A proposal designed to improve funding for the Event Riders’ Association (ERA) will be debated by the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) later in the month.

ERA was set up 13 years ago as a body to give three-day eventers a voice and has been run in several different guises since then. In its present form, ERA is open to all event riders and membership is free.

Australian rider Clayton Fredericks, who has been chairman of ERA for the past 12 months, told H&H that getting the association on a solid financial footing is crucial if it is to have a future.

“In the past, ERA hasn’t had a regular income and so it’s been hard to manage,” he said. “In general, riders are very keen to be represented, but without a sustainable income, it’s been hard to keep the association going.”

The proposal, which will be discussed at the FEI Eventing Committee meeting in Lausanne on 22-23 February, involves adding a 5 Euro fee to all international entries. After paying the fee, all participating riders would automatically become ERA members.

If passed, the proposal would serve two purposes, explained Clayton.

“Running a proper office, advising riders, marketing the association and hosting the website means ERA costs about £30,000 a year to run, so the fee would go towards this,” he said. “Additionally, I want us to have as many members as possible. Our strength lies in numbers.”

ERA estimates that there are around 20,000 event riders globally. The present membership of ERA stands at 1,700, up from approximately 200 before Clayton Fredericks became its chair.

Riders contacted by H&H were broadly supportive of the changes he is trying to make to the association.

Ruth Edge, an ERA member, said that rider representation was crucial. “We need to have our say or the sport won’t be the standard we want,” she reasoned, “and with the rule changes we’ve seen in the past few years, it’s crucial that riders are kept up to date.”

Fellow rider Nick Turner echoed this viewpoint. “A lot has happened in eventing in the past few years and it’s important that all riders work together,” he said.

“But one problem with the E5 proposal is that [many] owners pay the entry fee, so in that respect, it becomes less like a riders’ association. Riders will need to liaise carefully with owners.”

  • This news report was first published in Horse & Hound (1 February, ’07)