Well, I personally know of someone (by name, not a mythical ‘friend of friend’) who went back to a BE Novice event after running there one year, glanced at the course plan, checked the descriptions of a few fences and airily assumed that, since they were the same, it was all exactly the same as the year before… so, he didn’t bother to walk the entire course.
In fact, they’d changed a few fences, including one from a simple fence to a difficult turning question, and, riding the approach totally inappropriately in his ignorance, he put both the horse and himself on the floor. 🙁 🙁 🙁
Another one I heard of from a friend: a rider who she knew arrived late at an event, and didn’t walk the BE100 course. She had to ask course walkers for directions as she rode round! Somehow she scraped round clear, but with lots of time faults. Not exactly fair on the horse… he doesn’t have a clue what’s coming, so the rider definitely should!
Years ago I was warming up for Gatcombe OI xc and ended up running through the xc course with a very big name rider, who wanted a quick memory-refresh, as he’d walked it in extreme haste in the morning. All was word-perfect and agreed upon until the final fence, which, glancing at it up the hill as he headed back to the lorry park for 1 of his rides, he’d assumed was a parallel, as it had been previously. He got a bit of a surprise when I said “No, it’s a double, definitely, and the distance is maybe a little short!”
Of course it is hard to believe that anyone would ever be lazy/daft enough not to walk a course at all, but the rise of course photos such as on Shoestring Eventing’s excellent site does make me wonder occasionally whether they are too tempting. Study and memorise them, have an extra hour in bed?!
Not walking a course properly led to a rider fatality once. This is serious stuff. So, however familiar you think you are with the route and fences, from previous runs or online course photos, please, walk that course with full attention and care.