Central Europe Leads Global Growth of Dressage Shows, Western Europe Dominates With Premier 4*/5* Events

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Inessa Merkulova on Mister X. Inessa and her husband operate a Moscow equestrian center that hosts CDIs and has helped propel growth of dressage in Central Europe. © 2015 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Inessa Merkulova on Mister X. Inessa and her husband operate a Moscow equestrian center that hosts CDIs and has helped propel growth of dressage in Central Europe. © 2015 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Nov. 24, 2015

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

Central Europe, with Russia leading a group of 10 nations, has posted the most dramatic increase in international dressage shows by almost doubling events over seven years through 2016. The traditional powerhouse nations in Western Europe have also expanded, adding substantially more competitions at the top of the sport.

The United States led the rest of the world, not far behind Western Europe in growth of shows with Florida’s Global Dressage Festival staging top tier big money CDI4*/5* and Nations Cup events.

The number of senior CDI dressage shows worldwide–excluding championships–grew to 158 on the calendar for 2016, up 21.5 per cent from 130 in 2010.

For different regions of the world, Western Europe will stage 84 competitions in 2016, an increase of 18.3 per cent from 71 in 2010; the Americas have grown 13.3 to 34 from 30 and Central Europe up 78.57 per cent to 25 from 14. Asia/Oceania was unchanged at 13 and the Middle East/Africa also unchanged at two.

Dressage-news.com calculated the number of shows worldwide on the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) calendars of events for 2010 and 2016 as the sport undergoes reviews of competition formats aimed at maintaining its status as an Olympic sport beyond the 2020 Tokyo Games.

The calculations showed that international level dressage is growing throughout Europe and the Americas but is stagnant or non-existent in the Asia/Pacific and Africa/Middle East regions although China and India together represent well over one-third of the globe’s population.

In Central Europe, Russia has 10 competitions on next year’s calendar, double the number in 2010. Poland will stage four compared with three seven years ago, Hungary three up from two and Belarus two up from one. Slovakia, Lithuania and Kahzakstan each will have one show as will the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Estonia that also held a single event seven years ago.

The number of World Cup events in Central Europe, that has its own league as does Western Europe, North America and the Pacific, jumps to 11 for the 2016/17 season from seven for the 2010/11 series. Several Central European World Cup events attract more competitors from countries outside the region than from within the league. Riders in the Western European League, for example, can earn the full number of points from one show and half from a second that can be carried over to the WEL.

In Western Europe, increases in the number of shows in Spain to 11 in 2016 from five in 2010 and the Netherlands at nine up from five helped boost the number of scheduled events to a total of 84 on the calendar for 2016, an 18.3 per cent jump from 71 in 2010.

Germany continues to have the most shows with 18 scheduled for 2016, one fewer than in 2010 while France dropped to 10 in 2016 from 14 seven years earlier.

However, the number of top tier events increased significantly in Western Europe–meaning more prize money as CDI5* events require a minimum purse of US$88,340/€83,000 and CDI4* events at least US$23,550/€22,130.

The number of 5* events increases to 11 in Western Europe in 2016 up from eight in 2010 while 24 CDI4*s will be up 71.4 per cent above the total of 14 in 2010.

Competitions in North America have been dominated by the United States with 23 events scheduled for 2016 compared with 20 seven years ago. Canada remained unchanged with four events.

Brazil, host of the Olympics in 2016, will also stage five regular events next year, just one fewer than in 2010, while Mexico and Colombia are scheduled to hold CDIs in 2016 that were not on the calendar in 2010.

The biggest impact on shows in North America has been the emergence over the past five years of the Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, Florida where eight CDIs will be staged in 2016, including the only 5*, 4* and Nations Cup events in the Western Hemisphere. The Global circuit did not exist in 2010.

In the Pacific region, Australia will hold 10 events in 2016 compared with seven in 2010 though New Zealand drops to one from three seven years ago and Japan cuts to two from three.

The changes are also reflected somewhat on the FEI world rankings.

In 2010, only two combinations were from Central Europe, both from Poland, in the top 100. The United States had eight, Canada four and Australia one with the other 85 from Western Europe.

The latest standings as of the end of October this year show 11 United States combinations in the top 100, four from Russia, three from Canada, two from Australia and one from the Ukraine with the other 79 from Western Europe.