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Rosemary
28-03-00, 06:22 AM
Jan, I've just read your editorial on the showjumping scene in general - and I stress here that I'm a total ignoramus when it comes to this discipline - and have to agree with you (not because I'm an ignoramus, though).

It seems to be an Australian thing to keep riders down to the level which the administrators think appropriate. Doesn't just happen in showjumping.

Have you read Stephen Lamb's article in mumble mumble March thm mumble because from what I can understand things are looking up. Would love to know if our coursebuilders are really game enough to put us on the scene, and would love to hear your opinion on this article.

From what I know about competitive anything, meaning javelin throwing or riding, if we're not asked to try that little bit harder, we never will, and the top javelin throwers or riders who have competed overseas will stay at the top and those coming up behind will stay behind because the challenge isn't here.

Sorry if this post is a bit short and sharp - I'm in a tearing hurry but had to put in my 2c worth.

Jan Heine
28-03-00, 08:35 AM
Hey there Rosemary - the problems begin long before our horses and riders get to World Cup level. The courses for our D Grade horses are usually an after thought designed and built with "left over" fences from the "main rings" (and I am being ultra harsh here - so recognise these comments as gross over generalisations) and they are usually crammed into a small and generally hard surface. The attitude of many (not all) showjumpers in Australia is "don't bother putting stud holes in the D Graders - if they get to A Grade we will put studs on" - mmmm not good enough I am afraid. If you have a good young horse and it slips at D Grade level it may never reach its full potential and get to A Grade due to loss of confidence. All our horses young and old have stud holes - we will not start any of our horses on ground which is not right - we have a "big picture plan" and we try to plan our program. Due to our course builders/clubs/organisers etc not making water fences (be they trays or open water) available until the horses reach the highest grades and then only at big shows I have invested in an open water jump and water tray for home - none of our horses have a problem with water because they see it every day and jump it every week. I confess I invested in these water jumps after being in Belgium last year. Harley and I went to about 6 different yards over two days and every place we went to try horses at had at least 2 if not more water fences of some type - it was then it occured to me that our horses don't see enough of these type of fences to become confident and competent at jumping them. Steven Lamb paints a slightly "rose coloured" picture of the improvements possibly because he sees it from the top level and also because he is involved with people like Gavin Chester who has International experience and thus a global view of training horses "correctly" - that is unfortunately the exception rather than the norm! As you know Rosemary I am a great believer in Dressage Training for showjumping horses - not simply flat work but serious Dressage training - that is what horses need to be able to jump the sort of tracks they have overseas and the type of track which was jumped yesterday at the Australian Championships. It is the Dressage training which gives the horses the obedience to be able to open it up over a 16' open water jump and then bring it back to contend with an upright fence, 2 or 3 strides and another upright and then turn sharply to face up to an oxer which might be 1.50m square. Showjumping is simply a Dressage test with fences in the way! And to improve at the top we have start with the babies - give them the right environment, training and grounds and they will turn into top quality horses. I think it is time that the Jumping Clubs band together and run about 30 shows per year with top quality equipment and top quality courses for all levels - they don't have to be big money shows but shows which train the horses correctly - we jump week after week on terrible grounds for poor money so why not just change the conditions and we will still come out for the poor money but our horses will be increasing in value and so we are actually gaining. The Clubs need to help each other out with equipment etc. and plan a 12 month program of shows well in advance with dates locked in and heights etc. advertised and stuck to. This way if we have entered a horse in the A&B Grade (for example) we would know that he would be expected to jump a 1.40m track. Not turn up to find that he has to jump a 1.25m track. This is a problem because it interferes with our training program. The same goes for the young horses - sometimes the D Grade is "step over size" and other times it is quite a tough height for a baby. There is no consistency and it is consistency in training and competition which makes champions.

Sorry for the length of this answer!

Rosemary
28-03-00, 02:23 PM
Yes Jan. Thank you for your reply. Makes for fascinating reading. So we dressage people at least know we have to do a 20metre circle sitting or rising trot etc. and you guys are totally in the dark until you arrive!!! Right now have to crawl into the sack - shall return tomorrow!!

Geraldine
29-03-00, 04:06 AM
I agree about the uncertainty, it is just ridiculous. We see it in the SJ phase of ODEs too where they sometimes try to get really smart and put up a max height course on a tiny little area which is too hard on eventers. I have heard coursebuilders at events talking and sniggering about how their SJ course will 'sort them out' - good god it's not supposed to - the X-country is the major part of the competition and it is dissappointing to get a young horse round that clear and then find a really STUPID SJ course. We have been known to go home rather than upset the confidence of a youngster but it is annoying as entry fees are not cheap! It is sad to see people setting their horses back because they don't realise that the course will be too big an ask - I mean kids with non-riding parents and so on - I don't think they should have to buy their experience this way.

Also Its all very well for you flash guys, but have you any idea how hard it can be for people to get into the sport after a break, or maybe in their more mature years - surely there should be some accessible point of entry for people who want to enjoy the sport but not necessarily ever get beyond kindergarten? I always think the more the merrier, and these people can make great workers too.