British equestrianism has received another welcome boost on its way to the 2012 Olympics, following the award of £13.65million to horse sport last week (H&H news, 11 December magazine).
British riders were the most successful competitors in the world during 2007 and are well on their way to being the leaders in 2008 too.
During the 2007 season, British individuals and teams headed the international championships table with 17 gold medals, making them the most successful of the International Equestrian Federation’s (FEI) 134 member federations.
And this week the British Equestrian Federation (BEF) has told H&H that 2008 has also been a bumper year, with 14 gold medals so far.
The nearest rivals in 2007 were Germany with 15, the US with 10 and the Netherlands, who achieved eight.
The announcement of the 2007 rankings was made at the FEI General Assembly in Buenos Aires (17-22 November) — the annual meeting for all the world’s equestrian federations.
A spokesman for the FEI said: “We do not run this as a competition, but it is true to say that Britain won the highest number of championships in 2007. We presented trophies to the top 20 federations.”
BEF chief executive Andrew Finding said: “Much as we love them, the Germans are our arch-rivals, so it’s fantastic news to have pulled ahead of them in the rankings for 2007.
“I believe it is the first time ever we have topped the rankings and I put it down to the benefits of our elite funding in recent years.”
Of the 17 GB medals, six were won in para-equestrianism, five by show jumping’s young rider, junior and pony teams, one by the senior eventing team and five by junior and pony eventing teams.
Mr Finding added: “These rankings are the first to include the achievements of para equestrians and it is really important that their talents are recognised. We are world leaders in this area.
“It is also testament to the way our younger riders and their trainers have lapped up the support available to them on the World Class programme.”
This article was first published in Horse & Hound (18 December, ’08)