The Leading Rider Award

The Leading Rider Award

28 Dec 2017

1.       What is it?

The Leading Rider award (which formerly had the working title of the Good Horsemanship award) is just one part of the British Protocol for Endurance, and is an initiative devised by a working group set up by the British Equestrian Federation and Endurance GB. The aim was to provide an award that could be used in FEI rides and in Endurance GB Competitive Endurance Rides (CERs) that would reward consistent riding and good horsemanship over the course of the whole ride.

2.       Aims and Objectives

The working group agreed that:

·         The award must enhance and not detract from the competitive aims of the sport of Endurance Riding, whilst also promoting horse welfare and good horsemanship

·         The award must be suitable for use on any of the wide variety of courses that we have in the UK

·         The award must be within the reach of any fit horse taking part in an Endurance GB FEI ride or CER, even if they are not the fastest completion on the day

·         Factors which would stand a combination in good stead if they were trying for international team selection should be rewarded

·         The award should be separate from the existing ‘Best Condition’ award, which is already clearly defined in the FEI rules

·         The award should be designed with automation in mind, and should not involve the collection of any data on ride day that is not already collected so as not to overburden our hardworking volunteers

The working group discussed the issue of speed at some length and decided that award would not include a set ‘optimum time’ or a speed restriction. This was because, even when comparing speeds at the same ride year on year, it is impossible to set an optimum speed at UK rides due to changeable weather conditions and variable terrain. Furthermore, Endurance GB already runs ‘set speed’ competitions with defined speed limits in the form of Graded Endurance Rides.

3.       Consultation and research

The working group carried out a consultation exercise with organisers of Endurance GB (and SERC) FEI rides and CERs, and with a random selection of Endurance GB riders including those who were already riding at FEI level, those who had recently registered to ride at FEI level, and advanced level national riders who had never ridden or applied to ride at FEI level. The consultation, in addition to providing valuable feedback on all areas covered by the British Protocol, indicated that there was appetite for an award to reward good horsemanship over the course of a ride.

The working group analysed the results of Endurance GB’s 2016 FEI and CER rides to ascertain the effect that presentation times, performance against the veterinary criteria at vet-gates, and completion speed had on each horse’s overall performance. A range of options for the award were identified and discussed by the working group and by the Endurance GB Board.

4.       Identification of award criteria

It was agreed that, as far possible, the award should be based on objective rather than subjective criteria.

As stated above, it was also agreed that factors which would stand a combination in good stead if they were trying for international team selection should be rewarded, namely fast presentation times, good performance against veterinary parameters including the Cardiac Recovery Index, and a horse that can maintain a consistent speed throughout the ride.

a.       Presentation times

Combinations score 20 points for each vet-gate and for the final vetting, minus their presentation time. Ergo, a horse that takes 5 minutes to present will score 15 points for that vet-gate. The faster a horse presents to vet at the vet-gates and at the finish, the more points they will score.

b.      Cardiac Recovery Index

The CRI has stood the test of time as an effective tool to help assess whether a horse is fit to continue. A fit horse’s pulse will be dropping on arrival at the vet-gate and should continue to drop even when stressed slightly by being asked to trot up.

Analysis of the 2016 results showed that horses who had a lower second pulse were more likely to have better scores under the other veterinary parameters:

It was therefore decided to weight this aspect quite heavily, and give a score of 20 points for each vet-gate/final vetting where the second pulse was lower than the first in the CRI.

d.       Veterinary Parameters

The working group identified four other veterinary parameters that they considered key: the scores for dehydration, gut sounds, gait and (where scored) back/lesions.

In view of the more subjective dimension to these assessments, the weighting on these scores was reduced slightly: five points for each of the criteria where the score was 0,1 or A, two points where the score was 2 or B, and zero points where the score was 3+ or C or D.

e.      Time taken to complete the ride

Following analysis of the 2016 results, it was decided that the award would be open to all those who finished within two hours of the class winner. In most classes, this includes around two thirds of the finishers, so widens out the number of combinations eligible for the award whilst also maintaining an element of speed related challenge that is relative to that particular ride.

