Independent complaint management is a core tenant of Safe Sport for Equestrian Canada (EC). Brian Ward from W&W Dispute Resolution Services Inc. acts as Complaint Manager to provide the equestrian community with expert and objective third-party facilitation of complaints. In a new EC Insider series, “Behind the Equestrian Canada Complaint Process”, he answers your questions around the process and the policies that support it.

This month, Brian answers the question:

How can individuals in a position of authority promote a safe environment?

Persons in Authority (PIA) can rely upon the EC Athlete Protection Guidelines to promote a safe sport environment. PIAs within EC would include coaches, managers, trainers, chaperones, officials, competition organizers and facility owners, among others.

The Athlete Protection Guidelines include measures related to:

  • The Rule of Two;
  • Communications;
  • Travel;
  • Change areas/meeting rooms;
  • Photography/video;
  • Physical contact; and,
  • Sport-specific guidelines.

In this article, we will focus on the Rule of Two and communications.

Rule of Two: in a nutshell, the PIA is never to be alone or out of sight with a minor athlete. A second PIA should be with them or within eyesight or earshot – what we call an “open and observable” environment. This is also a good practice with adult athletes.

For groups of athletes of one gender identity, a PIA of the same gender identity should be available to participate in or attend every interaction. For groups of athletes of more than one gender identity (e.g., co-ed teams), a PIA of each gender identity should be available to participate or attend every interaction.

Communications: EC strongly recommends that PIAs who interact with athletes do so through group messages, emails or team pages as the regular method of communication. PIAs should only send personal texts, direct messages on social media or emails to individual athletes when necessary and to communicate information related to group issues and activities (e.g., non-personal information). PIA communications must always be professional in tone. Certain communication content is prohibited (e.g., concerning drug or alcohol use, sexually explicit language or imagery or sexually oriented conversation). A PIA is not permitted to ask an athlete to keep a secret and may not become overly involved in an athlete’s personal life.

These measures protect athletes and the PIAs by minimizing real and perceived risks and promote a consistent, safe sporting environment.

Additionally, EC strongly recommends that all PIAs complete EC’s Fostering Healthy Equestrian Environments e-learning course in the ECampus to learn more about how to create a safe environment for participants. Additional resources are available in the ECampus Safe Sport resource library.

As always, please feel free to write me with your questions and suggestions for future articles at


Brian Ward
EC Complaint Manager
W&W Dispute Resolution Services Inc.