Word was getting around that Olympic show jumping team gold medalist Peter Wylde, who had been coaching U.S. eventing squad members and hopefuls in his discipline, would be dropped from that position by the U.S. Equestrian Federation.

Last week, Eventing Performance Director Erik Duvander and Jenni Autry, managing director of eventing, learned they would not be continuing in those jobs as the program underwent a post-Olympics review.

When he spoke about his situation to USEF CEO Bill Moroney on Dec. 7th, Peter reported, “His answer to me was `We’re not renewing any of the contracts.’”

Asked for a comment, USEF issued this statement: “Peter Wylde’s contract ended on December 1, 2021, and has not been renewed. We are continuing to evaluate the eventing department structure and trajectory of the program for the future.”

Like USEF’s other comments on this subject, it was curt and without detail.

But far from being depressed, Peter landed on his feet.

“It’s okay for me, because I have a group of eventers who have asked me to continue to help them privately. For me personally, the whole thing is working very well,” explained the 2002 World Equestrian Games show jumping individual bronze medalist.

Actually, he said, “It’s what I was looking for and hoping for.”

Peter Wylde’s skill as a show jumper got him a job training eventers in the discipline. (Photo © by Nancy Jaffer)

But he empathized with Erik and Jenni, having worked with them since 2020.

Citing “the commitment and effort and sacrifices that particularly Erik, but both Erik and Jenni. made for the team,” Peter said, “It felt to me a bit harsh that he got an email saying, `We’re not renewing your contract,’ and that was it.”

He added, “I’m heartbroken for Erik and Jenni because they gave so much.” After the hard work of the last 18 months, he said, “We all were so looking forward to…the fruits of the labor that was going to emerge in the next couple of years. I’m sad, because I think Erik is a very, very insightful horseman and a very insightful eventing person. He understands the big picture so well. I am sad for us as a community, the eventing community.”

Peter will be working with Boyd Martin, Jennie Brannigan, Liz Halliday-Sharp and Ariel Grald, as well as Phillip Dutton and others. He plans to spend part of the winter in Ocala and Aiken, where most of the eventers are based.

He has some thoughts on how the program could run.

“What Robert Ridland does for show jumping is what a chef d’équipe should be. I don’t believe the chef d’équipe is the trainer. Too many times you go to a championship and all of a sudden, the chef is telling you something you’ve never done before. Training is such a personalized thing that you need to have your personal trainer.”

Here is his concept: “What I’m hoping is that rather than paying a big salary to us trainers, they are going to give grants to top riders to help them pay us trainers. Then they can choose who they want to use.”

At the same time, the ship needs a captain.

“I think there should be someone who is really smart in the sport, not just a secretary or a team leader, somebody like an Erik – and this is what I just finished saying to Bill Moroney – not so much (for) the Boyd Martins and the Phillip Duttons, but the younger ones who are learning. They need someone who has that really smart eye, who can give some thoughts and some direction for some of these people. I think it needs to be somebody that really knows what they’re talking about and is really insightful. I can’t imagine that Erik couldn’t have filled that role just as well and been just as happy to do it. That’s why I was a little bit sad; why couldn’t Erik have been that person? I just didn’t understand that.”

Erik has said he would like to come back and train privately with some of the riders he has worked with over the last four years. Peter believes that can happen, saying “I think he will continue to be involved in U.S. eventing.”


* A previous version of the story indicated that all contracts were terminated. The article has been updated to reflect the fact that some contracts were not renewed when they expired.