Riders Deserve A Say In Their Next Eventing Coach

Mar 6, 2011 - 7:39 AM
Photo by Kat Netzler.

I am often hesitant to take a stand and put my opinion out there when controversial subjects arise, but over the past few days I have had time to sit and really think about the fact that Bobby Costello and Phillip Dutton did not get named to the short list for our future Chef and Technical Advisor.

Two years ago there was an open meeting at Fair Hill about the process of choosing a new leader for our country’s eventing team. After that meeting I walked up to Sara Ike and said I thought it would make sense to have a representative of the up-and-coming riding population be a part of this team selection process. Would it not make sense to have the people that are going to have their futures directly impacted by this person at least get one vote or chance to voice their thoughts on who we would choose?

We are told to trust the system and believe that it will be the right thing for our future, but I must say that I am completely shocked that someone who already coaches many of the riders on the A list, B list and Developing Riders list didn’t get the chance to voice his goals and plan for returning this country to one that wins medals.

I have spent the last few days on the phone with numerous riders who are completely shocked and upset that Phillip and Bobby’s plans will never be heard. Does it make sense that all these riders’ opinions mean so little? This blog is not to put down David O’Connor. His coaching is obviously successful. I admire Leslie Law and respect and support him in going for this job.

But since when do our opinions not matter? I have called rider reps. To be honest, they sounded like they already have their minds made up. I feel as though the one group of people who should have the most input in who is going to run our future is the group that gets heard the least. If that’s not true, then why would you leave off the partnership of Bobby and Phillip who already have the respect of not only the top level riders in our country but the FUTURE riders as well? Can anyone deny that Phillip’s program has produced top-level horses and riders for the past 10 years? His program obviously works. NO ONE can deny that.

I am shocked that we as a country would not be striving to build a program as consistent as his or at least hear what he and Bobby’s plans would be.

Results speak for themselves, and Phillip proves that along with his horsemanship. Phillip’s top horses all have very long careers. Why would we not want to at least hear the plan of someone who continuously produces results for himself as do his students and riders? I would love to see a program in place that has horses in their late teens still running top level three days throughout the world. There is something obviously not right with the system if this is what it has come to. Six or seven people have the right to whittle down a list of nine applicants to two without even giving the future a chance to speak. Something seems fishy to me, and I feel like this is a good time to come together and be heard. 

Brannigan Eventing


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