It seems the old adage is true; the more things change, the more they stay the same - at least as far as Equestrian Canada is concerned, anyway.
Every day my news feed is filled with complaints from members, athletes and insiders. Board members are resigning like rats fleeing a sinking ship; an online group has been established and has hired legal counsel to try and oust the current CEO, and EC sends out regular reminders telling us that everything is hunky dory and threatening to pull the licences of anyone who publicly paints the organization in bad light. The National Post even covered what it described as the sport's "dirty laundry." When's the last time you saw equestrian sport mentioned in one of our national newspapers?
Honestly, I have no idea what's going on and whether the current administration is doing a good job or not. Certainly a lot of people with far more knowledge than I don't think so. My only involvement with the association of late is the annual purchase of a Bronze sport licence so I can compete in local one-day Cadora shows.
Once upon a time, however, I was a board member at what was then the Canadian Equestrian Federation. Back then (in the dark ages of the early 1990s) each provincial association president had a seat on the board, giving each province direct input in the decision-making process.
A lot of what has happened in the past few years seems eerily similar. In those days, we saw the ouster of then Executive Director Basil Collett. There were enough complaints about internal staff - not athletes - making decisions on behalf of entire disciplines that groups such as Jump Canada and Dressage Canada were formed. The organization's name was changed from the Canadian Equestrian Federation to Equine Canada; at the time we felt it was more inclusive and recognized that we represent all aspects of equine involvement from recreational riders to horse welfare and not just equestrian sport.
The wheel has come full circle and now Equine is gone and Equestrian is back in their name. Expert groups like Jump Canada are apparently losing much of their powers as discipline related decisions get handed back to EC staffers. Did any of the changes, both then and now, make the organization any stronger or benefit the equestrian community? I wish I knew.
About the author
I'm a middle-aged, overweight, rusty re-rider who refuses to let any of that get in the way of my passion for dressage.