bee in my bonnet

In my great procrastinatory efforts this week, I was watching some Ride On Videos from recent events in Area VI.  You know, you start watching one friend’s video and then there are suggested videos on the side and you just keep clicking and clicking and a whole semester goes by and all you’ve done is sweat on the couch and watch cross country videos.

Of course, I have no personal experience.

Anyway, I eventually found myself watching a video of a woman on a horse who was obviously youngish, and who was having a bit of a challenging time with the course.  Both did valiantly, but they had a good spot of trouble at the first water, at least one jump on course, and at the second water the horse, after skittering sideways for a few steps, actually took a step back before continuing on.  I was curious, and Ride On Video gives you all you need to find out about a contestant’s placings, so I did a little low-key stalking.  I was really just curious, I wanted to see how many penalties they ended up with.

None.  They had no jump penalties.

Errrrr what?

All of the bobbles I would have called refusals could have been argued away by any jump judge, but the step back at the second water was the textbook definition of a cross country refusal.  A quick look at all of the other competitors in the division revealed that not a single one incurred a jump penalty on cross country, which is pretty much unheard of in low divisions really.

I have to say, this whole thing left me rather cheesed.  The event facilitators, jump judges, and in some ways, the competitor all failed here.  The only excuse for such a mistake is that the jump judges were inexperienced or there were insufficient judges to pay attention – which is a huge problem on the part of the event.  They also failed to train their jump judges correctly.  Finally, I have been at events where competitors willingly turned themselves in, so to speak, about missed refusals on cross country, and I have always admired their honesty.  I know that such mistakes are bound to be made, and of course they are just that, mistakes – this particular video, however, led me to believe that this was truly not a mistake but a serious oversight.  There were so many borderline refusals that the horse could well have been eliminated!

Anyway, someone I was chatting to at the barn pointed out that at least nobody had refusals, so everybody was “penalized” equally, so no real harm was done.  I mean, certainly nothing terrible happened, but honestly, the entire rankings could have changed (and often do) based on cross country penalties, and those do count for something.  To some more than others.

Watching this brought up some interesting questions about rider integrity.  I know that on course you are very focused on your ride and probably not thinking about your refusals, but I have a hard time imagining that with all the kicking and whipping and sidestepping this rider was doing that she didn’t at least suspect she had a refusal.  Do you think riders should bring up their refusals/mistakes to show officials?

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12 thoughts on “bee in my bonnet

  1. Oh man. I’ve jump judged, and sometimes with those young and skitters horses, it’s super hard to tell if there was a step backwards. Sometimes. Sometimes it’s easy. I imagine it’s also hard to feel that step back as a rider. It’s kind of heartbreaking to have to pull a rider for such a refusal. Sometimes it’s not a dangerous issue, and just that it’s a young horse having a spooky day. Sometimes it’s a scary ride and you’re crossing your fingers the horse refuses nicely so you can pull the pair. It can really go either way.

    All that said, I do think competitors should turn themselves in. Of course, that sort of sportsmanship isn’t in every person. That’s kind of sad.

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    • You’re so right about that, and I didn’t even think about it. It really is hard with a noodler to know if they’re stepping back or not, especially from some angles. The camera angle was perfect to catch it from though.

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  2. as someone who rides a horse that skitters into the water (if she goes in at all) i’ve definitely been unsure about whether we had a step back or not… tho luckily i had video of that instance and could see that – phew! – no step back. it does concern me when penalties aren’t called tho – but i can see how something like that could be missed…

    also – re: inexperienced jump judges – i’ve definitely been one of those before too haha. at a recognized event with riders like phillip dutton running prelim… i don’t *think* i made any big mistakes… but then again i was assigned to an easy galloping fence that actually had zero penalties through the day…. but i guess what i’m saying is that finding enough volunteers with experience is tough too..

    definitely agree tho that riders should step forward if they incurred a penalty that wasn’t reflected in their score

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  3. Totally random, but I do believe I got sucked into watching the same series of videos via a link that led to another link…and I noticed and wondered the same thing. I’d like to hope the rider(s) just didn’t feel it in the moment and didn’t see the video.

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  4. Personally, I would (if I avenged). It would drive me insane to know that I didn’t earn something and had a better score/placing because of a mistake by someone else.

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  5. The one that really confuses me, both as a rider and as someone just watching, is the whole circling in front of a fence thing. How close is too close before it’s a refusal?

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    • So true!! How close do you have to get before it’s “associated with the question”? There used to be a rule — like 100 feet or something — not that I or most people can just tell what 100 feet is.

      (The refusals I was talking about above were literally two strides in front of the water, so it was pretty clear to me.)

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