Archive | November, 2012

The Summit

26 Nov

Fairly soon, the US will have its horse sport summit meeting.

What I expect:

Less than half the proposed attendees will show up.

The ones who do show up will all want to know what can be done for them.

The same old same old will be trotted out as new ideas.


Questions I hope get answered:

1. Can anyone tell the rest of us what actually happened at the FEI General Assembly? ie–was there no  mention let alone private discussion of the now-notorious (and even more so– pointless, mean-spirited, dictatorial,purposely obtuse) “sanctioned vs. non-sanctioned rule”  which basically states that any show that wants to bill itself as international (and therefore able to attract $pon$or$) will  give pay-back and fealty and control to FEI or everyone at the show will basically be suspended for six months,..?


FEI Regulations passed LAST General Assembly, Nov 2011 (That’s a year ago. 12 months before this post)


The regulation says in part:

<< Furthermore, on the basis of guidance received from the IOC, it was clarified that if one member of a Dressage, Jumping, and Eventing team is disqualified for an anti-doping violation, the entire team would be disqualified. However, in Jumping the team members that did not commit the doping violation would still be able to keep their score for purposes of the individual placings.>>

Yoo Hoo, . .Maybe the dressage and eventing people want to get this rule modified/rescinded/changed…?

2. Can anyone explain how they plan to grow the horse sport  in this country when everyday, in every way, there are fewer places for children/adults  to come into contact with live horses,unless an enormous amount of money is being spent to cover both liability and upkeep?  Budweiser has done more to keep the dream of horses alive through its wonderful commercials than all of USEF .

3. Can anyone explain whether or not there is any semblance of a plan that actually encompasses horse sport and not just some corner of it? Along with that–am I the only person who feels that having all these little-corner plans without a unifying vision may end up in everyone competing for the same dollars and everyone therefore getting none?

For what it is worth, here is the link to the report carried out in Great Britain:

Horse sport is ONE sector of the horse industry pie charts and visions for growth included in the report.

That report is dated 2003. It used data from the U.S. that was 8 years old at that time. 17 years old now, over 4 Olympics ago–and it is only economic data. Because the only reports ever carried out in the U.S. have basically been economic research, mostly Thoroughbred or AQHA, and a very few on the ‘horse industry’ itself. Which, confusingly, turns out in 2 of the reports to refer to ‘horse harvesting’  similar to the ‘harvesting’ of organs for transplant.

But no comprehensive plan . Nope.

4. Why is Kentucky the navel of the U.S. horse sport world ? Yes yes, I know the organizations have moved there and the footing is out of this world.  But really, WEG should have proven by now that if one has any hope of being in the black, there has to be some kind of entertainment nearby; some kind of glitz and glamor. Maybe some place to park the less passionate without losing them entirely.

Taking nothing away from the majesty of the TB breeding farms but downtown Lexington is not Worth Avenue; does not have a beach or slot machines or mouse ears, etc.

Yes, I think we need an umbrella plan.

Yes, I think we need to figure out how to attract the next generation.

Yes, I am repeating myself.

So–good luck to the Summit!


FEI again. Because the problem still does not go away

19 Nov


And yet again, FEI.


So the FEI is tired of the jumper riders flocking to Global Champions Tour. And  tired of the success of World Dressage Masters. 

Rather than hire ambitious minds to make their own shows more enjoyable for rider/spectator/sponsor/organizer, they simply announce a new rule, which of course, as planned first goes unnoticed — and then gets picked up by those pesky Internet chat boards.


The rule states:

<<  If an athlete, horse or an FEI official participates in a

non-sanctioned event, such person or horse will be prohibited from

participating in any sanctioned events, both international and national, for a

period of six months thereafter. An unsanctioned event is an event that is not

on the FEI calendar and is not authorised by a National Federation.>>


USEF as well as other national federations was asked what ‘the rule’ meant and as usual, has no answer.

FEI, pushed for a reply, issues a ‘clarification’ of their own  rule .What is a clarification of a rule? Please, don’t  sweat the small stuff.


<<  any show that has 15 or more international riders from 4 or more countries MUST be sanctioned  by FEI. Ie: controlled by/give money to FEI or be considered un-sanctioned (ie riders will receive no points toward FEI rankings which determine interest of sponsors, team qualifications, etc).


BUT, obviously even the FEI understands they cannot write a rule aimed  only at GCT or WDM; the lawyers on both sides would be caught up for years arguing restraint of trade, monopoly, anti-trust.



Being FEI, they announce a ridiculous ,ambiguous, meaningless rule, THEN get caught out (how did that happen? It was so …ambiguous, so meaningless, so…FEI) and THEN ‘clarify’ the rule.


How can anyone legitimately interested in horse sport allow this claptrap to continue unchallenged?


Because no one wants to take on the paperwork.

