Tuesday, December 9, 2008

On Thursday Silva and I are heading down to New Orleans for the four-day US Eventing Association Annual Convention. We’re looking forward to checking out the city and starting to get more involved with the ins and outs of the USEA. There will be a lot of great forums we’ll be attending as well as High Performance meetings. I’m also looking forward to the awards luncheon, as it’s the first time I’ve been awarded anything of this stature in the USA. I’ll just have to keep an eye on Silva when she heads out shopping along Bourbon Street!

I think it’s great having seminars at a convention like this, away from a competition where you’re concerned with your horse and all that goes with it. It’s a good chance for all of us to focus on issues on details of the sport like qualification.

There’s been lots of talk about what we need to do to make our sport safer. My point of view is that making the courses easier would just make more riders eligible to compete at the higher levels before they’re ready. Sooner or later you’ll have a bunch of horses and riders thinking they’re ready for the three and four-star levels and they’ll have a rude awakening when faced with international standards.

I think that each horse should be required to complete a minimum of six events with a clear cross-country round and one rail or less down in the show jumping before they are allowed to move up a level. For instance you’d have to complete six novices clear on cross-country and with a rail or less down before you could move up to training level. This would produce horses slower – it would take around nine months or a year to move up a level – which creates confidence and a better understanding for the questions asked.

A big problem is when horses are rushed, they tend to have accidents when they’re not ready for what they’re doing. We have to slow down the training process. Also when you’d buy a horse you’d be assured it’s ready for the level it’s advertised at. A horse could still do advanced by age eight, which I think is plenty young enough, and with the short format we’re seeing horses compete until they’re 17 or 18 years old anyway. That’s a long time.

I hope I can get involved in the debate of making eventing safer. I really think this is the answer, to slow the rapid progress. If you can’t do a prelim, why move up to intermediate?

Finally I think the convention will be a fantastic social event to hang out with my fellow competitors, owners, sponsors and supporters. Usually at an event I’m walking courses and running around and riding, so it will be nice to have this opportunity to spend some quality time with everyone.


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