Riders Club Expels 2 Nominees to Dressage Committee, Escalating Battle with FEI

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The battle to replace Margit Otto-Crepin (pictured) on the FEI Dressage Committee. © 2011 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com


The International Dressage Riders Club has expelled two nominees for the powerful Dressage Committee in a major escalation of a battle with the International Equestrian Federation over representation at the top level of the sport.

Luis Lucio of Spain and Maria Ines Garcia Cuellar of Colombia were nominated by their national federations to fill a vacancy on the six-member Dressage Committee caused by the resignation of Margit Otto-Crepin of France as the rider representative.

Maria Ines, who at last month’s Pan American Games helped her team win a bronze medal and qualify her nation for the 2012 London Olympics, joined the IDRC on June 15 and Luis, who rode for Spain at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and the 2000 Sydney Games, joined on Aug. 24

The IDRC had nominated Wayne M. Channon, its secretary general, who is from Great Britain as is current Dressage Committee trainers’ member David Hunt.

IDRC President Kyra Kyrklund, who is Finnish but lives in Britain, sent an email to Luis dated Tuesday, Nov. 1 stating:

“Dear Lucio,

We were very disappointed that you were unable to attend the International Dressage Riders’ Club General Assembly in Hooge Mierde (The Netherlands) on Sunday. A motion was passed by the General Assembly, per article 6.4.1., to exclude you from membership effective immediately. Your yearly fee will be returned to you forthwith. It is crucial to riders that we have a representative on the Dressage Committee that is nominated by the IDRC and I do hope you understand this.

Kind regards”

IDRC article 6.4.1 says a member may be excluded from membership, “by the General Assembly, which may be after a hearing before the Executive Board or by the General Assembly’s own motion.”

Maria Ines was in Guadalajara, Mexico, on the team that won a Pan American Games bronze medal and qualified Colombia for the 2012 Olympics the week before the IDRC General Assembly. She also participated in a meeting there on the future of equestrian sports and their role as an Olympic qualifier at the Pan Ams, the world’s second largest sporting event behind only the Olympics.

Maria Ines Garcia Cuellar of Colombia wearing Pan American Games bronze medal. © 2011 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

The battle over representation is one of two major issues dividing the global dressage community and both aee on the agenda of the annual General Assemby made up of the FEI’s 133 member nations scheduled for Rio de Janairo Nov. 14. The second issue is a rule to deal with blood on a horse in dressage competition–there currently is not one for dressage though a proposed rule mirrors one that exists for eventing and jumping, the other two Olympic equestrian sports.

The Dressage Committee in its present form was created by the FEI General Assembly two years ago based on recommendations from an international task force.

It is chaired by Frank Kemperman who heads up the organization of the world’s most prestigious horse show, the CHIO in Aachen, Germany.

The other members are Margit Otto-Crepin of France (riders), David Hunt of Great Britain (trainers), Thomas Baur of Germany (organizers), Anne Gribbons of the U.S. (judges) and Elisabeth Lundholm of Sweden (chefs d’equipe).

Before the current format, four of the six members were judges. FEI President Princess Haya fired then-chairperson, Mariette Withages of Belgium, following the 2008 Olympics and set up the task force to recommend a new format and ways to defuse widespread criticism of judging.

With Margit’s resignation both as president of the IDRC and from the current Dressage Committee, Wayne Channon was nominated by the IDRC as her replacement while Luis and Maria Ines were nominated by their national federations. Both nominating methods are provided for under FEI rules.

The task force that created the format for the new Dressage Committee also recommended as a policy but not a rule against two members from the same nation serving at the same time.

The dressage club has formally appealed the decision to nominate riders not nominated by the IDRC.

Wayne Channon, in reply to questions from dressage-news.com, said in his position as IDRC Secretary General:

“This issue is very much about having the right person and the right organization represent riders. The IDRC is the only FEI recognised stakeholder representing the interests of dressage riders. We are the only group that has an infrastructure that is able to communicate to riders, to take input from riders and has the systems to support this. In a democracy, stakeholders should be allowed to chose their own representative. This is the way the world works and it is reasonable.”

He said that “no rider, no matter how well qualified, can claim to speak on behalf of riders without a mandate from riders and an infrastructure that will allow two-way communications.
“The only organisation that can claim to have that ability is the IDRC.
“So the reason that the General Assembly took the decision to remove them as members was because the IDRC believes that it has must have representation on the Dressage Committee in order to be able to fully represent the interest of riders, in essence, to effectively do its job.”