British Showjumping (BS) has suffered an unexpected setback to plans to streamline its 22-member executive board.

Progress has been scuppered by a block vote by Devon area members at the BS annual meeting on 14 August at Stoneleigh.

The BS board had unanimously agreed to stand down — to be replaced by a sporting council and slimmed-down eight-member board. BS’s board is far bigger than those of British Eventing and British Dressage.

A 75% majority was needed to pass the amendment at the AGM, but the vote was 93 for (58.1%) and 67 against (41.9%).

BS chief executive Iain Graham said: “The vast majority of those present supported the need for change. However, a particularly strong view was expressed within one region, by proxy votes.

“In a post-AGM board meeting, a decision was made that in light of the support from those present, wider communication was necessary to help members understand why the proposed changes are positive ones for British Showjumping.”

Only 52 of BS’s 16,000-plus members attended the meeting at Stoneleigh.

An area representatives meeting has now been called for 8 September and BS plans to bring the proposal back to an extraordinary general meeting later in the year.

BS had decided the board would consist of chief executive Iain Graham, finance director Charles Purser, a national director of sport (to be appointed) and five other people, including the chairman, voted for by the membership every four years.

But to ensure continuity in the run up to the 2012 Olympics Mr Graham suggested that chairman Michael Mac and performance development manager Clare Whitaker should fill two of those posts, with three others to be chosen by BS members.

This decision and the lack of opportunity to discuss the proposal before the meeting were sticking points for the Devon members, represented at the meeting by John Tuff.

Mr Tuff said: “Mac and Whitaker had originally agreed to stand down, and the 28-page document [explaining the procedure] has only recently been made available online.
“We need trust and confidence in the board.”

And speaking to H&H after the meeting, south-west regional rep Julian Trim agreed, adding:

“This is an important constitutional change. I’m disappointed it didn’t go through, but members need to fully understand the detail.”

This article was first published in Horse & Hound (26 August, ’10)