Moves to ensure that all types of equestrian establishment are recognised in the pending national facilities strategy may help stem the widening rift between riding schools and colleges.
An early draft, prepared last year for the British Equestrian Federation (BEF) by the Continuum consultancy, proposed a system for accrediting equestrian facilities that met set criteria. The idea was to standardise facilities and training availability across the UK, and provide some benchmarks for central funding.
But a proposed upper tier of national, regional and county “centres of excellence” favouring colleges was expected to enrage riding school proprietors.
Horse & Hound has learned that these recommendations have now been removed in a redraft that aims to encourage a level playing field, with pointers to external funding sources that are accessible to all.
The draft strategy was subsidised by Sport England, but hit an early snag when its major audit of all existing facilities omitted some well-known centres.
Tim Hadaway, former technical director of British Eventing, took on the job of seeking consensus between the BEF member bodies and providing a strategy that was “visionary but achievable” last December.
Hadaway said: “Riding schools versus colleges is recognised as being an issue. It’s very important that all BEF member bodies buy into the strategy and because they include the British Horse Society and the Association of British Riding Schools, inevitably it will recognise that traditional schools have a part to play.”
Hadaway added that he hoped the strategy would go back to Continuum and be presented to the restructured BEF this summer.