FEI has cleverly buried itself in so many committees, so many layers of insulation, so many rules and fiefdoms, it is almost impossible to see the structure any more.

Not to mention the NIMBY rule (Not in My Back Yard).


The way that rule works, when you piss off a group or organization, you give them a morsel or two, whatever it takes to get them to stop complaining and nod their heads in unison.

FEI did this when the rather powerful EEF (European  Equestrian  Federation ) challenged  the proposed re-organization of show jumping Nation’s Cup. The original FEI concept ,fueled by the $20 million Saudi Eq Fund, basically made show fixtures like Aachen and Hickstead stand in line to BID on the possibility of being allowed to hold a Nation’s Cup qualifier.

Now ,of course, after 45 member-strong EEF said NO , the proposal is that in Europe, it will be  business as usual.

Just to put this into  perspective, $20 million is about the cost for two of the  show jumper horses the Saudis bought last year to help them to their team bronze medal at London Olympics.

So leaving Nation’s Cup qualifier shows open to a bidding process could be detrimental to anyone outside the Middle East.

Or China—the other new powerhouse country that is gearing up for horse sport as Europe becomes first saturated with shows and then entirely monopolized by the FEI.


So far, in its efforts to ‘be transparent and democratic’, the FEI has summarily abolished all the Associate Members who represent the very stakeholders that make up FEI. The dressage riders, the jumper riders, the vaulters, the show  organizers, the owners, etc.

THAT is how you get rid of annoying debate.

FEI rules;  it does not discuss.


How does this affect you?  Well, if you are in North America, your opinion on horse sport,your concerns, your plans for the future, are of even less importance to FEI than they were before the emergence of globalization.

Welcome to the FEI version of the 21st century.

The emperor’s new clothes…

12 Nov

Yes, the FEI has just had its major meeting of the year, the General Assembly that shapes and dictates the realities of horse sport.

WHO went to this meeting from your country?
What and HOW (not to mention WHY) did they vote as they did?

Er…what did they vote on?

Not to worry, whoever went, they sold their souls for a piece of the pie. Everyone got a tiny morsel of something and,in return, there was no palace revolt over anything that might ever have been important let alone significant.

Oh sure,every news media has regurgitated the press releases:

The new pictograms that represent the 7 disciplines!

The fabbo ‘no blood’ rule that only affects dressage!

Endurance can now basically be a gallop across flat land!

The magnificent new Nation’s Cup deal wherein show jumping is now supported and shaped by the Saudi Equestrian Fund; for the price of oh 2  of the horses the Saudis bought last year that helped them gain the team bronze at the London Olympics (16 million Euros if you say it fast enough it is a mere bagatelle), the Fund has agreed to sponsor the next 4 years of the FEI flagship competition,Nation’s Cup. They even threw in 2 million euros to cover the deficit problems of this year,2012.

The imperial nod at various regions, giving them just enough recognition so that they vote correctly on the true issues.

—  No one asked if the Saudis ever plan to allow women to compete in equestrian sport . As of now, of course, they do not.

—   No one appears to have shed one tear that the Associate Members were all abolished, pushed under the bus for the temerity of speaking up and reflecting the views of–well, the riders in various disciplines.  Yes. The dressage riders were first not allowed to have any representation, but then magnanimously, were allowed to froth about for a few months while the abolishment plan was engineered. And of course the show jumping riders complained about that most fantastical FEI creation of all, “hypersensitivity” in which a horse is found to be naturally sensitive on its legs, thus giving it a better chance of clearing jumps. What? you ask…

The Associate Members as a group were created to give the athletes/stakeholders more input on their sport. Most of them found out they were being abolished a week before General Assembly, the news buried in a general memorandum.

Just google “hypersensitivity”  “hypersensitization”  “Tiffany Foster”  for the latest Olympic charade.

So now we will have instead a Memorandum of Understanding. Yes.

Why has no one asked exactly WHY the flagship competition has not been able to attract sponsors? Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that the Western European sponsors decided to wait to see if the Western European creation, the European Equestrian Federation, was granted its main wishes over Nation’s Cup ,etc. In the end, the main shows that have always hosted Nation’s Cup qualifiers will do so again–no silly standing in line and bidding against other venues for the privilege of making some money while giving the tithed portion to the ever-benevolent FEI.

Yes, Western Europe still wags the tail on the dog in oh so many ways. Yayyy EEF.

And perhaps it had something to do with the realization that the Saudis were prepared to outbid other offers.

Which is good, because the two areas of the world that are gearing up to grow horse sport are the Middle East and China–also amply represented at this year’s FEI.  So they should start shouldering the financial burden and sitting on the various boards. Who wants to bet that the next President of FEI comes from China?

That should be a perfect fit in terms of the stated goal of transparency and  stakeholder democracy.

So who went to this meeting from your country? How did they vote?