Who goes to WEG – Best riders or paperwork keeners?

bitofbritain-Week1

Riding for Canada at the World Equestrian Games (WEG) was a life long dream for eventer, Kathryn Robinson. That dream finally came true in June 2014…for about ten days. One might automatically think that the dream-ending culprit was an injury. Not even close.

If you followed the Canadian WEG selection, you will remember that there was an initial press release from Equine Canada to announce Kathryn as part the team on June 20th, 2014.

Strangely, another press release on July 2nd, 2014, announced a correction to the team selection. It stated “Kathryn Robinson, Kettering, GBR, formerly named to the WEG Team, was deemed ineligible when it was unfortunately discovered, subsequent to the Team being announced on June 20th, that Ms. Robinson had not declared herself as a candidate for selection to WEG by the mandatory deadline specified in the WEG selection criteria. As such, she was not eligible for selection. Equine Canada regrets that this situation occurred but believes it is of paramount importance that all Equine Canada disciplines implement team selection processes that are consistent, fair and transparent.”

Equine Canada did not clarify how she was even in consideration for selection if she failed to meet the deadline although they regretted the error. This little over sight had big effect on Kathryn Robinson.

Chose not to declare

At the end of 2013, Kathryn did not think her horse would be ready for the WEG and she did not declare. Declaring for Canada is a big expense, $450 CA, non-refundable. In a sport where riders do not earn prize money, they have to be careful where they spend their money.

Kathryn explained, “In January, I was supposed to complete the agreement that I wanted to go to the WEG. Last season had not gone as well as I wanted. I had a brief chat with the Canadian coach when he came over here to try to gauge if there was a chance that I would be going to WEG. There was not much positive feedback. So I thought fine, I will just carry on with my horse and try to get him qualified for Badminton in 2015.”

The competition application (attached) clearly states that:

  • it must be completed, signed and returned by, 5 pm ET Friday, November 15, 2013; and
  • the competition application fee (one per rider) must be received by Friday January 10, 2014.

Don’t worry about the deadlines

A member of the Canadian eventing high performance committee approached Kathryn in June 2014. Kathryn said, “I was having a good season and they contacted me. I was asked if I would be interested in going to WEG and I was like, God I would love to. I thought they would know if I could go or I if couldn’t go. I wasn’t really worried. They said backdate this paper and we will sort it out. So I didn’t really think anything of it.”

Kathryn said she filled out the paperwork just after Bromont so it was after June 8th, 2014. Bromont was the last qualifying run for the WEG for Canadian based horses. She did not even make her payment of $450 CA with her application.

Let the celebrations begin

Within a couple of weeks after completing her application, the Canadian WEG team was announced.

She said, “When they made the announcement to the public on June 20th, I found out at the exact same time. I received an email saying that I was accepted and that I was going to WEG. I was thrilled. Especially for my team as I brought my horse from Germany when it was very young and I got it for free. I had only expected it to run a couple of pre-novice tracks. I had no intentions of it going to a four star or even being on a team. It took a lot of hard work to get him here. I felt it had finally come together and I never thought it would.”

First thing after finding out, Kathryn had to find another groom as she and her fiancé Giovanni Ugolotti share a groom. He is riding at WEG for Italy. Kathryn frantically made some calls and got in contact with a very good freelance groom.

“I was elated. I was telling all my friends and family. There was a film crew coming to film me as part of a feature about Americans and Canadians on the road to Normandy. This was great publicity for us to get new sponsors, as we are quite a small team. We haven’t won any major titles yet and this would have been huge for our business for us both to go to WEG,” she said.

Kathryn was in full gear to prepare for the biggest event of her life. She said, “I struggle with self-confidence so I started to go to a hypnotist to get in a program to help.”

Sorry you missed the deadline

The whirlwind preparations came to a screeching halt when Kathryn received an unexpected phone call from an official at Equine Canada. Kathryn said, “I was told that there was some really bad news, we can’t take you to WEG. I said why and she said because of this paperwork. Really, really…now you are telling me after you announced it.”

When asked if she was given any support or offered any advice on what to do next, Kathryn replied, “No it was like you are not going, that is it. I thought, where do I go from here? I did not know who to go to protest it. I had no help and it was quite upsetting. I was told by a member of the high performance committee to not go down the route of trying to fight it. I don’t know what that was meant to mean, I haven’t read anything into it. I don’t know if there is more politics behind this than I know.”

Clerical formality unnoticed

Eventing Connect, contacted Fleur Tipton, manager of eventing at Equine Canada for clarification about why Kathryn was selected for the team and then removed as part of a correction. The official response by email was “It was regretful that Ms. Robinson failed to fill out the correct documentation for declaring for the 2014 WEG within the allowed time period and therefore became ineligible for selection. This clerical formality was unfortunately unnoticed when the Team was first announced. It was unfair to the athlete and Kathryn has been incredibly gracious with the ordeal. The eventing high performance committee is committed and is working hard to ensure that this does not happen again. The Canadian eventing committee wishes to assure Ms. Robinson and all members of the public that her ineligibility for the 2014 WEG Team is, in no way, a reflection of Ms. Robinson’s capability or that of her horse, Let it Bee. The committee would like to thank Ms. Robinson for her willingness to represent Canada and looks forward to her participation as a Canadian athlete in future major games.”

Declarations required too early

Kathryn feels that the declaration deadline is too far out from the competition to be able to judge if your horse will be ready. She points out that in other countries like Britain, Italy, Germany, Ireland, riders are chosen based on results and athletes do not have to declare for major games.

She said, “The people going to WEG should be the right people based on the results, not filling out the paperwork or knowing the right people. I wish it was done like that and I don’t really understand why it is not.”

New goals

“I am quite low at the moment. You have to pick yourself up with a new goal. It is hard when you strive for something, get it and it is taken away. Not because your horse is injured but for an unclear reason. You cannot play with someone’s life like that,” Kathryn said.

She is now aiming for Badminton. She thinks her horse is suited for the Badminton track. However, if she does not get enough points to get into Badminton, she is considering Rolex.

What do you think?

Should the list of declared riders be made public?

Are the declaration deadlines and fees reasonable?

Attached is the documentation that was provided to Canadian riders for making a declaration for the 2014 WEGs.
2014 WEG Criteria2014 WEG application

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