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RE: [RC] Eventing's Classic Format - heidi

Kat, thanks for the review.  That is helpful.  

I would add an addendum to your thoughts about the shortened version of 
eventing being a cause of increased breakdown (although I would think that all 
of yours are deadly accurate)--and that is that horses may not be receiving the 
"road time" and conditioning that would be necessary for the longer version 
(since they are not expected to do it) so that even horses that are 
sufficiently agile to do the sport may well not have the ncecessary bone 
density that results from long, slow distance work, in addition to the lack of 
warmup and weed-out on "the day." 


Horses jumping really big, solid jumps is but a small part (although the
most "exciting" part so it is what gets shown on TV) of a classic three
day event.

A three day event consists of three separate tests on succeeding days:

Day 1 is a dressage test
Day 2 is the endurance test
Day 3 is stadium jumping

In the "classic" (aka long) format, Day 2 consists of four phases: a
long section of road and tracks which is negotiated at pretty much the
trot, then the steeplechase section which is done at a full on racing
gallop with not too solid but farly big brush (so they give way to the
horses) fences, then another road and tracks portion, and then the cross
country, or phase D which is the part with the really big, solid jumps.

Because the Athens Olympic Committee didn't want to go to the expense of
building and manning a venue for such a test, they wanted to remove
eventing from the Olympics.  The FEI, in order to convince the
International Olympic Committee to keep eventing in the Olympics, said
"no, no, we will make it easier to build a venue for eventing" and
negotiated to take all but the D phase out of the second day of a three
day event at the Olympics.  One by one, other venues at the four star,
and then the three star event level followed suit, such that now it is
virtually impossible to find any place that actually holds a long format
three day event.

Some people assert that the real motivation behind this move was not to
make the venues easier to build and man, but rather because the European
Sport Horse community didn't like the fact that European Warmbloods are
poor eventers because they are physically incapable of doing the 22+
miles on day 2 of a full format three day event and that community had
enough clout within the FEI to get the format changed.

Some people also assert (and I am among them) that the demise of the
long format is a major contributer to the increase in accidents being
seen at upper level three day events, and, I contend that there are
several reasons for this.

The first being, European Warmbloods make poor eventers even if they
don't have to do all four phases of the endurance portion of day two and
only have to do cross country, because, as a general rule, they drive
like trucks and don't have the agility to safely negotiate a cross
country course with really big, solid fences, so even though they don't
have to be able to do the 22+ miles, they still shouldn't be out
there...but many of them are.

The second being, that the first three phases of day two served as an
excellent warm up for the extreme challenge of the cross country course,
and there simply isn't enough room at a venue that doesn't have the
"road and tracks" for the full format to properly warm up your horse and
get it into the right frame of mind and body.

The third being, that the the horses had to pass veterinary inspections
at the end of each of the first three phases on day two, thus weeding
out the unfit horses that might be a bit off their stride, or whatever,
before they ever got to START on the cross country course with it big,
solid fences.

One of Jim Wofford's complaints about the loss of the long format is
about the loss of the steeplechase phase, which is done at much higher
speed than the cross country phase.  He contends that having to gallop
over the steeple chase fences at one and two star events properly
prepared riders for being able to negotiate the higher speeds in cross
country required at the three and four star levels.  And he may be
right.  If the first time you are ever asked to go over jumps at 500+
mmp is when they are solid fences and don't come down (rather than when
they are steeplechase brush fences which can pretty much be crashed
through by horses with them barely even breaking stride), you may be
setting yourself up for disaster.

One of the other differences in which the loss of the long format may be
contributing to increased accidents on cross country courses, is that
horses are no longer given as much time off after events to "recover"
from them.  In fact, one of the things that Amy Tryon, the US eventer
who was found guilty of horse abuse by the FEI after last year's
Kentucky CCI****, spoke of in a Practical Horseman article a couple of
years ago as being a "good" effect of only having the short format is
that riders will be able to compete their horses more often and the
owners will therefore get more pleasure out of watching them compete and
will get more chances to win because the horses won't need as much time
to rest.

All of this, of course, is just speculation.

However, it should serve as warning to endurance rides...trust me on
this one.  You do NOT (as in not, not, not, not, not) want endurance as
an Olympic sport.  Keeping "eventing" (if you want to call it that now
that it has been changed into a different test) in the Olympics,
destroyed the sport.

The Olympics would be the road to ruin for endurance.

Orange County, Calif.


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