Champion event rider Blyth Tait ‘downgraded’ by new rules

  • Former world and Olympic champion Blyth Tait is among eventers who have been downgraded by new eligibility rules that came in this season.

    Equestrian Sports New Zealand chief executive Jim Ellis told H&H that Blyth — who has been reassessed from four-star rider to the bottom tier, “national rider” — is being treated “like a 16-year-old leaving Pony Club”.

    The Event Riders’ Association (ERA) has launched a petition calling for the rules to be reviewed. It will be handed to the eventing committee of the FEI (international horse sport’s governing body), which was due to meet this week.

    Under the new rules, riders are graded on their results of the past eight years.

    Blyth — who took seven years out of the sport after the 2004 Athens Olympics— has not had enough finishes at any level.

    This demotion means any new horse the Kiwi rider takes on, even if it has competed at four-star, must go back to BE100 (pre-novice) and regain its qualifications with him.

    Blyth told H&H: “The FEI said no one would be unduly affected by the new rules. They implied that eventers would be in a similar position to where they were before [the changes] and that the new rules might be beneficial for some riders.

    “But many riders have been affected detrimentally.”

    Mr Ellis is taking up Blyth’s case and that of other New Zealand riders with the FEI.

    And British Eventing said it was working with the FEI regarding some British riders’ qualifications and would “continue to monitor the situation”.

    This news story was first published in Horse & Hound magazine (7 March 2013)

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