The world has gone crazy with virus fears, loss of jobs and fears of the future. Never is that more true than in the horse world. While everyone is trying to remain sane in a world of self-isolation , the one sanity point, for most equestrians is their horses. To keep some assemblence of normality in a world gone mad.
Riders and showing is certainly not a high priority in the comparison of life and death, but one has to remember, it is not just the horse sport of riders, horses and owners that are at risk. Judges, Show manager, Technical Delegates, show facilities, barns and similar have all functionally been put out of work. People who make their living through horses are all threatened. There is hardship going on. There are lives threatened, perhaps not by a virus, but by economy.
Given the extreme conditions of the times, in comes the FEI. An organization whose is always at the cutting edge of protecting the horses we so dealy love, has now turned the bi-laws, in extraordinary times, against the very population that employs it.
Is this a sincere desire to protect horses? Or is it more of desire to protect authority and power?
One would think, that during this extraordinary period, of social distancing and lock-downs, loss of jobs and income, the FEI would have instantly put in place a waiver of sorts to the regulations. One that would have allowed the rules of social distancing and bringing people together “virtually” by way of the internet. Keeping it’s judges, some what employed, and the riders, the bulk of the equestrian industry, happy and focused. Creating community. The excitement generated at the idea of showing in front of a FEI judge in a non-sanctioned “show” as if they were really at the World Cup…if only for a moment. But instead the FEI choose to remind everyone of their authority.
They perform a secondary lock-down of ingenuity, productiveness, in the name of “credibility”. They quote rules, instead of understand the pain. Instead of helping, they damage their officials and members with fear and threats. Treating those who dare to make the best of a truly horrific situation, with sanctions of their license. Creating fear of professional and reputation credibility.
FEI has held rigidly to the idea of that Judges are forbidden to make the best of bad situation by “judging” schooling shows via video. Even while these shows hold no credibility in rankings, points, team selections or international competitions. Instead of being part of a solution, they become more of the problem. A second virus is at hand one that kills the soul and heart.
We would like to draw your attention to the following Articles in General Regulations:
1) Article 113 – Registration and Eligibility of Athletes and Horses. Points 4-9
4. An Athlete and/or Horse, even if registered with the FEI, is not eligible to participate in an International Event or National Event (and so may not be invited by an OC to such Event or entered by an NF in such Event) if that Athlete and/or Horse has participated, in the six (6) months prior to the first day of the International Event or National Event in question, in an Unsanctioned Event.
5. For purposes of Article 113.4, an ‘Unsanctioned Event’ is an event and/or a competition that is neither published in the official Calendar nor authorised by an NF and/or a National Event authorised or organised by a NF that is suspended by the FEI. Please also refer to the Appendix J for the rationale for the Unsanctioned Event Provisions.
2) Article 155 – Status and Liability of Officials. Points 7-12.
7. An Official is not eligible to participate in an International Event or National Event (and so may not be invited or nominated to participate in such event) if he/she has participated, in the six (6) months prior to the first day of the International Event or National Event in question, in an Unsanctioned Event.
8. For purposes of Article 155.7, an ‘Unsanctioned Event’ is an event and/or a competition that is neither published in the official Calendar nor authorised by an NF and/or a National Event authorised or organised by a NF that is suspended by the FEI. Please also refer to the Appendix J for the rationale for the Unsanctioned Event Provisions.
FEI also added burden to the rider who are willing, knowledgeable enough and fiscally able, to work around the problem.
“require quality of recording, video quality and camera angle (from specific letter).“
This assumes, of course, that rider even has access to an official dressage arena, can ride outside and has the sufficient equipment to fulfill this video requirement. Let’s not even discuss the burden and cost of website that can handle such a load of “quality” .
WHO DOES THIS HURT ? .... EVERYONE
These are “schooling shows”. Socially distant events the promote rider health by keeping riders focused away from the negativity that surrounds us. Following the statistical odds, 90% of these riders will never see anything above a 2nd level test (L level). These judges, in normal times, are in demand for the elite. The upper crest, the riders that are lucky enough to have money, sponsors and training to reach the heights of the sport.
Now may be the only time in these equestrian lives, to even have the opportunity to “show” in front of highly ranked qualified specialists. It is flipping a bad situation, into a special opportunity. Giving the judges, trainers and show managers, a way for softening their cut in income. But especially the judges.
ORDINARY RIDERS DON'T MATTER
Even prior to the current COVID 19 crisis, has not the belittling and diminishing of the average rider been the problem all along? The bread and butter of the equestrian industry, how trainers make a living, how judges, and barns and vets support their own lives.
These riders are the core of the community, the middle class want-to-be riders & dreamers. They own the ordinary horses, that are not always so sound, but is all an individual can afford. They struggle to pay for the dream. Theses horses are not flashy or breed sufficiently to even be considered against the top contenders. These horses gaits may be flat, move more to one side or the other and most likely are have not been trained by a professional. But it is this riders dream and love. There is nothing wrong with making due. Doing the best you can with what you have.
Unless these individuals and horses are going to be considered as important and worthy of effort, valuable enough to make a way, the sport will continue to decline. The money is hard enough to even participate, let alone take psychological abuse of being denied and ignored. Who desires to put up with being ignored, let alone forbidden access, when access is possible and available.
It is time for the FEI to start thinking of who they represent….Especially in a world gone mad.
HPN Staff Writer
Approved for publication