Share Your Alternative On the FEI’s Proposed Changes

Social media lit up after the FEI announced these proposed overhauls of eventing, and now Dom Schramm is weighing in with his own thoughtsWhether you agree with the FEI’s proposed changes or not, Dom and EN encourage all of our readers to #shareyouralternative. Let’s start a dialogue to help promote, preserve and evolve the sport of eventing (or equestrathon?) for the sake of our riders, fans, owners and horses. Go Eventing.

Dom Schramm and Cold Harbor. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Dom Schramm and Cold Harbor. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Wow! This is certainly a shake up! I actually think this is a great thing. Not because I agree with really any of the proposed changes, but because the sport of eventing needs to be overhauled if it’s to survive. I believe that if we just sit back and hope, we will witness the demise of eventing in front of our eyes.

When you have a sport that has seen this many kids in their 20s killed in less than a year, it’s not sustainable.

When the majority of events don’t offer prize money, it’s not sustainable.

When the costs associated with taking part in the sport at a top level are so high that really the only way to compete a string is to find people with disposable income to “give” you money with no real return other than a warm fuzzy, it’s not sustainable.

When course designers who consistently design dangerous questions can keep on designing dangerous questions, it’s not sustainable.

When riders expect horses to compete essentially until they “break,” it’s not sustainable.

When somebody who doesn’t know about horses comes to spectate the cross country and witnesses a bad horse fall and poses the question “Why would you put an animal you care for into the kind of situation where that could happen?” and the only answer you can give them is “They wouldn’t do it if they didn’t want to,” it’s not sustainable.

When every bad accident is now so public and global through social media and accessible to a general public that just will not tolerate rider and horse fatalities, it’s not sustainable.

When a sports’ governing body really doesn’t have much faith or respect from the competitors it governs, it’s not sustainable.

When you go to a show and it seems as though officials are almost versus the competitors, it’s not sustainable.

When organizing committees are looking at having to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to run even a lower level horse trial, it’s not sustainable.

Now I know that eventing is a brilliant sport. What a wonderful thing it is to train and compete the athlete that is an event horse. I know all of these issues are complex and difficult to answer. But what we need now is solutions. Ideas. Conversation.

We need to promote our sport through educating people about the care and attention these horses get. We need to get the message out there that each mount is unique and has his own quirky personality. We need to get to know the top riders more and see their true characters. We need an audience who is better informed on why our sport is still relevant.

We need to prepare to adapt and be open to change. Now more than ever we need to revisit the reasons behind why our sport even came about. Have we strayed too far from that idea?

Costs of competing and prize money requires sponsorship dollars.

Sponsorship dollars come from TV (live stream).

TV comes from a large audience.

A large audience comes from being educated about the sport and, most importantly, that the audience feels that the horses have a “voice” and that their safety is truly the most important thing.

An educated audience needs to see “real” people in top riders — real characters.

Now it’s your turn. Throw a NEW idea out there. Be brave.

You think “equestrathon” is nuts? What about my idea of adding a fourth phase to eventing? Rider fitness, where riders have to run a cross country trail of varying distances depending on the level. If you finish within the fastest window of time, you get the max number of penalties removed from your score. If you aren’t fit enough, then you can choose not to participate but lose an advantage.

Crazy, right?

But it’s another way of separating the wheat from the chaff without making a bigger, technical cross country course. It’s also respectful of the sport’s military roots.

I have other crazy ideas too, but maybe it might just be a crazy idea that ends up saving this sport.

So if these proposals from the FEI make you WTF, instead of booing from the sidelines, share your alternative. Throw out a fresh perspective or new idea. The more of us that do, the closer we will come to securing the future of our sport.

Just my two cent’s worth.

The International Event Rider’s Association is collecting thoughts on the proposed changes at this link. Your ideas could be shared in actual FEI meetings if you fill out the form. #shareyouralternative

[FEI to Examine Sweeping Overhauls to Eventing (or ‘Equestrathon’)]

[FEI Sports Forum: Eventing Future]

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