Eventing

Guest Blogger

Jess' Guest Blog - Eventing Season

My eventing season with Smokey has been one heck of a roller-coaster. We’ve had some great highs, some frustrating lows and some loop-the-loops thrown in for good measure!
 
The start of the season didn’t go quite as planned. Smokey decided to practice his javelin shot and sent me head diving into the fence whilst training at home. The result was serious concussion and whiplash. That was me out of action for over a month and a good while before I was competition ready again.
 
When we got out competing our first event at Chilham Park International didn’t quite go to plan either – we had a solid dressage and show jumping but an incident on the cross country course meant we were held at the start of the course for over an hour. On setting off Smokey was struggling so I held my hand up, retired and called it a day at fence 9. Turns out he needed a wee! It wasn’t surprising he couldn’t jump. Certainly no hard feelings at the end of the day but just lot of giggles instead. If only horses could talk!
 
Onto Tweseldown next and the stars finally aligned for us. A new personal best dressage, an unlucky pole in the show jumping and a super-fast and clear cross country. He jumped his heart out for me and we ended a very respectable 13th place out of over 40 competitors.
 
The next few events went from strength to strength for us. A fantastic 2nd place at Borde Hill, qualifying us for a spot at a regional final over a very testing cross country track, a clear cross country at Rackham in the 100 height giving us a top 20 finish and also a great 6th place at Eridge International Horse Trials with another very strong dressage score and double clear over some challenging fences.
 
The end of the season unfortunately didn’t go quite to plan either with a slip in the show jumping at Smiths Lawn in Windsor Great Park and withdrawing before Cross Country. We still aimed to get back for our Regional Final at Broadway but with timing and fitness issues we took the tough decision that horse welfare came first and forfeited our place.
 
Although our season has had some lows, we have had our best season to date with 2 top 10 placings and 2 top 20 placings as well as personal best dressage scores and completing some of the biggest tracks we’ve jumped. With winter on its way it’s head down and focusing on dressage and show jumping ready for next March when the eventing begins again – not with one but with two horses to compete now! Welcome to the team, Major Bailey.
 
I look forward to updating you again soon with my progress on Smokey and Bailey, and as always, a huge thank you the wonderful team at eGlove for providing continued support and such wonderful gloves for me to train and compete in!
 
Jess x

Guest Blogger

Jessica Leroy - Leroy Eventing Guest Blog

3 phases, 2 hearts, 1 love
 
Following the recent international event that is Badminton Horse Trials I thought I would take the time to explain to you exactly what eventing is.
 
The aim of the game:
The overall aim of eventing is to get the lowest score possible – sounds simple right? On paper it does, in reality it is a very difficult thing to do….
 
The phases:
Modern eventing consists of three phases, dressage, cross country and show jumping. The order of these phases depends on the level of the competition, for the big international three day events the dressage is on day one, the cross country on day two and the show jumping on day three - the final day. For one day events the order is changed slightly with the show jumping being before the cross country. No matter the level of event, the dressage is always first.
 
Eventing levels:
In Britain there are six levels of affiliated Eventing (national level) which cater for all levels of horse and rider, the levels range from 80cm Training classes through to 1.20m Advanced classes – 80(T), 90, 100, Novice, Intermediate and Advanced. Once you get to an international level the levels change and go up in numerical level – 1*, 2*, 3* and 4*. 4* is the level of Badminton horse trials that was recently on TV and is the highest level any horse or rider can achieve. 
 
The scoring:
This is where eventing really comes into its own. The scoring is relatively simple – the combination of horse and rider ending the event on the lowest score/penalties after all three phases wins….
 
Dressage: In terms of scoring, eventing dressage is slightly different to your normal dressage. The principle is still the same, the competitors are asked to perform a set  of movements and each individual movement is marked out of 10 (10 being the highest mark possible), with the walk commonly being awarded double marks. If the rider goes wrong in their test they are deducted marks. I should also add that in Eventing dressage the rider must learn this test by heart as no readers are allowed.  There are then sets of marks at the end of the test called the ‘collectives’ these marks asses the quality of the riding and the movement and suppleness of the horses (amongst other things), again these are marked out of 10 with 10 being the highest possible mark. Once the Dressage test has been completed, the marks are added together and points deducted if the rider went wrong, which is then converted to penalty points. The marks are converted to a percentage of the maximum possible score, multiplied by the coefficient for that test, then subtracted from 100.
 
Eventing Fact: The lowest recorded British Eventing (BE) dressage mark was an incredibly low 7.5 at Drumclog Horse Trials, in Strathaven in Scotland in the BE 90 level.
(source, Horse and Country TV). To put this into perspective, my lowest eventing dressage score is 32.5!
 
Showjumping: Compared to the dressage, the show jumping scoring is simple. Unlike pure Show jumping, Eventing has no jump off. The aim is to get around a pre-set course within the allocated time and without knocking any of the fences down or having any stop/refusals/falls. For every obstacle you knock down you get 4 penalties added to your score. For the first refusal you get you get another 4 penalties, the second refusal 8 penalties and if you get a third refusal you then get eliminated. If you fall off you get 8 penalties, if you are unlucky enough to fall off again you get eliminated. You will also get eliminated if you cumulatively concede more than 24 penalties, if you jump the wrong course or if your horse falls. When it comes to the time you get penalised 1 penalty for every second that you are over the optimum time.  So actually, looking at it in more details a lot can go wrong over a show jumping course and it is very easy to clock up unwanted penalties!
 
