How easy is it to take your horses and go and jump at a French show? What are the shows like?
The shows in France are categorised, like in the UK. International shows are run under FEI rules, and National shows are run under FFE (Federation Francais d’Equitation). To compete at an FEI show riders need an FEI licence, and any horse with an FEI passport is eligible with the permission of it’s National governing body.
The National circuit is huge in France, with 80% of it’s licence holders competing in Showjumping. The facilities are great, most shows are run on good artificial surfaces, and the prize money can be generous – our local show has a Grand Prix with 5,000.00€ 1st prize! The National classes start at 90cm and go up to 1m40. Riders compete in categories – starting with club (like unaffiliated) , through Amateur 3, 2 and 1, and on to Professional 2, 1 and elite. Riders can place themselves in a category, and successful riders are moved up through the levels based on their results. Pro riders are not allowed to compete in Am 3 or 2 level competitions.
All National riders have to have a licence, which costs around 36.00€, in order to to compete at shows. This is renewed every year and a local FFE affiliated riding club will sort all this for you. Plus a fee depending on the level that you want to ride at. Club level is free, Amateur 80.00€ and Pro 330.00€ per year, at the moment.
Horses all have to be registered in France and have a SIRE number allocated. This is for life, and a one off registration. This costs around 35.00€ and the horse would need a passport or ID card, and a vet has to verify it. The SIRE number is then printed on the passport, and you get an official ID card. This is all done by Les Haras Nationaux – the blanket organisation that covers the equestrian world in France (some of the staff speak English!). Licence holders get a page on their site for entering shows and collecting prize money, receiving start lists and any show update information. Every horse’s details and competition records are also accessed on their site.
Next time I’ll look at how the show system works.