The days of the "anything goes" dress code and riding style for endurance riders may soon be a thing of the past.
Any old riding gear and tack and sloppy riding may well make way for matching team clobber and smartened up athletes in the FEI's new "Triple E" three-year plan for bringing the image of the equestrian sport of endurance up to scratch.
But riders need not feel singled out - the image makeover will also apply to officials and their support crew.
The sport's image is under discussion at the highest levels, and delegates at a recent FEI Bureau meeting looked closely at implementing a dress code for riders and their support crew. Under the "Triple E" plan, the 'E' of the dress code comes under the "Elevation of Endurance Image".
I LOVE the sport of endurance riding and having been a successful competitor in the other FEI disciplines (dressage, eventing and jumping), I in a place to make a good comparison. Endurance riding is decidedly the most complex of these disciplines (coach opinion) and I feel, the most rewarding for both horse and rider (private participant opinion), but it feels like I have been on a one woman crusade for 15 years or so on just this topic...improved equitation (rider biomechanics) in endurance riding. If riders only knew how much difference balanced, fluid riding (good equitation) can and does make to a horse's performance, everyone would be lining up to improve their skills. I'm happy to see that the international community is making it about NOT just staying on, facing forward and getting to the finish line anymore! Donna Snyder-Smith
Hi: I am new to endurance and I think endurance is the absolute most wonderful equestrian sport- but one of the things that makes endurance wonderful and affordable is the fact that people don't have to get all caught up in a "look" or a "style" . Varied riding styles suit various horses....obviously I am a proponent of good horsemanship but to bring "up" the image of endurance by imposing dress requirements is a most certain mistake. The endurance riders that I have observed and ridden with all take great pains to see that their horse's tack is well fitting and clean, that their attire is comfortable/functional and that their horses are conditioned and immaculate. Now, as I said before I am new to the sport but I have been riding for years in lower level hunters, training level dressage and fox hunting. Today it is very hard to set aside the financial resources to compete a horse. A dress code will only further strain the people who are struggling to keep their horses in the sport. Education and equitation are much more important than the "Elevation of Endurance Image". After all, what better to support the image of endurance than the camaraderie of endurance riders that is so evident at all the rides? Whether you need a helping hand, permission to pass on the trail or help getting a trailer out of a precarious spot, endurance riders/crew/officials and volunteers are the best ambassadors of the equestrian sport! Action speaks louder than attire.
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