I was going to start this blog with a rant, but decided to look at the issue in a measured, reflective and sensitive way (me?) rather than shouting loudly. So I am not going to bore you with a ‘we went here and did this, aren’t all the ponies wonderful, I must be a brilliant rider’ instead I am bent on explaining my anger at the narrow-minded insensitivity of the BE rule book.
I went round the CIC3* at Barbury in 30 degree heat and ended up 6 seconds over the optimum time for a MER. I asked the Chief Executive for a bye which was refused and then appealed. It went to the Selectors who turned down my request. The reason given was that there had been many requests for byes due to the early cancellations and subsequent hard going, all of which had been refused and it was unfair to allow one and not the others.
Now, while I agree that in some cases the lack of experience by horse, rider or both should not lead to approval that would endanger either, it is essential that each case should be considered on its merits. How can a 0.2 excess in the dressage MER with a dashing clear in the XC be considered a problem especially since the FEI requirements had been met – yet this is what happened in one case. Indeed, turning down this appeal is far more likely to cause an injury through the necessity of completing another round in tenuous conditions. Surely BE’s extra qualifications are in place to protect not to hinder.
We have a Board, we have Selectors, we have Committees for Sport, for Safety, for Rules (all paid for by us) surely it is time for the appointment of a sensible, respected and knowledgeable Head of Sport who knows the Riders, the Organisers and the Officials to instil some common sense in the decisions taken for our benefit and that of our horses.
On another front, I decided to run all the babies unaffiliated this year. This was done around BE courses such as Aston, Tweseldown, Ascott-under-Wychwood and the like, which adhere mainly to the BE rules and provide the same standards both in terms of courses and of safety. I estimate that we have saved over £2000 although the entry and start fees are very similar. What makes the difference of the abandonment insurance and, of course, the registration fees. In the first instance, the question remains should the season start and finish later and in the second should the central costs of our organisation be severely challenged?
For those of you who enjoy our travels, I will shortly be heading to Floresti again and I am sure that the brilliant Claire will be posting a blow-by–blow account of our journey