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Event Rider Masters is a fresh and exciting new Eventing series

One most promising developments in Eventing since dog leashes is the UK-based Event Rider Masters (ERM) series and its new focus on spectators. This year’s final event is coming up August 25th & 26th, the Land Rover Blair Castle Horse Trials … and you can tune in for coverage that includes a free livestream (scroll down to “Blair Castle”.

The series focuses on the two-day CIC “horse trials” format, an important type of Eventing competition that is usually overlooked in favor of the Big 3-Day Event productions. The coverage is brilliant on many levels, and it deserves support from horse lovers.

If you aren’t familiar with CIC Eventing, it is a shorter format of the sport which is contested over two days instead of three. These short-form competitions are the training grounds of the sport, and the ERM is highlighting these events as a series in its own right.

Enthusiasm, Youth & Genuine Passion

The series was created by Sam Watson with assistance from the inimitable Diarm Byrne … the telecasts are headed by the lovely and talented Nicole Brown, who is supported by the two founders and a fantastic roving ERM crew, along with a rotating panel of riders and judges and trainers.

The camera work is excellent too, catching action across the entire course as well as behind the scenes. The result is a highly watchable and informative program that puts the sport forward as an exciting and inviting spectator event.

Groundbreaking Spectator Focus

The difference in ERM’s coverage is that it focuses on the spectator. Too much equestrian coverage gives the impression that viewers are intruding on a rarified inner circle. The ERM team puts the spectator front and center.

Instead of random comments between silent stretches as horses and riders canter wistfully about—or context-free, dry statistics as if you’re attending an auction—the ERM team explains the action, introduces the horses and riders, and generally makes the spectator feel welcomed.

The announcers speak directly to viewers, and brings attention to unsung heroes and little-examined details of the sport. For example, this a shout-out to the grooms, giving well-deserved recognition to the backstage people who help make it happen.

Achieving the Impossible: Making Eventing Dressage … Interesting

Not only does the ERM bring the excitement of the cross country phase to spectators .. they bring the entire event into focus. The show jumping is very well narrated, but the real surprise is the dressage coverage.

Major networks can’t do it, Olympic broadcasts can’t do it, but the ERM has managed to bring interest to the dressage phase of Eventing. By pacing the announcing to the quietly intense level where dressage exists, and keeping viewer-centered discussion flowing as the tests proceed, ERM’s dressage coverage becomes … watchable.

Invaluable Step Forward

Equestrian sports haven’t put effort into spectator development in recent decades, which is another set of discussions–but it is critical to make that public connection. Besides the fact that horse fans deserve better, the public is critically important for the horse’s future. Viewership is how people find out about the sports, and how participants find support outside the narrow realm of the immediate horse world.

Thanks go to the ERM team for making such an engaged and energetic effort … hopefully the horse ‘industry’ knows a good thing when they see it.