Courage, Grit and Beyoncé: How to Make Eventing Camera Ready

We announced the final four in the 7th Annual EN Blogger Contest, and now we are bringing you their second round submissions. The prompt: "Eventing has been approved for inclusion in the Olympics through 2024 under an altered format, but the sport still faces uphill battles both in the U.S. and abroad. What can we do to make eventing more appetizing, engaging and understandable to the mainstream public? Share your ideas in an interesting, funny, informative and creative way." Take it away, Tilly!

The middle of the season is a tricky time of year for eventing fans. There’s almost too much high drama and excitement for our over-adrenalized brains to cope with, and, inevitably, there comes a moment when you find yourself at breaking point, surrounded by crumpled up pieces of paper covered with team predictions and form analyses, sobbing over an Instagram photo of Baby Burto because you JUST CANNOT ANYMORE.

This is the moment the IOC reappears, attracted by vulnerability, like a dodgy ex-boyfriend who always sends a late-night text right after you update your profile picture.

“Hey,” it says, “been missing you. I know it’s been a while, but wondered if you might still be up for 2024?”

You sigh, peeling a damp piece of paper off your cheek. On it, the word ‘Zagreb’ has been written, crossed out, circled, rewritten, and crossed out again. You have reached emotional rock-bottom, and the temptation is undeniable. You kind of ARE up for 2024. Maybe this time it’ll be different, though, you think. Maybe this time it won’t ask me to change, will love me for who I really, truly am. You relent.

“Yeah. Fine. Would be nice to catch up.”

It’s a slippery road. A catch-up becomes something more serious. You start to feel pretty good about your decision – you text your friends to tell them the news, start planning some new date-night outfits. Maybe you even make it Facebook official. Your friends confess that they always thought the two of you were meant to be, and they’re so pleased you’ve finally sorted it out.

Then it happens again.

“I just think if this is going to work then maybe, I dunno — there are just some things that I wish you’d do a bit differently,” it says.

You know what you should say to it, but you’re in too deep — too much depends on this relationship working out. You’ve read the self-help books and listened to the TLC back-catalogue and you know that change should be a two-way street (and that a scrub is a committee that don’t get no love from you), but still you find yourself thinking that maybe, just maybe, the IOC is right.

And so here we find ourselves, with a confirmed spot at the 2024 Olympics (great news) and yet another heaping helping of format changes for 2020 (news which is about as appealing a prospect as an afternoon of fecal sample collection).

While I agree wholeheartedly that eventing must adapt and develop in line with technological and safety advances, I think it’s so important that we try to make it as understandable and watchable as possible. I fear the approved changes may not be enough.

With this in mind, in this edition of No One Asked Me But I’m Telling You Anyway, I propose some slight amendments to the new format — all, of course, for the greater good of the sport.

No drop score. In the New Olympic Program for Eventing, henceforth known as NOPE, three riders will compete per team, with no drop score.

This, I presume, is to avoid hurt feelings and nicknames like Drop-Score David, which is mean but also alliterative, so actually quite funny.

However, I suggest a sharp U-turn here. All scores are drop scores. We shelve the competitive spirit and encourage teams to hug it out instead. We’re all friends here, right? #blessed

Dressage reduced to one day. Totally — dressage is capital-L laaaame. In fact, I don’t think they’ve gone far enough here. Why not just get everyone in the ring together and treat it like a hunter-under- saddle class? Twenty minutes maximum, and potential for high drama when the odds-on favourite performs a surprise drop-shoulder manoeuvre and exits at speed, followed by every ex-racehorse in the competition.

The introduction of the Olympic level. That is, CCI4* dressage and showjumping with CCI3* cross-country, ostensibly to make the competition fair for those developing nations who may not be able to train and compete at the same level as others.

Still seems unfair to me — three adjacent competitions, but all competing for the same three medals, would be better. One can run at CCI4*, one at CCI2*, and the third can be a puddlejumper division. Choose what you feel most comfortable with — we’ve got enough participation medals for everyone!

Penalties for non-completion of a test. The NOPE has very nearly got it right here, but for the fact that point penalties are SO 2016. Forfeits are the future. Didn’t complete the dressage? You may continue — on a hobby horse. Failed to make it to the finish line on cross-country day? Don’t worry, happens to us all.

To proceed to the final phase, non-finishers must stage a group performance of the Single Ladies choreography. The audience will score your performance and your placing will be determined based on their feedback. Couldn’t quite make it through the show jumping? Sorry Ruy, you must now lip-sync for your life.

XC or sexy? Look, sex sells. I know it, you know it, and Jimmy Wofford certainly knew it when he suggested that eventers should compete in ‘body condoms.’ I’m still not sure whether he was serious, but I’m rolling with it.

Cross-country must undergo a slight format change for maximum telegenic impact. Instead of the traditional format, in which riders compete over a set course, we should employ an accumulator system, in which fences are set at varying heights and difficulty levels and riders plan their own route to earn as many points as possible in the optimum time.

You can earn an extra point for each article of clothing removed (although you’ll lose five for removing your hat, because safety is very important.)

With these amendments, eventing will be easier to follow, more broadcast-friendly, miles safer, and still deeply rooted in the traditions — namely, courage, grit, and Beyoncé hits — that make it great. This will guarantee its future as an Olympic sport and will almost certainly attract legions of new fans. Oh, and we should definitely give the name ‘Equestrio’ a chance. It reminds me of bronies, and what are bronies, if not the catch-all solution to all our problems?

Who run the world? Eventers — but, like, only if the IOC lets us.

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