There’s a trio of Kiwis who will be officials at the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games. Andrew Bennie and Helen Christie are involved with the eventing while Tony Parsons is assisting with endurance.
Helen is no stranger to officiating at events all over the globe. This will be her third WEG as a steward and she’s looking forward to it.
“It’s always good to be on the inside,” says the South Islander. “I didn’t really apply for it, rather was asked after helping at the Rio Olympic Games. There I ended up doing more of a management role and this has developed from there. There’s a lot of HR (human resource) work involved with a team of about 30 stewards.”
Being part of it all is something she relishes. “I have loved stewarding at majors in the past. It is pretty amazing to see the best horses working, walking the cross country and helping to organise the competition flow.”
Then there is the bonus of working with people from all over the world. “It is going to be challenging but it is also a real honour to be asked. What we do is essential to maintaining a level playing field and ensuring the welfare of the horses, however, judging is my main challenge as your opinions directly affect the end result.”
Helen has also done five Olympic Games as a steward. “I was asked if I was keen to be chief steward in Tokyo (2020) – absolutely not! The challenges are completely different.”
But she does love her stewarding. “It’s just great to be part of the team. When you are not in charge, you just get up, wear what you are told and do your job.”
For Tony Parsons, it is the first time he has been on the veterinary commission for endurance, but he has filled similar roles twice before at endurance world champs. “WEG is as high as you can go in endurance because it isn’t an Olympic discipline,” he says.
Tony has been involved with endurance at WEG four times before – in 1998 and 2006 as the Kiwi endurance vet, in 2002 as the eventing team vet, and in 2014 as the endurance chef d’equipe. He is also regularly on the FEI endurance vet commission in the United Arab Emirates and Asia, and runs FEI vet courses around Asia.
“The interesting thing about WEG in the United States is that it evens up the playing field,” says Taupo-based Tony. “All the teams have to travel for this one. It will test Europe and UAE and their ability to travel horses and may improve the chances of the Australian, South American and New Zealand teams.”
This month Tony is also on the FEI vet commission at the Asian Games for showjumping, dressage and eventing.
British-based Andrew Bennie is a member of the three-person ground jury for the eventing. He is no stranger to top flight events as both a rider and official, having ridden at both the 1984 and 1988 Olympic Games. He and Grayshott helped win a team bronze at Seoul. He was also on the ground jury at the Rio Olympic Games.
By Diana Dobson – HP Media Liaison