BE admits ‘we need to listen to members’ after social media backlash

  • British Eventing (BE) has said it knows it “needs to communicate better and listen hard” as feelings run high over the fixtures calendar and IT project.

    BE underwent a tendering and review process in a bid to rebalance its international and championships fixtures calendar from 2020 to 2025.

    The end result has culminated in a number of new additions, alongside some notable losses to the calendar.

    There has been confusion in a number of cases over the scores given by BE to certain events during the process, compared to the events’ past feedback (news, 4 April and Mark Phillips comment, 28 March).

    The new calendar has also left eventers in the southeast and southwest of the country with lengthy commutes to international fixtures, plus a direct clash between Osberton and Little Downham — which did not intend for this to happen.

    But a number of events have also been rewarded for their hard work with new international dates and championship classes.

    Board chairman Fiona O’Hara issued a statement yesterday (4 April) addressing the strong reaction the calendar received on social media as well as members’ frustrations surrounding the IT system.

    “There is no doubt that BE is having a tough time,” said Ms O’Hara.

    “Historically communication with members has not been as good as it should be and it’s clear that we need to listen to our members.

    “We know change is difficult and we haven’t got everything right first time but we are making changes for the right reasons and if we make a mistake or haven’t heard you clearly we will adjust our stride.”

    She added BE had to spend money on a new IT system as the existing one is to be discontinued, so they had “no alternative” and sought to make it better.

    “This was the right thing to do,” she continued. “We acknowledge that the website launch was premature and the imperfections have been all too apparent. This has resulted in frustration and on a few occasions anger. I can assure you we are working to fix issues and make improvements, this is a journey and your constructive feedback is encouraged and valued.”

    Ms O’Hara said the fixtures calendar needed to be “underpinned by a robust process for selecting venues”, which meant they needed to change how this was previously done.

    “Doing nothing was not an option. I see this process and the calendar evolving,” she said.

    “As a result of this process we have been able to add fantastic new fixtures into the international and championship calendar which will give our members the unique opportunity to compete at a choice of familiar and much-loved venues along with some exciting new ones.

    “We will review the process to take into account feedback and make changes, and we will continue to assess fixtures to ensure we have achieved the right balance. Both of these things will be done in a collaborative way.”

    Continues below…

    Ms O’Hara added BE ran “meet the directors” sessions at events last year and will continue to do this alongside member and organiser meetings in April.

    She asked members to remember that BE is run by a team of people, who are eventing fans.

    “We are as desperate as you are for problems to be sorted out because we love this sport as much as you do,” she said.

    “I’m proud of our team and how hard they’ve worked. They’ve done this in the face of comments from a minority of individuals who would rather air their concerns on social media, the impact this has had on them should not be underestimated.

    “I know how frustrating these last few months have been. Please trust us and give us the breathing space to complete the job.”

    For more on the BE international and championships fixtures list, don’t miss this week’s issue of Horse & Hound (4 April), plus further reaction to the calendar in next week’s issue (11 April).


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