RCP2014#01 – Decrease minimum clearance in Cones-1

2014 RCP #
Decrease minimum clearance in Cones-1
Date Received
Marc Johnson
Change Date
Next Rulebook
Closed for comments: 01Sep13
Recommended for Approval: 15Sep13
Initial Posting: 01Jun13

Current Wording – Article 952.1.6 Competition C:Cones

952.1.6 At ADS-recognized events, minimum clearance between pairs of cones shall be:

Training division 40 cm + track width * 35 cm. + track width *
Preliminary division 35 cm. + track width * 30 cm. + track width *
Intermediate division 30 cm. + track width * 20 cm. + track width *
ADS-Advanced division 20 cm. + track width * 15 cm. + track width

* Increase settings by 10cm for tandems, unicorns and four-in-hands hands.

Suggested Wording – Article 952.1.6 Competition C:Cones

52.1.6 At ADS-recognized events, minimum clearance between pairs of cones shall be:

Training division 35 cm + track width * 30 cm. + track width *
Preliminary division 30 cm. + track width * 25 cm. + track width *
Intermediate division 25 cm. + track width * 20 cm. + track width *
ADS-Advanced division 20 cm. + track width * 15 cm. + track width *

* Increase settings by 10cm for tandems, unicorns and four-in-hands hands.

Reason for change

Without changing the maximum speeds, the drivers in these divisions would have a similar percentage of knockdowns to those of Advanced. The skill level does not currently match the speed requirement. VSE Intermediate changes by 10cm currently.

34 Response(s)

  1. Ted Campbell says :

    August 4, 2013

    Strike 20 cm. + track width *. Replace with As Per Article 953.
    REASON: As explained to me by Combined Driving committee chairperson the ADS Advanced Division vehicles must meet FEI standard track width for Competitions A & C. See ADS rule Article 918.1.1.b).(1) page 138 of the ADS rule book. FEI does not have any standard for VSE therefore above chart is correct.

  2. Draken says :

    August 4, 2013

    While I realize this is for combined driving and not pleasure driving I thought I’d share my experience. In our area, at the local shows they set the cones 4 inches wider than the wheels. It is a slaughter most weekends and I’ve quickly learned that the way to win it is to go as fast as you can and just try to get in the center. I had to work harder at having a clean round when the balls were farther apart as someone with a slower horse that went clean could beat me if I didn’t pay attention. It isn’t particularly fun to watch when there are more balls down either because nobody is happy. You definitely don’t get the good feeling you get when you have a double clean round. I’m not sure how this change is supposed to encourage drivers or bring in more spectators.

  3. Marjean McIntyre says :

    August 4, 2013

    I disagree with the change for Advanced and there is no point in making them drive something that is not even required at FEI. Most advanced drivers are not driving clean with the current clearance and it is getting scary to watch as it is, so I don’t see any point in making it even harder. I don’t really agree with changing anything except maybe training, where I can see maybe changing to 35. 40 is wide enough I am not sure they start with the good habit of needing to drive straight, but if you make the clearances so narrow and/or times so fast that it is either verging on dangerous with people trying to make the time or there are no clean rounds, it really is not much fun to watch or is discouraging to participate in and to some extent defeats the purpose. A clean round should be difficult, but not unachievable. To many cones courses have become no fun to drive, with no flow, discouraging and leave the driver with a bad taste in their mouth. Not what we want if we want to encourage more participation. Why make it worse?

  4. shadowbrook says :

    August 4, 2013

    I disagree for a change to training level. These are the beginner’s classes for Combined Driving.

  5. bridgesd says :

    August 5, 2013

    I disagree with the changes – at least at training and prelim. I enjoy challenging courses, but sometimes it seems like there is no way to win – you either drive fast and knock down cones or you have multiple time penalties. Why is it important for the lower levels to have the same percentage of knockdowns as the upper levels? It seems very discouraging to a driver looking to move up and/or just getting started.

  6. cmoss41 says :

    August 5, 2013

    I disagree with the proposed Changes, particularly how it affects the lower levels. Training and Preliminary are the learners in our sport. Today’s times and clearance provide challenges in mastering cones while not being so stressful to be discouraging.

  7. nlindley says :

    August 5, 2013

    Strongly disagree with adding ANY additional level of difficulty to training level. At CDEs, This is our ‘novice’ division: Newbies should not be unduly challenged.
    There are competitors who opt to compete at TR forever: however, that was not the intention of the level. Much better loads of double clears in cones and hazards and let dressage decide the game at Training level.
    This proposed change may have a negative effect in regards to new competitors, or deter some from starting green horses in CDEs.

  8. hoofnit says :

    August 6, 2013

    I support these changes. I am frequently incredulous when athletes are upset that they didn’t have a double clean cones round. If a decent score in Dressage is in the 40’s and a decent score in Marathon is in the 50’s, (except for Training) why do we expect a decent score in cones to be zero? Narrowing the width will allow for more skilled athletes, who invest the time and training in their driving to do better and will add more challenge to the third event of the competition and allow for more change in the standings to find truly the best team from an event.

