Organisers of a new Scottish eventing series hope to provide more opportunities for riders, after a number of affiliated venues stopped running horse trials. H&H finds out more
A new unaffiliated eventing group in Scotland is aiming to “reinvigorate” the calendar by offering more opportunities for riders and support for venues.
The Scottish Eventing Group hopes to increase the number of affordable events and “address the drop-off” in eventing opportunities in the country. Since 2018, Scotland has lost British Eventing (BE) fixtures including Hendersyde, Aswanley, Floors Castle, Scotsburn and Eglinton. Glamis Castle joined the calendar in 2019, and for 2021 there are six BE venues, plus the international horse trials at Blair Castle.
Scottish Eventing Group chairman Patrick Milne Home told H&H the options for Scottish riders are “limited”.
“You can’t expect someone from Morayshire or Aberdeenshire to drive five or six hours to the border, and further. It’s too far and too expensive,” he said. “We’ve lost a number of events and we need replacements.
“We don’t want to clash with any affiliated or unaffiliated events in the calendar. We’d be delighted to see more affiliated events and we support any plans BE has to add more dates in Scotland. But if that’s not possible, we will be working to help create alternative activities and competitions to fill the gaps.”
Committee member Grace Moran told H&H there is a “real need” for the group, which also aims to offer training for volunteers and officials.
“We’re hoping to start with existing hunter trials and give them support with volunteer help, then look at new venues, such as those that perhaps don’t think they’re big enough to hold a full event, but could maybe hold a derby trial with 12 cross-country fences,” she said. “If that’s a success, the following year they could maybe add another six jumps, and in a few years have a full course. Hopefully this could bring people together so events can share resources.
“We’re not trying to compete with BE. Our ultimate aim is some of these events might graduate to becoming BE events. That would be the best thing we could hope to happen.”
The group has launched an online survey to gather feedback on what opportunities riders would like, while asking people to commit to helping.
“If we want a sport in Scotland, we’re all going to have to muck in and make it happen. We want to have local subcommittees that will feed back to the main committee. It’s very much a cooperative idea,” said Grace.
Aberdeenshire-based event rider and freelance coach Eilidh Herd told H&H Scotland is “crying out” for more opportunities for riders and that the group sounds “fantastic”.
“We used to have a huge choice of events that don’t exist any more. I’m looking at my BE membership and thinking, ‘Is it going to be worth it?’ and there are other riders in the same boat,” she said.
“I cannot physically, mentally and financially travel to Cumbria or Yorkshire three weekends out of four to go eventing. If there are more in Scotland, that’s got to be better. ”
BE Scotland chairman Cameron Crawford told H&H BE tries to provide all members with access to events with a good geographic spread, but added that owing to light and weather restrictions, organising events in Scotland comes with “additional challenges”.
BE chief executive Jude Matthews added that BE continues to work with stakeholders in Scotland in conjunction with the BE Scotland committee to ensure there are “appropriate” competition opportunities for Scottish members.
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