Adam Cromarty suggests format shake-ups and reveals his pin-up dreams
We all had plenty to reflect on as 2020 drew to a close, but sadly it looks like more of the same as the nation united into lockdown once again.
It’s a chapter we’ll look back on and discuss for generations to come. I’m sure our grandparents’ war stories will still win over the time we had to save humanity by staying at home and watching Netflix, but everything is relative.
I always find the festive period is a great time to look ahead and make plans. Maybe 2021 could be the year I’ll end up as a pin-up with a ripped six-pack, but even after I sober up and realise how unlikely that is, I do try to make a note of areas I want to focus on.
If the vaccine and other measures succeed in bringing the pandemic under control before too long, we can cautiously look ahead and plan how we as individuals and the sport can come back stronger in 2021.
Graham Fletcher is right, we need better shows in the UK but not only at the top end.
“There needs to be a focus”
Being at home a lot more has given me time to start working with Northcote Stud, and we’ve changed the focus to running multi-day events that provide progression.
To freshen things up, we’ve enlisted course-designers such as Ireland’s Alan Wade (World Equestrian Games and World Cup Finals) and Tom Holden (Spruce Meadows and Dublin Horse Show).
This isn’t because British course-designers are lacking, but it highlights perfectly where I think we could improve overnight.
In very simple terms, we need to stop being so isolated and focus on what the rest of the world is doing. I’m lucky that my various roles give me the opportunity to view how the sport and national federations operate across the globe. There are things we do much better and areas in which we can improve.
For example, the time allowed in a competition has become a huge part of the sport, yet we still run an unhealthy proportion of our competitions at slower speeds and often courses are not measured properly. We hand out time-faults at one for every commenced second over the time allowed, rather than one for every four seconds.
I was chairman of judges at a recent winter classic and it really frustrated me that I watched a nice young horse school around and then gave it 11 faults.
Yes, it was too slow and deserved faults. However, under our system it was penalised more than if it had two fences down. Internationally and in other countries, it would have been three faults.
“It’s no criticism”
Single-phase and two-phase competitions were handy in the circumstances last year and have their place in young horse competitions or as a warm-up, but more often they are just used to let everyone get home and surely that’s not what sport is about.
I’d love to see us adopting immediate jump-off rules. Those who are clear after round one stay in the ring, get another bell and countdown, then compete over a jump-off course.
It may sound like I and other columnists are moaning or even criticising, but this is far from the truth – mostly.
In different capacities, we are lucky enough to absorb the experience of those who operate the sport in so many different countries.
Being able to bring the best of what we’ve found back to home soil seems obvious, so I would love to see a working party developed that would allow this to happen without the need for us joining the members council as in a normal year – we just wouldn’t have time.
As we’ve toasted the new year, embraced new tiers and are now coming to terms with another lockdown, I wish you all the best for 2021.
Ref: 14 January 2021
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