Neighboring Florida Dressage Shows in License Date Dispute

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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

LOXAHATCHEE, Florida, Feb. 24–A decision by the U.S. Equestrian Federation to license two dressage competitions less than one mile apart on the same weekend in South Florida has triggered sharp criticism from one show organizer and an admission by the federation that “the outcome has not been desirable.”

The two simultaneous competitions are for the weekend of Mar. 26-27, at the tail end of the winter dressage circuit in Palm Beach which includes almost 20 shows licensed by the USEF over four months from Dec. 1 through April 30. Six CDIs, including the late March show, were scheduled over two months.

The competition dates at issue were originally licensed by the USEF to Welcome Back to White Fences for two one-day shows on Mar. 26 and 27.

Organizers of a new competition, the International Horse Sport Champions Cup, were awarded a CDI3* by the USEF on behalf of the International Equestrian Federation, although it was within the 75 miles required for separation of national shows.

CDIs are exempt from the mileage rule.

International Horse Sport shows were created this year by new management that took over the long established Palm Beach Dressage Derby series at Equestrian Estates. The Equestrian Estate shows are now managed by the same group that operates Wellington Classic Dressage and Gold Coast Dressage Association at the Jim Brandon Center in West Palm Beach.

The USEF advised in response to questions from dressage-news.com: “In addition to the fact that a CDI is exempted from the mileage rule, the National Dressage Committee felt, at the time, that the CDI would not have a too great impact on the WBTWF show.”

After the award of the CDI to the International Horse Sport competition, another rule was applied that states that the USEF Executive Committee has the option to exempt from the mileage rule a national competition held in conjunction with a CDI.

Adam Pollak, who operates the Welcome Back to White Fences at the White Fences Equestrian Center that were run for years by his mother, Ingred, who died in December, 2009, posted a statement on the show’s Internet site saying that although the rules allowed for the conflict it nevertheless was “strongly against the USEF’s own general principles of fair licensing and health of the sport.”

In an appeal to riders, he said, “We ask that if you are not in need of a CDI that weekend to please come and continue to support the White Fences shows.

“We cannot, however, support a show that is attempting to kill off the existence of another showgrounds by having a license issued over a previously-existing show series. It is outside the respectful practices of the industry and is unethical. We believe that a healthy Dressage show community is formed by the availability of options in show venue, management, size, and format–not a monopolistic takeover, as is the case with Wellington Classic Dressage, Gold Coast Dressage, and now The Palm Beach Dressage Derby, and International Horse Sport all being run by the same president/management. A monopoly loses all forms of checks and balances and price control and the consumer, in this case the rider, is the one who loses in the end.”

One FEI trainer who requested anonymity said that the Welcome Back to White Fences competitions were not as intense as CDIs and their concurrent national classes which were dominated by professionals and significantly higher costs in both entry fees and $50 per day haul-in/walk-in fees if no horse stall was rented.

“The conflict of shows means that I cannot be in two places at once so I have to make a choice either to compete myself at the CDI or go to the other show and help my clients,” the trainer said. “My clients expect me to be there for them, and rightly so.”

The USEF told dressage-news.com that riders need CDIs to qualify for selection trials and world ranking points.

As a result, the federation said, “this sometimes puts the USEF in a tough spot when having to make these kinds of decisions.

“In this particular case, it would seem that the outcome has not been desirable and the committee will look into approval procedures for the future.”