feet in a different direction and this could have gone so far south.

    So I'm asking if moving kids out of the path of the horses accessing or leaving the arena needs to be thought about more as a whole?

    3) Better spacing of horses entering and exiting. When not referring to a hack class, because I get it's all a mob, should we start allowing the horse in the ring to completely exit the ring AND in gate area/chute BEFORE the next horse comes into the ring. Or as an alternative, allowing the next horse to pre-load into the ring while the horse in front is still jumping?

    I have seen some various types of issues when horses are passing each other in the in gate area. Couple kicks and such.

    Thanks for humoring me and thinking about these things. Feel free to add your own. This is just what's been swimming around my mind.

    Em



    "Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all." ~2001 The Princess Diaries

  • #2
    I'll add something here, IDK if it is relevant to the discussion you are starting, or not.

    I started out at horse shows, hunter jumper. Then I went to work at the racetrack, trainer, exercise rider, lead ponies... for 25 years. Now, in my old age, I am back playing in the hunter/jumper world. All I know is that when a racetracker goes to a horse show, they are TERRIFIED about the horsemanship, or lack thereof, around the barn area, in gate, and general hanging around areas around the show rings where people and horses mix. People leading horses on long shanks. People leading horses and passing on the wrong side. People walking behind horses. People walking on the off side of horses. Just general stuff that goes on at horse shows, and because they are show horses and not racehorses, people don't often get hurt. But it horrifies racetrackers like scratching fingernails down a blackboard, just WRONG. Makes them very anxious just walking around show horse barn areas an in gates. And the show horse crowd is completely unaware of potential dangers.

    Reading about your accident, you don't belong in the above category. No criticism of how you reacted in this situation. I had a friend who died in a very similar accident to what you described. At a racetrack. Run over by a bolting horse, on pavement, his own horse. No helmet on, he was not a rider. Death was instant, massive brain trauma. He was a good friend for a long time, and it was heartbreaking. He had led his horse out onto the track to gallop, turned it loose for the rider to take off, but instead the horse balked, propped (possibly dropped the rider??) and bolted back the way he had come, over the top of my friend, who had turned his back and was walking away. He shouldn't have turned his back. Might have been able to avoid it if he had seen it coming. Anyway, water under the bridge now. Horses can be dangerous animals in an instant, when bad stuff happens. They aren't hamsters.
    www.cordovafarm.weebly.com

    Comment


    • #3
      After being kicked by a friend's horse, which resulted in a fractured fibula, I became MUCH more cautious at shows. (This did NOT happen at the in gate but it still makes you overly cautious everywhere.) No more casually hanging around the in gate without paying close attention to the horses in the area. Then I started to notice how many dangerous things people did without a second thought (at the in gate, in the barn and just generally on the show grounds.)

      That being said, coming to the h/j world from dressage was a culture shock. Dressage has a rule that everyone must stay 20 meters away from the arena (or at least that was the rule when I showed.) Now, since there are assigned ride times and not rotations in dressage, it is easier to stay back from the competition arena. However, no spectators are just hanging around and horses stay in the warm up area until their ride time. But, in general, dressage shows are much less hectic than h/j shows and seem to have fewer spectators.

      I am surprised there aren't more incidents, such as horses kicking people or other horses with how casual people treat the in gate area.

      I do NOT like to enter the arena until the horse that went before me has left and cleared the in gate. I get fussed at a lot by the gate person. I understand that it slows things down. But, my horse just did better if we didn't have to closely pass another horse when entering the arena. I don't think making this a rule will fly with management. It really does add up to a lot of extra time over the course of a day.

      Comment


      • #4
        Your accident was such a freak accident (and something I have never witnessed in 35 years of showing) that I truly don't think that there's a way to prevent what happened to you. Unfortunately, there are a million ways things can go totally haywire, regardless of how things are run, that you just can't prepare for.

        The GP ring at Thermal has a chute that leads into and out of the ring, and I have almost had my head kicked off a couple of times passing the horse coming out (or coming in). But the same goes for rings and shows that have no chute. I've also been at shows that have one way in and another way out with no improvement in the flow of anything (and a lot of time wasted trying to yell to people to not go out where they came in).

        I agree that horsemanship could be improved in general, but I just don't know that you can make any rules that will prevent freak accidents from happening....that's why they're considered "freak" accidents, after all.
        __________________________________
        Flying F Sport Horses
        Horses in the NW

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        • #5
          I do wish small children and dogs were not allowed near the ingate. They both make me nervous.

          The rest probably comes down to training and reducing anxiety for the horses at the show.
          Freeing worms from cans everywhere!

