No USA Riders & Horses in Aachen Under-25 Competition

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Caroline Roffman and Lux. Photo: Sharon Packer

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

No U.S. horse and rider will be in the Under-25 competition at the World Equestrian Festival at Aachen, Germany next month as none met qualifying criteria and an individual had to turn down an invitation when her horse needed a break from competition.

The Under-25 division aimed at competitors between Young Riders and the senior ranks has exploded in Europe with classes attracting large numbers of entries with top quality riders and horses and a large and growing fan base. The Under-25 division has been embraced as vital to the future of the sport.

“We are very aware of this gap in our ranks in the Unites States, as well as the desperate need for more junior and pony riders to come up the ladder,” said Anne Gribbons the U.S. Equestrian Federation Technical Advisor, essentially the national coach.

Debbie McDonald who won medals with Brentina in Olympics and World Equestrian Games and a World Cup title is designing an “ambitious” Under-25 program for the U.S. that should be implemented next year, she said

The CHIO Aachen introduced an Under-25 Nations Cup in 2010 and will stage it again this year at what is the premier horse show in the world with a CDIO5* Nations Cup, CDI4* and a CDI for Under-25s that will fill the 8,000-seat permanent dressage stadium July 13-16.

Caroline Roffman, the International Equestrian Federation’s “Rising Star” for 2010, was invited by the organizers to compete in next month’s competition.

Caroline of Wellington, Florida, told dressage-news.com that she was excited to compete with Lux, a  nine-year-old Danish warmblood gelding by Lobster. However, a pre-competition veterinary examination found issues that her vet said would not prevent the horse from competing at Aachen but recommended a break from competition for the sake of the long term development of Lux.

“I’m really, really disappointed,” Caroline said. “I’ve been so excited about this ever since I received the invitation. The horse comes first, though, and we decided this was best for Lux.”

In anticipation of an invitation to Aachen, the USEF sought applications. Horse and rider combinations were required to submit three scores from FEI Grand Prix, FEI Young Rider Grand Prix 16-25, FEI Intermediaire II with an overall minimum average of 66 per cent. At least two of the scores had to be at the Young Rider Grand Prix or Grand Prix level and one Grand Prix score must be from a CDI.

No riders qualified. And Caroline withdrew.

“The U-25 riders are getting a lot of attention in Europe,” Anne Gribbons said, “and of course that group is the one to target to help them move on to the Senior Grand Prix division. And, as usual, they have greater numbers and lesser distances to travel than we do to get new programs started.

“We are very aware of this gap in our ranks in the Unites States, as well as the desperate need for more junior and pony riders to come up the ladder.

“That is the reason I have intensively worked with the USEF and the committees to create a system of education we hope will produce depth in the future and fill in the holes.

“Debbie McDonald is designing an ambitious program for next year and the age group between Young Riders and Grand Prix under  25 is one of the areas she will target.”