Stephen Clarke, FEI Judge General, Praises World Games Dressage Judging

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Stephen Clarke and Leif Tornblad of Denmark, conferring at a championship. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Stephen Clarke and Leif Tornblad of Denmark, conferring at a championship. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Sept. 11, 2014

Stephen Clarke, the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) Judge General, described the judging of dressage at the World Equestrian Games as “perfectly correct and acceptable,” but believes that payment could help keep officials involved in the sport.

The British judge, president of the ground jury at the 2012 Olympics in London and a judge at the Normandy WEG as well as many other championships, commented after a report by dressage-news.com on moves to overhaul judging.

“I feel, particularly when you consider the complexities of the whole area, that the judging is actually on a pretty good line, as the results in Caen demonstrated,” he said.

“I accept that there were the inevitable small differences here and there, but in the end the final results were I believe perfectly correct and acceptable, showing that the system works as fairly as possible.

“To work with such a knowledgeable team of people, who acted with such integrity as in Caen, was for me an absolute pleasure and privilege.

“As far as the future is concerned, in order to improve the situation further, I believe that we need to find a way of providing  greater incentive for people with real knowledge and experience of the sport to come forward as future judges, stewards, technical delegates etc. and then educate them well and treat them with respect.”

Stephen, who became Judge General in January, 2013 with the primary task of creating and coordinating discussions among the judges, referred to the situation in the United States and some other countries to pay officials “realistically.”

“If all countries could ever find a way to follow suit,” said Stehen, “it would really help to make it possible for those who otherwise could not afford to give their time to this area of the sport, through loss of earnings, etc.

“Of course, it’s easy to say that, but we also need to bear in mind that organizers are working within tight budgets in this day and age as well..”

The other issue is education and he described as “highly beneficial” programs such as mentoring, shadow judging, seminars and courses.

Plans were in the works by the FEI to develop more modern training techniques.

“Of course there can never be enough education,” he said, “but once again we have to appreciate that there is a lot of expense involved for participants, bearing in mind airfares, hotels, time away from work etc.

“The long term answer is never easy, but as long as all involved within the sport continue to cooperate and maybe avoid ‘knee-jerk reactions’ whenever we hit  small bumps in the road, I think the future looks good.”