  9. tandempony says :

    August 6, 2013

    No change is needed for Training level. It is already difficult enough with the recent speed change.


  10. keithy says :

    August 6, 2013

    I support this change.
    If the change is approved, the course designers and officials will need to adjust their current typical practice of creating tight courses with a short allowed time. By doing this the cones competition would have a bearing on the overall competition. Where’s the challenge to improve when most competitors have a double clear round?

    There is no change in the Advanced cones width. The chart does have an error for the ADS Advanced Horse & Pony. This should be listed as “Refer to Article 953” as Advanced has a set standard width.
    There is a rule change suggestion, RCS2014#36, that addresses this error.

    1. S Johnson says :

      August 23, 2013

      I love that we are all striving to help competitors improve, but I’m hesitant to agree with your assessment that “most competitors have a double clear round.”
      In my very informal survey, taken by looking at the last 5 North American ADS CDE’s on drivingnews.us, about 28% of all Training level competitors went double clear in cones, and about 27% overall were double clear. If you factor out the VSE’s (and I’m sorry to open that can of worms- I’m just crunching numbers here), the double clear cones Training level drops to 20%, and the overall double clears drop to 19%. Is there a target number in mind to achieve for each level? Is the goal to level the playing field by making it equally difficult for our training level competitors, or are we trying to help them learn to enjoy our sport?

  11. iamroberta says :

    August 7, 2013

    Disagree with change: Training Level is the beginner’s level – and the guiding principles should be that of encouraging rather than discouraging new drivers.

  12. rules says :

    August 7, 2013

    I support these changes. One point not mentioned here is that the changes are to the *minimum* clearance. This change would allow organizers/course designers to tailor their courses, esp at Training level, appropriately to the drivers/horses that generally appear at their events. IOW, just because the minimum clearance at Training Level *could be* as narrow as 35 cm’s, there is no requirement that it be that narrow.

    Drivers, yes, even training level drivers, who are not practicing at home with clearances *less* than they will be competing at are not preparing properly. You learn very little about where your wheels are on the ground if you are not hitting cones in practice. Finally, the penalties apply equally to everyone in a division. Most folks seem to be concerned about Training Level… well, even with a narrower clearance, the playing field is still level.

  13. rules says :

    August 7, 2013

    Sorry, I see the comment form did not identify me properly for the last comment: Jeff Morse, Chair of the ADS Pleasure Driving Committee greenmeads@gmail.com

  14. karenlmr206 says :

    August 8, 2013

    I disagree with the proposed changes, especially for Training level. As noted elsewhere, Training Level is primarily for encouraging beginners. Since there is no rule requiring cones courses to be open and flow nicely, there is already sufficient challenge in the way many “modern” courses are laid out. Sure, some folks might like to just remain at Training level, but for those who have full time lives outside of competitions, why do anything to diminish their enjoyment or make them feel excluded? Their participation does help pay the bills, helps get new people involved, and many will eventually move up as circumstances allow.

    1. hoofnit says :

      August 8, 2013

      But it is a rule today: 951.1.5 Courses must be laid out so that Athletes (Drivers) have a chance to maintain a reasonably fast pace throughout the major part of the course. Certain obstacles and combinations of obstacles will inevitably slow down the pace, but such a layout should be limited to a small proportion of the whole course.

  15. DanRosenthal says :

    August 8, 2013

    I support the change except for Advanced which should be consistent with current rules and specify as single width for each division

  16. cathyjo76 says :

    August 11, 2013

    I have mixed feelings with this rule. I am still in training and it is a good place for beginners to get their feet wet. However, I have noticed that generally the winner is decided by dressage score which really does not make it very competitive.
    I have no problem with decreasing distances at the upper level.

  17. Amanda Lehning says :

    August 11, 2013

    I disagree with changing widths in training level!! Some people (<> ME!) find it very difficult to run cones as it is with 40cm clearance. Not a good way to hope to draw in newcomers, by making the entry level even harder for us nooobs 🙂

  18. Price says :

    August 13, 2013

    I disagree with the change. Cones difficulty is determined by space between the cones, placement of cones and time. We have no control over the placement of cones and the time is the same for all ponies and horses. Small ponies already have to make horse times and we doing need any other challenges.

  19. Iris says :

    August 13, 2013

    After judging cones on Sat. morning and Sun. morning this weekend. I can agree with the changes for Preliminary and up but not for Training. The training level horses who have never heard the hollow thunk of a cone being hit all tried to bolt. By the time they get to Preliminary they have probably heard lots of strange noises and this shouldn’t be an issue. I have no problem with seeing every Training level driver go double clear. They may enjoy themselves enough to continue doing the sport. After all I think we are all supposed to be enjoying this sport. Right?

