With the exciting news over the past week around the gazette 2.0, this is going to really bring forward changes in the industry. The gazette has been ground-breaking for the past 8 months. with 25,000 + subscribers in that time, from 41 different countries. But to be truly a modern movement, we need to up our game at the gazette and we are.
This might be a little controversial, but in my opinion, mainstream media has failed our star. This is something we can work to change, not just for the stars but also for the grassroots/amateur rider with the gazette 2.0
Within the equine world, we all have our disciplines. It can be show-jumping to showing. For me, it has mainly been eventing, (a bit of an eventing geek) but I always would monitor results from other disciplines.
I follow events over the year from the national level to the international level but I’d only know the results or placing in events because I follow eventing. What about the rest of the equine community? Within each discipline, there has being amazing results on the international level, let alone the national level and we hear very little.
Why don’t we hear about an Irish rider having an amazing result?
For years, some say we produce the best horses in the world and have some of the best horsemanship in most disciplines. Other nations travel from far and wide to buy our superb horses and our riders are all held in high regard around the world. If you look back over all disciplines, you will find we have probably produced some of the top and consistent riders in the world, but the vast majority of these unbelievably talented riders are unknown even in the equine community, let alone the wider public. Why is this the case?
I look back to my childhood Irish riders were houses hold names and rightly so, most people would know names like Eddie Macken and Paul Darragh all riding top levelling show jumping and considered some of the best in the world but household names. We celebrated when these amazing riders won. The RDS was live most days on TV when it took place. Now we are lucky if you get a small bit of coverage.
Now, within show jumping, currently, there is an Irish rider sitting 4th in the world ranks. We have 8 riders who are in the top 50. Eventing we have 3 inside the top 50 in the world that’s from a small country like ours, of just over 5 million people.
If you ask now for someone from outside the equestrian community to name a successful rider apart from racing, you will probably only get one name, Cian O Connor as talented and successful as Cian has worked hard to become, most only remember back to the Olympics.
Dressage had its struggles last year. Even with our team qualifying for the Olympics, we only had one rider, Heike Holstein, to represent Ireland. Did we give it the coverage this issue needed? Did anyone from outside of the equine community honestly know what had happened? Was this fair to any of the athletes that have given so much to their sport? If this had been another sport, would the media stand up and take notice?
Why is a nation that’s so proud of our equine roots and has seemed to forget the equestrian athletes??
Ask when the last time you have seen a result on mainstream media.
For the last few weeks, RTE has had coverage of the Longines FEI Jumping Nations cup this summer and has been running mini series called horse country.
This is all so welcome and so overdue.
This is only the start of more coverage coming and I know here at the grassroots 2.0 we will push and beat that drum to highlight this even more.
The world equestrian games this year are in Partoni Rome, Italy in August. Is there talk of showing this on mainstream TV?
The Irish team comprising Cathal Daniels, Sam Watson, Sarah Ennis and Padraig Mc Carthy won a team silver medal and individual silver for Padraig Mc Carthy in eventing at the last games in North Carolina back in 2018.
We have eventers in fine form this year with Joseph Murphy and Austin O Connors having standout results, Joseph in Kentucky 5 star (finishing inside the top 10) then follow up with finishing 4th Aachen on his superstar horse Calmaro. Austin in Badminton with Colorado Blue finishing inside the top 10. Junior’s riders have amazing results in team Gold in the FEI eventing European ChampionshipChampionship for ponies in Strzegom. Ben Connors, Josh Williamson, Matthew Love and Claire O Ryan. Ben picking up individual Sliver. The U21 team finished in Bronze at the European championship Hartpury.
Our para riders are so underrepresented by the media, that we all need to do more to support all the amazing para riders and give just as much media attention.
For me, this comes down to money behind the sport, well, the lack of money behind some sections of the sport. I could be wrong. This is just an opinion.
What can we do to change this?
If the mainstream media gave more time to show events, shows and results, this would highlight and promote our sport and riders, this would in time bring in more revenue to all levels of the sport, with riders getting more exposure, this, in turn, will filter down the levels to the grassroots.
We can’t bring the mainstream media kicking and screaming on to this, but at the grassroots gazette we are set on change and change within the equine media and beyond it is what we will do and are doing even more so now with the gazette 2.0.
We have an exciting time ahead with what we have planned for Grassroots and Equitas. This is only the beginning of a new way of equine media.