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The 2020 International Eventing Forum has been the last, bringing to an end nearly two decades of world-class education.
Since the inaugural date in 2004, the International Eventing Forum has grown into a ‘must attend’ pre-season fixture for both Eventing coaches and riders. However, they say that all good things must come to an end, and after 17 years of world class education, and one of the most successful IEF’s yet - the organising committee has decided to call it a day, with the 2020 Forum now being the last.
Upon hearing the news, Ellie Hughes - Author, Journalist and Advanced Rider – commented “So sad to hear you’re wrapping up – I think I’ve only missed one or two, in the last 15 years. But and I fully agree that you will definitely be bowing out on at the top - this year’s Forum was just brilliant. Such an inspiration for everyone slogging away by themselves at home all winter. I just don’t understand why every rider didn’t go every year.”
The International Eventing Forum has taken place on the first Monday in February each year, initially at Addington Manor and organised by John Bowen, Jean Mitchell MBE and Karen McKeown before moving to Hartpury Equine College in 2006. The aim was to bring speakers of the highest caliber, from Olympic Gold Medalists, to the trainers of Olympic Gold Medalists, together with ‘demo’ riders of varying levels of experience and horses of all shapes, sizes and abilities. Every year the forum offered attendees access to a ‘wealth of knowledge and information’ on how to train better, safer and smarter, for the improvement development of our sport.
Over the years, the presenter and demo Rider lists read like an international ‘who’s who’ of equestrian talent, with names such as Mark Todd, Andrew Nicholson, David O’Connor, Chris Bartle, Christoph Hess and John Ledingham, to name just a few of the many world class equestrians that have joined forces over the years, to share their knowledge and skills and help the attendees to develop their own. The Forum has also seen many fascinating and vitally important topics introduced and discussed, from ‘How to fall in a safer way’ to ‘The use and effects of studs’.
Yogi Breisner comments: “I have been fortunate to attend most of the International Eventing Forums over the years, either as a presenter or as a spectator. I have always found the days very informative and interesting. To me, it has been the start of the season and given inspiration to put those final touches on myself as a coach, and the horses and riders I work with.”
The International Eventing Forum was the brainchild of a group of experienced equestrian professionals, passionate about the sport of eventing. Eric Smiley – Olympian, FBHS and world-renowned coach – has been the creative force behind the forum since its move to Hartpury and it has been Eric’s exceptional vision, enviable knowledge and immense passion for learning that made the Forum into one of the most well respected training fixtures on the calendar. Eric was ably assisted by the rest of the IEF committee who ensured that everything ran like clockwork on the day, with each year building on the previous to keep people coming back for more. The committee is a unique band of four, Eric, Jean Mitchell MBE – a former top level FEI Official Eventing dressage and Olympic judge and the Event Director of Tattersalls International Horse Trials; Dora Beacom – a very busy Eventing Coordinator in Northern Ireland, and Irish National Show Jumping judge and Sue Smiley – Eric’s ‘right hand woman’ and day to day organiser. The publicity for the Forum in recent years has been managed by Jenny Doran of Halcyon Days marketing.
Eric comments “After the four presentations at the early IEF’s, a well-known equestrian asked me “am I right in thinking that was the same message said in four different ways?” To which I answered, “YES”. We have now had the same message delivered by some EIGHTY presenters over seventeen years. This year’s title was chosen to highlight that very message: “HORSEMANSHIP.”
“Each and every one of the presenters has been carefully chosen because of the way they think, and their ability to demonstrate that by what they do. All have been horsemen and horsewomen, understanding horses, how they think and perform. They have all given of their time and expertise “free of charge” because of their belief in the message. They have done this because of their love of the HORSE and the sport of Eventing.
“The IEF has started a trend which appears to be growing, as many societies are now organising their own Forums and of course we take this as a form of flattery. The 2020 Forum was a truly memorable day, with a full house and inspirational speakers. Many people are saying “it just gets better each year”, however, in keeping with the principle ‘quit when on top’, the Committee has decided that this year will be the last.
“We would like to take this opportunity to thank all the presenters, riders and helpers for making the IEF such a wonderful success over the years.”