          Comment


          • #6
            I show primarily Arabians, and am really new to showing H/J, so take this with a grain of salt.

            When I've shown in arenas where we have a "chute" there is an "in" chute and an "out" chute. Even if it's just pipe paneling in between them to separate them. People don't tend to "load" the in chute since you're entering at a trot (unless it's costume, where you enter the ring at a canter) and most people want their trot established as they go in the chute. I totally realize that's not legal in H/J, however... It does get scary when someone enters the chute and their horse has a meltdown prior to the ingate being opened. The only people in either chute are typically trainers or grooms for those in the ring currently. If you want to watch, you might go up the chute, but you are moved off to the side as trainers take priority on the gate.

            In cases of a more "open" ingate, it is standard practice to clear the ingate when a class is leaving or entering the arena. If the gate is open, you move off to either side and wait for those who are leaving to get clear, and you also clear a path for those who are entering. You either halt completely if you're near the gate or continue to work on the opposite side of the warmup area.

            My personal preference is for a chute since there's less disruption to the warmup area. I find the rail by the ingate gets crowded way more in an open area type situation, and I'm far more likely to have little children underfoot because the layout invites a free-for-all.

            I agree, though, that children should NEVER be in the warmup or a near an in or outgate.
            Proud member of the Snort and Blow Clique

            Comment


            • #7
              Is this accident described somewhere? Seems like a relevant thread, but I have no idea what accident people are talking about.

              I have frequently wished for more effective stewarding at the in-gate. That the steward felt more empowered to move people on foot back from the gate. That a place was provided for the entourage to stand, that is, the people who just want to walk up with their rider, watch that round and then leave with their rider. And that people had enough sense to keep small children well away, for their own safety.

              We all become complacent with our large but kind and gentle horses, and forget that this is a flighty prey animal that can react very suddenly, instinctively and with no regard for the consequences. It is the last animal in the world that people should crowd around, but that is what frequently is happening at the in-gate. I agree that better management of the in-gate would make things safer.

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                OverandOnward the original thread is here

                https://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/f...ccident-update

                To everyone else, I'm absolutely not talking about creating rules that people will ultimately ignore. Nor am I of the mind that this conversation would prevent a repeat of my very freak accident. I hope we never see an exact replica of this accident and I think the odds are extremely low. But I was a show jumping steward last week at RRP where I managed the in gate as part of that role and watching 100 horses and riders and their associated support groups over 2 full days showed me that the in gate is an area where the continued potential for accidents always exists. And this was nowhere near Devon.

                The goal in my mind is to talk about these 3 things as a community and hear from those who want to chime in about their feelings on them.

                i still believe that it's possible to improve parts of life, habits and patterns by discussing the ideas among others who partake in the same sports, hobbies, whatever. We each could interpret the results of the conversation as "You know...my barn and riders could do this better. I had truly never thought if X." I know I've adapted and changed how I do various things once presented with viewpoints different from my own that allowed me a new perspective.

                This isn't a mean spirited finger pointing exercise. It's meant to just be a discussion.

                Em
                "Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all." ~2001 The Princess Diaries

                Comment


                • #9
                  I think each facility has their own particular setup and they all need to look at the problem from that point of view. An arena surrounded by walls and stands is a different beast than an arena that's an open fence where people can distribute along the fence and the situation is less claustrophobic for the horse.

                  I'm a proponent of a separate in and out gate. The facility I grew up in was designed with this in mind. There's an in chute and a separate gate for exiting. Courses are designed to flow people in and out at these separate arena ends. This cuts your traffic by half and makes it more manageable.

                  If you have to use the same hole for both, I think the idea of adding in a temporary fence panel to separate in and out lanes is a good one.

                  On that facility, the in chute doesn't actually have a gate at all. It's just an entrance. I think this helps both with getting people in quickly but also keeping people from thinking they can be safely near the gate. On the other hand, it means you can't contain a loose horse, which is probably fine for the hunter jumpers, western pleasure, and dressage horses but maybe not what you'd want for a venue that does breed shows.

                  Having a safe, separated area where people can be, can see inside the ring, and still interact with a rider on deck is also helpful. Obviously you don't want too many people there, but the rider's people often need to be there. A chute situation often forces these people to be in close, claustrophobic quarters with the horses.

                  So I think some is process, but a lot is architecture.
                  If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I think it's hard to discuss because there are so many variables in the situation - how much space is available around the gates, how many horses are congregated, traffic patterns as far as where people and horses are coming from and going to.

