Carl Hester: Ultimately, we all want the same *H&H VIP*

  • Opinion

    The social media “jungle drums” have been at full volume over the past couple of weeks with British Dressage (BD) bearing the brunt of a few members’ grievances. It would seem that they are damned if they do, damned if they don’t, when the current board, chief executive and management team have been working tirelessly to bring the sport into the 21st century and modernise it for the benefit of members at all levels.

    It’s no longer a club, but a professional Olympic sport, which has to adapt and change to survive and thrive. If we lost our funding, we would have to support our international teams financially somehow.

    I do not fancy our chances should that happen. While we may not all agree with every single decision made by BD, I think they’re doing a great job with what often appears to be a thankless task.

    Jason Brautigam was handpicked specifically to turn the sport around, and he comes from a highly commercial discipline — racing. There have been recent resignations, but enough to imagine the BD office must be like the Marie Celeste? Does anyone know the real reasons for these resignations? Speculation only fuels the rumour mill and it would be unreasonable to expect BD to comment on grounds of confidentiality.

    The fact is that there are now more people going down the centre line than ever before and paid membership of BD is at its highest ever, which suggests that although there may be a core of unhappy people, the consensus is that lots of happy members are out there enjoying their sport.

    Get involved!

    I’ve read that many are feeling that BD doesn’t communicate effectively, although I’m not sure where this comes from. They have even set up an email address expressly for sending feedback directly to the office and seem keen to take members’ views on board. But if you want to influence the decision-making process, there’s no better way than to get actively involved by volunteering to be on a committee or working group. At the end of the day, it’s a question of putting your money where your mouth is.

    That said, having read some of the comments out there, I have concerns that no one will ever want to come forward again. If this is how people treat those working hard to bring about change on our behalf, many of them giving up their own free time, why would you put your name on the list? We have to trust and give time to those who have been voted in.


    As for the dedicated staff in the office, they deserve more respect and some members should give them a break.

    It cannot be nice having to work through all this, although, as a team, I am sure they are pulling together to support each other. I have no doubt there are some questions to be answered, but equally, I do not doubt that BD will answer them.Ultimately, we all want the same — a healthy, growing sport that continues to support all of its participants.

    We will only achieve this by working together in a constructive and positive way. Let’s do it.

    Ref Horse & Hound; 30 November 2017