9 weeks into lockdown and now I am at a TOTAL LOSS as to know how the sport is going to move forward this Autumn.
The Ministers of the 4 Nations cannot agree on the next phase forward, the Advisers are changing their minds on a daily basis and the Governing Bodies in various Sports seem to be at a loss as to what to do next !!!
Some ideas that have been muted are completely unworkable and will jeopardise the long term development of the sport and the athletes in it.
I understand we are dealing with a situation that is totally alien to everybody, with daily occurrences that mean changes occur on a regular basis with nobody knowing what is around the next corner so therefore some HOPE and POSITIVE IDEAS are much needed at this time.
So why, I ask myself is BE being so negative cancelling Blenheim which is a big platform developing the 8/9 yr olds and Hartpury a wonderful venue with excellent facilities to reschedule at a later date if required . Burghley is still in the schedule at this time of writing but I wonder how we are supposed to prepare our combinations both mentally and physically for one of the toughest 5* in the world (should it go ahead? ) because I firmly believe that both Burghley and Badminton should remain true 5* tests.
I realise financially there will be large hits to a lot of venues, but have the owners, riders and their teams not had financial hits also?
I always wear my heart on my sleeve and try to speak honestly about matters that are close to me, so having read Nick Skelton’s article in the Horse & Hound this week I feel some of his ideas could be relevant to BE moving forward successfully .
An increase in BE membership allowing the additional income to be put into a fund to improve several High Level regional events around the UK , allowing for all weather surfaces to be put in for the Dressage and Show Jumping phase, improved lorry park facilities and personal facilities to include covered catering area, toilets etc more in keeping with athlete and owner requirements and more in keeping with the events abroad that we like supporting.
With the likely hood of limiting numbers at events being considered for social distancing I wonder with the enormous scale of levels BE has just how will this be achieved without something major having to happen? So another thought maybe to give the running of BE80, BE90 and BE100 back to Pony Club and Riding Club (which after all is where we all started and used to gain a lot of knowledge and understanding of the requirements needed to go on to BE Novice level.)
This would give much needed revenue to both Pony Club and Riding Club but more importantly allow them to take the events that run classes up to BE100 over ensuring a much better consistency in quality of course for those riders to have fun and develop around culminating in their Championships .The standard then required to produce combinations to enter BE at Novice level would be clearly defined and hopefully much better achieved. This in turn will free up days for BE to plan a workable calendar for the riders, owners and their teams from Novice up to successfully run all their horses .
Due to the fact that British Eventing Teams have consistently won medals across the board from Junior, Young Rider through to Senior European, World and Olympic level for decades making it the most high achieving Equestrian sport, I feel in these unprecedented times BE have to think of our top athletes, owners and the production of our future stars going forward, so for a few trial years maybe these ideas could at least be aired and considered.
I realise this article may provoke much discussion and it is ONLY MY PERSONAL OPINION but the welfare of my riders and the production of their team of horses supported loyally by their owners is very important to me, and I feel for the good of the sport at all levels British Eventing, Pony Club and Riding Club it may be worth rocking the boat for.
Stay safe everyone, Ros x