  20. love2083 says :

    August 13, 2013

    I think training should be decreased as now it is so much just your dressage score on how you place. The other divisions are fine as is because the marathon score is factored in.

  21. Jeanine Rachau says :

    August 20, 2013

    I don’t agree with theses changes.

  22. Zantke says :

    August 20, 2013

    I support this RCS. It will train lower level drivers to aim straight, whereas now with the wider clearance they learn to get away with driving cones at an angle, which will bite them later.

  23. ashemont says :

    August 22, 2013

    I don’t support these changes.

  24. tommcintire says :

    August 22, 2013

    I really don’t like this one. Training (which is where I am at) is our beginning level. To make it harder, often we are driving a marathon vehicle. For me, I am driving a pair. The widest part of my hitch is my horses by a good margin. This penalizes me for not having a presentation carriage or an extendable axle. There are plenty of knockdowns in training WHEN the course is designed to be challenging. When it is designed as a straight-forward easy-flowing course, there are not. No opinion, due to lack of experience, at Prelim and up.

    1. tommcintire says :

      August 27, 2013

      After chatting with Marc Johnson about this, I will AMEND my comments… If the Technical Delegate is free to increase the spacing depending on the difficulty of the course, I would be open to it. The rules, as written, imply this, but do not explicitly say so, which can lead to issues. I’d rather see that it be explicitly stated that the Technical Delegate shall review the course prior to being “final”, decide whether there is a reasonable expectation that a reasonable number of drivers can drive it clean, and then decide whether to adjust spacing of cones or not. This makes it much more reasonable. There are cones courses at some shows where I can count on being able to drive double-clean. There are others where I know I stand no chance whatsoever. :).

  25. S Johnson says :

    August 23, 2013

    I disagree that making it harder for Training level competitors is the best choice. Yes, we want them to work towards moving up the level ladder- when the competitor is ready, not when we say that they are ready.
    I understand the theory of decreasing the min clearance for the other levels. The idea of the smooth dressage-like flow of the cones course has long ago been replaced with the controlled sprint to beat the clock. I believe that this rule, applied at Prelim and above, can help competitors better prepare for that experience. That being said- every run away that I have ever seen at a CDE has been on the 3rd day at the cones course. Is that just coincidence?

  26. cepinwv says :

    August 26, 2013

    I disagree with this change for Training and Preliminary horses and ponies. Currently CDE cones courses are designed for Intermediate or Advance with a lot of tight and challenging turns. The wider widths give the Training and Preliminary competitors a chance to improve their techniques and not as hard on a equines that also needs to improve. As stated already, the statistics do not show a need for these changes at Training. If only 28 percent of Training level goes double clear, then that is a good target rate and it does not support changes. Another point, I have never seen the competition officials decide to set the cones more than the minimum, but I have seen a volunteer setter set the cones less than less than the minimum.

  27. CaroleSweet says :

    August 26, 2013

    Strongly disagree to any change to Training and Preliminary Levels. These should be confidence building levels. There is enough challenge at the Intermediate and Advanced levels for those that attain those levels….not everyone wants to be at those levels, but enjoy the lower levels. Encourage, don’t discourage, those that choose to compete at the lowest levels. It is expected for the challenges to build as one moves up the levels.

  28. ohiohorses says :

    August 28, 2013

    I agree with this. It should actually help drivers be more accurate. Since lower level events are many times two day events with cones held before marathon the accuracy should carry over to their driving the hazards more safely and accurately.

  29. wgallen says :

    August 28, 2013

    I think the proposed reduction in cones clearance by 5 cm is OK —
    PROVIDED that 1) course designers “lighten up” a bit and not
    require so many tight turns and 2) judges
    and TDs measure the courses ACCURATELY (no more reducing the
    measured distance by 10% to make things “more interesting”).
    It’s interesting — the Training level dressage tests specify
    a 40 m circle on the theory that Training level horses can’t and
    shouldn’t be asked to do a tighter circle. Yet most shows have
    only one cones course and it routinely requires turns of 10-15 m.
    Yes, sometimes such turns are required, if the course is set inside
    a dressage ring or fenced area.

  30. Pam Biggi says :

    August 30, 2013

    I agree with the proposed rule change. This proposal only seems daunting because nobody has practiced at the new widths. The way the measurements are now, Training Level drivers acquire a false sense of security with the cones so wide you can almost drive through them sideways. It’s a huge shock at one’s first Preliminary Show when the driver seems to go bowling through these now quite tight feeling cones. The new Training Level widths will teach drivers to drive accurately from the beginning.

  31. hoofwoof@optonline.net says :

    August 31, 2013

    Cone width should be left as is. You have already increased the speed at which we drive cones and do not make flowing courses anymore. Are you trying to discourage
    people from moving up because they are afraid of knocking down too many balls and having ridiculous time penalties? What happened to cones being a test of suppleness and soundness of the horses and ponies after the marathon, not an add’tl marathon the next day!! Cones should be challenging BUT FUN TO DRIVE….

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