Jun 16, 2019

Judging the USEA Charles Owen Technical Merit Award with Wayne Quarles

By Claire Kelley - USEA Staff

One of the most highly respected event officials in the country, Wayne Quarles, will be judging Area IX’s USEA Charles Owen Technical Merit Award (COTM) at Golden Spike Horse Trials in Ogden, Utah on Sunday, June 16. With dressage and show jumping finished on Saturday, twelve Training level competitors will leave the start box Sunday morning in hopes for a winning cross-country round.

The winning COTM cross-country rounds will be based on five criteria: gallop, preparation period, execution of jump, rider position, and general impressions. But most of all, Quarles said, “I'll be looking for riders with the right balance and the way they handle the turns and terrain. I want to see how they adjust themselves to ride whatever is happening underneath them.”

“I want to see a change in their position to adjust for the terrain - whether it be uphill or downhill, if it’s a drop jump verse up bank. Even if they have a stop, it will depend on what the rider does. How does the rider handle that? How do they come back? What do they do to set themselves back up?”

“Combinations on cross-country are always going to require you to have more balance and not so much pace. As we know from the speed studies done several years ago, most riders ride much faster between combinations because the combinations require you to slow down and regroup. There’s no way you can maintain 520 m.p.m. at every jump all the way around the course.”

The 4ab Training level combination at Golden Spike H.T. USEA/Claire Kelley photo.

Given to riders who exhibit safe cross-country riding, the COTM award is an award unlike any other in eventing.“The one thing we don’t have in this discipline is recognition for equitation and balance. We don’t have any awards [other than COTM] that recognize the people who put in that extra effort and time to ride correctly,” said Quarles.

Quarles who is the dressage judge, show jumping judge, and COTM judge at Golden Spike Horse Trials, explains, “cross-country riding is different than show jumping because in show jumping we’re asking you to ride a series of fences that a) knock down and b) are all set on exact distances. So, the adjustments in show jumping are less because you don’t have terrain. Riding a show jump course tests regularity and pace.”

The Training level cross-country course at Golden Spike Horse Trials has a total of eighteen fences with a bank up, bank down, corner, water question, and a coffin combination. The optimum time is five minutes and 22 seconds with a speed of 450 m.p.m. So, where will Quarles be on course? “I’ll be judging a variety of fences. Last year I judged a combination, two fences before the combination, and one after the combination [in order] to see how riders adjusted their balance,” said Quarles.

16ab Training level combination at Golden Spike H.T. USEA/Claire Kelley photo.

Stay tuned for Area IX's COTM award winners!

About the Charles Owen Technical Merit Award

In 2009, the Professional Horseman’s Council in partnership with Charles Owen founded the Charles Owen Technical Merit Award to reward juniors and adult amateurs for demonstrating safe and appropriate cross-country riding technique and educate riders and trainers as to what constitutes safe cross-country riding.

The Charles Owen Technical Merit Award is presented at one event in each USEA Area each year at the Training level to one junior rider and one adult amateur rider who have not competed at the Intermediate level or above. Every eligible rider at the Training level is automatically judged during their cross-country round on the five criteria listed below and receives a score sheet with written comments, providing valuable feedback on their cross-country riding technique. Level III and IV ICP Instructors, USEF licensed eventing officials, and USET Senior Team riders are all qualified to judge the Award. Click here to learn more about the Charles Owen Technical Merit Award.

The USEA would like to thank Charles Owen for sponsoring the Technical Merit Award.

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