The 2021 season challenged many EC practices and policies as the community adapted to ensure businesses remain viable and sport opportunities remain available during the pandemic. EC supported an early, safe return to sport and was pleased to see 282 EC sanctioned competitions run, while respecting provincial and territorial governments’ health policies.

Competitions and Sport Operations:

EC worked with PTSOs, operational committees and competition organizers for a safe return to sport. We observed an overall strong rebound for active competition across the country, with EC launching several programs and initiatives to support our licence holders, partners, and community.

In the summer of 2021, we launched a pilot program to respond to officials’ shortages and to aid in recruitment of new officials into the system. The pilot created opportunities for current EC officials to officiate in new functions as well as allow Licence holders to act in certain officials’ roles. This pilot endeavored to strengthen the system and ensure future opportunity for all participants.

EC built and launched a platform to calculate points and display rankings nationally. This provides new perspective to our participants and value to sport license holders and horse owners. The first iteration is specific to select divisions outlined in the EC rule book in the disciplines of dressage and hunter/jumper/equitation at the gold level. The aim is to broaden the scope of results collected by EC and to include other disciplines within the rankings in the future. 

ECampus and Coaching:

The ECampus continues to serve as the administrative backbone to support the EC Coach Status Program and central location for coaches to access online and live training, access educational resources, a national coaching calendar and tracking towards certification for coaches and officials. New content and learning opportunities are regularly being added to the ECampus along with improvements to the user interface and integration with other EC services.

2021 was the first year of EC’s 5-year plan to see every coach licensed and certified by 2025. EC began issuing status on January 15, 2021. Numerous extensions were offered to provide accommodations to coaches who could not complete all requirements due to the pandemic.

A new interactive Find a Coach directory was also introduced, making it easier for members of the public to find Registered and Licensed coaches and providing coaches the opportunity to include additional details regarding their services on the site.

Planning for the introduction of mandatory coach status for coaches in competition and program adjustments for 2022 season has begun. This will include proactively promoting coach status to encourage additional coaches to engage in the program before the start of the next competitive season. Steps are also being taken to streamline process and distribute the processing load through the season to improve services and support to coaches.

With the objective of a reliable and predictable national calendar of training opportunities, a pilot project with Ontario Equestrian and the Coaches Association of Ontario was initiated to begin reserving multisport courses for equestrian coaches to be made available to coaches from coast to coast on a regular basis.

The NCCP High-Performance 1 Certification process was relaunched with an objective of providing enhanced support to coaches seeking certification and identifying areas for improvement in both training materials and the certification pathway. The pilot cohort of 10 coaches participated in the program. 

Racial Diversity, Equity & Inclusion:

In May, EC announced a partnership with The Inclusion Project (TIP) to advise on EC’s strategy on racial equity, diversity and inclusion (REDI). In close collaboration with EC staff and stakeholders, TIP has supported EC in setting the foundation for culture shifts in policy, process and practice across EC and the Canadian equestrian community at large. EC has completed the first phase of the project, conducting a thorough policy audit, with results and recommendations presented to the board in July. The next two phases of the project, with key action items and deliverables, are being developed to create a ‘Theory of Change’ for implementation. A Coordinator of REDI and Safe Sport was hired in November 2021 who will be leading the changes in partnership with TIP into 2022.

Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020:

EC provided support and rational for 5 HSP accreditations and all 5 were accepted by the COC and granted accreditation for the Tokyo 2020 Games.

Results of the Games:

Dressage: Brittany Fraser-Beaulieu and All In became the second Canadian pair to ever advance to the Olympic Freestyle, scoring another Canadian Olympic Freestyle record of 76.404% for 18th place overall. Chris von Martels and Eclips placed 39th while Lindsay Kellock and Sebastien came in 50th

Eventing: Colleen Loach and Qorry Blue d’Argouges had a 28th-place finish, narrowly missing the top 25 cut-off for advancing to the Eventing Jumping Individual Final.

Jumping: Mario Deslauriers and Bardolina 2 placed 22nd in the Jumping Individual Final.

Para-Equestrian: Lauren Barwick and Sandrino finished sixth in the Grade III Individual Freestyle with a final score of 72.507%.

Winona Hartvikson riding Onyx recorded a score of 69.893%, narrowly missing the Grade I top-eight cut off to move onto the Freestyle by less than one percentage.

