HSI’s Missed Opportunity – A Lack of Representation in a Critical Year

Once again, divisions within Horse Sport Ireland (HSI) and its affiliated bodies threaten to hinder progress in the equestrian industry. On Friday, HSI announced three new board members, yet conspicuously absent was an appointee for the High Performance Sport Advisory Forum.

The recent board appointments at Horse Sport Ireland have sparked mixed reactions at best and silent whispers at worst within the equestrian community. While the new members bring a wealth of experience and expertise, there is notable disappointment over the absence of Olympic affiliates, raising concerns about the representation of high-performance sports.

In an Olympic year, the absence of High Performance representation on the board of the National Governing Body is not just a glaring oversight—it’s a betrayal of the athletes and stakeholders who rely on this vital support.

I will never understand why the industry stays so quiet publicly when then they are shouting behind closed doors. Why…. Because it has always been this way? Because “you can’t fight with HSI”, Because the hold the purse strings? Because it is an Olympic Year? Because it will never change…

It most certainly won’t if we stay silent. If we don’t keep talking. Words are where change begins and never forget it.

“In any given moment we have two options: to step forward into growth or step back into safety.”

The frustration within the community is palpable when we chat with people. As previously reported, many affiliates and individuals have voiced dissatisfaction with HSI’s constitutional changes this year… and the opaque processes surrounding board appointments. These changes have eroded trust and deviated from HSI’s original mission to unify and represent the sector comprehensively. This exclusion raises serious questions about the future of High Performance programs and the substantial funding they attract.

Organisational Reactions

Show Jumping Ireland (SJI)

Ronan Corrigan, the Finance and Management Chairman of Show Jumping Ireland (SJI), expressed no surprise but significant concern over the exclusion of high-performance affiliates. He emphasised the ongoing concerns about the appointment process and the funding models, noting that efforts to engage with HSI had been largely ignored.

Corrigan stated, “We are concerned about the exclusion of high-performance affiliates and the lack of engagement from HSI regarding our concerns about funding models and the appointment process.”

Eventing Ireland (EI)

Similarly, Niki Poterton, Chairman of Eventing Ireland (EI), voiced disappointment over the lack of clarification on EI’s nominations to the forum. Potterton called for more transparency and involvement in the decision-making process, reflecting a broader desire within the community for a more inclusive and transparent governance structure.

Potterton remarked, “There has been a lack of clarification on our nominations, and we are calling for more transparency and involvement in the decision-making process to ensure our voices are heard.”

The procedural reforms aimed at creating a more structured advisory system have not alleviated all concerns, particularly regarding transparency and inclusivity. Moving forward, HSI must address these issues to foster a more cohesive and representative governance structure.

As Ronan Corrigan highlighted, “The exclusion of high-performance affiliates and the lack of engagement from HSI are significant concerns that need to be addressed for a more inclusive and transparent governance structure.”

Niki Potterton’s call for transparency further emphasizes the need for HSI to involve all stakeholders in the decision-making process: “More transparency and involvement in the decision-making process are essential to ensure that all voices are heard and represented.”

Your past shapes your present for the chance of a better future.

This is about compound interest in a fight, in advocacy, in change making. It has to start. It has to be maintained. It has to be executed relentlessly.

In April I wrote a piece and said… “The equestrian community’s unified stance signals a pivotal moment for HSI. Addressing these concerns is crucial for the organisation to move forward effectively and maintain its credibility within the industry”.

Honestly, what has happened? NOT MUCH. Business as Usual… Affiliates giving out and HSI not listening but affiliates not pushing hard enough and not public enough. Some really are but let’s be clear, you can count those on one hand and it needs to be said, that most are not…

HSI’s decision to proceed with board appointments devoid of High Performance affiliates is not just disappointing—it’s a clear signal that the organisation continues to be out of touch with the needs of the sport’s most crucial stakeholders.

30+ affiliates were at that meeting. Has anything really changed after that historic show of power of Unity? Have more meetings happened to carry this on? Has the community been united and inspired to rise up for the battle ahead… I don’t know, you’re an equestrian reading this… you decide.

HSI is doing what it always does; it is doing what it likes. I suppose this is what happens when a board approves a rollout of a new constitution that only need 3 people as part of a quorum to make rules and implement new policies.

Look with the new appointments there seem like they’ve had great careers, but the continued exclusion of the representative voices of some of the biggest disciplines or affiliates really does risk undermining the very foundation of our equestrian community, do HSI give a shit? I doubt it…

The industry wants new leadership and governance. We saw that from the RDS meeting. Yet, all HSI did for the better part was stay silent and leave the storm pass. So is that is, a whimper, a press release and were back to normal. Have think about that… I will too. Let’s see what happens next…

I will say one thing though… if you want real change. Make it happen. Be consistent. Not stop, start, stop, start and the wonder why real change isn’t occurring. The community will rally on governance, leadership, transparency and accountability but only when we can clearly break down what has happened and minimise the information being misrepresented.

So I suppose, I sit here thinking do the rest of the leaders other than HSI really want change…

Until Next Time,



HSI’s Missed Opportunity – A Lack of Representation in a Critical Year

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