The Riders Briefing – 23rd April 2021 – By Douglas Welsh Vice President / Acting President

It is now only a month since I was elected Vice President and assumed the Acting President role at ESA due to Mike’s resignation and a most interesting month it has been. I started off my term by chairing the ESA executive council meeting at which I made an opening mission statement about what I wish to achieve while I am on the council and I will summarise for all eventers and their connections as follows:

  • Our business model at ESA assumes we have riders who pay for shows as well as the costs to run ESA. The riders are our customers and we need to look after them. ESA must always be user friendly to the riders. We also need to consider ways to make the sport more cost effective for riders.
  • Our sport does not operate without shows so our show-holding bodies are our greatest asset and we need to do as much as possible to support, and grow our venues and the people who go to great lengths and expense to run shows.
  • Our Officials give of their time and talents regularly for Eventing and we need to focus on developing and educating more new and younger Officials so the burden does not continually fall on the same experienced senior officials at all the events.

I would like to introduce :

  • . I would like a permanent FEI show tour circuit in RSA of 5 or more FEI shows annually throughout the provinces. These shows need to be supported by ESA to a greater extent as we know the riders do support the FEI as the ultimate shows to partake in. There must be a plan of what FEI grades will be presented at these shows so the riders glide pathway to higher grades is accessible. I believe that FEI is the GOLD standard of our sport internationally (Olympics and World Championships plus many others) but recently we have let FEI shows fall by the wayside for various reasons
  • I wish to introduce a HIGH PERFORMANCE TRAINING PLAN for our talented young riders to improve their skills and to try to develop riders in South Africa for International participation ( WEG and Olympics) .
  • I think The Interprovincial Competition needs to have a broader base and so it will attract more riders to the show.
  • Africa Nations Cup is a fantastic event for our riders to get international exposure and learn to work as a team. We need to work on the concept of supporting the best and most qualified riders to ride for TEAM SA and not just those who can afford to travel.
  • Our development officers need to be proactive in getting PDI Riders and Officials more active within Eventing.
  • We need to have and implement a plan to associate our sport with SANESA and Pony Club to attract more young riders into the sport.
  • I would like to introduce a portfolio for Coaches and also have a “Coach the Coaches“ programme implemented.
  • Possibly the introduction of a National One Day Series for South Africa with excellent prize money.
  • Any rule changes must be to make participation by riders easier and not inhibitive and must be workshopped through the provinces riders and not only the council members who generally are not the riders themselves.

So as not to bore you all as we used to be at Briefings before Cross Country, I will give a short summary of progress so far.

  1. A TD/CD course was held at FEI show at Dolcoed two weeks ago and fantastic to see three PDI course designers as well as 7 other new officials attend and I think they all enjoyed the seminar and all passed with flying colours.
  2. A discussion has started about the new rules that came into effect this year and I think there will be progress in the near future regarding the MER requirements.
  3. I have been in conversation this last week with JP Cambolives who some riders will recall was the SA Team coach for World Games in Kentucky 2010 and he has just been promoted to the Director General of FEI Solidarity. This is fortunate for SA Eventing as “JP” is a Friend of ESA. There is funding available to assist with our goals and I will be (with assistance from other Eventers) submitting a funding proposal via our Federation to FEI Solidarity to assist with our goals for ESA.
  4. Dolcoed held a successful FEI show that was very well supported by Gauteng and KZN riders (23 FEI Horses entered) Sad because of AHS WP riders could not attend.
  5. Sadly, Sandringham (WP) has cancelled their proposed FEI show for the end of the year because of a date clash. Going forward we need to look very carefully at our calendar and how it must suit all proposed shows throughout the country. It will be something I will be looking into going forward.
  6. OFS eventing is almost up and running. I have been working with OFS Chairperson, Casey, and there is an arena eventing competition in the pipeline as well as a lower level show later in the year. It will be great to have events in Bloemfontein in the future.
  7. I think the confusion about the new dressage tests might have been cleared up and thanks to Nikki Thurgood for help in this regard.
  8. The highlight of my first month was the signing off of Vicky Scott for the Olympic Team. Vicky is a home grown athlete from South Africa who has worked her way to the top of FEI Events, she is currently operating out of France.

I wish all riders safe riding at the forthcoming shows all over the country and until the next riders briefing, feel free to engage with me at any time

Good Luck.