Disabled rider accuses BD of ‘discrimination’

  • A disabled rider is accusing British Dressage (BD) of discrimination after she was asked to pay extra to use specialist equipment.

    Louise Spindler-Evans, from Suffolk, took up dressage four years ago when her multiple sclerosis (MS) worsened.

    Previously, she had showjumped her horse Paddy’s Mate (Pinky) and took part in working hunter showing classes.

    With the help of looped reins, she is competing at elementary level in unaffiliated competition, but there aren’t enough at this level in her area.

    At unaffiliated events riders can compete with looped reins, which are useful for thise with poor grip, by producing a doctor’s letter.

    In April Mrs Spindler-Evans approached BD to become a member saying she needed to use the reins.

    On top of the £164 joining fee for rider and horse she was asked to pay a further £75 for a letter of dispensation to use the reins in competition.

    To use any further pieces of specialist equipment would cost £75 per item, payable every two years she was told.

    “I am happy to pay what every able-bodied rider has to but find it offensive to be asked to pay more because I am disabled,” said Mrs Spindler-Evans.

    “I asked BD to justify the £75 and was told it was to fund a panel of adjudicators to decide if I qualified to use the equipment. I would also have to supply a letter from my GP and neurological consultant, which I have.

    “This panel would never meet me or see me ride.”

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    BD chief executive Jason Brautigam has written to Mrs Spindler-Evans explaining the £75 charged is necessary to cover the costs for the administration and assessment of each application, but she remains adamant it is unfair.

    She has written to her MP, the BBC, the Disability Rights Commission, Riding for the Disabled and Sport England outlining her complaints.

    “This is wrong and I want it put right, not just for me, but for every other disabled rider that competes,” she said.

    A spokesman for BD said: “We will continue to work with Mrs Spindler-Evans to bring the situation to a satisfactory end for her.”

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