                    I have been around various low level show scenes in various capacities for well over a decade now but had my first experience riding in a show this summer at a popular local benefit schooling show. For my ground pole classes, I did not have a trainer or anyone else lined up to assist, and it was also the first show I had taken my lease horse to even though I knew she had prior experience showing at that venue. Lo and behold, I quickly discovered that she has some "gate issues" that manifest as backing up without regard to what might be behind her. I made it through the ground pole classes with some kind assistance, but I scratched rail classes in the indoor arena where the they use the same entrance for both ingate and outgate. I felt like I could easily take out half of a walk-trot lesson program if things went south trying to get in the arena.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by NancyM View Post
                      I'll add something here, IDK if it is relevant to the discussion you are starting, or not.

                      I started out at horse shows, hunter jumper. Then I went to work at the racetrack, trainer, exercise rider, lead ponies... for 25 years. Now, in my old age, I am back playing in the hunter/jumper world. All I know is that when a racetracker goes to a horse show, they are TERRIFIED about the horsemanship, or lack thereof, around the barn area, in gate, and general hanging around areas around the show rings where people and horses mix. People leading horses on long shanks. People leading horses and passing on the wrong side. People walking behind horses. People walking on the off side of horses. Just general stuff that goes on at horse shows, and because they are show horses and not racehorses, people don't often get hurt. But it horrifies racetrackers like scratching fingernails down a blackboard, just WRONG. Makes them very anxious just walking around show horse barn areas an in gates. And the show horse crowd is completely unaware of potential dangers.

                      Reading about your accident, you don't belong in the above category. No criticism of how you reacted in this situation. I had a friend who died in a very similar accident to what you described. At a racetrack. Run over by a bolting horse, on pavement, his own horse. No helmet on, he was not a rider. Death was instant, massive brain trauma. He was a good friend for a long time, and it was heartbreaking. He had led his horse out onto the track to gallop, turned it loose for the rider to take off, but instead the horse balked, propped (possibly dropped the rider??) and bolted back the way he had come, over the top of my friend, who had turned his back and was walking away. He shouldn't have turned his back. Might have been able to avoid it if he had seen it coming. Anyway, water under the bridge now. Horses can be dangerous animals in an instant, when bad stuff happens. They aren't hamsters.
                      While watching one of the high end yearling sales online (I think it was Fasig Tipton Saratoga) I was horrified to see two children brought in to the ring to watch while a horse was being auctioned. They stood in the ring by the door across from groom that led the yearling out.

                      I'm sure it was fun for the kids, but I thought it was an incredibly stupid and risky thing to do. I remember wondering what the children's parents were thinking and why anyone involved would allow children to be in such a small enclosed area with an excited thoroughbred yearling. Why Fasig Tipton would expose itself to such liability is beyond me.

                      Allowing young children to stand by the in gate is foolish, but parents need to use common sense. I doubt this sort of behavior can be regulated.

                      For what it's worth, I've always thought that using separate gates for entrance and exit, whenever possible, is a good idea.

                      Hope you are healing up OP.

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Originally posted by skydy View Post
                        Hope you are healing up OP.
                        Brain/head/vestibular issues all cleared and sorted. Discharged from PT and OT.

                        Starting PT on right shoulder on Tuesday but MRI was normal. So hopeful that I might ride again before Thanksgiving.

                        Em

                        "Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all." ~2001 The Princess Diaries

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Xctrygirl View Post

                          Brain/head/vestibular issues all cleared and sorted. Discharged from PT and OT.

                          Starting PT on right shoulder on Tuesday but MRI was normal. So hopeful that I might ride again before Thanksgiving.

                          Em
                          That's very good news. In the wake of our kcmel's untimely death, we need to hear of our COTH friends on the mend.

                          Please take care, and don't "rush your fences".

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            skydy I am the very rare rider who adheres to their dr's instructions and waits for all clearances before hopping on.
                            (Now anyway. Maybe not when I was younger)

                            Yep. I talked to Mel's hubby Thursday. It's truly awful.

                            Em
                            "Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all." ~2001 The Princess Diaries

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Xctrygirl View Post
                              skydy I am the very rare rider who adheres to their dr's instructions and waits for all clearances before hopping on.
                              (Now anyway. Maybe not when I was younger)

                              Yep. I talked to Mel's hubby Thursday. It's truly awful.

                              Em
                              Glad to hear you obey Dr's orders. It is something we learn with age isn't it?

                              I remember being shouted at by my doctor when I was a child.

                              "You were doing WHAT???" he said quite loudly, and in absolute incredulity, when I broke the hip to ankle plaster cast on my leg whilst riding my pony. It made quite an impression and I have obeyed Dr's orders ever since.

