All World Cup Final Jumper Riders In USA Leagues Get Same Expenses–North American Dressage Riders Not

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Lars Petersen on Mariett and Mikala Gundersen on My Lady. Images © 2014 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Lars Petersen on Mariett and Mikala Gundersen on My Lady. Images © 2014 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

April 13, 2014

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

All jumper riders qualifying in the United States leagues–including an Egyptian and a Russian–will be paid the same big slice of their expenses to compete in the Final in Lyon, France this week as the 11 American combinations.

Payment of about $15,000 (€10,800) to each of the U.S. East and West Coast League qualifiers contrasts with North American dressage where two Danish riders long based in Florida finished first and second in the geographic group of Canada, Mexico and the United States.

They will be paid expenses of just a few hundred euros/dollars in a determination by the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) which said it was acquiesced to by the Danish federation that they should be treated as if living in Denmark.

The latest disclosure of disparities between European and non-European dressage finalists and the treatment of dressage compared with jumpers was, sources told dressage-news.com Sunday, expected to lead to a review soon by the FEI Dressage Committee. Other aspects of the annual global championship are also to be examined.

The dressage event–the Final this year is the 29th–reflects its roots as evolving from the European winter indoor circuit. It comprises four leagues: Western Europe, Central Europe, Pacific and North America with four different sets of rules. The rules do not reflect increasing transcontinental movement of competition horses as a result of global growth of equestrian sports.

Differences in payment of expenses between competitors in Europe and North America has long been a sore point.

European combinations–typically 12 to 14 of the 18 horses and riders in the dressage Final–receive full reimbursement of expenses when it is held in the United States, as it has been three times this century and will be again in 2015.

North American citizens–allocated two places in the Final–receive €1,200 (US$1,650) for rider transporation and €9,000 (US$12,390) for horse tranportation–about half out-of-pocket costs.

This year, Lars Petersen on Mariett and Mikala Münter Gundersen on My Lady, two Danish riders who have each lived in Florida more than a decade and both on American-owned horses, placed first and second in the North American League. U.S. combinations Tina Konyot on Calecto V and Cesar Parra on Van the Man placed third and fourth and were awarded the two league spots.

The placing by the “extra” riders confronted the FEI–which owns the rights to the World Cup Finals–with what it described as an “unprecedented” situation.

The rules actually specify for dressage that reimursement for “extra athletes” is “depending on the league of the rider.”

Both Lars and Mikala had declared themselves for the North American League.

The FEI said, however, it consulted with the Danish federation and the event’s organizing committee and opted to reimburse the pair as Danish citizens living in Denmark.

The reimbursement–€0.60 US$0.83) per mile up to a maximum of €800 (US$1,100) for the rider and another €0.60 (US$0.83) up to a maximum of €300 (US$413) for the horse.

The costs of competing in the World Cup Final will eat up most of the prize money won at the Global Dressage Festival by the two Danish combinations–$47,920 (€34,780) for Lars at the top of the money list and $42,080 (€30,540) for Mikala.

The jumpers, however, foresaw such a situation. A large number of riders from around the world compete at America’s two major winter circuits of Wellington, Florida and Thermal, California with several World Cup qualifying competitions.

The rules provide the same treatment in the two U.S. leagues for the so-called “extra athlete”–the Egyptian and Russian combinations this yaer–as citizens of Canada, Mexico and the United States “according to contract.”

The FEI said of the arrangement, “The financial details for the US Leagues are a separate contract between the relevant National Federations and the Organizing Committee of the Final. There is no set rate from one Final to the next as the cost of transportation fluctuates.”

The Organizing Committee for Lyon said, “For show jumping, the extra-athletes are considered and reimbursed as the other athletes of the League where they qualified. These are the rules of the FEI Jumping/World Cup committee.”