“I want to see eight teams at WEG and we’re fully focused on getting funding,” said Will Connell. “The rise in fuel prices, strength of the US dollar against sterling and challenges of the economic climate have made budgets even more difficult.”
While the BEF has a range of fund-raising activities planned — which will be launched next month — individual disciplines are faced with trying to raise thousands.
“It’s not good,” said Lucy Bell, chef d’equipe of the British vaulting team. “I know the BEF is giving as much support as it can, but we’ve had to make it clear to vaulters that if they can’t afford to go [by funding themselves], they can’t go.”
She said a full vaulting representation would comprise a team of seven, as well as six individuals — three boys and three girls.
“We’ll probably send a team and another three girls — and maybe not our best vaulters,” she said.
Driving faces an even worse scenario. British Horse Driving Trials Association (BHDTA) chairman Tony Bache estimates transporting three full teams — each with five horses and two carriages — will cost around £200,000.
“It’s an unrealistic amount to expect our drivers to find,” he said. “We are depending on the funding that might come from the BEF because on our own we can’t make it — and if we don’t send a team, that will be the first time ever.”
Reining chef d’equipe Adam Heaton said that after taking a bronze at last year’s World Reining Championships, the British team has a realistic chance of bringing home a medal from WEG.
“But we’re having to fund-raise like crazy to get there — we’re really scratching around,” he said.
Endurance GB’s Sue Broughton said it was important for all the non-Olympic disciplines to “stay positive”.
Her view was echoed by BEF spokesman Anna Greenway, who said: “We’re confident we can work together to raise the money to send a full team. If we don’t raise all of it, that’s a bridge we’ll have to cross at a later date.”
The BEF is currently working on a number of joint initiatives to raise funds, including an online auction, a raffle and a supporters’ club called Team GBR Ontrack. More details will be released in coming weeks, but visit www.equestrianteamgbr.co.uk for the latest news
This article was first published in Horse & Hound (11 June, ’09)