Try getting your head around this. Four Star used to be the top. That was it. The biggest and the best and there was only a handful of them around the world, one of them down here in the southern hemisphere. Now we’re calling that Five Star. Same heights, same level of difficulty, new name – so your retired Four Star horse just got an upgrade without even having to get out of bed!
However, the World Championships and the Olympics – which are the pinnacle of the sport, right? Well they’re not going to be Five Star but kind of a mix of Five Star and Four Star as far as anyone can decipher. So the crème de la crème, but also not quite.
My feeling is we’ll spend at least most of this year a probably some of next year calling everything two names – this year’s and last years prefaced by “old” and “new”. #facepalm
If you thought getting that sorted in your head was your biggest worry – think again. Not only have we changed the levels we’ve also changed the name of three day events and one day events. I suppose it’s time we admit the fact that a three day event takes five days and a one day event more often than not takes two or three, so the names were fairly arbitrary anyway.
Now we’re calling a three day event a CCI-L and a one day event CCI-S. We’ve always been told that CCI and CIC mean something in French. Apparently they still do, or at least CCI does, but the L and the S stand for long and short, so make sure you’re up on both your French and English skills because you’ll need to speak both at once here! You’ll also here CCN thrown around which used to mean a non-international three day event. It now just means a non-international event of either ‘L’ or ‘S’ format.
They’ve also changed the tests on us. Or so we thought. Turns out for the most part they have just renamed them so all that was old is now new (just like those magically upgraded horses sitting in retirement paddocks!).
They’ve also changed a load of rules. Some for safety reasons, others we’re all not so sure why. Just don’t ever get me started on the rework of the 50-penalty rule for missing a flag. You’ll need at least a PhD in anatomy to decipher it because not only is it confusing, it suggests we can chop the horse up into little bite size chunks in order to decide which part has jumped the fence…and his legs don’t even count!
But you’ll find everything else is still the same. We’ve still got fabulous people in the sport, great venues, amazing courses and loads of fun to be had – if you can work out how to qualify for the level you’re after, once you’ve worked out what that level is called….