One of the hottest topics in between course designers on the highest level in eventing seem to be the one if riders actually are qualified to take on the questions they set out for them. Regardless what riders believe about their own level of skills some of them really don’t belong at the highest level of the sport.
However, on a lower level of international sport we have a complete other set of problems. On this level it seems a lot of riders completely have misunderstood the whole idea of the qualification system.
Are you really qualified?
The MER you get in an event is indeed a receipt that you on that day had the capability to finish all three phases according to minimum standard to get to the next level. But the key word in the MER is Minimum. Minimum as in Minimum Eligbility Requirement.
So even if you do come home with a MER in the pocket it doesn’t automatically mean you are qualified and or have the skills to head on to the next level. Cause eventing is more than just the MER.
Just like anything else in life it’s also about experience. Experience to read and take on the level of questions presented to you in cross country. So heading out in your very first one star ever and make a MER doesn’t mean you are ready to go two star at your next event.
First of all it’s the thing called mental development and that goes both for horse and rider. Second of all you also need to evaluate your one star ride.
Was I competitive in dressage?
If you ended up with a 44.9 penalty in dressage you did not do good. But either you had a shitty day which actually happens to all of us. Even the Michael Jung’s of the world! But it could also point to the fact you’re just not good enough. Maybe you need to go home and practise a little bit more and come up with a new plan.
But you also need to set up a target goal on where you’d like to be at your next event, the event after that and so on. Last but not least. Actually reading the score sheet can sometimes be very helpful in the process of getting better.
Did I make the time in the cross country?
Was I even safe in the cross country? If you end up with 30 penalties for time in cross country and you’re a top level rider you probably are out for a schooling round in one way or the other. But for a first timer finishing way and beyond the optimum time but still in range for the MER. You’re most likely still not ready for the next level!
For one the next level will not only make more difficult questions. It will also increase the speed of the cross country. And in all honestly. If you cannot make the time in a one star you’re going to be hopelessly behind in the two star. Or even worse as an inexperienced rider you might actually just go for it. And BAM that’s when accidents happens!
Did I jump a double clear in show jumping?
There are lot of riders out there who cannot seem to get it together on the final day of show jumping. If you’re on the edge and balancing of the MER mark you and your horse won’t benefit of heading for the next level. You need to figure out what went down and how to prevent it to happen again. Practise makes perfect.
You didn’t get a MER?
Last but not least there are riders that wont’ get a MER. In some cases the question is if they ever will? And here’s the thing. If you come home from your very first international event without one there’s probably not much to worry about. But if you’re on your fifth international competition and you’re still missing out on a qualifying result, you really should start ask yourself why.
Are you competing above your level? Are you not prepared enough? Would you benefit of taking a step back? Why are you competing international in the first place? Asking and even more importantly answering these questions could be key to your future progress in the sport.