Well I would say we learned quite a lot. For one we learned that the 50 penalty rule really was shit from day one when it was cabled out from the FEI. As I predicted from the beginning this thing was never gonna work. And well I believe it’s fair to say I was dead on target on that one.
Year one with this remarkably strange rule really wasn’t impressive at all and during 2018 things really got out of hand. This was the year when 50 penalties were thrown out a little bit here and a little bit there. Just to be revoked a couple of minutes or hours later in a somewhat lottery kind of way.
The low point really was the CCI4* Luhmühlen where there were no official results available as late as at 6.30 in the evening! Read long after both the CCI4* and the CIC3* had finished their cross country days! That really should not be possible and must be one of the quickest ways ever to kill off any interest for the sport of eventing.
For next year they have altered this rule into yet another new format that I’m thinking will do nothing else but encourage really bad riding by those who really ride bad..
b) Missing a flag: A Horse is considered to have missed a flag (15 penalties) if the Horse jumps the dimension of the obstacle and the majority of the Horse’s body (as defined above) passes through the flags. This means that some part of the body is not inside the flags (e.g. one shoulder, or one shoulder and part of one hip).
The tale of the double booked course designer.
Another thing learnt this year is the younger generation riders really are competitive as hell. Damn those kids can ride. However, at Fontainebleau it was one of the sadest looking championship courses ever known to man up for display during the FEI European Championships for the Juniors and Young Riders. Which raised the questions of how and why it ever can be allowed to double book a course designer to work at two events the same weekend.
Especially when one – technically two – of these events is an international championship this set up is way and beyond imagination.
And here’s the “funny” part of that story. Cause the French blamed their internal course designing system where only one guy – Pierre Michelet – gets to build like anything similar to an international course. This while the FEI blamed the French federation for scheduling the events at Jardy and Fontainebleau at the same weekend.
Forgive my ignorance but what’s the purpose with this awaiting FEI approval on the schedules if the federations as implied by FEI during the event in Fontainebleau obviously can do as they please anyway? Why do FEI sign off the draft schedules for clashing events? Interesting questions we may or may not get the answer to anytime soon..
Worst dressage arena all time high?
The next championship low point happened at the European Championships for ponies. We always go to the euro pony and have seen it being hosted at some truly amazing venues in between Ireland in the far west and Hungary in the far east.
This year’s championship on the other hand was just as Fontainebleau served up in an extreme sad looking way. I must point out the cross country looked amazing and the showjumping was perfectly ok. But the dressage arena really was an epic low point of equestrian sport. And I feel for the pure dressage kids whose only photographic action shots from this, in most cases, once in a lifetime event comes with zero ambience.
There was not even a hint they were actually riding a European Championship in dressage!
No flowers, no decorations, no nothing but extremely bad speakers and loud music. Even worse was the fact one person only got in the line of fire for the sad state of the dressage arena. This person would be the Slovakian technical delegate in dressage. Apparently she did her first ever championship and if she’s indeed were to blame I’d say this reflects straight back to a malfunctioning educational system of officials.
However, a fair guess is the truth is lying somewhere in between the lack of interest from the organisation and the technical delegate’s opinion about how to dress up the arena. And the ones stuck in between were these amazingly ambitious kids in dressage and eventing out on a mission!
But Bishop Burton and Fontainebleau had more positive things in common. They did deliver 100% absolute top sport. Those of you out there who seriously believe you can buy a championship title. Or even worse, the ones the believe that ponies in sport have no value. You really don’t know what you’re talking about.
These championships are the grow grounds for the next generation top riders. And because they are the grow ground for the next generation I hope the FEI as well as the organisations and sponsors start taking the younger rider’s championships a bit more serious!
I believe I already covered Tryon enough. The only thing I might add is it yet again proved to be way to easy for seniors to qualify and attend such a high profile event. And it amazes me only one Yellow Card was handed out in a field that in some parts left a lot to offer. I hope and pray some of the riders present at this year’s WEG never ever ride eventing again. Or at least have the brains to go back to the drawing board for some five to ten years before they show themselves again.
The top riders on the other hand at this, what it seem final WEG, yet again showed what this sport really is about. Thanks to the Brits, the Irish, the French and the Japanese teams international top level eventing looks very promising and exciting heading into 2019.
Course designing á la Guinea Pig.
The past year was also the year where course designing some what seemed to turn into an experimental kind of sport. In the CIC3* Marbach one rider faceplanted in the landing of 13a. Before his horse was caught another rider fell off at fence 13c and broke her shoulder. The result – fence 13b was pulled of the track and replaced with the alternative.
A move that for us bystanders – I watched both falls first hand – didn’t exactly add up and for sure didn’t please the riders warming up on the top of the hill.
In the CCI4* Luhmühlen 17 combinations cleared fence 18b – a MIM-clip rail – but sadly the 18th combination didn’t which led to a very much sad fatality of the horse. After this accident the fence was pulled out of the track which lead to a lot of speculations about the construction of the fence.
Personally I don’t feel overly impressed when the officials sound like they’re reading of a “Miranda card” when explaining an accident. Which also was the case at this sad event. But this time around many of the riders spoke their mind and yet again they were not overly impressed and started to question the seriousity of the designers. Cause the things that seem to scare the riders the most is the feeling they may be used as guinea pigs for untested angles and fences.
There was at least one additional three star event in July where a fence was pulled of the track. And course designing set aside I feel this also kind of proves it is way to easy for riders to get up to a three* star level of the sport! Before this season I have only since 2011 seen one fence being removed from a course. Which was the infamous Haggis on top of a muddy slope at the 2015 European Championships at Blair Castle, Scotland.
To sum things up.
I believe our sport is truly amazing. Rider’s like senior World Champion Ros Canter and young rider European Champion Victor Levecque really does prove the greatness of eventing. But I believe there are some really big obstacles to overcome in both eventing as well as other disciplines to make the sport attractive for the non believers.
So let’s see what 2019 can bring on!
Happy New Year
* in 2019 three star will turn four star..