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Re: [RC] lowered age limit - KimFue

In a message dated 06/22/2006 10:23:43 PM Pacific Standard Time, tref@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx writes:
The 7 year age limit for nomination was put forward by Valerie Kanavy. 
> I happen remember b/c at the time Steph argued forcefully against the
> lowering of the age limit.
> The argument put forward related mainly to fielding a wider set of
> horses for this upcoming WEC.
   Steph was the person who brought the proposal to lower the competition age to the attention of endurance riders or it may have slipped by without anyone realized that the "competition age was being lowered from 8 years old to 7 years old, unless of course you read the USEF nominaton form.  Many I spoke to when I questioned the change thought only the nomination age had been lowered NOT the competition age.  There sure didn't seem to be a lot of communication between USEF and AERC I as even the chairman of the AERC I committee told me that only the nomination age had changed.   Just not a lot of good communication between organizations etc.
So moving forward, I think from the very qualified field of older horses that nominated for the 2006 WEC, the necessity to lower the age to seven was incorrect.  As Lynne Glazer mentioned earlier, there were qualified riders with very, very good ride records over the nomination period that did not make the short list of riders or the alternate list.
Perhaps, this round will prove that allowing 7 year olds to compete at the Olympic level of our sport is not necessary.  There seem to be enough VERY qualified older horses to field a team that has a chance to medal.  With proper training, coaching and lowering the number of 100s and the number of miles to nominate will probably prove that older, mature horses will be as fresh and as sound as taking 5 and 6 year olds through the training for the WEC so they can compete as 7 year olds.
Hopefully, for the next USEF championship, the competition age will once again be 8 years old.  Hopefully, those making that decision for future competition will take the above facts into consideration AND put the long term welfare of the horse first by letting them mature a little bit more. 
The only real reason I can see for leaving the age at 7 years old is being able to market a youger horse better for more money.  Again, show me the facts that a 7 year old is better suited to winning and I may rethink my position.  Show me that there was a shortage of good horses that nominated that would be 8 or older on competition day and I may rethink my position.  I know USEF is in the business of wanting winners so I can accept the fact that they think of the short term not the long term when it comes to the welfare of the horse BUT I really want proof that 7 is better than the traditional 8 year old for USA Championship rides like the Pan Ams and the WEC before supporting their decision to lower the age.
I have suggested many times that those that want to compete at the FEI championship level should start a program to groom youngsters towards that goal.  Set up programs for 5 year olds to follow a training, cross training, conditioning program that will have them at peak form at 8 years old.  Theses horses will certainly be fresh, sound, and not used up by 1000s of miles and too many 100s.  Is waiting one more year really going to make the differnce beween no medal and a gold medal????
Kim Fuess