Equine Canada has sent a strong message to the Pan American Equestrian Confederation stating the federation is firmly against a proposal to change the number of countries able to qualify for the Olympics through the Pan American Games from two countries to one county in the disciplines of Eventing and Dressage.

“We were horrified to learn of this proposal,” states Mike Gallagher, President of Equine Canada. “It is nothing short of punitive to countries from the Americas.

“To suggest that we reduce the number of available qualification positions for this region will remove motivation and investment in equestrian sport, especially in developing nations within the region.”

In its letter to the Confederation, Equine Canada pointed out the Americas represent over 30 per cent of all of the FEI-member countries in the world, and that it has the highest growth in FEI-level competitions among the regions. Further, considerable work has gone into raising the standard of competition in the Pan American Games, including a test competition that will take place next month in Florida for a new format for dressage.

“It is tremendously difficult and expensive for riders in the region to travel to competitions in other countries or to Europe,” states the President. “In spite of these challenges, results from the region have been steadily increasing. Regrettably these qualification proposals could virtually eliminate the possibility of more than one country from the Americas region qualifying for the Olympic Games.”

Equine Canada contends that the proposed change does not meet the universality requirement, or the geographic diversification requirement of the Olympic Games. Further it does not meet the performance requirements of having the best nations in the world represented.

“We do not understand the motivation for these changes. At the FEI, we have come so far in the past decade in demonstrating that world class equestrian sport exists outside of Europe and that it is truly a worldwide growing sport,” states Gallagher. “This change sends the exact opposite message”.

“We do support the proposal that both Dressage and Eventing compete with four team members and that the top three will count. However, we feel it’s important that the reserve horse for Eventing be allowed to compete as an individual. A conditioned 4* Eventing horse only has the opportunity to peak and compete once or twice a year at this level, and to prepare and transport a horse to the Games with the possibility of staying in the stall, will discourage owners and riders from providing reserve horses for the team.”

Equine Canada will continue to press its position towards more equitable and inclusive qualifying criteria coming out of the Pan American Games, and commits to keeping Canadian equestrian athletes and sport enthusiasts informed of its progress.