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[RC] the future and direction of Tevis? - Jonni Jewell

The discussion about the sponsorship of the Tevis Cup by the UAE Endurance
Center has missed the points which are at the core of objections to it.  The
problem is slightly related to influence from a foreign country,  and
slightly related to the appearance of a sell-out when a large sponsor
receives recognition.  However, the real concern is the short history of the
UAE version of endurance, and its profound effect so far on this sport
internationally.  While AERC continues endurance riding it was begun,(albeit
with a sizable rule book created by those who go outside the spirit of the
competition), the rest of the world is starting to see endurance riding as
"endurance racing," with a tremendous emphasis on speed, winning, and
fastest time over flat courses.  So far, we have been able to do little to
counteract this effect because our sport cannot begin to match the amount of
money the UAE interests are willing to spend.

   This influence comes directly from the same people who bought a "crown
jewel" sponsorship of the Tevis Cup this year and aggressively promoted
themselves with the apparent assistance of the ride directors and Board of
Governors. If the sponsor had been Purina or Gatorade, I doubt that
onlookers would feel that somehow the Tevis Cup was endorsing their feeds
and sport drinks to the exclusion of all others.  But the appearance of some
kind of bond, purchased or otherwise, between  the UAE's version of
endurance racing and the grandfather of endurance rides, the Tevis Cup, adds
a very troubling and distasteful complication to maintaining the vision of
the sport.

   The awarding of a ceremonial buckle to the UAE along with their offer of
a free trip to their endurance center for the winner(s) (which no doubt
violates the rules and policies of the Tevis Cup) add to the appearance of a
cozy relationship which might, in the future, affect the conduct of this
great ride.

   Regrettably, the Tevis Cup has not been able to obtain sponsors which
would be more acceptable.  They likely don't have the right contacts, and
haven't hired a professional agent to obtain a good and appropriate domestic
sponsor.   In this day and age, big sponsors of sporting events are the
norm.  An organization such as the UAE already has a strong foothold by
hiring U.S. citizens to provide horses, trainers, photos, articles,
publications, etc.  For that reason, many people in the endurance community
will support the alliance without regard for the past and the future, or the
difference between a ride and a race.

   The entry fee for the Tevis Cup should be higher to defray some of the
cost.  As with other rides, the entry fee is a small part of what it costs
to participate, especially compared to huge aluminum horse trailers, new
trucks, veterinary bills, specialized feed and supplements, fuel, and fancy
tack.  Those interested in the future of the Tevis Cup and endurance riding
in general should check out their own contacts which might be of help in
sponsoring these rides.  If we don't do that, we can expect ride managers to
turn to any available source of funds to keep the events alive.


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