USEA Convention: Sunday Live Thread Coverage

Good morning Eventing Nation.  Thank you for joining us on wrap-up day of the USEA convention.  The Board of Governors Meeting is from 9-12 and the convention ends at 12.  
The FEI has decided to revote on the progressive list in November 2010 and has postponed its implementation until then.  I keep this story at the top of the site because this is the major equestrian story of the coming week.  Only Eventing Nation, the Chronicle, and nj.com have the story right now, but everyone will join the party on Monday.  For more info, click on the link or scroll down.  
I attended the USEA Hall of Fame Gala last night, which was full of laughs.  I don’t feel that I am skilled enough to capture the experience with my writing, so I will wait till the professionals do there thing and link to that.  Hopefully, with practice, my writing will improve to the point where I feel comfortable writing about more emotional events.

I had an important (for me) meeting from 9-10, but I will have coverage from the final two hours of the convention starting now.  My original plan was to attend the Board of Governors meeting, but there are way more people in the Lucinda Green lecture on the coffin canter so I will cover that and then move over to the Board Meeting at 11.  As always, the live thread is a stream-of-consciousness format.  Apologies for spelling and grammatical errors, my emphasis is on getting as much good content info written as possible.
10:00 AM-Perfecting the Coffin Canter with Lucinda Green: Lucinda starts by stating a concern that the FEI may be so wrapped up in the pressures of governing our sport that they have gotten away from the fundamentals of eventing.  From Lucinda:
Coffin Canter: Lucinda explains that people know that horses need time to see the jump, so they slow down by pulling on the horse’s mouth.  This makes horses hollow and prevents them from seeing the coffin.  If a young horse can’t collect well enough to achieve coffin canter, make it trot into the coffin.  
Lucinda explains that with the recent publicity of rotational falls, people are afraid to get close to fences.  But, being able to get close to jumps is an important part of training, and requires good technique by the rider.  Getting a good rub on a jump is important to teaching the horse to hold itself.  “Learn to love the deepest spot there is.”  When the horse gets deep, the most important thing for the rider is not getting tossed forward, over the horse’s shoulder, thus preventing the horse from jumping well.  The infamous ‘chip-in’ stride causes many riders to be tossed much too far forward in terms of position.  “Don’t think, feel.”  
Lucinda said that when riders try to get coffin canter, the first mistake is that they never get a short enough stride.  A good coffin canter is much slower than show jumping pace.  The second biggest mistake is they get condensed, then see their stride and push out of the coffin canter to get to that stride.  The third major mistake is letting the horse hollow too much in the coffin canter.  On the other hand, if a horse comes to an element with a vertical round frame, he can’t see it properly.  
Lucinda tells the audience not to worry about what they look like, coffins are messy business.  She wants to see that a rider’s balance is in a good enough position that nothing the horse does will compromise that position.  Lucinda shows a video of about 50 slow motion rides through a coffin, and points out that nearly all of the horses are coming in with a much too long stride, not giving the horse time to see the ditch.  “Going downhill to a coffin is infinitely easier than going up hill” because the horse has more time to see the ditch than going up hill.  Practice coffin canter going down hill on gallops; this also protects the horse’s front legs from impact.  Ask yourself after every coffin about what experience your horse had, was he scared, did you build his confidence?  In one video where everything went wrong on the approach, the horse hangs legs, but the rider gave the horse the reins and allowed the horse to sort it out.  In a lot of the videos, the horse lowers its head to look at the ditch and the rider is pulled forward, compromising his/her position and ultimately making it impossible for the horse to jump.  Lucinda points out that horses are incredible with footwork, and they learn footwork by being allowed to make mistakes and learn as young horses.  
Lucinda said stirrups enable us to get too forward sometimes.  Course designers need to give riders short enough distances in the coffin to make possible a good coffin canter in front of the first element.  Lucinda’s favorite ally for developing the coffin canter is cantering down hill while working on getting a horse to sit on his haunches.  Start with gradual inclines.  It can take months to get a horse to sit and canter down hill smoothly and effectively.  A horse should sit and rebalance when the rider brings his/her shoulders back and squeezes with the calves. 
11:00 AM-USEA Board of Governors Meeting: A few ideas put forth by the board members… The convention has done a better job of dealing with safety this year, especially the safety talks on Saturday.  The safety committee reported that some other issues that they debated but did not resolve is the “one fall you are out” rule and the schooling water before jumping it on XC.
There were 364 attendees at this year’s Annual Convention.  Next year’s convention will be in AZ from December 8-12, in Nashville for 2011, and Colorado Springs for 2012.  There is talk of golf being available at next year’s convention so get excited all you eventing husbands.
Now some future board meeting scheduling, so I’m going to catch up on a bit of sleep for 5 minutes.  
A priority moving forward is in continuing to integrate the different members of the eventing community, including the long format events.  This integration is facilitated by communication, and by linking the educational components of the long-format events to applications in short format events.  People want the professional riders to be more vocal in leading the sport.  Coexistence between the USEA groups such as the Professional Horseman’s Council and external groups such as PRO is the future of eventing and the Board stresses that there needs to be more communication and relationship building between the groups.  The Board continues a discussion about establishing a pro-am competition where professional riders are paired with an amateur to produce a collective team score, while simultaneously competing at their own levels individually.  Meeting adjourned. 
This concludes our coverage of the 2009 USEA convention.  It has been an exciting, inspiring, and sleep deprived experience.  Thank you to everyone who visited us over the weekend.  The huge numbers of visitors really kept me going throughout the weekend.  Of course, we will continue our every-day, all-day eventing coverage later tonight and certainly tomorrow morning.  Please come back to Eventing Nation sometime soon.
Update: Check out the Chronicle’s Sunday recap here.

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