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The year in review – with Dominique Mégret: “We are at a cross-road in our industry and sport”

Sunday, 25 December 2022
Interview

Photo © Fabio Petroni “We are at a cross-road in our industry and sport, and we have to be sure that merit comes before money,” Dominique Mégret, chairman of the Jumping Owners Club, says. Photo © Fabio Petroni.

 

Text © World of Showjumping

 


 

As 2022 turns towards its end, World of Showjumping sat down with the chairman of the Jumping Owners Club – Dominique Mégret – to hear about his thoughts on the past year and what he believes lies ahead in 2023. “We are at a cross-road in our industry and sport, and we have to be sure that merit comes before money,” Mégret says.

Horse welfare

“Firstly, 2022 was a relatively good year for the owners, because after two difficult years with Covid-19 and EHV-1, our horses have been able to compete as normal again,” Mégret begins. “However, there is still a lot to improve, including working hard on the subject of horse welfare – which is a key issue. I remember how almost eight years ago, during a meeting, I said I believe we have to be very cautious with horse welfare or we will face a difficult situation in the future. Everyone looked at me like I was crazy, but here we are.”

Riders cannot consider this as an issue of the future generations

“Back then we did not have an issue, but now horse welfare is on everyone’s lips. I personally think that this is the biggest issue our sport is facing at the moment. I don’t know what has to be done; all I know is that we have to be extremely cautious. If we are not able to deal with this, we will be in trouble; riders cannot consider this as an issue of the future generations. If we want our sport to survive, we have to enter into some sort of social license – which is not easy. However, we have to remember, most of us really love the horses. When you are on a horse, there is a special relationship, a connection that cannot be explained and there are millions of people who still believe that riding a horse is something special.”

At a cross-road

“We are at a cross-road in our industry and sport, and we have to be sure that merit comes before money,” Mégret continues. “Obviously, that is sometimes no longer the case, but we have to ensure that our sport is organised in such a way that young and upcoming riders have the possibility to merge to the top. For that, we need to focus on several aspects, including an invitation system that works."

We are at a cross-road in our industry and sport, and we have to be sure that merit comes before money

"Pay-cards are a fact of life, as organisers need sources of revenue and therefore it is not an easy situation, although we understand that. As an example, we [Dominique and Genevieve Mégret] have a very good horse with a rider who is currently ranked 39 [in the world] but it is still very difficult for him to get invitations to five-star shows. I believe he has a great future ahead of him as a rider and that this horse has a lot of potential, but if they cannot get into five-star shows that is a huge question mark for us as owners. Even at five-star level, if you are not ranked within the very top, and you don’t buy a table, sometimes, you are not invited – and that is a major issue. I must, by the way, thank the CHI Geneva for inviting him to their magnificent event."

Never take a ‘no’ for an answer

About the JOC’s main goals for the coming year, Mégret says; “to be invited to the table for the discussions concerning the future of our sport as often as possible.”

“Riders have a lot of weight towards the FEI, and this is good and totally understandable. However, our sport is practised by a combination of two athletes who compete together; the rider and the horse. We owners consider that we are the natural representatives of our horses. Therefore, if we want athletes to be represented on the FEI Jumping Committee, it would be logical for owners to be represented on the Jumping Committee as well – in addition to the riders."

It would be logical for owners to be represented on the Jumping Committee as well

“The Jumping Committee is the body where all decisions are prepared in terms of rules and regulations, and it is a key committee for us within the FEI. We will continue to fight for an official representation; owners have views and visions that need to be heard as well – in addition to the riders. Having a conversation is a big step forward, but we need more people around the table. We at the Jumping Owners Club never take a ‘no’ for an answer; we know we have to keep asking. I remain optimistic towards the future.”

 

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