The future of British Eventing is Bright

Earlier today British Eventing members received a sport update from our CEO Helen West which we would like to share with all those who have an interest in the sport. Please see as follows:

“The future of British Eventing is Bright” says CEO Helen West

As this season draws to a close, I very much want to share with you the positive steps we have made this year to ensure a bigger and brighter future for the sport which we all care so passionately about.

Before I do that however, I would also like to acknowledge that I’m well aware of the challenges ahead for our membership with the economic climate that we find ourselves in. With this in mind we have been working extensively to restructure the internal administration of the office and operational costs of the sport. As a result I’m very much hoping to keep membership fees at the same levels for 2023 as they are currently.

Also, we have made some changes to the agreement between ourselves and our event organisers which we trust will reduce the number of fixtures cancelling next year and the subsequent frustrations so many of you will have felt during the current season as a result.

There are so many positives to take from the past twelve months and I very much wanted to highlight them to you as it is sometimes easy to forget how far we have come with a relatively short period of time. Below I have run through some of the highlights for you as follows:

Growing the family
We are delighted to say that our membership has been on an upward trajectory since January and is looking set to continue doing so. Whilst it is impossible to know the impact of the current economic climate, it definitely bodes well that those wishing to event are choosing to do so with British Eventing.

We are constantly striving to provide more opportunities for riders to compete with us and we currently have a number of membership growth initiatives underway. You may have seen some of these initiatives being promoted on our social media channels, but others you may not have seen yet are the result of us working with our partner bodies within the BEF.

We are working collaboratively with the Pony Club, as a fellow member body of British Equestrian, to encourage the progression of younger riders into our sport. By permitting DCs to sign off MER’s for pony club members wishing to join and compete with BE up to BE100 we have removed a perceived barrier to entry, and we are already seeing a growth in younger members. We have also introduced Pony Club classes within some of the events this summer so that riders can experience competing with British Eventing prior to joining and we will be offering a Pony Club membership discount for anyone who has not been a member before. It will allow their members to step into Eventing with all the health and safety, governance, insurance and safeguarding frameworks that only a National Governing Body can offer.

A similar partnership is currently being formulated with the BHS and British Riding Clubs, so that their members can also be assured of a safe, supported and structured entry into the sport.  There is a strong desire from within the British Equestrian member bodies to work together collaboratively and we are all committed to adding benefits, such as these, to our members.

The launch of GO BE earlier this year was incredibly well received – an initiative which allows competitors to run with unpublished results and without the need of a membership fee being paid. Whilst Go BE combinations can’t qualify for championships or appear on league tables, it does give the opportunity to run young horses without the pressure of having results published and also gives prospective members the chance to try BE without the cost of a national membership. GO BE classes were introduced as the result of listening to both current and prospective member’s needs and the aim is for them to continue growing in 2023.

Another overwhelming request that we have had this year is for us to lower the age limit of riders from the current 12-years-old. Having discussed this at length, we have decided to drop the age requirement to 10-years-old  for those wishing to compete in the BE Winter competitions and/or wishing to participate in The Howden Way training.

Training for the future
Making quality training available, to all of our members, was something I felt pivotal to do as a national governing body and I’m delighted to say that we are now in a position to deliver just that. Via David Howden’s incredibly generous sponsorship, we have been able to develop a national training framework which will sit under the title banner of The Howden Way.

A network of regional academies, the first of which we should see launch later this autumn, will offer subsidised training to all members no matter of their age or level of ability. Further to this, we have also been able to launch The Howden Way Talent Academy and The Howden Way Young Horse Academy. Training is already underway in the latter two categories, with younger members already having had the opportunity to compete in Millstreet, Ireland recently. An inaugural Young Horse Development Day has also already taken place at Aston-le-Walls with another due to take place later this month.

This is such exciting news for the sport and I look forward to seeing it roll out across the country later this year. I am unable to convey the importance I place on training, and I look forward to seeing as many of our members as possible take advantage of what will be on offer to them.

A calendar to inspire
This year saw the inaugural NAF Five Star BE80 Championships at Bramham International. The feedback from competitors taking part was extremely positive and this now sees the sport have Summer Championships taking place at some of the most prestigious venues in the country across all levels – Bramham for BE80, Badminton for BE90 and BE100 and the Festival of British Eventing at Gatcombe for the Novice to Advanced levels.

As part of our desire to offer a range of goals to inspire riders at every level, we also adopted the Novice Masters into the competition framework this season following a successful trial last year. This was also supplemented with the introduction of an Intermediate Masters to give those competing at Novice and Intermediate some additional opportunities to compete and produce their horses.

Despite the heatwave we endured this summer, we saw some superb sport take place as a result of the exceptionally hard work of the event organisers, venue owners and their support teams. Their working on preparing the grounds and introducing additional cooling facilities deserve applauding and I can’t thank them enough. We are incredibly lucky to be the only Olympic sport that takes place on such historic and notable parkland and there isn’t a day when I am at an event that I don’t feel overwhelmed with the opportunities that we have available to us as a sport.

