Equine Canada has established an LTAD Working Group to review and evaluate the current system of equestrian competitions in Canada in order to identify gaps or inconsistencies that might exist between it and our Long-Term Equestrian Development model.
“We will be reviewing our current structure and competition programs in relation to the logical development path of each of our riders, drivers and vaulters from the time they first begin to ride, drive or vault and throughout their equestrian experience,” reports Anne Welch, Chair of the Working Group.
“The competition review will be a collaborative and interactive process during which we will be communicating extensively with our stakeholders, including coaches,organizers, officials, athletes and experts.”
Additionally, the Working Group will, through a study of best practices emerging nationally and internationally, create a template of an “ideal” competition system for discussion that will help us extend our athlete development system to all equestrians in Canada. It will also be making recommendations for realignments to the system if warranted.
“Most importantly, our working group will be looking at the optimal method(s) of developing equestrian athletes, so our riders, drivers and vaulters will be our prime focus,” adds Ms Welch.
Equestrian has achieved some of its best international results over the past few years providing an excellent framework within which to start this review. To provide some additional context, other national sport organizations have been examining their competition calendars and structures and here are some of the challenges that have been identified:
1. Often the adult game/competition is simply imposed on our younger or more inexperienced athletes. This means that some of the fundamental skills, critical for advancing, are not well developed or tested in the right environment.
2. The timing of the competitions may not be appropriate. Is the most important competition of the year at the end of the season?
4. Many events (structure and timing) are based on tradition and not necessarily on the developmental needs of the athlete.
5. Too many competitions are held in one part of the country and not enough in other parts.
6. Athletes attend too many competitions to the detriment of practicing and training skills. Alternatively, some athletes do not participate in enough competitions, resulting in a lack of opportunity to see if what has been practiced in training, can be applied in a competitive situation.
These issues may or may not apply to Equestrian, and perhaps there are others that have not been identified.
Jill Henselwood, 2008 Olympic silver Medalist and national team athlete has this to say about LTAD: “A logical competition system that facilitates the development of the next generation of athletes in Canada makes good sense. It will result in increased participation, improved retention and more interest in our sport. I strongly support and encourage Equine Canada to design and build a competition system that has as its central focus, the development of the participant.”
Istvan Balyi, Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) Expert: “It is the system of competition that makes or breaks an athlete.”
The members of the working group were selected from across Canada and represent diverse skills, knowledge, passion and commitment towards our sport and will work collaboratively towards a common vision of a rich and complete Long Term Athlete Development plan for Equestrian.