Mid-year an additional factor was added, following a review of the first results: a small bonus of 20 points for combinations who maintained their speed throughout the ride and did not drop below their average ride speed on their last loop. However, the points are weighted so that a combination who ride more steadily on the last loop but perform better at the final vetting will score more highly than a combination who ride too fast on the final loop and perform less well at the final vetting.

5.       Pilot and review

The award has been through a period of iterative testing and review, gradually building up the size and number of classes where it has been run, and reviewing and amending the award criteria and methodology as necessary. It has achieved its objectives:

·         The award must enhance and not detract from the competitive aims of the sport of Endurance Riding, whilst also promoting horse welfare and good horsemanship

Although the pilot has been fairly low key, feedback from riders has been very positive. They have commented: “Winning this award meant more to me than my ride placing”, “This is just the sort of thing that we need to put the heart back into our sport”, “Just to say I really like the ethos of the leading rider criteria.” “Keep up the good work!”

 ·         The award must be suitable for use on any of the wide variety of courses that we have in the UK

The award has been trialled at every FEI event this year, either in the FEI classes or in the national classes, and has also been trialled at Red Dragon.

·         The award must be within the reach of any fit horse taking part in an Endurance GB FEI ride or CER, even if they are not the fastest completion on the day

Where there was more than one finisher, on six occasions the winner of the Leading Rider award was also the winner of the class. However, the winner of the Leading Rider award was far more likely to come from outside the top five finishers. This has been particularly evident in the larger classes, where the Leading Rider award criteria has been very effective at identifying those combinations with the most consistent performance across the whole ride. The combination that achieved the highest score in the Leading Rider award over the duration of the pilot (in terms of achieving the highest proportion of points available to them) came 11th in their class and rode at 15.8kph

·         Factors which would stand a combination in good stead if they were trying for international team selection should be rewarded

The award criteria is demonstrating that it can do this. The combinations who have scored well in the Leading Rider award have demonstrated consistently good performances through all of the vetgates and have maintained their speed over the whole ride. Notably, Spanish riders scored disproportionately well under the Leading Rider criteria; Spain being extremely successful on the international endurance stage at present.

·         The award should be separate from the existing ‘Best Condition’ award, which is already clearly defined in the FEI rules

The criteria for the two awards are different. Best Condition is a horse award, whereas the Leading Rider award is a rider award. The name of the award was changed from ‘the Good Horsemanship award’ to the ‘Leading Rider award’ to more clearly reflect this distinction.

·         The award should be designed with automation in mind, and should not involve the collection of any data on ride day that is not already collected so as not to overburden our hardworking volunteers

A specially programmed spreadsheet makes for straightforward manual calculation of the award, and this can be done on the day of the ride or after the ride, depending on the volunteer resource available. Work is ongoing to incorporate automatic calculation of the award into the electronic timing systems commonly in use at Endurance GB FEI rides.

Our thanks go to Val Swann, Deb Bennett, Yvonne Clarke, Su Middleton, Helen Gipson, Martin Welch, Kerry Dawson, John Hudson, Caroline Cherry and Rajan Vengaruswamy who have all helped with the pilot. Thanks also to Kerry Dawson who provided some of the trophies awarded throughout the year.

Fiona Griffiths receiving her award at the Endurance GB AGM for becoming the highest scoring British Rider under the Leading Rider criteria, scoring 92.58% of the points available to her at the Royalties 80km FEI CEI*, riding Balishia

6.       What next?

The results of this pilot year will be reviewed by the Working Group and by the Board of Endurance GB, with a view to continuing it in 2018. Your comments on the award would be most welcome.

The remaining parts of the British Protocol (improving the selection of officials, improving the spread of rides, and improving the transparency of drug testing at national and international level in the UK) will be further developed.

The full list of results for 2017, down to third place at most rides, is available here:  The 2017 Leading Rider Results

Esther Young, Operations Director, Endurance GB

 

Total: 0 Comment(s)