You might be wondering why many of us Irish horsey folk have been sharing the #letthemride hashtag, posts and articles. So, I just thought it might be worth explaining why this is.
A few years ago a group of four female riders qualified for the Tokyo Olympics. Due to circumstances this original team cannot go. One retired her horse and has not qualified another, one is pregnant and one has a horse that has been unwell.
However, a team of three was still possible by combining the fourth rider from the original team with two other riders that have reached the International MER needed to qualify for the Olympics. Seems simple right?
That International MER set by the FEI for Olympic qualification is 66%. Unfortunately the Irish governing body and the High Performance director set their own MER of 68%. (which is above what these riders had achieved). This resulted in them declaring that there was no team and permitting the fourth rider from the original team to ride as an individual.
This sets a higher standard for Ireland than the FEI does. This is at odds with the fact that an Irish rider went to WEG before and was not subject to such strict in country rules around scores.
So basically these two riders Dane Rawlins and James Connor have campaigned to earn their scores and have funded themselves in International competition to attain the International standard set by the Olympic Council only to have their own country deny them the right to compete.
Ireland has a team that they declined to enter and many of us do not feel that this is right. Why? It’s simple – to have the chance to compete as a nation at the highest level and to refuse it sets a negative and damaging precedent. It sends a bad message to our young riders, our aspiring riders and those on youth development squads. It sends a bad message to the average rider enjoying competing as an amateur and feeling inspired by seeing others work at the highest level. Above all else it goes against the fact that we all love an underdog story and the principle of the Olympics is to take part rather than to win. Do you remember Cool Runnings? That’s what this is about – representing your nation at the highest level you can.
So what can you do? We want to share the attached photo and the hashtag #letthemride internationally. The first appeal against the decision not to send the team was lost but the second appeal is ongoing and the outcome has not been decided yet – public sentiment is important here. If you agree that Horse Sport Ireland should #letthemride please save and then share the attached photo and hashtag thank you.