Expanded Dressage at Olympics to be Sought by FEI Dressage Committee

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An increase in the number of dressage horses and riders at future Olympic will be sought by the Dressage Committee of the International Equestrian Federation following what it described as the sport’s “huge popularity”at the London Games where it was a sellout and had the largest number of countries taking part in equestrian sports.

The committee agreed unanimously to propose increasing the number to 60 from the current total of 50. Jumping and eventing each were awarded 75 combinations in the Olympics.

As the International Olympic Committee limits the total number of horses to 200, an increase for dressage would mean a reduction for jumping and eventing.

A review will also be made of the format of dressage teams restricted to three combinations with no drop score. Teams in jumping comprise four combinations with one drop score and eventing squads have up to five horses and riders.

The FEI Dressage Committee decision to seek an increase in dressage at the Olympics was made at its meeting during the Games in a review of several issues central to the sport, including:

–Revision of senior tests by a group including Katrina Wüst of Germany, David Hunt of Great Britain and Kyra Kyrklund of Finland to come into effect Jan. 1, 2014.

–A return to the former Grand Prix Special effective Jan. 1, 2013. The Olympic Grand Prix Special, an abbreviated version specially created for London, will no longer be used but the group will look into a different shorter version for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

–On the issue of blood on a horse for which dressage has no rule unlike other disciplines, the committee decided that if blood is seen in the competition arena the judge at C will stop the test and check. If the horse is bleeding or shows fresh blood, it is eliminated. If the judge’s examination determines that the horse has no fresh blood or is not bleeding, the horse may resume and finish its test. The committee decided that no re-start is possible after an FEI veterinarian has examined the horse due to the impact on the format/timetable and the requirement for a level playing field. The proposal will be discussed with the Legal and Veterinary Departments before a rule is drafted.

–A group consisting of Thomas Baur of Germany, Anne Gribbons of the United States, Stephen Clarke of Great Britain and Wim Ernes of the Netherlands was formed to look into the possible longterm solution of employing professional judges to improve quality.  A review of the roster of judges will see 20 to 40 removed by the end of this year for not fulfilling criteria. Further, under a new rule coming into effect on Jan. 1, shows could not use the same judges from other countries for more than three years in a row–so if a judge officiated at a show in 2010, 2011 and 2012, he could not be invited for 2013. Efforts should be made to expand on measures already in force to make dressage more understandable, attractive and transparent such as clarifying the concept of degree of difficulty in musical freestyles.