All systems have their ups and downs and unfortunately the EA at some stage decided to not continue to be a member of the NCAS system and to break away with their own system. They did dismantle the NCAS coaching system and then really didn’t ever put it back together again. Anyway, it has continued to survive and flounder along for these past couple of decades. Interestingly, the coaching aspect of EA is one of the few EA things that is a financial success.
Recently the EA Coaching Committee was disbanded, on 17 April 2023, by the Chair of EA, Mr Mark Bradley. Ironically, the EA has not yet taken the coaching committee down off its website! It is my understanding that in the absence of the coaching committee, Jill Taylor, who is the EA National Participation Manager, has also taken over the role of the coaching manager.
Thinking about Craig Barrett’s misfortune with the electric fence and the recent tedious and long coach renewal process, I couldn’t help but think that EA coaching accreditation is drifting further and further away from being effective and positive for EA members in terms of promoting riding standards and helping riders and horses achieve their goals.
I feel that the EA coaching renewal is generic and to me:
• It does not ever address the welfare of the horse. In my opinion, the horse is the key to everything, and coaches should be prioritising the wellbeing of the horse at every opportunity. The horse makes our sport very different from volleyball or soccer or netball or water polo etc. These other sports have equipment that can be bought. Equestrian has the horse that is the result of years and years of nurturing and training and does take a large part of the rider’s life. The horse is pretty much irreplaceable. Looking after the horse should be one of the critical priorities in a coach’s efforts to develop our sport.
• The coaching renewal also does not recognise that the horse also has the potential to damage riders, which is unique to our sport. A volleyball or soccer ball does not really have this potential. Coaching in the equestrian disciplines, is all about developing knowledge and discipline, which is completely critical for rider safety. In our sport, understanding the horse, and how to handle and train the horse so that a rider can achieve his or her goals is unique to all equestrians.
Both of these points need to be fully developed and dominate coaching renewals and coaching accreditation. In my opinion, neither of these points receive any real recognition.