The British Show Jumping Association has suspended a horse dealer who rode a horse into a public area during the Royal International Horse Show at Hickstead last year.
Michael Drea, from Horsham, West Sussex, jumped the horse over a picket fence and rode him into the riders’ bar, injuring several people, in what the showground owner, Lizzie Bunn, described at the time as “an act of madness.”
The BSJA launched an inquiry into the case and held a stewards hearing on Friday 22 October, which Drea declined to attend. After the hearing, the Stewards concluded that Drea had contravened a BSJA rule forbidding members to conduct themselves in a manner which, in the opinion of the Stewards, is detrimental to the character or prejudicial to the interests of the association.
The Stewards suspended Drea for five years and recommended that the Executive Board extend his suspension to seven years. The Board decided to keep the penalty to five years, but imposed on Drea an additional two-year probationary period after his suspension ends.
“Should Mr Drea come to the attention of the Board after the suspension has been lifted they may take [his behaviour] into consideration,” says Pam Rose, a BSJA disciplinary officer.
For as long as he is suspended, Drea will not be able to transfer the registration of a horse or pony from his ownership to anyone else. He can obviously continue to sell his horses, “however, should [he sell] an animal that is registered with the Association in his name then we would not action any re-registration,” explains Rose.
He will not be allowed to deal in any capacity with a BSJA-registered horse or pony — whether as trainer, manager, adviser or groom — at any show affiliated to the BSJA, nor will he be able to walk the course, have access to the practice areas or be involved in any way with any BSJA-affiliated show.
Drea, who has already been banned from Hickstead for life by the showground owners, was also fined £3,000, severely reprimanded and cautioned about his future behaviour.
Meanwhile, the BSJA also held its Executive Board elections this week. Tim Stockdale, Liz Edgar, William Funnell and Bob Ellis were elected nationally. James Loffett and John Youngs were elected for Region G (Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire), Jane Twemlow and Alan Golledge were elected for Region I (Sussex and Kent) and Susie Holroyd and John Tuff were elected for Region J (Avon/Somerset, Dorset, Devon and Cornwall).
Their appointment will undoubtedly have an impact on the planned changes to the BSJA constitution, which had been drafted by the previous board in October. At the time, the proposed shake-up had led to the resignation of four board members, among which was Twemlow, who has now been re-elected. However, some other newly-elected members have not served on the BSJA Board before and it is difficult to assess whether they will favour or oppose the changes.
“[The new board members] will be briefed and brought up to speed on those issues and of course the plan will be voted on at the EGM,” says BSJA spokeswoman Jacky Knightley. The BSJA EGM will take place on 12 January.