Mike Etherington Smith blasts idea of ‘equestrian triathlon’ *H&H VIP*

  • One of the sport’s most distinguished figures has embarked on 11th-hour lobbying against the proposed renaming of eventing as equestrian triathlon.

    The new name is likely to be approved by the FEI eventing committee in early March and presented to the FEI sport forum in April. It follows more than a year of consultation in connection with the Olympic 2020 Agenda and the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) requirement
    to remodel horse sports.

    However, double Olympic course-designer and former British Eventing (BE) chief executive Mike Etherington-Smith is telling decision makers why he strongly opposes it. Aside from confusion, as triathlon means swimming, running and cycling to the wider public, he believes renaming is not a priority and that the sport’s presentation should be addressed first, or until a better name evolves.

    “The sport will always be horse trials in many people’s eyes,” he said.

    “Will events become, for example, the ‘Sponsors-Name International Equestrian Triathlon’? I think not. Eventing as a name, though as meaningless as golf, is starting to get recognition across the media.

    “I am not ‘anti’ the discussion, and I have no problem with commentators explaining it as like a triathlon for horses, but as a name change there are too many syllables.
 Would I be an equestrian triathlete? Would my horse be an equestrian triathlon horse? It’s too cumbersome.”

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    Mike was also concerned the new name had not been tested outside equestrianism. BE’s own working group on the topic comprised mostly top riders, owners and officials.

    David Holmes, who succeeded Mike as BE chief executive last May, said BE supported the name equestrian triathlon.

    “The IOC already uses the group heading ‘equestrian’, while triathlon also gives a nod to the original French ‘concours complet’, meaning complete competition, the Italian ‘concorso completo’, and the German ‘vielseitigkeit’ (versatility),” said David.

    Ref: H&H 4/2/16