Australia’s New Dressage Chief is Julia Battams, New Selection Panel Also Appointed

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SYDNEY, Mar. 20–Julia Battams has been appointed Equestrian Australia’s new director of National Performance for Dressage and will retain her leadership of the country’s para-equestrian dressage program.

The appointment for the Olympic cycle of 2013 to 2016 was announced Wednesday and is the latest step in revamping Australia’s high performance programs following the 2012 Olympics.

A new dressage selection panel of veteran selector Maria Schwennesen along with Richard King and Jacqui Van Montfrans was also appointed.

Julia successfully led the para-equestrian dressage team at the Paralympic Games last year.

Having built the Para-equestrian Dressage program since Equestrian Australia took responsibility for it in 2009, Julia developed what the federation described as “a strong team culture in the PE program which she believes can be developed for dressage.”

“We want to focus on fostering a positive team environment across the whole sport from Futures’ squads through to our Elite squads,” she said. “Identifying young horses and bringing them into the High Performance Program and team environment early on will be important.

“We want to establish a mentoring program across dressage sport in the country where dressage riders can offer support to our Para-equestrian riders, and vice versa.

“A systematic approach to training across all we do will be important as we set ambitious targets for dressage and para-equestrian both in the short term and long term.”.

Equestrian Australia Chairman Paul Biancardi said the new selection panel is a good combination of experience and fresh ideas that will support the long term vision for the sport.

“In appointing the panel,” he said, “it wasn’t simply a matter of finding selectors who could do the job, but also people who had a clear vision on how to improve Dressage sport in Australia.

“The ability to bring in new ideas as well as draw on the experiences of the past will be important as we set goals both in the short term and long term.

“The selectors will have the opportunity to work collaboratively with National Performance Director Julia Battams, who brings to the role a new vision for the sport.

“Julia’s success and experience leading a national high performance program was demonstrated in the 2012 Paralympic Games campaign and we are pleased to her have on board for both the dressage and para-equestrian programs,” he said.

Maria Schwennesen has been a national selector for dressage for the past six years, is a recognized FEI4* dressage judge, National Dressage Judge Educator and Mentor and has held many other positions in 30 years involvement with the sport.

Richard King competed for many years at national and international levels in dressage and eventing both in Australia and Britain. He has been a coach for more than 25 years.

Jacqui Van Montfrans is a Level 2 Coach and Coach Educator with more than 20 years’ experience who has represented Australia nationally and internationally.