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Date: July 21st/22nd


Running order of Divisions:

See Course Designers Evaluation sheet below


Starters/Clear Rounds:

Intermediate/Preliminary – 2/0 (0%)

Open Preliminary – 16/4 (25%)

Open Training – 14/5 (36%)

Training Rider – 21/12 (57%)



The Course Designer in sending in her course in advance of the Event stated “that there was a significant grade downhill from the Jury towards fence 6, so 4ab is uphill and then it’s a down grade to fence 6 turning to triple and downhill fence 8 to 9” (these fence numbers relate to the original plan posted below).


With this in mind I was interested that the distances listed were basic 12ft strides with no adjustment for the gradient. However, on returning the Evaluation Sheet, also posted below, it is stated that the double was shortened by 1 foot. Unless you know your arena very well it is best to put the basic distance on the plan and then adjust it when you are in the arena and have a ‘feel’ for the gradient. This is exactly how the Course Designer treated it here.


My concern when I first looked at the original plan, was that the approach to the double came through the triple combination, which could be a possible hazard. It could also over-use the footing between the fences in the triple, without constant raking. In addition, from fence 5 to fence 9, competitors would just be doing one large circle around the arena on the same lead.


On receipt of these comments, the Course Designer changed the position of the triple combination and added a new change of direction after the new fence 6. This meant that the triple now rode slightly up hill, and from the Course Designer’s comments on the Evaluation Sheet, it probably rode better than it would have, had it been in its original downhill position.


It seems there was a lack of help which resulted in very little change in the technicality between Divisions, which is disappointing to read. While there was equipment available to water and drag the ring it was not put to use. The Event suffered from some bad weather leading up the day but this did have a positive effect and helped the footing. The weather also resulted in part of the arena being used for the warm up jump as the normal warm up area was unusable.


All Events rely on the many volunteers who unselfishly give their time, but lifting jumps, raking and tractor diving can be something out of their comfort zone. More and more Events are now realising that money is well spent on hiring professional ring crew to carry out these jobs. In most cases two trained people can do these jobs without any supervision, that it could take five or six volunteers to do, allowing also the Course Designer to concentrate on the actual course. Course changes can happen faster, so very little time is lost between Divisions. The cost of two crew members can easily be off set against the gifts, clothing etc. given to the many volunteers.

While All-Weather arenas answer a lot of questions for constant footing under all conditions, they do require a lot of maintenance on the day. At regular Horse Shows, depending on how many horses are in each class, and the type of footing, they are dragged and watered anywhere between 30 and 45 rounds. Otherwise the footing is not the same for all the competitors and it can become deep and dangerous. Time does need to be put into the schedule, at Events, to allow this water and dragging to take place.


This, including a course walk, can take up to 30 to 40 minutes. Stopping the dragging once the course has been built, and allowing the course walk to go ahead, and then finishing the dragging while competitors are warming up will save some time. It is important for both the Technical Delegate and Course Designer to ensure that the Organisers build this time into their schedule.



Richard Jeffery

USEF Eventing Show Jumping Course Advisor

Forms and Publications

Penny Oaks Horse Trials Course Designer Evaluation

Penny Oaks Horse Trials Course Designer Evaluation

Penny Oaks Horse Trials - Novice and Beginner Novice Course

Penny Oaks Horse Trials - Novice and Beginner Novice Course

Penny Oaks Horse Trials - Training Level Course

Penny Oaks Horse Trials - Training Level Course

Penny Oaks Horse Trials - Preliminary Course

Penny Oaks Horse Trials - Preliminary Course