After Horse Sport published an article on Friday with the details surrounding the resignations of Al Patterson and Ross Millar, there has been a flurry of activity.
An announcement was posted on the EC Facebook page around 5:30pm Saturday afternoon from president Jorge Bernhard. The post included a link to the EC website which hasn’t been in operation for the last couple of days, but a copy can be found here and reads as follows:
“The Equestrian Canada (EC) Board and management are aware of concerns and questions recently expressed by some members of the equestrian community with respect to how the Federation, Board and office are managed.
In light of the seriousness of the statements made in published articles, or expressed through opinions, perceptions and views, the EC Board will meet on Jan. 31, 2017 to address and respond to these statements and questions.
Following this meeting, the EC Board will make a further announcement on Feb. 1, 2017.”
Very shortly thereafter, EC’s Jump Committee publicly released a letter addressed to “Equestrian Canada Stakeholders”. The letter itemizes the committee’s concern with EC and notes that the group has “lost confidence in the current executive leadership of EC, and is frustrated by the lack of urgency shown by the Board in rectifying this crisis.”
The letter continues to detail many of the concerns that Patterson noted as prompting his own resignation including: the Mushroom Cloud Report, lack of communication, and inexperienced EC staff.
Shortly after that letter was released, the chair of the Eventing Committee, Peter Gray, sent a letter to the chair of the Jump Committee, Pamela Law. Horse Sport has obtained a copy of this letter which notes that the eventing community would not support the Jump Committee initiative:
I spoke with Jorge at length two days ago to discuss current matters at the EC Board level. I am all about mediation; discussing the issues and finding solutions. Victoria [Victoria Winter, Chair of Dressage Committee] suggested in a recent letter that discipline Chairs go to Ottawa to discuss matters of concern face to face, as she did. My appointed volunteer Chair of Eventing, HP Rob Stevenson, travelled from New Brunswick to Ottawa last Wednesday and had a very satisfactory meeting with Eva and our Sport Manager. He also met with other staff members to learn more about what they do and how we can better work together. Have you personally gone to Ottawa to meet with Eva, Mark and John to discuss the issues that Jump Canada has with EC? It seems you are currently just dealing with the Board. I asked in an open letter to this group if Para could return to the satisfactory Committee structure that they were happy with 2 years ago? I did not receive an answer.
I am hosting a reception this week at my home in Ocala for all Canadian eventing enthusiasts – owners, riders, grooms, vets, parents. Rob is flying down to discuss our plans for 2017, available funding, ways to build our sport and to announce some exciting news on planned high performance clinics! The negative press and social media witch hunts will only slow down everyone’s efforts to attract new sponsors and owners.
We have no reason to collaborate with you to call for the dismissal of our CEO. Eventing is enthusiastic and will steadfastly continue forward to improve our own Committee and resource the very best volunteers we can, to guide us and to work with our athletes for an even better future.
Please keep me on your communication emails with Discipline Chairs so I can continue to be informed with your progress and matters that affect all of us.
This is an interesting development, since many eventers were bitterly disappointed to hear the news that Graeme Thom had accepted the position as New Zealand’s High Performance Eventing Manager. Canadian eventing riders blamed his departure on EC management, so it may come as a surprise to some that their leadership is supportive of the administration.
Horse Sport will keep you posted as the story develops.