Storm Kathleen caused major disruptions to the racing and equestrian sport calendar last weekend.

Cancellations included SJI shows at Warrington, Roscrea, Killossery and Ballinamona and race meetings at the Curragh and Downpatrick.

Despite this, Dressage Ireland remained firmly determined that the two-day National Winter Finals show at Mullingar Equestrian would go ahead.

Competitors seeking guidance regarding any safety measures being undertaken in light of the forecast were left in the dark, but a comment from a spokesperson on social media stating that “grown adults have the ability to take decisions that they are happy to make” was somewhat unhelpful. The first day of competition was abandoned at 9am on Saturday, with many competitors having already braved the high winds.

We are almost at the end of a rather tricky spring calving season. As with many other farms nationwide, getting cows and calves out has become akin to an aquatic sport. We are trying to remain upbeat, but perhaps a nationwide agricultural ‘Child of Prague’ campaign should be implemented by those on high.

Filming rights

The FEI has recently revised its policy regarding filming at select equestrian events, emphasising that the changes aim to safeguard broadcasting agreements rather than impose censorship. The affected events include the World and European Championships, World Cups, Nations Cups, and the Longines League of Nations.

The updated guidelines apply to stakeholders including riders, support staff, owners, national federations, officials, and accredited media. Under the new rules, certain actions are prohibited, including live streaming of field-of-play footage during the competition across all platforms, recording and later posting such footage, and engaging in commercial use of filmed content.

However, riders are granted exceptions to share footage of their own rounds on personal social media platforms, if that content is exclusively provided by the FEI.

These restrictions stem from transmission agreements with third-party broadcasters, who hold exclusive rights to film and broadcast competitions worldwide. To adhere to these contracts, the FEI limits access to field-of-play footage to rights-holding broadcasters (RHBs) exclusively, mirroring practices observed in other sports media globally.

In horseracing, a blind eye is turned to racegoers recording short videos on their phones of a winning horse in the unsaddling enclosure and posting them on social media but if those videos start to include the actual racing then a cease-and-desist order is swiftly issued.

Speculation that the FEI’s emphasis on controlling the visual aspect of the sport may be more about addressing potential welfare issues than solely protecting media rights is inevitable, especially in light of the recent allegations of horse abuse against several top riders.