BE have today announced a new initiative to help riders bridge the gap when stepping up a level, especially on the cross country. Chair of the newly formed BE Cross Country Step Up committee, Riley Lerge-Feence, spoke this morning regarding the new Fences & Obstacles Option Learner initiative which will be implemented with immediate effect at certain venues.
Riley explained that “British Eventing has for some time been focussed on minimising the risk to riders stepping up to the next level. The Fences & Obstacles Option Learner initiative, we hope, answers that question. It is very simple: riders will have the option, if they do not wish to jump the xc fence at their entered level, to instead jump the corresponding fence at the level below, where available, as an alternative. Unlike traditional alternatives they will incur 7 jumping penalties, if they choose to do so.
By awarding 7 penalties it will be clear on results that a rider has opted to take an alternative, or two, whilst also preventing them from being able to win their section unless they had an exceptional dressage. They could still be competitive with only one alternative, although importantly such a round would then not count as a MER for the level above.
We did also consider the idea of allowing riders to attempt fences at the level above in the same manner, albeit without penalties. We decided against this option as MERs would need to be confirmed in advance of any rider starting their round which would be far too burdensome.”
Riders have already started coming out in support of the initiative:
S. Topper from Burnley said “I’m so excited by this idea, me and my horse are capable of stepping up to Novice but I have been put off making the step up as often there is a fence or two XC that I think is beyond us. If I know I have the option to jump the BE100 fence instead I can build up our confidence at the height slowly rather than jumping in the deep end.”
D. Essager of London was thrilled at the news saying, “I’m admittedly a bit of a dressage queen but would like to try and step up a level from BE80. I’m not worried about getting placed so being able to pick and choose which height of fence I jump will be fantastic.”
It is not just the amateur riders in support either, 4* rider S. Lowe showed her support for BE. “This has been a long time coming. It can be a large jump in technicality from Novice to Intermediate especially for younger horses. It will be ideal to have the option to enter at Intermediate, but if the horse has a drop in confidence on the way round, rather than immediately retiring and risking permanently knocking the horse’s confidence, there will be the option to jump a Novice fence or two there and then.”
Riley Lerge-Feence assured us that although the Fences & Obstacles Options Learner initiative will initially only be available at certain venues at certain levels, it is hoped to be rolled out nationwide by the end of the season at all venues where there are courses at a lower level running alongside. The beauty of the Fences & Obstacles Options Learner Initiative also means that most venues will not be required to make any investment as the courses will already be built. There is immediate potential for the initiative to be running from BE90 all the way up to Advanced at national level events.
A brief run-down of how the Fences & Obstacles Option Learner initiative will operate which will hopefully answer most questions:
– An alternative option will be available at most but not all fences on a course. This is due to course lengths and jumping efforts increasing up the levels, in addition to course designs and fence locations. Wherever possible fences with no alternative option will be built as straightforward as possible.
– Fences where there are an alternative option will have a black dot (rather than line for a non faulting alternative) on the flag. A full list of fences and the corresponding alternative options will be available at the secretary as the alternative may not have the same number as the non faultable fence.
– Alternative options where available will always be adjacent to the non faultable option and judged by the same fence judge.
– If a rider chooses to jump an alternative option and does so clear they will be awarded 7 penalties. Any refusals, falls etc will be penalised as per normal. A rider may choose to attempt an alternative option after incurring penalties at the non faultable option.
– Even if a combination is technically clear if they jump 1 or more alternative options those penalties will ensure no MERs are achieved.