Cross Country: This is the most exciting part of eventing and where the sport really comes into its own. Cross country is fast passed, dangerous and incredibly good fun (or at least I think it is!). The fences are solid and can be quite imposing. Like show jumping it is common for cross country courses to have combination fences and related distances, unlike show jumping it is a test of speed and endurance rather than finesse and technicality. The course is set to an optimum time and the aim is to finish the course with a clear round as close to the optimum time as possible.
If the rider falls off (national competitions only), they can remount and carry on. If they fall a second time, the rider is eliminated.
Refusal, run-out, or circle at an obstacle: 20 penalties
Second refusal, run-out, circle at the same obstacle: 40 penalties
Third refusal, run-out, circle on XC Course: Elimination
Fall of horse (shoulder touches the ground): Mandatory Retirement
Exceeding Optimum Time: 0.4 penalties per second
Coming in under Optimum Time: 0.4 penalties per second
Exceeding the Time Limit (twice the optimum time): Elimination
(XC scouring source: British Eventing)
So there we have it. A full overview of eventing!
Jess x

Guest Blogger

Jess Leroy Guest Blog - Tumbles and Riding Hats

Jess Leroy from Team Leroy Eventing - Tumbles and the importance of Riding Hats!

How many times have you thought to yourself, I should probably get a new hat? Mines getting a bit old/tatty/worn/taken a knock or two….

Well, if you're anything like me, you've probably thought about it a lot. But, how many times have you actually driven to the tack shop and gone to get yourself a new hat? 

Again, if you're anything like me, probably not nearly enough - you've probably thought to yourself, "oh it will be fine, I'll get myself a new one next pay day" or,  "I really can't afford one yet, my horse needs X, Y, Z", or, "I'll get one next time I go competing". These are all things that I thought until last weekend when I thought to myself “Why? Why did I not buy a new hat sooner?".  

I've been telling myself I was going to buy a new hat at Badminton Horse Trials this year but in reality I think I should have bought myself a new hat about a year ago, I've been lucky, until last Sunday. 

Smokey had lost a shoe, so I wasn't intending to do a lot of work with him, some walking in the school and to make it slightly more interesting include some poles. We didn't even get to the poles, in all honesty I hardly made it onto his back. I always use the fence of the school or a mounting block to hop on and on Sunday I’d decided to go for the school fence option. 1, 2, 3…. foot slipped, kicked Smokey, got on (just), galloped off and then Black. There was a big smash in there somewhere but I have no recollection of it. I have no recollection of anything after my attempt of getting on.

The next thing I know is I was sat by the stables with my Dad shining his phone torch into my eyes telling me to look up – down – left – right. Apparently I called my Dad and told him I was in trouble, I have no recollection of doing this, I also took a photo of where I’d fallen, again, no recollection of doing this. After a sit down, a strong cup of tea and a limp and bruised hip I got back on and rode Smokey again – after all, as most riders will say; “If you’re not going to hospital - you’re getting back on”. The day carried on as normal with a lovely afternoon spent seeing my old competition pony in the Kent downs.

It was only after I got home that evening and started making a roast dinner that things were starting to strike me as abnormal, I’ve never felt so nauseous whilst preparing spuds! A bath and an early night were on the cards in the hope that it would all pass and I’d feel miraculously better on Monday – I didn’t. I felt worse. My whole neck had seized up and I could hardly move. Oh well I thought, I took a big whack, I’ll be fine. Armed with my neck warming pad hidden under a big scarf I tottled off to work for the day.

It was only on Tuesday when my head was still pounding that I thought things were still not right. I had a conference call at 6pm to the States so decided once I’d taken the call I’d take myself to A&E and get checked out – just incase. I wasn’t expecting to be taken to see a nurse within 10 minutes of arriving at A&E and I was even more surprised to be taken in to see the consultant within half an hour of arriving. A full check up with the consultant and I was expecting to be off home again with the ‘You’re fine.’ Sadly not, she marched me straight down for a CT scan….

Unfortunately, it turns out that my fall was much bigger than I thought, I was knocked unconscious for some period of time, my whole morning is a vague blur and I have about half an hour of my day thrown into total darkness. I have concussion, whiplash and some changes to the tissue. The doctors seem confident that I will make a full recovery but they have warned me that it may be slow and could take me between 2 weeks and 6 months before I am ‘myself’ again.

I’ve taken the decision to keep my feet firmly on the floor for a whole week – a tough challenge with the eventing season looming but I am doing everything I can to get myself better. I have Tweseldown coming up this weekend (2 full weeks from the fall) and it is still hit and miss whether I make the event. I am going to see the Osteopath on Wednesday morning and will take it from there. The support from everybody has been immense and I’ve hugely appreciated it.

I would never dream of getting on a horse without a hat on – I dread to think the outcome if I did not have a helmet on. I should have replaced my riding hat sooner though as it get’s a lot of use - A lesson learnt, and unfortunately learnt the hard way. The BHS recommend changing hats every 4 years - sooner if it gets used regularly but please, change your hat immediately if it has had any fall in it or if it no longer fits, yes it may cost you £100 or more, but you only have one head and £100 is a small price to pay in the grand scheme of horses.....

For more information on helmet guidelines visit:

http://www.bhs.org.uk/safety-and-accidents

http://www.bhs.org.uk/safety-and-accidents/free-leaflets

http://www.charlesowen.com/gb/helmet-fit%20tips

FOLLOW JESS ON TWITTER - @LeroyEventing

Jess wears eGlove EQUEST GripPro in Chocolate for Eventing, and Champagne for Dressage