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Posted by Shelley Tilbrook on 17/11/2022.

Q&A with Eventing Committee Chair, Des Hughes

Like many sports, Equestrian is fuelled by a team of passionate volunteers investing their time and knowledge into the sport.

We caught up with the EA Eventing Committee Chair, Des Hughes, who has served seven years on the committee.

Here is the Q&A with Des about how he got involved and his reflections over the past seven years.

What attracted you to your sport?  

"I guess like a lot of people I got involved in the sport when my daughter Melissa (now Van Den Berge) was competing in Eventing. With only one horse I had a lot of time on my hands when I was at events so I began helping out where I could. Eventually I found myself in a Stewarding role, which I did for approximately 5 years. I then saw a need for more Technical Delegates (TDs) in the sport, so I went down that road."

How did you get involved as a volunteer on the committee?  

"I continued in my role as a TD and found myself on the Eventing Qld Committee, and soon after took over the role as Chair of that committee for 2 terms. Whilst in that role, I was the Qld Delegate on the EA Eventing Committee (EAEC).  When it came the time for Will Enzinger to step down, I was voted in as Chair of the EAEC, and have been in that position for the last 7 years."

What changes have you seen in your sport during your time on the committee?  

"There have been a multitude of changes in the sport since I have been involved, the most notable have been in the Safety and Medical requirements. The introduction of the MIM clips by the FEI some years ago has been an enormous improvement for the safety of riders on cross country and they have now become mandatory for certain types of fences."

What improvements are you most proud of during your tenure? 

"The roll out across Australia of the MIM clips when they were first introduced took a huge effort on the part of all the States and State Eventing Committees. Most States either provided them to clubs free of charge or at least heavily subsidised them, and obviously they (MIM clips) are improving all the time, with special clips now available to suit large spread fences, which completely collapse when struck heavily by a horse."

The MIMclip is designed to protect horse and rider from the dangers of rotational falls. The clip contributes to the overall safety of the sport and it also guarantees fair and correct judging for riders.

What was the biggest challenge your sport faced? And how did you manage it? 

"I think the biggest challenge for Eventing has been the medical requirements resulting from the Coronial Inquests. This has taken an enormous amount of effort by the EA Health & Safety team and the EAEC in getting this to the stage we are at now. The medical Annex D has been completely re-written with significant additional requirements to be provided by Organising Committee’s (OCs), and to their credit, these new requirements have been introduced across the board at significant extra cost to the OC’s."

What initiatives would you like to see take place in the future? 

"The lack of suitably qualified Officials in our sport is a major concern and we need to introduce initiatives that encourage more people into the sport as officials. In particular, we are extremely short of both Course Designers and Technical Delegates. Having been an FEI Technical Official myself for many years, I can say that I have had a very rewarding career both Internationally and at home. To officiate at International events is so rewarding and you meet so many wonderful people, many of with whom you form long lasting friendships. I am quite sure that International Course Designers would say the same."  

Any advice for the next Chair? 

"It’s a challenging role but also a very rewarding one – communication is the key and involving your committee members at every opportunity is what makes the Committee function as a team."  

How do you plan to stay involved with the sport? 

"I plan to continue to support our OC’s here in Qld in the role of Cross Country Controller or as a Sector Controller, and I am still supporting the Adelaide International 3DE by organising their Sector Controllers as I have done for many years now. I am succession planning for that role at the moment, so I will still be around for a long time to come."


Des will hand over the reins as Eventing Committee Chair at the end of the year and we'd like to thank him for his fabulous and dedicated service to the sport. He has made a tremendous impact and will always be part of the community.

If you are interested in becoming an official to help shape the future of the sport, you can find out more information here.

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