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A new proposal to help eventing fit in with the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) 2020 Agenda has been compiled by the European Equestrian Federation.

The FEI is looking into amendments to the sport, to fall into line with the 2020 Agenda on creating “attractive, modern, TV- and spectator-friendly sports” to “create a new generation of fans”.

Crucial elements include a shorter time frame — within two hours of TV coverage — which for sports such as eventing, is challenging.

The EEF’s preferred format would be that the team competition is in CIC format, with medals after the team competition. The top 20/25 would then go through to the individual decider..

Regarding numbers, the EEF proposes four per team with three to count.

“Horse welfare is taken care of, the time required for the two medal competitions is a maximum of three and a half to four days although if it can be condensed in to three days this would be better, and the logistical issues are manageable and do not interfere with the pure dressage and jumping competitions,” read the proposal.

“Team tactics come in to play, individuals who run in the team competition have the chance to get through to the individual, and the athletes have to manage/look after their horses properly if they want to be in the individual competition, etc.

“There is one major flaw/weakness in this proposed team format as things stand with the cross-country being the last phase and this is that after cross-country there are usually a number of queries and objections which would delay the result being available for the TV audience and the media,” continued the proposal.

The plans will be discussed at the FEI general assembly this week (12-13 November) before being taken to the FEI Sports Forum next April.

“The EEF Eventing working group has been discussing and assessing all options among themselves and their colleagues across the sport and around the world, and this is where our deliberations have led,”said Mike Etherington-Smith.

“There is no question that sport presentation is one area where we can make significant improvements and this is more than just how the sport is covered on TV.

“We have to appeal to and engage with the non-equestrian audience as well as being mindful of what we want our sport to be.”

Earlier this year proposals for radical changes to the sport from the FEI eventing committee left riders “concerned” and “frustrated”.

While eventers are not averse to the idea of modernisation, many said that a “drastic overhaul” is not needed.

In June, former Badminton winner and German eventing team trainer Christopher Bartle put forward a proposal for the future of eventing.

His idea is based around having a two-phase cross-country course. All riders would tackle the first section of cross-country to produce a team result, then nominated individuals who qualified with a fast clear over this initial test would have a short break, then go on to jump a second, shorter course which counted only for the individual competition.

The sport has already had its format amended to fit with the IOC’s plans.

Mike said in June: “I think it’s great that horse sport has to reinvent itself — it’s not anything that anyone should be afraid of. We need to constantly look at ourselves.”

Any changes will be brought in at the general assembly in November 2016.

Key EEF proposals

  • Horse inspection before the competition
  • Team competition in CIC format — dressage needs to all take place on one day, the showjumping phase as it is, the cross-country to be between 8 minutes and 10 minutes in order to ensure that time is influential
  • All athletes and horses compete in the team competition, including those who are not part of a team, which then acts as the qualifier for the individual competition
  • Team medals to be awarded after the team competition
  • The top 20/25 from the team competition (a max of three per any one nation) go through to the individual competition to be decided by another jumping round the day after the cross-country. There would be a horse inspection before the jumping as happens at the moment
  • This then makes the individual competition into a traditional CCI, albeit with an extra jumping round before the cross-country
  • Individual medals to be presented after the jumping

Ref: Horse & Hound; 12 November 2015