The Para-Dressage team of Hartvikson and Onyx; Barwick and Sandrino; Roberta Sheffield and Fairuza combined their team test performance to earn a respectable 10th place finish for Canada with a score of 211.699, improvement of three places from the teams finish at Rio 2016.  

Equine Health and Welfare:

With the onset of the EHV-1 outbreaks around the world a task force was struck to develop the Competition/Event Biosecurity and Response self assessment form, which was key pillar of the emergency policy related to sanctioning. The Equine Health and Welfare committee continues to focus on the development and revisions of welfare related rules, education, and policies. A student project was completed by students from the University of Calgary developing the content for an online education module for biosecurity at competitions.

The Equine Animal Care Assessment Program was established as a logical progression of the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Equines. The purpose of the assessment program is to evaluate and recognize active equine facilities in Canada that successfully demonstrate the program requirements through a third-party audit. This is a multi-phase project led by the Director of Active Equine Industry and Development and is funded by Agriculture Agri-Food Canada through the AgriAssurance Program.

The Equine Health and Welfare Committee has been reviewing the scientific recommendations that an equine’s noseband should not be tight enough to prevent the placement of two adult fingers between the noseband and the frontal nasal plane. As the size of two fingers can vary between the person who applied the noseband to the equine and the official assessing compliance with the rule, the committee used the pilot to assess the use of the International Society for Equitation Science (ISES) Taper Gauge to help ensure consistent measurements and an equine welfare-friendly field of play.

20 stewards across the country used gauges, tablets, and sanitising wipes to collect data from all levels and all disciplines. The results have found a high level of support and engagement from the community with effective critical feedback on the need for education and awareness along with suggested alterations to the gauge to make it even more user-friendly. The first ‘Noseband November’ campaign was launched across social media to communicate and raise awareness about noseband tightness and the results of the pilot.

Equine Register (ER) was selected as the partner to carryout the Discovery phase of the Equine Identification and Traceability project. The Discovery has provided some major outcomes, a road map to launch Identification and microchip distribution, requirements summary for equine traceability in Canada, a business plan for Equestrian Canada, and Master Service Agreement (MSA). The MSA, if approved by the board of directors in 2022 will confirm ER as the service provider for the Canadian ID and Traceability national data sharing platform technology. Funding to support the completion of the discovery and to hire the Manager of Business Development for the program was received through AAFC. 

Corporate Operations

Meetings and discussions both internally and with external IT professionals have progressed favourably to set out the pathways for a customer support ticketing software which will provide support across all channels and solve customer support inquiries via a ticket-based platform using workflows and automation to route incoming tickets to the appropriate staff/department for efficient and timely responses. Industry leader, Zendesk, was selected and will be implemented in early 2022.

Communications

The Communications Department was significantly impacted by the pandemic but even with understaffing at the beginning of the year, came together to streamline operations and successfully manage the delivery of major projects, important information and news from all departments and events. Examples of these deliverables include: the continuation of the monthly EC Insider e-newsletter; launch of the revised Coach Status Program; execution of virtual Horse Day celebrations; and comprehensive coverage of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, in addition to other Canadian Equestrian Team events.

The hiring of EC’s first in-house Coordinator, Translation significantly boosting EC’s ability to provide timely and quality services to our French-speaking community while also meeting bilingualism requirements from Sport Canada. In August 2021, a Coordinator, Communications was added to the team in an important step towards returning productivity to pre-pandemic levels. Additionally, social media has been run by the digital marketing Agency, Form & Affect. This has been an extremely positive collaboration that has allowed for our social media channels to get back on track in terms of facilitating engagement and maximizing reach. In October, we welcomed a new Director of Marketing and Communications who’s role is to plan and manage the delivery of high-quality communications in multi-faceted mediums and to create a phased marketing and promotion business plan, which will increase the visibility and awareness of equestrian sports and industry in Canada. 

In conclusion:

2021 was another challenging year that also brought with it many triumphs. All of us at Equestrian Canada have been humbled by the determination and resilience of everyone within our Canadian Equestrian community. We are so proud of the achievements in our sport from across our country and throughout the globe. We look forward to a successful 2022!

In closing, I would also like to acknowledge the support of our business partners, sponsors, and funding partners. EC receives funding and support from different funding partners, which include Sport Canada, Own the Podium (OTP), Canadian Olympic Committee (COC), Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC), Canadian Olympic Foundation (COF), Canadian Paralympic Foundation (CPF), Coaching Association of Canada (CAC) and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC). Each play a vital role in support of equestrian sport and industry in Canada.

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