Equestrian

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FEI Proposed Reforms Include Name Change from Three-Day Event to Equestrian Triathlon

24 Feb, 2016

By: Mary Helen Sprecher
New Moniker, as well as Other Reforms, Being Proposed by FEI to Help Make Sport More Attractive to TV Viewers

Triathlons, one of the hottest bucket-list items around, may be hosting an all-new breed of athlete: the kind that wears a saddle.

The proposal by the International Equestrian Federation (FEI), that the term, three-day eventing, may possibly be replaced with equestrian triathlon, is on the table for consideration. And so far, it has won the approval of British Eventing, described by Inside The Games as one of the sport’s most powerful federations.

The suggestion for the name change was spurred by a wish to make the event (which currently consists of three disparate equestrian disciplines: dressage, cross country and showjumping) more interesting and more relevant to today’s audience. And because it’s an Olympic event, audience interest counts.

So in a way, it’s rebranding. If you want to use that term around a horse.

Some groups have already latched onto the idea. Jeep, the sponsor of the elite three-day eventing competitions, advertises it as “Three-Day Eventing: The Equestrian Triathlon.” Near the description of the event is a picture of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, with ad copy that discusses the versatility and style of the vehicle in the same terms as that of the horses used in eventing.

The term is already in common use among riders. “I’m an eventer and when people ask me to explain what I do, I tell them, ‘Well, it’s like a triathlon.’ You’re using a term people already understand, which helps. If there’s a way to circumvent the long explanation, then it just makes more sense to do it that way,” says Colby Connell, chief marketing officer of the United States Equestrian Federation.

Clarity is another reason for the change, say officials. Although riders only compete on three separate days, an elite eventing competition generally takes place over four days because the opening dressage section is split into two days. (As an additional move to up the viewer-friendliness ante of the event, the proposal also would shorten dressage competition to no more than five minutes per athlete, meaning all dressage could take place in one day.)

“We are looking at the competition format and at making it more attractive,” FEI’s president, Ingmar de Vos, stated. “This should further increase television interest. The three broad components will remain the same: dressage, cross country, jumping."

At present, the three events would still take place in the same order.

The cross country would be run in reverse order of dressage results, however, making the scheduling and reporting of "top contenders" and medal hopefuls easier to broadcast and follow – another move designed with TV audiences in mind.

Each Olympic team would only be made up of three riders, with all three scores counting in the standings.

Detailed proposals will be on the agenda at the FEI Sports Forum in Lausanne, Switzerland, on April 4 and 5, before being voted upon at the General Assembly on November. If approved, the changes would go before the IOC in 2017, and, if successful at that level, could be in effect by the time of the summer Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020.

Although changing the title of an event is less common, it follows a pattern of reforms made by various international and national sports governing bodies. In many cases, names of actual organizations were shortened to become easier to remember. The International Rugby Board became World Rugby, while the International Sailing Federation changed its name to World Sailing and the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles became United World Wrestling. US SQUASH was previously known as The United States Squash Racquets Association.

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