The whole picture
AS equestrian journalists, we’re fortunate that the vast majority of the time we are celebrating horses and horsesport. Then there are the stories we’d rather hadn’t happened, like FEI sanctions. If they hadn’t happened, we would have been delighted not to write about them. But when they happen and the public has a right to know about them, we wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t cover them. Our readers expect nothing less. H&H is, after all, a 135-year-old award-winning news service, not a parish magazine. But the thought of doing so does not fill us with glee — quite the opposite.
How we cover these stories depends on how newsworthy they are and what information the rider shares with us — we always give right of reply of course, which is the opportunity for the person who has been sanctioned to give us their point of view. There are always at least two sides to every story.
It’s been suggested that by running such a story on our website or in our magazine, we bring the sport into disrepute. I disagree. The person breaking the rule may have done that — those giving the sanction and reporting that sanction are following the rules of their own professions.
There should be no witch-hunts and all must be fairly judged. Officials, though, must feel empowered to act to protect horse welfare and uphold rules — it can be no easy task. When officials are happy and the sanctions list is empty, that would be a great day. But given that humans are just that, and accidents happen, we should get used to the fact warnings are part of sport, and part of the picture we must cover.