Major changes to the way show jumping is run in Britain are to be finalised during the next six weeks.
The restructure will come after a six-month consultation of proposals from the BSJA’s development committee and its chairman, Peter Gillespie. The proposals are part of the BSJA’s wider modernisation plan, which aims to recruit more members and raise the standard of the sport and the way in which it is governed.
“The BSJA has to shake itself up,” said Gillespie, an international course-designer and show organiser. “I’m pinning my ambition for the sport on it. We’ve got to encourage everyone who jumps a pole to become affiliated — we won’t get [new members] to join on our recent performance.”
Gillespie travelled widely to BSJA area meetings to canvas member’s opinions on the plans. The committee’s proposals concentrate on tapping the unaffiliated sector, improving opportunities for existing members and reducing clashes between shows, which lower both prize-money and profits.
“We haven’t increased our membership for 10 years,” added Gillespie. “With the Olympics in 2012, we have seven years to lift standards.”
The committee proposes that shows be categorised according to schedule. These include a new type of show equivalent of eventing’s intro level, with a mix of affiliated and unaffiliated classes.
Also proposed is a riders’ licensing system, similar to that used in Europe. To increase opportunities for weekend riders, higher-ranked professionals would not be allowed to compete in open classes at lower category shows. Amateur and area team championships would also be developed.
Gillespie says some ideas will be in place on 1 January and most incorporated in the rulebook next year to start on 1 April.
He added: “We’ll introduce it all, but we’re not going to change everything with the wave of a wand.”
The plans can be viewed at: www.bsja.co.uk/development.html