New Pan Am Games Dressage Format Proposal

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Maribel Alonso de Quinzaños. © 2012 Ken Braddick/


A new format of mixed big and small tour dressage teams for the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto will be proposed to the International Equestrian Federation next month.

The proposal calls for the new format to be tested at the CDIO3* Nations Cup,  part of the Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, Florida, next April.

In addition to allowing mixed teams as a way of maintaining the Pan Ams as the qualifying championships for the Olympics, the proposal seeks to enable riders to accumulate qualifying scores at CDI1* events to make it easier for countries to stage dressage shows in areas where they are not typically held. Only Brazil, Canada and the United States staged FEI-sanctioned dressage events in the Americas in 2012.

The proposal was drawn up by Maribel Alonso de Quinzaños of Mexico, a 5* judge and deputy chair of the FEI’s Group 5 of nations, and Thomas Baur, a German show organizer and member of the FEI Dressage Committee.

Neither would provide details because the FEI Dressage Committee had not reviewed the proposal and made a decision.

Thomas Baur would confirm only that a proposal would be made to the next Dressage Committee meeting.

Thomas Baur. © 2012 Ken Braddick/

However, sources requesting anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly said the proposal was drawn up based on ideas from national federations, riders and other stakeholders throughout the Americas in response to questions from Maribel and Thomas.

Michael Stone, president of Equestrian Sport Productions that organizes the horse shows in Wellington and this year staged the first non-championship dressage Nations Cup in the Western Hemisphere, said:

“We will work with the FEI to make it happen and think that this is a very exciting development for the sport!”

The first Pan Am Games were staged in Buenos Aires in 1951 with 2,513 participants representing 14 nations that have since grown to more than 5,600 competitors from 42 countries held once every four years, making it the largest multi sports discipline event in the world after the Olympics themseleves.

Although one of the qualifying championships for the Olympics, Pan Am dressage has been at small tour–Prix St. Georges, Intermediaire I and Intermediaire Freestyle–primarily because of a lack of Grand Prix horses outside North America making it almost impossible to field teams at the highest level. A major effort to make Grand Prix the qualifying level was launched  this year with the FEI Dressage Committee approving the Nations Cup in Wellington at small tour with a tentative shedule to raise the level to Grand Prix in steps over the next three years.

The idea faced its first real world test when Colombia finished third behind the United States and Canada at the 2011 Pan Ams thus qualifying a team for the London Olympics.

However, none of the riders on a propsective Colombian team was able to achieve the minimum Grand Prix results for the Olympics despite undertaking a circuit of several European competitions the first half of 2012. The period of less than one year for horses to move up to Grand Prix, even if both the rider and the horse have the capability, was clearly not enough time.

The proposal to be presented in London immediately following the Olympics, according to the sources, calls for three levels of competition for small tour and big tour horses–Prix St. Georges, Intermediaire I and Intermediaire Freestyle for small tour and Intermediaire II, Under-25 Grand Prix and the standard senior Grand Prix for big tour.

Big tour combinations would receive additional scores–an extra one percent for the Intermediaire II, two per cent for the Under-25 Grand Prix and four percent for the Grand Prix.

The sources said that if the Dressage Committee approves the proposal, the experience of the Wellington test event could lead to modifications ahead of the Toronto Games.