Friday, October 23, 2015

I am an Eventer. So there.

They're everywhere! Once again people are pretending like eventing is on the hot seat thanks to the injury of one upper level rider and the disregard for horses' welfare from another. Forum and blog posts railing against the dangers of this sport are abound until people get distracted by something else and forget about it for awhile.

I mostly ignore these cycles. They come around often enough that if I miss one, another will be along to passively participate in a few months later. This time around, just for shits and giggles, I thought I'd share how I feel about the subject of the sport I compete in.

Warning: I am ambivalent. I don't care.


I am an eventer. I don't compete at the upper levels. I have no desire to compete at the upper levels. But let me set this straight: it's not because I'm afraid for my life, or the life of my horse. I'm not going to hit a point in my competition career and think, "This horse is trained through PSG. He can jump 4'+, and his gallop is fantastic. This horse is brave, bold, and brilliantly trained. But I will not enter him in any horse trial above preliminary because this sport is not safe."

My mental comfort zone tops out at around 3'6". I'm all for a strong or even flat out gallop, but approaching jumps at that speed does not appeal to me. Were I braver and bolder and I had a horse with the talent to go to the upper levels, I would.

There, I said it. Were I not afraid of the height (cross country or stadium), I would participate in upper level eventing today as it stands.


I understand where the complaints are coming from. I understand your statistics on rider and horse injuries and deaths. They're horrible, yes. However, if I want to risk myself by setting out on these courses, that's my own choice, not yours.

"BUT!" you say. "Your horse doesn't have a choice in the matter!"

Since you probably already hate my passivity and are rolling your eyes, I'll give you a little more fuel to the fire. I believe that you can't make a horse do something it doesn't want to--not something like upper level eventing. All the whips and spurs and giant bits in the world can't get a horse to jump a four foot solid obstacle in its path if there's not something inside that animal that doesn't want to get to the other side.

"It's fear! It's scared you'll punish it for refusing!"

Well then you're an asshole for not treating your horse right. Look at the horses that hunt for the flags, the ones that lock on and go even when their rider makes a mistake. That's an animal that loves its job. That can't be bullied into happening.

Where are the upper level riders complaining about the safety and integrity of eventing? Is it because this is their livelihood and they don't want to lose it? Are they afraid of being fazed out of the sport for stepping up and trying to take action? What are they supposed to take action against? Or are they more in tune to the risk-reward ratio than we are? They can't all be blinded by the chance of success, can they?

What bothers me about all these "Eventing is dangerous and the devil and has changed for the worse and I am never doing it ever!!!!" posts is that people just sit behind their computers and complain about it.

What's the solution? What do you want people to do? Abandon the sport completely? At all levels, or just the upper levels? Do you want to wipe eventing completely off the board?

What's the answer to the problem?

 Maybe if people spent a little less time bitching and little more time actively campaigning for change--whatever that change may be--eventing would turn into a sport that polarizes people a little bit less.

I won't be one of those people. Call me the problem if you'd like, but I'm going to work through the winter on preparing my horse for Training next year. Eventing is my chosen sport, and my horse loves it just as much as I do.


16 comments:

  1. couldnt agree more! I actually was a huge nerd and did run some numbers on Rolex that last few years and the number of falls is a lot less then you would think! While always think there is room for improvement in the sport...accidents are bound to happen. After all we are humans that make mistakes and horses are not infallible and make mistakes too.

    Here is the link to my geekiness! : http://somethingtotalkabouteventing.blogspot.com/p/rolex-results-and-statistics.html

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  2. Well said! With all of the safety issues going on in UL eventing, and my desire to never, ever, EVER get that far, I still think it's a GREAT sport and plan to continue eventing for as long as I can! I do think course design at the upper levels is getting out of hand with the insane technicality and speeds, and in regards to Amanda's post, blood on the horse is NEVER OK. I do think there is room for improvement in the way of course design, speed, and rules to protect the horses and make sure that riders don't get to move up before they're ready. That said, I love eventing, and I want it to continue.

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  3. Good for you. It's a dangerous sport, but so are other sports and people should do the sport they want to do. The whole internet is going crazy about how eventing is more dangerous now and I want to pull out the videos from the early years. No one nowadays would do those jumps (well, maybe the Irish on a fox hunt) but no one sane. It's safer than it ever has been. We as a culture are just more scared of everything. And trust me, I'm terrified of down banks. Even 1 foot ones so I'm scared too, but I'm glad people keep doing eventing.

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  4. this is a hard and complicated subject - i react viscerally to seeing wounded or bloodied horses or reading about unethical practices, and am consumed with worry about an injured stranger i've never even met. there's a part of me that wants answers, or a guarantee that this won't happen again.

    but your perspective is equally important too, i think. there’s a huge difference between my low level schooling events and running advanced at an FEI competition. things that happen in the upper levels don't really affect my personal eventing journey. bc ultimately it's a sport that my horse and i enjoy - and your words about "something inside that animal that wants to get to the other side" resonate loudly.

    so idk. ultimately i'm just another voice behind a computer screen. but it's worth taking a moment to evaluate, regardless of if the outcome is a call to action or decided ambivalence.

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  5. I think that's a fine attitude to have, especially at lower levels, but I don't think anyone can ignore the slowly increasing safety level at upper levels. It's WFP today, but someone else tomorrow, and on and on. The sport as a whole will suffer if its highest levels continue on this path.

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  7. I feel your pain since, as you know, it's the same shit over and over again with racing too. I agree that that bitching about it on the internet isn't going to help much. Everyone has their opinion, but very few are willing to put their neck on the line to defend it. A large percentage just like to have something to throw a fit about so that they can pretend to be relevant in a sport that they normally aren't. I have no problem with people having a strong opinion on a matter as long as they are actually well informed, but it drives me nuts when they just jump on whatever bandwagon may be passing by at the time.

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  8. Thank you! This is how I feel for the most part. Bloody mouths and such I think need addressed, but seriously if my horse doesn't want to gallop down to a 4 foot solid obstacle it isn't going to. It doesn't matter how crazy I attempt to be with it, my 5'3" frame can't MAKE a horse do anything.

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  9. On point. There are bad trainers here like on every discipline, there are horses and riders that don't like the job however you won't often see that at upper levels of eventing. Because at that level, you do need the horse that hunts for the flags and goes despite a mistake by the rider. And no, at a gallop, you can't force a horse over a 4 foot fence, repeatedly.

    Could some changes be made? Sure. Have some of the changes already been made been to the detriment of the sport? Sure. Does the sport need eliminated or upper levels eliminated? I still say no.

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  10. Ambivalent us a good word I think how most people feel on horse sports. Most of them have good aspects and dark sides (hunters and wp drugging), etc. I don't think most people argue that the horses doing upper level don't want to do it, it's how they are being tethered to crazy bits and if the questions are just too unrealistic. All things have armchair activists, at least it provides a little discussion and keeps people paying attention.

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  11. Good post Carly. I'm right there with you.

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  12. This is well written. I agree with everything you said. I personally don't like eventing, I don't think it's safe and I have no desire to jump over solid obstacles. But that doesn't mean I'm going to get up on a soapbox and preach that everyone should give it up, that everyone should think like me. The discipline that you choose to compete in is your choice alone and only you can make sure that you are doing it the safest most knowledgeable way. Enjoy your sport!!!

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  13. Love this, love you. Preach on, girlfriend.

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If you can't say anything nice, fuck off.