I am not an upper level rider. The reality is that I will likely never be an upper level rider – I plain and simple don’t have the guts. Maybe in another life. Training seems attainable. Prelim seems like a stretch but maybe something I could be interested in down the road. Anything over that and I start to have heart palpitations thinking about it. The cross country questions at the upper levels are no joke. It’s not a lets see what happens kind of game. It is literally ride or die.
Watching the recaps of Badminton this weekend left me feeling pretty damn defeated. There is no feeling quite like the one you get leaving the start box and then crossing the finish line with your partner in crime – at all the levels. I have a lot of respect for all of the upper level competitors out there. Watching the videos I was legitimately concerned for a lot of the pairs on course though. The number of horse and rider falls was not insignificant. I understand that the thrill of it is a big part of the sport but when you see so many horses struggling with the questions you have to think about if the questions being asked are the right ones. There were more hung legs than I could count.
I hope that I never have to watch an event where so many horses nearly flip over (or do) and crush their riders. It was a big “win” in my eyes that no one was more seriously injured. It makes me sick that not dying (literally) is now a win for the sport though. I am not saying that I am the person that should be asking these questions but I really hope that the powers that be do. I feel like there is a disservice being done to our horses and our sport in some regards. There have to be less dangerous ways to weed out the top competitors. Horses shouldn’t be flipping left and right and horses shouldn’t be run until collapsing either… That is in the same taste as a ground jury that doesn’t stop a horse that is visibly bloody in the mouth to me but I won’t touch that again.
All in all there were a number of solid runs for some horses but that doesn’t overshadow the number of falls for both horse and riders in my eyes.
For those of you that event – am I alone in the feeling that something seems off here that Badminton (and other upper level tracks) is known for being a bloodbath? Do you think its the questions themselves or rather related to maybe specific pairs? For those of you that are outsiders to this discipline what are your thoughts?