Selection of New USA Dressage Coach

9 years ago StraightArrow Comments Off on Selection of New USA Dressage Coach
Anne Gribbons, U.S. dressage coach/Technical adviser. Photo: USEF Archives

The first step will be taken shortly to find a new technical advisor/coach for United States’ dressage with differing visions for the future against a back drop of no medals at two consecutive Olympics.

Among the big issues for high performance riders this time are whether candidates for the job that Anne Gribbons held for the past three years should be primarily resident in the U.S. and whether to place more emphasis on financial support to identifiable individual combinations that could become team prospects rather than investing leadership in a single individual who sets tone, hold clinics and also is the biggest influence on team selection. The job also influences the entire dressage community by being the team leader for the phalanx of official coaches–junior/young riders, young horses and developing combinations.

The post of technical advisor–the position really means coach, but the title is required for Olympic funding purposes–was held by Anne for three years until shortly after the 2012 Olympics in London where, for the second Games in a row, the United States did not come away with any medals following four straight Olympics of team bronzes.

She succeeded Klaus Balkenhol, a German Olympic team and individual medalist, who held the position for eight years with medals at both Olympics and world championships during his tenure, providing bonuses to the substantial salary.

The procedure of reviewing and recommending candidates to replace Anne may be significantly different than three years ago.

Then, a high powered committee that was to search for a new coach did not hold a meeting and other changes were made and not disclosed publically midway through the process. The entire process was conducted in secret to the extent that members of the committees involved in the selection were threatened with legal action if they violated non-disclosure agreements they were compelled to sign.

Since, some say as a result of, selection procedures for technical advisors for jumping and eventing have been held that won plaudits in both disciplines for openness. Search committees in both disciplines were headed by Eric L. Straus, an experienced business executive and active for many years in most aspects of horse sports. He organized meetings across the country with candidates and anyone who wanted to attend to hear the pitches of the candidates and to ask questions.

Five of the 11 members of both of the commitees that deal with high performance dressage serve on both committees.