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.
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?