In my previous article I wanted to encourage discussion and hopefully generate further ideas from owners, riders (at all levels) and members of BE, PC and RC that could be openly aired. The aim being, to allow our sport of Eventing to restart, with some of the additional measures we now have to factor in, to become somehow workable.
In no way did I mean to offend and having read the article back, I still don’t think I did. The personal attacks on me are completely baseless and I have been accused of being Elitist. This I can assure you could not be further from the truth. What I most certainly am however, is ASPIRANT.
I was born into a Dairy Farming family and my passion for horses was inspired by my Dad. He was always amazed at the respect between man and horse gained to harness the immense power of the heavy horse to plough, a straight furrow and to work all day in the field as an unselfish trusting companion.
Due to my parents wanting to support us unconditionally they eventually had to sell our home and move into a static caravan due to financial problems. If then, they had been more open with us (my sister and I) and we had TALKED instead of them protecting us (which they did with the best of intentions) from the Expenses versus Reward Issue things would have certainly been different but the physical and mental strain that they were undoubtedly hiding would have been considerably lighter and far less stressful health wise.
The horses we (I include my sister, Lynne) had, were either produced from youngsters or in the case of the older horses, waited for them to either lose form or become not wanted for a variety of reasons and then we could acquire them in our team. So Elite I am certainly not.
The main point that has got you all talking, is the idea that BE80, BE90 and BE100 work with PC and RC. At no point did I say they were to be got rid of. All 3 Governing bodies work out of Kenilworth, so my thought was that the bodies could all work together, share the organisation involved with running a successful event and at the same time all benefit. BE members (at those levels) would have events separate to Novice level and above to attend, even if just down the road from one another. Thus allowing for social distancing numbers (being talked about at the moment) at any given venue becoming workable. The BE 4 yr old classes could work within these BE100 classes, thus allowing our young horse development to continue. Championships for these classes would still be run so that all levels have an end goal. Pony Club and Riding Club members would pay an entry fee to compete around well constructed and educational courses both SJ and XC to develop and improve. Meanwhile ensuring safety is a major factor at all times. Volunteers, fence judges, etc may need to be family members (this is an opportunity to watch at least some of your home team compete) due to the numbers allowed attending the event for 1 horse/pony being discussed. There would be no loss of funds to BE and the workload could be shared.
ONCE AGAIN I MUST EMPHASISE THESE ARE ONLY IDEAS THAT I HAVE THOUGHT MIGHT WORK TO ALLOW THE LARGE NUMBER OF MEMBERS BE HAVE AT THESE LEVELS TO RUN CONSISTENTLY.
What did shock me was how little Pony Club and Riding Club are respected now. How many of you have children who attend Pony Club, yet you dismiss their standards across the disciplines out of hand for yourselves!!! Surely this is a wonderful opportunity for our younger riders and stars of the future, as well as our more mature riders to stay as safe as possible.
The increase in membership fees would allow the additional funds to be put into several Centres of Excellence around the country (an example of facilities would be Hartpury Equestrian) which would certainly benefit the Elite Level riders, I will not lie, but they would also be there as training/competition venues for all, similar to the Continental Show/Training venues. The exceptionally high level of quality Event Riders, Horses, Owners and Events in this country is because of our Elite Squad Structure and extensive Funding of course. The blanket of support and the education programmes that I work with, enable me to constantly raise the bar, which in turn benefits my riders, horses and owners. With our ever changing climate and weather patterns 3 Day Eventing long format is the only sport where you may be penalised for being at the top end of the leaderboard. At least with all weather surfaces the ground remains pretty constant from dusk to dawn whatever falls from the sky thus making it a far more level playing field.
Our Owners need to be very well looked after. There are many days when I watch the owners that I am lucky enough to be involved with standing out in awful weather watching with true passion, their horses training or performing at Events, always giving their very generous support to a situation that sometimes does not go to plan, allowing us to make a decision on to run or not if there is a change in the conditions, and always accepting the outcome to allow for the horses best interests.
With Germany now starting show-jumping events, their ideas in the collecting ring seem to me a very workable solution and is proving to be so with the riders and trainers also, they feel it is a much calmer and controlled environment. They have 4 fences in the collecting ring with each rider having their own individual fence, when a rider goes into the ring to compete the next rider with their groom or assistant is allowed into the collecting ring to use that fence this continues through the class. We may not have the space in all the venues to allow for 4 fences but the principle to me makes perfect sense.
I hope this has clarified some of the points raised in my last article and again gets you thinking how best to get our sport moving forward with the new rules that may need to be implemented.