34% Increase in British Government Funding for Olympic Equestrian Sports, 46% Rise for Development of Horse Sports

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Great Britain's dressage team of Carl Hester, Laura Bechtolsheimer and Charlotte Dujardin that led the nation to an historic medal winning success at the Olympics. © 2012 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

 

LONDON, Dec. 18–Great Britain’s history-making Olympic equestrian performances led by double gold medals in dressage has led to an increase of almost 34 per cent to £17.9 million (US$29 million) in United Kingdom Sport funding for the Olympic disciplines of dressage, eventing and jumping over the next four years.

The increase to £17,9 million from almost £13.4 million (US$21.76 million) in the four-year cycle leading to this summer’s London Games was announced Tuesday by the British Equestrian Federation.

The big increase in funding for the World Class Performance and Development Programs came a day after the federation announced that Sport England allocated an increase of 46 per cent to £6 million (US$9.75 million) from £4.1 million (US$6.66) for grassroots and development of equestrian activities.

Funding for Paralympic equestrian sport increased to £3.78 million from £3.6 million.

Great Britain’s performances at the 2012 Games in Greenwich Park in London included team gold and individual gold and bronze medals in dressage, the first Olympic medals of any color ever won by the nation. Britain also won team gold in jumping and team silver in eventing.

The UK Sport funding of lottery and taxpayer money puts equestrian on the same level as other successful British sports such as cycling, rowing, sailing, gymnastics and track and field.

The new level of funding leading to the next Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 “enables the sport to continue to maximize its successes on the World, Olympic and Paralympic stages as well as helping to  develop elite riders for future success in the four Olympic and Paralympic disciplines of showjumping, dressage, para-equestrian dressage and eventing,” the BEF said in a statement.

“The funding has established the World Class Performance and Development Programs as the envy of the international equestrian world. Its aim is to have in place a sustainable system that can deliver more medals on the international stage now and in the future through the provision of a range of services and support.”

BEF Chief Executive Andrew Finding said, “2012 has been a very good year for equestrian sport and we are thrilled with this award. Success comes with outstanding team work and I want to pay tribute to a government that’s put so much faith in sport, to UK Sport, the National Lottery players, British Dressage, British Eventing and British Showjumping, the owners of the horses, Performance Director Will Connell, the support staffs and coaches and of course the athletes who deliver the results.”

Equestrian Performance Director Will Connell said that differences in the way the money must be spent means a direct comparison is not straightforward.

But he said that “2012 was a very satisfactory conclusion to a journey that started in 2005 when London was awarded the London 2012 Olympic & Paralympic Games. We have been working on the Rio plan since 2011 and now we have the funding figures we will be able to add the final detail. We also need to look at the detail of the Rio funding Agreement as there will be some changes from the London Olympiad and way the funding is managed and spent.”

The Sport England allocation that was announced Monday is for funds to go to the BEF to “deliver increased participation, to sustain a quality offering for current riders, drivers and vaulters and to further develop talent pathways within the sport.”

Andrew Finding, the BEF CEO, said the federation is committed to making a difference.

“We want to see more people riding in the countryside, on bridle paths, in urban areas, riding schools, clubs, colleges and livery yards,” he said. “In doing so we will pay particular attention to young people between the ages of 14-25 as well as those with disabilities and those with a prodigious talent.”

“We have, with the help of Sport England, set out broad aims to achieve these goals and will be adding flesh to these bones now that funding levels for these projects have been agreed.”