A new British Eventing (BE) working group headed by Richard Clapham, which has been set up by BE’s sports committee to map out the future of the sport, is looking to introduce a level of competition below intro.

The class, which is being called training level, will boast an intro dressage test, but with reduced height fences (80cm) for both the cross-country and show jumping.

The intention is to test the popularity of the class at four events this summer — Mattingley, Pulborough, plus possibly Highclere, with another venue still to be confirmed.

Richard, who was instrumental in introducing day tickets and intro classes into the sport, said: “We are going to try it to see how it will work and what demand there will be. We have already built sixteen portable fences and these will be taken around to events and integrated into their existing courses.”

The main area of focus for the working party, which comes under the portfolio of regional director Chris Shaw, will be to see how BE can optimise its growth potential while ensuring sustainability and providing an affordable structure for all in areas of recreation, training and development.

Richard Clapham, who started work on the initiative just three weeks ago, will be consulting with around 20 people, including instructors, regional directors, business people and the sport’s officials.

During the first phase the working party will look at a diverse range of issues, from how BE could expand its non-competitive membership and what extra benefits the member organisation could provide for its customers, to how the national sport compares to international sport.

“At international events the cross-country distances are longer and there are more jumping efforts,” said Richard. “We will be investigating whether it is correct to be different, or whether we should bring our own sport in line with international sport. Going into 2012, it would be nice to make a complex sport more user-friendly.”

Another area of analysis will be ‘Training for training’ and ‘Training for intro’, whereby groups of around four riders will take part in all three phases under the watchful eye of a BE trainer.

“We are looking at whether people should be training at this level rather than competing,” explained Richard. “This would be a social way of working, with no pressures of competition.”

The working group will produce a preliminary report at the end of July, with its final recommendations published at the end of October.

“Our job is to challenge the status quo,” concluded Richard. “Our first job is to put as many ideas on the table as possible and to try and look outside the box.”

This news story was first published in the May issue of Horse & Hound’s sister magazine, Eventing, which is on sale NOW.