When I thought about writing an update on the rider rep program I wondered how I could get everyone’s attention. I tried writing a genuinely interesting piece, but when I finished I was not certain I had accomplished the task. My wife Jenn suggested the title for this article, and I hope it does the trick, so listen up people.
For many years our sport has been divided into various factions. We have Competitors, Officials, Organizers, and Volunteers. It always amazes me how much veiled tension there is between these groups. After all, we are all horse people right? We all love this sport and want to see it continue on into the future for years to come. One of my main goals as Chair of the Professional Horseman’s Council has been to try to increase communication between these groups so that we could all work together for the betterment of the sport. I will be the first to admit that some days I have done a better job of this than others. The most recent and most obvious example of this effort is the newly revamped rider rep program. Again I will admit that this program was not met with the appreciation the PHC had hoped for by all the groups in our sport. From the very beginning the motivating factor behind the program has been to end the Monday morning quarterbacking by competitors in our sport. I am not sure yet that we have completely succeeded in the effort, but we certainly have made a start.
So now that we are well into February we do have a basic idea of the prospects of the program. Generally speaking things are looking good. Riders are being asked to be reps well ahead of time and they are communicating with the officials. So far things have been very respectful and very professional. I am thrilled that we are off to such a great start. The officials and organizers have stepped up and done everything that has been asked of them. The PHC wants to be sure to say a big thank you to them. As expected there are some weaknesses in the program that will hopefully be ironed out. The reality is that those weaknesses are in the end more on the rider’s shoulders than they are on anyone else. We as riders need to read and understand the new rule. I have pasted it below so that you can all read it over and understand it. The primary issues so far have been getting the riders to show up on time, and being certain that the paper work gets filled out. So first things first, the officials show up the day before a competition around 8 AM to start walking and measuring the courses. We as rider reps have been asked to show up at 3 PM the day before the competition starts so that there is ample time to address any potential issues. This part of the rule is important not only because of the time issue of making changes to a course, but also to show some respect to the officials. It’s important to realize that we cannot expect the officials to hang around until 8 PM so that they can talk to the rider reps, or show up the next morning to a list of concerns that the rep expects to be addressed. The second issue is the dreaded paper work. Honestly guys, even I can do it. Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you how simple that must make it. Seriously, no excuses on this one just do it. The USEA has even made it simpler than filling out a form and dropping it in the mail. Simply go to useventing.com and click on the competitions button. From there click the PHC button. Once you get to the PHC page you can click on the rider representative form under the “official USEA forms” tag.
So here is our chance. We have asked for years to be heard. Every time we as competitors run into an issue of safety at an event we shout to anyone who will listen that we are the people with our necks on the line. Good news, they listened to us! Now let’s not drop the ball on this one. I promise you that if we, as a group, can step up and fulfill our responsibilities, this year will be remembered as the year when the riders finally did their part and took care of each other. It’s up to you now.
Rider Representative Rule Change
EV119 Competitor Representative. [Chapter EV. Eventing Division] Change to read:
1. A Rider Representative(s) and an alternate will be named by the Competition Organizing Committee for all competitions at the Training through Advanced levels. An organizer may name more than one Rider Representative at his or her discretion.
2. A Rider Representative must meet the criteria outlined below.
a. For events offering Preliminary Level or below, the rider representative will be a Senior rider who has completed four (4) or more Horse Trials at the Preliminary Level or higher on two or more horses.
b. For events offering Intermediate Level or higher, the rider representative will be a Senior rider who has completed four (4) or more Horse Trials at the Intermediate Level or higher on two or more horses.
c. Under extraordinary circumstances the Technical Delegate may approve a person who does not meet the above criteria.
3. The Organizer will identify, contact and secure the name of a Rider Representative no less than 7 days prior to the start of competition.
4. The Organizer will post the name of the Rider Representative no later than when start times are made available. Rider Representative’s cell number will be posted at the secretary’s office before the start of competition.
5. Responsibilities of the Rider Representative:
a. Inspect the cross-country course(s) with either the Technical Delegate or President of the Ground Jury at a time convenient to that party, but no later than 3pm the day before the competition starts
b. Inspect the Show Jumping course not later than 15 minutes prior to the start of the relevant competition.
c. Communicate immediately with the TD or PGJ any issue of safety or concern, including but not limited to: obstacle construction or placement, distances in combinations, footing, potential lighting issues, etc.
d. Avail him/her to all competitors and communicate all concerns to the TD or PGJ in a timely manner.
e. Areas of concern will be documented on the TD report and the Rider Representative Report.
f. Fill out and return to the USEA the official Rider Representative Report no more than 14 days after the end of competition.
Note: This added layer of participation by the Rider Representative does not in any way lessen the burden each competitor bears to actively voice his or her concerns either to a) the Rider Representative who will then communicate said concerns to the TD or PGJ or b) directly to the TD or PGJ. Further, competitors bear the responsibility in determining their own and their horse’s fitness, preparation and readiness. Communication of concerns to the Rider Representative, TD or PGJ does not remove nor shift that responsibility away from the rider.
The list of eligible Rider Representatives will be updated annually by the PHC and be available on the USEA Website. The list may be modified by the USEA as deemed necessary to have adequate coverage for all competitions.