Statement from The Eventing Riders Association of Great Britain (ERA of GB)
For many years’ riders have been requesting a review of the UK based FEI calendar to better suit the needs of the members. We have identified 3 main groups of British Eventing (BE) FEI competitors and have had the balance of each present or future group in mind when approached by BE to participate in decision making.
Those 3 groups are:
1. Aspirational FEI eventers who want to compete at lower level FEI events as “something special” to aim for but not entering the qualification matrix.
2. Lower level FEI competitors. Those including pony riders, under 18, under 21 young riders and non-categorised seniors who wish to use the FEI MER matrix to progress
3. Senior riders with an FEI category.
ERA of GB was approached in 2018 by BE to provide an experienced candidate to participate in the selection of future FEI events in GB based on a set of criteria. ERA of GB was not given access to those specific criteria or asked to participate in the creation of the criteria, however we 100% backed the intention and direction that BE was taking to create a more balanced calendar. The ERA of GB representative chosen is an extremely well rounded and experienced individual who actively competes at multiple levels in BE and FEI competitions.
We understand that there has been a tremendous amount of work undertaken by BE staff and numerous volunteers to create the final list. We also understand that change creates un-rest and un-certainty for all stakeholders but back BE that some changes are necessary.
This is the first time the FEI International Fixtures review process has taken place in this method and we acknowledge that not everything in either method, process or outcome will be perfect. It is however, extremely positive to see new venues events listed throughout Great Britain on the BE FEI fixtures list and specifically events in the North given FEI status.
Following the release of the British Eventing 2020-2025 International calendar ERA of GB feels there are many favourable changes but would actively encourage the BE board to review the outcome specifically in relation to our riders in group 1 & 2.
As the FEI (and BE) MER matrix forces competitors to enter a qualification network to progress up the FEI grades and allows senior BE FEI riders to bypass lower levels it creates an uneven balance whereby riders will either be forced to travel to FEI events further than they used to or simply not enter.
Groups 1 & 2 BE riders need events that are locally accessible to them. To all riders and owners extra days off work, additional travel, accommodation, finding home care or stable cover, extra on site stabling as well as entries and start fees all add up to extra cost and may influence the decision to enter a UK based FEI event. Group 3 riders may simple not enter an event at distance due to cost to themselves or owners or number of horses they can physically compete.
Compressing two different levels of FEI stared events at one location i.e. 2&3*short will increase the number of competitors which is great for the organisers, but it will split dressage over 2 days and most likely put SJ and XC on different days. The knock on for all owners and riders could easily be 3 days extra stabling, 3 days leave from work, 3 days stable or home cover plus diesel, food and accommodation.
ERA of GB appreciates the process of review undertaken by British Eventing but as highlighted by direct contact from effected BE members, there are significant gaps in the South West and South East of England as well obvious FEI calendar clashes which fail to meet the needs of these members.
Therefore, ERA of GB would ask the BE board to reconsider some of the decisions that have been made and view that the re-instatement of Nunney onto the calendar indicates they have an open mind to the views of owners and riding members.
Chairman of the Eventing Riders Association of Great Britain.