Northants/Cambs academy survey results

Tuesday 19 March 2024

British Showjumping Northants/Cambs Academy – Survey Results

For a number of years, Northants Academy training was very well supported. However, the downturn in the UK’s economic climate understandably resulted in a drop in academy bookings and all planned 2023 events were cancelled due to insufficient support.

The new year brought a couple of training enquiries which indicated it may be time to start organising training again.

This timing afforded the perfect opportunity to ask members what they want from Academy training. Your Academy Coordinator and Northants Area Rep, Alison (Ali) Tee, created and published a survey on the Academy Facebook page on 26 February.

The survey was scheduled to run for a full 2 weeks but closed a couple of days early when the platform reached capacity. 

Ali has spent time analysing the survey results – the survey structure and results have been comprehensively discussed and it is now time to share them with members.

The Results
44 surveys were returned, with 39 being fully completed. At the time of publication, the target Facebook audience comprised 829 members.

70% of those responding are on horses, with 30% on ponies. Whilst training is open to all ages and abilities, this demographic is unusual. Other Academies are supported by a significantly higher pony population.

The majority of respondents were comfortable jumping between 90cm and 1.10m, with 9% competing at 70cm and 1.30m respectively.

42 people responded to the question about training frequency. 69% were in favour of monthly training, 29% elected for quarterly, whilst one person wanted twice per month.

42 people also shared details about their preferred venues, with 10 respondents kindly taking the time to propose alternatives. 

The top two preferences for normal training were Onley Grounds EC and the British Showjumping National Training Centre (NTC) with minor interest in using Addington and Halefield Stud. Arena UK and Weston Lawns were popular for events of longer duration such as camps.

Members will recall that 4 sessions were organised for training at the NTC in February, March, April and May last year. They were designed to provide regular and progressive training for riders on horses, ponies and teams. Sadly, despite advertising well in advance, they were all unsupported, and plans had to be cancelled due to a lack of interest.

In response to the proposed venue names, it is important to note that Academy training venues must pass a comprehensive venue assessment before they can be used - the assessment examines all aspects of horse and rider safety, the venue facilities, parking plus ease of access/exit for lorries and trailers.

There are no British Showjumping approved competition centres within this Academy area and the Academy is therefore dependent on the use of suitable venues outside the area. It is inappropriate to book venues used by other Academies which means we exclude Pickering Grange (Leicestershire Academy), Keysoe (Bedfordshire Academy), and Addington (Buckinghamshire Academy) from the list of options.  Warwickshire Academy use Onley but recognising its popularity with our members, the two Area Reps are working together to identify potential opportunities for joint ventures.

Securing affordable and available venues presents a significant challenge for this Academy so it is important that members understand there are no restrictions on where members can train, i.e. members do not have to train within the area in which they live. If another British Showjumping Academy caters for a member’s needs because of timing, location, a specific coach, etc. it is ok for members to go. The Academies are all part of British Showjumping and they are open to all.

The type of training was explored next and was answered by 42 respondents. Unsurprisingly, course jumping was the most popular, closely followed by grid work and team training.  It is interesting to note that course jumping, and team training days have been offered historically but have had to be cancelled due to a lack of interest. 

The survey confirmed the most popular training session format is 1 hour in duration with a maximum of 3 riders. 45-minute private sessions are the popular alternative. Members indicated they are prepared to pay between £30 and £70 depending upon format and coach identity.

Whilst weekend day training scored marginally higher than weekdays, there is no preferred day. Respondents were asked to specify the time that best suited them with responses indicating dependencies on work patterns, school and competition commitments, therefore no ideal time stood out.

39 people responded to the question about helping in organising / supporting at training sessions. Thank you to the 5 people who kindly volunteered to help Ali.

Only 7 people confirmed yes to definitely wanting to attend the Academy. 20 people indicated highly likely with 6 saying maybe. 6 people kindly took the time to follow up with the provision of additional feedback. A coach related theme was identified.

It is a known fact that coach identity can have positive or negative impacts on bookings and there is a correlation between well qualified, popular coaches and booking numbers. 

British Showjumping coaches must complete and pass UKCC coaching qualifications, qualifying at Level 2 (L2) or above. They must hold (and evidence) other formal documentation including a current, clean DBS check, Safeguarding Certificate, First Aid Certificate and Certificate of Insurance.

Thank you to those who proposed coach names. 

Whilst a number of the suggested names may coach private clients, they do not hold the qualifications required by British Showjumping and are therefore not permitted to coach Academy training. It is also clear by the names put forward that members are keen to have high quality coaches which points to the use of qualified Level 3 and above to provide that level of experience.

The Academy has access to a number of Level 3 coaches within the area, however, having approached them, they have little to no availability to coach at Academy training events. They are busy competing their own horses, have family commitments, or are coaching clients privately. This means there is a need to bring in qualified coaches from outside the area which is often a challenge given some of the Level 3 coaches favour the use of their home facilities and their own local Academies.

This Academy also has access to several qualified Level 2 coaches within the area – they may be interested in assisting with training, but in order to coach Academy training, Level 2 coaches will require some supervision by Level 3 or Level 4 qualified individuals.

Summary & Next Steps

Thank you to everyone who completed the survey, the results have been interesting, and there are no surprises. It is reassuring to be able to validate that the training offered historically is aligned with what is still being asked for now. The same challenges remain (suitable, affordable venues, coaches etc) and every effort will continue to be made to resolve them.

Please be assured that Ali and British Showjumping will continue to work together over the coming weeks / month to plan a way forward. We will communicate again when there is more news.

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