first thoughts on convention

I had a ton of fun last week at the USEA Convention.  I’m a learning sponge and love the chance to meet and joke around with famous strangers, so conventions and conferences are always my jam.  Plus I got to have lunch with Jimmy Wofford and dinner with Lynn Symansky, Hannah Sue Burnett, Katherine Coleman, and Jon Holling ALL BY ACCIDENT which was so awesome.

Plus there was a giant Pacific octopus there, and what’s not to love about that?!

I could tell that the USEA worked hard to make the conference something that both professionals and amateurs were interested in attending.  There were some great educational and information sessions targeted at amateurs, and plenty of pros popped into those.  I’ve enjoyed Daniel Stewart’s work before, and got accidentally roped into working out with him first thing in the morning (and woah, did that hurt for days afterwards because all I did post workout was sit around and listen to talks).  I attended a couple more of his pressure-proof type talks, and they were as great as before.

I also loved the course builders session.  It was a really interesting combination of updates on rules (new frangible pin rules and max spread rules and such), but also a great discussion of the mysterious “level creep” and why it both is and isn’t a problem.  I’ll probably write a whole post on that tonight, because it’s an idea that really fascinates me.  We also talked a fair bit about Prelim  Modified, the new division, and how the fork we were going to get PM into events.  One problem is that it costs about 15k (and then some) to put together the new fences for a PM division, but no new riders will be attracted by PM… it will only be riders who would be riding Training or Prelim anyway.  So… what’s the incentive to offer PM to organizers?  (Right now it seems like the answer is: none.)

Boyd also gave a pretty killer keynote.  But he also said some really interesting things in the adult amateur session about how getting to be stressed out is a privilege, and his thoughts on training and fear.  It also became pretty clear that he’s a total nutjob in the way only professional athletes can be, so I guess that probably helps you get back on after a rotational fall.

what boyd’s childhood was like, i think

To top it all off, I got to drive there and back with a couple of trainers/elders from my area and learned a TON from them, along with talking about some fun ideas for data analysis and future show plans.  SO COOL.

Really, a great trip all in all. Now to organize my notes a bit and tell you what I really learned!

7 thoughts on “first thoughts on convention

  1. I think (hope) the new 1* (in 2019 anyway) will be the push that the Modified division needs to get off the ground. The new 1* specs line up almost perfectly with the M specs, so the jumps will slowly end up getting built anyway, at least at the venues that offer 1* (which would be a smart move to offer that level IMO, because I think it could potentially be a HUGE numbers draw). But M will be the division that really feeds people properly into the new 1*, so eventually it will need to happen whether organizers want to or not. Kinda like when they first made BN a real division and all this same type of thing happened… people entered it, so organizers built it, and now it’s standard everywhere.

    Without the new 1* specs I would have stayed a lot more unsure of Modified’s future, but now I think it’ll be fine, it’ll just take time to get fully integrated into all the venues. The people that are kicking pretty easily around Training right now but just aren’t quite good enough for Prelim (of which there are LOTS, since that gap between T and P is so big) are going to see that new, easier 1* dangling tantalizingly close, and they’re gonna want to do it, but they’re gonna need to do M to really be ready. But maybe that’s the selfish part of me just hoping that this happens, because I would potentially be one of those competitors that wants the M division and the step to the new 1*. I can’t do it if they don’t build it. 😉 There were 3 events offering M last year and there will be 17 with it this year. If people actually GO and enter those 17, next year I bet that number doubles easily. If I was at that point, I would. And when we get to that point, I will… as long as they’re available to me.

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    • Yeah absolutely! It will be a numbers game for sure — some venues will never really be able to offer JUST the new 1* (much as many venues are unable/unwilling to offer a single 1* division at the moment) because the expense of stepping up to an FEI event for just one division is not really offset by the number of people willing to enter that division. You need a much stronger base of support (double entendre intended) at the lower levels to support that and not lose a ton of money (FEI officials are like 2-3x the cost of regular officials, and can’t always double up as a regular USEA official because of requirements of their duties). This will mostly be a challenge for events that only run up to Prelim currently, as most of them never felt the need to offer any FEI levels because Prelim was a pretty legit endpoint on its own.

      However, I too am very hopeful about the M division and hope that we can pioneer some M one-days here in Area VI (I would like to move to FEI one days at the venue but we’ll have to see what we can realistically cope with in terms of competitors, we have the tracks for it though).

      I didn’t realize this, but some venues are legally limited (by city/county) in the number of tracks they can offer. I have no idea how this is enforced, but apparently it’s a thing!

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  2. Not being super familiar with eventing, I didn’t even know there was a USEA convention so I find all of this interesting. I’m also not familar with eventing levels apparently, I’m going to have to do some reading to figure out what the M division is.

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    • Crash course! The M division is a 3’5″ max height division to be offered between Training and Prelim. It is intended to bridge the HUGE jump from T to P so that competitors do not struggle as much with the move up.

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  3. I audited one of Daniel Stewart’s clinics last summer and he was awesome! He’s a very inspirational speaker. It was a lot of fun to watch because he focused less on technique and ability and more on how an athlete’s mindset can affect their ability to ride a course. Lots of fun puzzle games that made the riders have to really think while they jumped, which put them under a lot of pressure and helped them learn more about how they as a person handle stress while riding. Super good stuff!

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