                              Is there anything we (members of COTH) can do to help Mel's DH? Sorry, that is a derail. I'll take that question to the "jingles" thread.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by skydy View Post

                                Glad to hear you obey Dr's orders. It is something we learn with age isn't it?

                                I remember being shouted at by my doctor when I was a child.

                                "You were doing WHAT???" he said quite loudly, and in absolute incredulity, when I broke the hip to ankle plaster cast on my leg whilst riding my pony. It made quite an impression and I have obeyed Dr's orders ever since.

                                Is there anything we (members of COTH) can do to help Mel's DH? Sorry, that is a derail. I'll take that question to the "jingles" thread.
                                When I had my breast reduction, my surgeon was giving me my recover instructions and went, "I know you're a horse girl, and you folks never, ever listen to instructions. I'm telling you not to ride for 6 weeks, but I know that won't happen. I'm begging you to at least wait 4, and have someone else help you tack up. Can'you just pretend I'm a vet giving you instructions on how to care for your horse? You wouldn't disobey your vet, please treat yourself like your horse"
                                Proud member of the Snort and Blow Clique

                                Comment

                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  skydy I honestly don't know. His father is due to pass away any day now as well if he hasn't already. It's probably just a horrible time and I can't advise what would be best. He's a lovely guy but I don't know him well.

                                  @myssmyst

                                  My GP so got me between the eyes. When the shoulder was really hurting (8 days post accident) I went in for my referral. She palpated and such. Looked at me and said (more or less)

                                  "Ok so here's the deal... you are not going to do your barn anymore starting today. I am giving you prescription strength Naproxen and you're taking it 2x a day, no matter whether it hurts or not. Get the anti-inflammatory on board. You go to your Orthopod and you let your arm/shoulder rest. Until it doesn't hurt. And you are going to do all this since you would never ignore any of your horses in the same condition."

                                  DAYUM.

                                  "Yes ma'am."

                                  Em

                                  "Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all." ~2001 The Princess Diaries

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I would suggest working toward a comprehensive set of recommendations that could be published, in some format, and offered to shows everywhere. The recommendation could have sections, so that if organizers felt it wasn't possible to implement all of it, they could still work from certain sections and implement some of it. As more venues see the value and adopt them in whole or in part, the recommendations could make their way toward local and national organizations, who may endorse them (even if they don't require them).

                                    - Design of in-gate and out-gate, with further suggestions of where and how to place the arena access points in relation to both warm-up and traffic generally (foot and horse).

                                    - Additional design features in the gate area that could assist safety, such as the people-only catwalk section that is often seen at the biggest show venues where trainers and entourage can stand just for the duration of a round. That's not as big a deal to construct as people might think, it's more about planning for it.

                                    - Recommended facility rules for the arena access points while a class is going on in the arena. For people and horses. And facilitating these intentions with signs, colors, arrows and the like.

                                    - Stewarding protocols. Including communications with riders and non-riders, active traffic directing, etc. And when more than one steward is recommended, with specific roles for each steward.

                                    - Anything else that should have its own section?

                                    I think it wouldn't hurt to include an overall justification for the recommendations. A starting point can be that horses are large, flighty animals, and even the tamest horses are inclined to over-react and move very suddenly if they are startled or upset. An environment crowded with people and other horses creates a higher-than-acceptable risk of serious injury, or worse.

                                    And it would help build support and interest in the recommendations if you can collect data on in-gate accidents. I'm sure that no one is doing that now, but it is data that illustrates why something is important. It wouldn't be possible to do true thorough data tracking. Rather, it would be collecting anecdotes, and then tracking down those who were directly involved and affected, and getting as much of the real truth as possible.


                                    IMO two of the biggest in-gate problems that I've seen are too many people on foot mixed in among the horses, and too many horses too close together, waiting their turn. Especially with the juniors, there can be families with kids aged young to older grouped around one horse. Until there is some clear direction otherwise, that will continue. It's a recipe for disaster if anything untoward happens.

                                    But when something does happen, once it is all cleared away, no one seems to pay much attention to the 'why' and how it might be prevented next time. They just carry on as always. Because no one has suggested that this could all be avoided with a little common sense.

                                    At any venue, if recommendations are consistently applied and enforced, people will come to expect them, and adapt accordingly. But once the guidelines are decided on they have to be enforced evenly for them to take effect and actually matter.

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                                    • #19
                                      Where are you guys finding these doctors who are so smart about comparing you to horses? If a doctor spoke to me like that, I might be more inclined to listen to him or her.

                                      I completely missed the other thread about jingles. Could somebody please direct me to it? Or summarize what happened?

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                                      • Original Poster

                                        #20
                                        Sending you a Pm MHM
                                        "Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all." ~2001 The Princess Diaries

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