Counting the cost of equestrian sport


Recent media reports suggest that some (European) National Federations heading for the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky later this year are balking a bit at the cost of travel, and there is talk of cutbacks.

Welcome to our world. The gumboots are now firmly on the other foot.

Riders from New Zealand and Australia have long had to make sacrifices in order to compete on the world stage in the Euro-centric world that is equestrian sports. We’ve always been on the back foot, except for the 2000 Olympics, perhaps.

As a nation we’ve scrimped, saved and fundraised for years to get to big events and have watched in recent times as funding options slowly but surely dry up. This year will be no exception.

Equestrianism is not a cheap sport – it never has been. And really, it’s no longer a sport for the amateur, either, unless they’re independently wealthy. It is fast becoming a sport for monied nations and individuals.

The US is closer for the Europeans than it is for us. Competitors from down under who are vying for WEG berths are pondering where and when to base themselves before the event, and who can blame them.  Selectors play a part in all this, too; before the last Olympics New Zealand showjumpers wanting to be considered for selection for Hong Kong had to travel to Poland of all places to be in with a shot.

The Brits are saying that for them to send a full eight teams to WEG,  it will cost about $NZ3.4 million. We won’t have that problem, at this stage anyway, with just two eventers and six jumping riders named on WEG squads. There’s no word yet on the dressage hopefuls.

So, given that some countries might not send full teams, how much weight should we put on these (or any) world championships? Or on any event where entries are restricted for financial reasons, for that matter? And these days that is all equestrian events.



4 thoughts on “Counting the cost of equestrian sport

  • February 18, 2010 at 8:26 pm

    It is sad but true that international sport is so often about money rather than a true test of skill. Equestrian is even more so due to the relationship between horse and rider. If this was not the case it would be relatively easy to fly riders over and match them with a horse onsite, it would be an interesting twist on horsepersonship anyway (wouldnt you love to see that with some of the top dressage riders. Perhaps the future is using mediums as such the FEI dressage competitions were people compete locally and are judged internationally. The website may be a view into the future. Or, I think with a shudder, will it be a tv programme with viewer voting on the winner…

  • February 18, 2010 at 10:50 pm

    News story from today:

    Europeans start new equestrian federation
    A group of 27 equestrian nations has formed the European Equestrian Federation which is aimed at representing the interests of European horse sport within the FEI.

  • February 22, 2010 at 11:38 pm

    perhaps this is an opportunity for our equestrian athletes to excel?? don’t forget endurance – I think currently we have 9 qualified combinations so the chance of getting a really good team of 6 to go over is stronger than ever and if the europeans don’t put up such a good footing, even better for us!
    I would so love to go and watch

  • February 28, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    There is one mood here, in the USofA, that notes about the very good horse and rider combinations that have no hope of ever being able to afford to represent their country in games such as these. Therefore the same team members that do have the cash cosntantly represent their countries, regardless of the quality of their abilities and horses and, if this horse is not going to make it, then buy another and see…
    There are some regions of the world that have thousands of horses to choose from and can create a team fom a pool of a couple of hundred.
    So, do all these conditions measure up to a fair and level playing field? And yes, what will it mean for the winner – I think of the World Series of Baseball and World Champions of Football in this country where the rest of the world isn’t even invited!!!


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