Heading into Winter, The Arena Eventing Championships will continue this year with it being open to non-members at the qualifying stages. Joining the Winter competition structure for this coming season will be the introduction of a new series, which will culminate in a Championships in May and will also be open for non-members at the qualifying legs.

More information on the new series will be announced shortly but what I can say at this stage is that it has been designed to provide competitors with an entry level pathway into the sport. The new series comes as the result of a volume of feedback highlighting that there was a requirement for this kind of opportunity, and we look forward to announcing it shortly and seeing it come to fruition.

Performance recognised
This year has also seen the introduction of Grassroots Leagues, powered by Equiratings, with a £10,000 prize fund behind them. These have been extremely well received, with performance prizes having been being paid out bi-monthly and the overall winners to be announced shortly as the season draws to a close. There are also national leagues, as well as the Event Horse Owners League with a £20,000 prize fund behind it for those competing at 4* level and above on home soil.

Working for you
Having listened to our members and what they would like to see from us, it has become clear that the landscape of the sport has changed. With this in mind, and as a result of the number of events that have cancelled this year, we have changed the way that fixtures are booked into the calendar. We will now be asking event organisers to commit to the date with a calendar fee, as well as looking to welcome some new grassroots events into the calendar within regions where there is a need for this. In doing so, it will provide our membership with greater opportunities as well as providing greater certainty that events appearing in the BE Fixtures Calendar will run in 2023.

Feeling supported
The last year has seen the launch of the British Eventing Support Trust (BEST) and I cannot stress enough the importance that people should place on knowing they have the assurance of our charity behind them. Should the worst happen, BEST is there to support you – whether it be with mental health support, practical or financial assistance. I naturally can’t disclose who has received help so far, but what I can say is that I am aware that the support the charity has been giving our members has been life changing. BEST is an incredible trust, and we are all very proud to be leading the way for other disciplines to follow with the setting up of this for our members benefit. For further information on the trust or ways to donate please visit besupporttrust.

Peace of mind
As an Intro, Standard or Premier member you have the reassurance of knowing that you have the benefit of Public Liability Insurance cover included within your membership. This covers you 365 days a year for any horse that you own, handle or ride; not just whilst you are at an event. For the PAYG and GO BE members you receive the same level of cover for the day of competition.

Why BE?
As a competitor it is often easy to forget what British Eventing has to offer that the others don’t, but there are so many reasons why it is important to compete within the infrastructure of a governing body. In my opinion, as someone who regularly ran events from grassroots through to international level, the same can be said as to why an event organiser should align with the national governing body of the sport if they are to give their competitors the very best duty of care.

By running an event with British Eventing organisers enjoy the blanket insurance cover we bring them, which in turn is a huge benefit for the competitor. The sports infrastructure, rules, safeguarding and health & safety regulations are unparalleled. When you add to this the safety measures that we have on course both in terms of technology and expertise, our clean sport policy, ground care equipment and serious incident procedures, then it is absolutely impossible to compare them like for like.

We received a letter recently praising our serious incident procedures at an event that they had the misfortune to need them. The member openly said they had never really realised the tremendous value that British Eventing brings and that now she would never consider entering an event that wasn’t registered to a national governing body. This really does speak volumes as to the role a governing body plays within sport.

Overcoming challenges
It would be wrong of me to only sing the positives, as I’m aware many of you have experienced issues with the entries system at some point this summer. However, the IT system also looks set to have a brighter future and I am delighted to say that we have started to overcome many of the issues that have been outstanding for a while and work is continuing to ensure as smooth a transaction process as possible for you going forward. We are also hopeful that 2023 should see organisers being able to choose to use other third party systems for entries, which will lighten the load on the BE infrastructure and the Head Office team.

The revised requirement of the banking network in the UK hasn’t helped with the user experience on the website. However many of those initial teething problems now seem to be behind us with there being less reported cases each morning of incomplete transactions.

The Banking validation requirement is here to stay and is a directive of the Bank of England. If you find that you are being asked to validate your payment more frequently than you feel acceptable, it is possible for you to speak to your bank directly and ask for British Eventing to be added to your list of trusted payees. In the meantime, please do contact the office if you need some help processing payments, where the membership team will be only too happy to assist you.

And Finally…
After team Gold medals at the Junior and Young Rider European Championships, we are about to start competing at the World Championships in Pratoni. British Eventing has never been stronger than it is today, and we will start the competition ready to defend our team and individual World titles as the reigning World, European and Olympic team Gold medallists.

I hope you will all show your support to the team representing us under the guidance of World Class Performance Manager, Dickie Waygood. Coverage of all three disciplines is available at clipmyhorse and I hope as many of you as possible will be tuning in to support the British team in their medal winning quest.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my shared vision for the sport. We have so much more news to come over and above this and it is such an exciting time to be part of British Eventing.

Your support for British Eventing is appreciated more than I can say….

Best wishes
Helen West

CEO, British Eventing

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