Graham Fletcher: Are you happy with how your sport is run? [H&H VIP]

  • British Showjumping's membership need time to digest the implications of changes and give feedback

    This year’s British Showjumping [BS] AGM was held in the north-west of England at an amateur show at Aintree.

    It clashed with a Premier League show, held at Addington in Buckinghamshire.
    16 people turned up for the 10am, Friday morning BS meeting. So I have to ask some questions. Are all BS members happy with how the sport is being run? Or are the smaller committees put in place last year by our association now so clandestine that parts of our sport are being fundamentally changed without everybody realising?

    Following my last comment [H&H, 31 October], which apparently was first to flag up a possible revision of the BS rankings list, I can’t tell you how many supportive conversations, texts and emails I’ve had. Not to mention Facebook and forum postings.

    Thank you to everyone who took the trouble. Many clearly care about the future of our sport. And I no longer feel like King Canute trying single-handedly to hold back the tide!

    The feedback I’ve had has questioned our association’s role in initiating these changes. Indeed, it’s ironic there should be such an outcry against a policy being implemented by BS at a time when, in my opinion, British showjumping is on a high.

    We’ve just won European and Olympic team gold medals; we have the world number one in Ben Maher; Nick Skelton won the Aachen and Rome grands prix this season; we have good young riders coming through, and our national circuit is as strong as ever. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” springs to mind.

    In favour of one top list

    The AGM also heard about the introduction of bronze [90cm to 1.10m], silver [1.10m to 1.25m] and gold [1.30m and above] regional and national leagues.

    I’m not going to condemn this out of hand. The idea of an amateur league at smaller levels is a good one; it makes newer members feel part of an association.

    But the 1.30m and above — and what could effectively be our new national rankings list — is hopelessly wrong if it means national results and international ones are to be accounted separately.

    Up-and-coming riders want to feature in a points table that has Ben Maher at number one, not to be hived off into a separate “gold league”. It’s called ambition.

    I understand the present combined [national and international] rankings list will run until the end of March. Meanwhile, there will be ongoing consultation. Much depends, too, on a meeting with Helena Pettitt of Horse of the Year Show [HOYS], a show for which the combined rankings list has traditionally been used for selection.

    If changes are to be made, the BS membership needs time to digest the implications and to give feedback. So it’s to be hoped many will take up BS chief executive Iain Graham’s invitation to respond.

    Since I highlighted the possible threat to the way riders’ rankings are organised, BS appears to be more open to discussion of the subject. But why wait until now?

    Graham’s column was first published in Horse & Hound magazine (21 November 2013 edition)