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.