Extra fees, the Club says no and asks for past agreements to be respected

The International Jumping Riders Club pronounced against extra fees in equestrian shows. This time, on this heavily debated topic, the Club decided to oppose any extra cost for owners and riders. Some organizers are asking for more and more money in refunds, in addition to the entry fees, already paid. The first issue is if the organizers just look for a refund or look for some extra gain. We ask ourselves if it is right to pay for them in both cases. The Club in fact thinks different on the subject and requests a “ground 0” redefinition of the CSI requirements. First of all one has to take into consideration the real value of entry fees compared to the show level. This means top shows (i.e. Aachen or Göteborg) should not have the same fees as other 5* stars that do not offer the same facilities. This is even more true for three stars events, which differ by the horses’ number of subscriptions. So, first of all, a more in depth analysis should be taken on the CSI requirements.

Focusing just on the extra fees and setting the matter in a global economic crisis background, it’s easy to understand the objections that the IJRC makes: what happens if everything needs to be refunded to the organizers: electricity is already in, what about manure, car and lorries parking, etc...? What should the owners pay in the future? Shuttle service, tables, ticket restaurants, riders’ tribune? Nowadays they often pay for entry fees and travel expenses both for riders and horses.

It is important to remember the fact that twenty years ago the top riders used to ask a fee to the organizers in order to guarantee their participation. A custom that has been considered against the sport spirit and has been abolished after the ’97 World Cup organizers’ meeting in Zurich, in exchange of the promise of cancelling pay cards. An agreement that has not been respected in its second part. At the same time, for seven years the IJRC worked on the CSI requirements and it had been established that entry fees were fixed, with no space for extras. This agreement as well was not respected. So at least these extra costs should be considered within the global accordance and not one by one. Ten years ago it was decided that 5* shows should not have entry fees. Considering the economic crisis an exceptional historical moment, it had been accorded to World Cup and CSIO shows to charge entrees fees for two years. Unfortunately riders are still paying entry fees in these shows. At that time there were few 5 stars, less than ten in a year, and some people were ready to bet that it would have been the end for top shows: now we have more than 55.

We still are in an economic crisis period but nobody can argue on the fact that the prize money hugely increased and CSIO and World Cup have new big sponsors. Despite this the shows ask always more, national shows as well. The CSI requirements and the past agreements are not fully applied (as pay cards and entry fees). We think that owners and breeders, thanks to whom the sport business grows bigger and bigger (especially in northern Europe and Holland where breeders are also the owners of the young horses which take part in CSI), could easily get fed up and decide to be out of the game. The consequences are clear for all of us.

Barbara Leoni