The equestrian federations of the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia, the Cayman Islands and Sri Lanka approached the FEI regarding affiliation. Following an extensive application process involving various surveys and questionnaires, all three federations were accepted.
“One of the speakers at the General Assembly in Paris raised the point that as well as opening the doors to these countries for them to compete in international competition, affiliation to the FEI also provides a valuable service of securing the status of the equestrian federation in national terms,” FEI spokeswoman Jacqueline Broussaint says.
“It means that they are better recognised by sports authorities in their national governments, sponsorship of national equestrian sports is facilitated, and membership is stimulated,” she added.
In a similarly expansive move, paralympic equestrianism is to become an FEI sport, joining the seven other FEI disciplines – the three Olympic sports: dressage, eventing and show jumping, as well as driving, endurance, reining and vaulting.
Ian Williams, formerly World Class Performance manager for dressage in Britain, takes charge of the sport within the FEI. He explains:
“We are in the very early stages of incorporating the sport at the moment. From the FEI’s and the [International Paralympic Equestrian Committee’s (IPEC)] point of view, it seemed the logical step forward.
“The legal framework for the merge was put in place at the General Assembly in Paris. Now we will start to absorb the sport, and what we really have to do is to work out how to bring the IPEC’s rules and regulations into line with the FEI,” he added.
He went on to emphasise why it was a significant step forward for the paralympians.
“Paralympic sports have a true competitive sports environment, the participants are out to win. This will provide the opportunity for them to compete in worldwide sports, in the same atmosphere as the existing FEI equestrian disciplines, whether at Hickstead or Olympia, or wherever,” he concluded.
Reining was the most recent discipline to be adopted as an FEI equestrian sport.